The EPL season is now so close that we can almost taste it. Starting elevens for the opening game of the season are probably being selected as we speak, and with that in mind, it’s now time to stick out necks out and make a number of outlandish predictions ahead of the footballing furore we have to look forward to over the next nine months. Here goes:
United won’t make an immediate return to the top of the table
People are getting very excited about United under Louis van Gaal, and for good reason – the Dutchman is an excellent coach and given time and resources, he has every chance of being a success at the club.
However, for those saying that United will storm straight back into the title race, I’d issue a word of caution. I kicked off with this prediction because this is the one I’m most likely to end up with egg on my face over, but I really don’t think that van Gaal has the squad that he needs to win the Premier League this season.
Aside from Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, United’s squad is woefully short of quality, and any players that the Dutchman brings in now will no doubt need some time to settle if they are to be a success. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are promising signings, but really, that’s all they are at the moment, promise.
I think United are odds-on to finish in the top four, but for me a genuine shot at the title is likely to be beyond them this season. Let’s wait and see though.
Aston Villa will be relegated
The last few seasons have been tough on Villa. Shorn of most of their stars, the West Midlands club have plummeted down the table, and although Paul Lambert has done the best he can, Villa simply don’t have enough of the right players to really make an impression this time around.
Add Roy Keane into the mix, and Villa’s season looks even bleaker. Keane is – quite frankly – a liability. There has been nothing in his short and unsuccessful managerial career that suggests that he will be an asset for Villa, and instead is far more likely to be a divisive figure in the dressing room that a team like Villa – who require camaraderie more than most squads at the moment – really don’t need.
QPR will finish top half
Harry Redknapp took over a sinking ship at Loftus Road last time he was in the Premier League, but football’s least favourite/favourite (delete as appropriate) East End wide boy knows this division, and I’ll be extremely surprised to see his side in a relegation scrap this time around.
Leicester will stay up
While we’re on about the promoted teams, I fancy Leicester to stay up too. In Nigel Pearson, the Foxes have got a quality boss, and having spent a decent amount of time in the Premier League in the 1990s, Leicester are a strong enough unit to survive a relegation battle.
There’s going to be an almighty scrap for fourth
In my view, Chelsea, Arsenal and City are nailed on to finish in the top three positions. Which means that there’s going to be a hell of a fight for the final Champions League spot. With United, Liverpool, Everton and Spurs all with aspirations to play in Europe’s premier cup competition, we’re almost certain to see a highly frenetic finish to the season, with at least three different clubs fighting for fourth.
Sam Allardyce will be sacked first
I’m afraid I just can’t see ‘Big Sam’ staying around for long. The owners don’t want him, the fans don’t really want him. A few bad results, and Allardyce could be given his marching orders. Which, actually, would be rather foolish.
You see, I’m no fan of Allardyce. But if you want a manager to keep you in the division, then there aren’t many better. With their move to the Olympic Stadium due to take place next summer, the Hammers really need to stay in the division, and if they were to shear themselves of Big Sam, there’d be a massive risk that they’d fail to do that.
Chelsea will win the league
I’m afraid I simply can’t look past Chelsea for the title this season. They pushed both Liverpool and City so close last season, and that was without a proper striker. This summer, Jose Mourinho has worked quickly and efficiently and brought in the players he knows will make a big difference to his side whilst dispensing with the players he no longer wants. Mark my words, Chelsea will mean business this season.
It’s by no means a foregone conclusion, but my money is on the team from West London. While Arsenal have strengthened, I don’t think it’s going to be quite enough; Liverpool have gone backwards; and although City have started to buy, I think it’s unlikely that we’ll see the same sort of performances from Pellegrini’s side this time around. In short, Chelsea are favourites; at least in my book.
This season will be the best ever (again)
Last season was the best season of Premier League football that I’ve ever seen, and I think this year’s going to be even better. With (potentially) four teams fighting for the title, four fighting for fourth, and a mass scrap to avoid relegation that is likely to involve about 10 teams, we’re in for some serious entertainment. So on Saturday, grab yourself a beer and strap yourself in, because the Premier League’s back.
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