The Premier League season is almost over and perhaps more than ever, the planning and anticipation for the next campaign has come early with the three biggest clubs in the division changing managers and practically everyone going for marquee signings.
Here are my seven predictions for next season:
1. Champions: Chelsea
Chelsea have had a successful season, yet at the same time a slightly underwhelming one, they have thrilled at times and many believe they have the potential to claim the bigger prizes on offer rather than the still impressive Europa League.
Another major factor is of course the surely inevitable return of much-loved ex-manger Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho who won six trophies in three years in his first stint at the London club guarantees success wherever he goes and with some now questioning "The Special One" after a disappointing chaotic season at Real Madrid, he will be keen to prove he's still a cut above.
2. Champions League: Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal
The Champions League places I feel will go to Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal. The first three are all undergoing change and although that makes them a bit unpredictable, the strength and quality of their squads should be enough for them to comfortably claim Champions League football once more.
Arsenal will not quite push for the title but finally it seems Arsene Wenger is ready to spend money in the transfer window to make Arsenal dominant once more. With players like Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott already there and with good futures still ahead of them and with the likes of Stevan Jovetic joining, I think they will have just too much for their rivals in terms of the final European spot.
3. Europa League: Liverpool, Tottenham
I expect a big season next year from Liverpool who under Brendan Rodgers have done well in recent months and with a bit of consistency could actually push for a Champions League place, they wlil make signings in the summer and I think Rodgers knows that he'll need bigger name players than Fabio Borini and Joe Allen if he wants to continue to improve. Spurs have done well this season but will possibly just miss out on the holy grail of Champions League once more despite the best efforts of talismanic Gareth Bale. I feel that they will keep Bale for one more season but although I'm sure he will continue to impress, I see them missing out yet again.
4. Top-half: Everton, Swansea, Aston Villa, West Ham
A huge change has also taken place at Everton as David Moyes has left them for the bright lights of Manchester United, I think they will replace him and the Everton squad is still good enough to finish top ten.
Swansea will continue to surprise and astonish, under Michael Laudrup they have had a fantastic first season and although I don't see them replicating their cup success, their team is now good enough to push for Europe on a consistent basis.
Finally my two wildcards are Aston Villa and West Ham, Villa who despite only just surviving this season have a young, ambitious squad and Paul Lambert will know they can push higher next season although a lot does rest on the future of Christian Benteke. West Ham will continue to be solid and their big aim is towards their new stadium with Premier League football intact.
5. Bottom Half: Newcastle United, Southampton, West Brom, Stoke City
All four of these teams should comfortably survive with good squads, mangers and home support. Newcastle have been the disappointment of the season for me but will buck their ideas up for next year with their French contingent still adapting to life in the Premier League.
Southampton will again flourish with good football and the odd shock and Mauricio Pochettino appears to have a good basis to build upon for the next year. West Brom and Stoke are both capable sides and with one or two good signings should have another enjoyable season in the top flight.
6. Survivors: Fulham, Cardiff Norwich
Fulham are a strange side, they sometimes look very classy and efficient and then can look clueless the next week, they rely heavily on striker Dimitar Berbatov and without him desperately lack quality but they have the know-how and players to survive. Cardiff will make a great addition to the Premier league and will continue to advance Welsh football, they have the manager and backing to stay up next year.
Norwich will really struggle, a ten game run in December kept them up this year and without a similar run, they may find themselves down in a battle once more, However the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel is an interesting one and I think there are individuals capable of keeping them up.
7. Going Down: Crystal Palace/Watford, Sunderland and Hull City
The play-off final will be contested in a couple of weeks and will feature Crystal Place and Watford, two exciting, unpredictable teams, whoever wins and I'm sure it will be a close match, will suffer next year because they won't keep hold of the players who took them up.
Palace have already lost Wilfried Zaha to Moyes' Man United and Watford's best players are all owned by other clubs. Sunderland wiill join them in the relegation zone, providing plenty of entertainment through Paulo Di Canio but ultimately lacking the quality to continue to stay up, goals is their problem and I can't see them fixing that in time.
Finally, a fantastic achievement by Steve Bruce's Hull City to get promoted into the big time once more but I feel they won't be able to compete with the added financial and footballing increase the Premier League has.
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