We’ve gazed longingly into our crystal ball and we think the table’s going to end up looking something like thisâ€¦
Premier League Predictions! continuedâ€¦
So here’s how I think the table will finish up. Please let me know if you think I’m spouting shite:
1 Liverpool Something tells me Chelsea will slip up this season, and Liverpool have the squad to capitalise. They’re rock solid at the back, have the most underrated defensive midfielder in the country (Momo Sissoko) and are captained by Steven Gerrard at the peak of his powers. The addition of Craig Bellamy is the extra ingredient to topple Chelsea.
2 Chelsea Will just fail to win three league titles in a row, at which stage Jose Mourinho will announce he’s leaving to coach AC Milan. Ballack and Shevchenko will both have bitty seasons, interrupted by injury and the odd sulk.
3 Man Utd If Louis Saha stays fit, then he and Rooney could form the best strike partnership in the league. I see Paul Scholes having a great season too, whilst Michael Carrick is a decent signing, if overpriced. They won’t be far off the title, maybe three or four points behind Liverpool and Chelsea, but no more.
4 Tottenham Martin Jol is a cracking manager with a tremendous Dutch accent. The squad he’s assembled is very strong, with Dimitar Berbatov the jewel in his shiny new crown. Will get revenge for last season and pip Arsenal to fourth.
5 Arsenal Tomas Rosicky is a good signing, but I look at the Arsenal squad as a whole and it looks a bit thin. Loads of potential in there (Djorou, Eboue, Fabregas, Adebayor etc.), but the Premier League is full of big, strong bullies who know that ‘getting amongst’ Arsenal is a winning tactic.
6 Everton New boy Andy Johnson should do OK (and give a kick up the arse to James Beattie), while Tim Cahill can only get better.
7 Blackburn Mark Hughes is an excellent young manager and no doubt he’ll end up back at Old Trafford someday. For now, he’s putting together a team of big, strong players at Ewood Park. No one will enjoy playing Blackburn this season.
8 Newcastle Desperately need a 20-goal striker from somwhere. Lots of strength in midfield (Parker, N’Zogbia, Dyer, Duff, Emre, Milner and more besides) but Shola Ameobi and Albert Luque aren’t going to put the shits up many central defenders.
9 Bolton Another season of solid, unspectacular achievement. Big Sam’s transfer activity hasn’t been up to his usual wheeler-dealer standards this summer, but they’ll still be buggers to beat.
10 Aston Villa Give Martin O’Neill one season to figure out who he wants to keep at Villa and who he wants to ditch. Then, when he’s left with three or four decent players, he can bring in new blood and really start to work his magic. For now, it’s a case of trying to construct a silk purse out of the likes of Lee Hendrie. Not easy.
11 West Ham Enjoyed watching Alan Pardew’s men in 2005/06, but don’t think they’ll quite match last season’s 9th position. Dean Ashton’s ankle break is a setback.
12 Charlton Iain Dowie is another talented young English manager, and I think he’ll do okay with a half-decent squad.
13 Man City Jekyll and Hyde form last season, so tough to call. Should finish somewhere between 11th and 15th â€“ 13th sounds about right.
14 Wigan The loss of Jimmy Bullard (to Fulham) and Jason Roberts (to Blackburn) was a big blow to Paul Jewell. I can’t see how they’ll match last season’s 10th place.
15 Middlesbrough Boro should manage to escape relegation for another season, because they’re a solid, well-run club. They won’t exactly light up the Premier League though, and Gareth Southgate may even struggle to hold on to his job.
16 Portsmouth Another campaign of resigned post-match shrugs from Harry Redknapp, as he sees his Pompey team flirt with relegation again. The three promoted teams are as weak as I can remember, so they shuld just about get away with it.
17 Fulham First-choice team is pretty competitive but strength in depth is a real problem. Will start okay but I can see them sliding towards the danger zone as the season reaches its climax. Chris Coleman’s shiny hair remains a wonder to me.
18 Watford Great manager in Aidy Boothroyd and stand the best chance of survival out of the promoted teams. Can’t see them staying up though.
19 Sheffield Utd Will scrap for every single point, but nowhere near enough quality to survive in this league.
20 Reading This season’s Sunderland. Whipping boys and dead certs for relegation.
Ollie, Pies Ed.