Sport

Standard 23.

(This post has now been retrospectively edited in light of Tony Pulis’ sudden and unexpected departure from Crystal Palace, which I think will have a significant impact on their campaign. Usually I wouldn’t have done such a thing, but as we haven’t even reached the first kick-off yet, I thought it was only fair. Regardless, I consider this an exception and will be making no further edits from this point forward)

It’s that exciting time of the year again; time to have fun making predictions for the upcoming Premier League football season. Of course that ‘fun’ is relative, but for me doing this kind of thing is almost… therapeutic. I enjoy testing my skills of discernment and analytical ability by looking at each team and estimating what the season holds for them – only to realise in the end that with football, as with most sports, what makes sense on paper doesn’t usually translate to real life. This is because there’s no real accounting for human error, and the unique situations in each individual’s life that will affect performance over ten months of a typical season. No matter; still I will make this record, and accept the adulation if it comes should I be accurate. Here goes:

Champions: Chelsea (Tactically Mourinho has shown he has the upper hand on his rivals, and if they can prevent slip-ups against the smaller teams, with Diego Costa ready to shine, I think the smart money simply has to be on Chelsea this year)

Runners-up: Arsenal (Impressive signings, stability within the club, and I think they will perform much better against their main rivals this time around – could produce a performance similar to Liverpool last season)

3rd: Man City (Community Shield match highlighted some glaring weaknesses, and other teams around them have improved further this summer. On paper they still may be the best team in the league, but psychologically I’m not sure they’ll have what it takes to retain the title)

4th: Liverpool (Let’s not underrate them again; this team was about a lot more than just Suarez last season. Still, hanging on to a top 4 spot – and perhaps going for one of the cups – should be considered a great season)

5th: Man United (Will certainly push the top 4 close, but the team still needs lots of work… And let’s remember that when Liverpool dropped out of the top 4, people were still thinking ‘it’s just a blip’ – but it took them a good four seasons to get over this ‘blip’)

6th: Newcastle (After the disaster of last season’s second half, I think their investment will reinvigorate the team and we could once again see what happens when this club hits its stride)

7th: Everton (A great run in Europe could affect their league performance, but improvement should continue with the new ambition the club has shown this summer)

8th: Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs keep changing their manager; they need to keep faith and accept a slightly transitional season)

9th: Stoke City (Can see them having a decent cup run, but they need further investment to start troubling the top 8)

10th: Sunderland (Finished last season in great form; could continue that and enjoy a more stable year. Strong contenders to challenge for upper mid-table at least)

11th: Leicester City (Won the Championship comfortably, some would even say emphatically, and I think they’ll have a good first season)

12th: West Ham (Bit unpredictable – you never know when the owners will give in to fan pressure and get rid of Sam Allardyce. Beyond that it could become the same old yo-yo story for West Ham)

13th: Southampton (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt for now after their selling summer; Ronald Koeman comes highly rated and I think they’ll invest in January if in real trouble)

14th: Hull City (Decent team, grounded manager, should be able to ride out Europe and survive in the end)

15th: QPR (I think they’ll struggle to score goals, but with wheeler dealer Harry Redknapp in charge you can see them escaping relegation – just)

16th: Crystal Palace (Tony Pulis HAD built a good culture within the club, but he has of course just left! I think the foundations he laid may still be good enough to see Palace through this season, but it is certainly going to be much more difficult for them now that their inspirational leader has gone. His replacement could be key to their staying up. At this uncertain point, their fans should rightfully be less confident about the season ahead)

17th: Swansea City (Have also been on a selling spree, but seem to have gone under people’s radar – I’m still not convinced by their manager though, and if he stays in charge I think they’ll be relegated sooner rather than later)

18th: Burnley (They’ll fight to the end, but I think other teams will be able to invest in January; Burnley will not)

19th: Aston Villa (No investment, owner wants out, stale season waiting to happen)

20th: West Bromwich Albion (Budget managerial appointment, with all due respect to Alan Irvine; I think it’s his lack of experience as a manager at this level that could cost him. Overall I just don’t think enough has changed at West Brom since last season’s poor 17th place showing)

 

FA Cup winners: Liverpool (It will have been nine years since they last won the trophy; I have a feeling 2015 could be their FA Cup year again)

League Cup winners: Arsenal (Typically, they’ll start the season at a canter and I can see them putting bad memories to bed with a second trophy in as many seasons)

Champions League: Real Madrid (Hard to see any kind of weakness in their team; quite simply, they’re the best team in Europe at the moment and I think they’ll prove it by retaining their trophy)

Europa League: Everton (Of all the English clubs in Europe, Everton seem most stable and settled, plus they’ve been knocking on the doors of a trophy for a few seasons. Will need a bit of luck – as does any team in the cups – but I think if they get it, this could be Everton’s year, both for a trophy and to put themselves on the European map again)

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