After more than two months of posting at least once a day since this site’s inception, I am taking a week’s vacation with my family, and won’t have access to my computer. I’ll be back writing a week from Tuesday. Hopefully the brief break from the blog will keep me fresh heading into the fall. However, I will post my prediction for Saturday’s Arsenal-Crystal Palace game on Twitter (@MrMcGinnis94), so check for that.
Between now and next Tuesday, a pretty major event is happening. The Premier League opens play this weekend. We’ve all been patiently waiting for this since May. The World Cup helped shorten the summer, but it still feels like it has been ages since Arsenal finished up their season. And for that one brief moment as all the games kick off on Saturday, nearly every single fan across the globe will be smiling. Because Premier League football is back.
Once the games begin, anything and everything will happen between now and next May when the champion will be crowned. As Ian Darke says, there will be a few million talking points. It’s going to be fun.
Here are my predictions for how the table will look after all 38 games are played.
1. Chelsea – Chelsea are loaded this year. If Diego Costa is half of the player he was a year ago, the Blues should be scoring at a record pace. I think the pairing of John Terry and Gary Cahill will be found out by Arsenal and City, but the absurd amount of talent Chelsea has in the midfield will see them dominate against everybody else. The title may come down to who drops the fewest points against the Stoke City’s of the world, and I think Jose Mourinho will have his team prepared week in and week out.
2. Arsenal – I am certainly optimistic this year, as I firmly believe that Arsenal has the talent and depth to lead a sustained charge for the title. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott will be lethal in the final third, and there will be goals scored at will. Defensive issues late on will keep Arsenal from winning the title, but they’ll be right there until the final day.
3. Manchester City – City will see their throne taken from them this season, as I feel they’ll have much of their attention focused on a run in the Champions League – I think they might reach a semifinal in that competition. They’ll appear disinterested at times in the league, and they’ll drop key points against lower level opposition. They have the talent to win the title handily, but I think they’ll disappoint.
4. Manchester United – After a terrific preseason, Louis van Gaal’s men will top the table at the end of September, led by a revitalized Wayne Rooney. But once United starts playing top sides – don’t be fooled by any early success against inferior opposition – they will struggle, with the defense left exposed. They will be much improved from a year ago, but their goal should be reaching the top four, not winning the title.
5. Liverpool – Luis Suarez will be sorely missed, as the Reds are a Daniel Sturridge injury away from having a crisis up front. Rickie Lambert is not at the stage of his career when he can be productive twice a week, and he’ll struggle to adapt to the rigors of a Champions League campaign. Their journey in Europe will end up doing more harm than good. I think they’ll end up in a fight with United for fourth.
6. Everton – The Toffees have strengthened through retention this summer, and expect to improve on a wonderful campaign a year ago. Romelu Lukaku should be near the top of the goalscoring charts, and I think Ross Barkley is ready to take the next step. They are one piece away from the top four in my eyes, but they are capable of beating anyone on their day.
7. Newcastle – Newcastle will be a much improved team from a year ago. If Alan Pardew has his head in the right place, he could lead this side to a place in the Europa League. I think Emmanuel Riviere will find immediate success scoring goals, and Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote will form a fierce pairing in defensive midfield. They should be a fun side.
8. Tottenham – Count me as one unimpressed with what Mauricio Pochettino has done this summer. I can’t wait to see Spurs dismantled by Liverpool at the end of the month. Pochettino will have the team playing better by December, but I think they’ll struggle at the beginning of the year in defense. They won’t be anywhere near the top 4 come May.
9. Hull City – Hull is a team capable of making the leap this year. In keeping last year’s upstart team together, and bringing in a few new faces, Steve Bruce has had a very successful summer. They have an excellent midfield, and I expect Nikica Jelavic and Tom Ince to be scoring plenty of goals by the end of the year. They will be a team to watch.
10. Swansea City – I think it will take the Swans a little while to adapt to their new style under Garry Monk. But ultimately, they have the talent up front to comfortably finish mid-table. Between Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bafetimbi Gomis and Wilfried Bony, they have an awful lot of options in the final third.
11. Crystal Palace – A candidate for most to go down in their second season back with the big boys, I think Palace will continue to make strides under Tony Pulis. The defense should be solid once again, and Frazier Campbell has been added to bolster a static attack. It will be up to him and Marouane Chamakh to determine just how far up the table Palace can go, but they’ll be well above the drop zone.
12. Stoke City – Mark Hughes began to turn Stoke into a watchable side last year, and he finally was able to bring in players to fit his system this year. Ex-Barca man Bojan Krkic will represent a new era of Stoke football. They won’t be as near to the relegation zone as some expect.
13. West Ham – Sam Allardyce will have his side comfortably above the relegation zone, but improvement over last season will be hard to see at times. He has made moves to make the side a little more dynamic going forward, but don’t be surprised if Big Sam reverts to old ways come February.
14. Sunderland – The Black Cats were sensational towards the end of last season, but I don’t see that form carrying over to this campaign. The aging defense will be leaky. And while Jack Rodwell is an improvement in midfield, Steven Fletcher will struggle to produce goals as a lone striker this year. Connor Wickham’s involvement could be crucial to survival.
15. QPR – ‘Arry is back in the Premiership – I really dislike that man. But QPR has more talent than both of the other promoted clubs, and should stay up. The back three with Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker should be strong enough to get the necessary points for survival. However, Charlie Austin won’t cut it as an EPL frontman, and Redknapp will need to buy a striker in January.
16. Southampton – The Saints have lost an awful lot from a side that made the leap to the top half of the Premiership a year ago. They’ll struggle this year. But don’t be surprised when the next wave of youngsters start making a positive impact. They will be in the relegation zone on Boxing Day, but they’ll finish in safety.
17. Aston Villa – It is worrying how little Paul Lambert has done to improve the team. He brought in a few experienced squad players, but Villa will still be lacking in many areas. They are another Christian Benteke injury away from relegation.
18. Leicester City – Despite a strong preseason, the going won’t be easy for the newly promoted side. They might hang around until the final day, but they’ll be back in the Championship next year.
19. West Bromwich Albion – After flirting with disaster a year ago, West Brom will be right back in the thick of the survival fight from the start. They may have strengthened their defense, but I just don’t think they have the talent up front to score enough goals.
20. Burnley – When your strengths going into a season are fitness and teamwork, it could be a long year. Their high press style will be pleasing for neutrals, but the lack of talent will see the Clarets down by April. Danny Ings is a name to watch though.
Who do you think is going to win the title this year? Are you worried about your team getting relegated? Please comment below.