The Premier League gets started tomorrow and there are a lot of unknowns this season with the top three teams all changing their managers. There are a number of transfer sagas still going on with Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and Wayne Rooney to Chelsea as possible transfers. Manchester United are also rumored to be going after three more signings before the end of the transfer window.
Despite the changes, the top of the table will be the same three as Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea will battle for the title. While Jose Mourinho will need the least adjustment into his job, Manchester City is my pick to win because they have quietly gone about their business strengthening their attack and midfield. The depth at centerback is an option, but their moves were early and I expect them to get off to a flying start. As of now, I think United would just edge out Chelsea given the striker depth, but if Chelsea do add Samuel Eto’o (or get Rooney from United), I do see Chelsea just edging out United.
|Champion: Manchester City
Champions League: Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham
Europa League: Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle
Relegation: Hull City, Crystal Palace, Stoke City
Top Scorer: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
In the battle for fourth and the Europa League spots, I see Tottenham as the strongest of the bunch, although that is with Bale, without him, I still think the additions of Paulinho and Soldado give them the edge over Arsenal who are thin like last year’s squad. Behind them I see Liverpool and Newcastle taking the last two Europa League spots as Everton are stretched by having European competition and a new coach as well.
The bottom of the table should be competitive, but I see Hull City and Crystal Palace going down after coming up. Cardiff City I see just staying up but they should be battling with Stoke City, Sunderland, Aston Villa, and my darkhorse candidate of Swansea City could be set for the relegation battle. Swansea will have more games with European commitments and could have a sophomore slump in their second season under Michael Laudrup. However, in the end, I see Stoke City going down, which is a shame for the Americans. In terms of style, no team will be undergoing a style change like Stoke is under Mark Hughes. That shift will see them have a slow start and I think it will be too much for them to overcome.
The scoring race should be exciting, but it is hard to see past Robin van Persie. Luis Suarez is an option, but his six game suspension makes it difficult. The darkhorse candidates appear to be Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Roberto Soldado (Tottenham), and Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea). Lukaku may not get a lot of minutes, but his impressive end to the season and Chelsea’s lake of strikers has me thinking. Gareth Bale is another option, but he is streaky with his goal scoring so it may be hard for him to keep pace with other out and out strikers.