Since the whistle blew on Chelsea's FA Cup triumph over Everton at the end of May, the papers have had a whole lot of business to talk about and the poor little mites who type out page after page of transfer gossip on Teletext ahve gone on long term sick with repetitive strain injury. One thing is for sure, this coming Premiership season is going to be one of the most anticipated in years!
I have a feeling there will be one or 2 more twists in the Transfer Market before this month is over, but presuming there isn't I'm going to give you my take on the nerve shredding 8 months that lie ahead
THE TITLE & TOP 4
The Arabian revolution at the "Middle Eastlands" has thrown one major question over the Premier League upper eschelons....."are City for real?"
My own opinion is that they will win a lot of home games, even against the established favourites such as United, Liverpool and Chelsea. However they have to go out and prove they can win away from home, the addition of a terrier like Tevez is key to this but the flair players like Robinho, Adebayor, Petrov and more must show some steel to along with guile otherwise they'll be 5th at best.
Arsenal are looking shockingly short of strength, determination and leadership. They, like City, have to show they know how to fight and not go to the likes of Stoke and Burnley to get manhandled out of 3 points! How many years can Wenger allow this to happen before he stops crying and does something to rectify it.
Unless City really do show some true grit then the Premiership Title will end up at either Anfield, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. Ronaldo's departure hurts United a lot as he is a genuine goal threat from anywhere on the pitch, Michael Owen isn't that threat but a combination of Rooney, Owen an improved Berbatov and others stepping up might make for a more balanced unit.....but they again must step up.
Chelsea have added little over the summer, but they started appallingly last year under Scolari and that won't be repeated with the players seemingly responding to Ancelotti.
For the first time in over 10 years the Anfield regulars have GENUINE hope that this will be their year! It all depends on if Gerrard can maintain last years form, and if Torres can stay healthy....if they do, I hate to say it but Liverpool are champions.
3) Man Utd
4) Man City
THE MIDDLE GROUND & EUROPA
Positions 6 through about 12 should be hotly contested next season, and with Redknapp in charge of Spurs from the start I expect them to come out on top of this bunch but they will be psuhed all the way by Villa and Everton. Villa just haven't added enough to their squad for me, the loss of poor Martin Laursen is a big big blow to them and a player i'm not sure they can replace. Everton will have strikers next season, which is something they did not last year! They may well lose Pienaar but Arteta's return makes up for that, and with Fellaini and Cahill bombing into the box for crosses Everton might be the Dark Horse of the league and even contest a top 4 finish. However as it stands I think an overall lack of creativity will hinder their push and they willbe in the Europa League spots.
Just outside Europe will be Fulham, they have kept ALL their squad thats in Europe this season and Hodgson is a savvy manager who will keep them motivated. However the fact they are in Europe this season might strain the squad and they will probably end up around 10th competing with the likes of an improved Sunderland, Blackburn and West Ham
11) West Ham
RELEGATION & MISERY
This is going to be an epic battle next season, basically everyone that we haven't covered above will be scrapping for their lives to avoid the dreaded drop. Obviously Burnley start as favourites, they have little money to invest and have only a handful of players who have experienced the Premiership before. However Reading, Wigan and West Ham in recent years have all shocked the "experts" by finishing much higher than anticpated and I guarantee that nobody will work harder than the Clarets next year (look out for a hugely competitive Blackburn vs Burnley derby!!)
Hull managed to escape last season basically because of Newcastle Uniteds shambles of a football club, this year they will need an increased effort or the second half collapse last year might turn into a full season collapse this term!
Personally I don't think Stoke can improve on last year, they won't take anyone by surprise this year and I can't see where there goals come from other than set-plays, and in the Premiership set-pieces will not keep you afloat for long.
Wolves and Birmingham are interesting clubs to watch, Wolves are certainly the better equipped to stay up but in McCarthy they have a manager who has never succeeded in the Premiership yet. Birmingham have experience and passion, but may lack a cutting edge and these two clubs survival may depend on how the Midlands derbies against each other and Villa turn out.
Bolton for me are in REAL trouble, under Sam Allardyce they were supremely fit and athletic and had the belief that they could beat anybody on their day. Megson doesn't invoke that same belief and doesn't utilize Big Sam's scientific approach, they have some decent players but have aimed their spending on classy players who simply don't want to play for them and as a result have missed out completely on adding anything of note. In a similar vein to Stoke can they over achieve again and make set-plays and long ball football work for them enough to survive?
Portsmouth are another team in dire trouble, after a fire sale and a manager who to me doesn't look like inspiring any hope in anything they might struggle. If they stay up it'll be down to their home form and their fans!
14) Hull City
Obviously these are just my idea on how the season will pan out, and i'm sure that you have your own thoughts, and i'd love to hear them. But one thing I do know id that this yearwill be a dogfight from start, I don't see a clear winner or loser in any game. There are going to be some cracking battles, and i'm particularly looking forward to the Villa/Everton/Spurs/Man City/Arsenal match-ups......i think they will produce some great entertainment and prove the one thing we all know.....
The Premiership is the best league in the World!!