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Chelsea are favourites for Premier League glory next season

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Last season saw one of the tightest title chases in years with eventual champions Manchester City finishing just seven points ahead of fourth-placed Arsenal. So how will the top five look next season?

Here are my predictions for the 2014/15 Premier League title race based on the state of each team's squad right now.

Fifth place: Manchester United

Much has been made of Louis van Gaal's arrival at Old Trafford, causing United's title odds to tumble. But at the moment, the squad is still too weak to challenge for honours. Many people point to a lack of games helping Liverpool to second place last season, but  United had a clear schedule from March yet still saw no upturn in form. Not to mention Liverpool had Luis Suarez.

United have remedied their creative problems in recent months with the signings of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera, however the defence remains a problem. With LVG looking to play a five-man defence, the club must sign two more experienced centre-backs, because currently only Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are available in those positions.

Also, last season the defence suffered for the lack of a good holding midfielder. Juventus' Arturo Vidal has been linked with a move recently but with his future still shrouded in such uncertainty, United's search to plug this gap looks set to continue.

Van Gaal will bring the best out of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Mata by deploying a 5-2-1-2 formation, but United's lack of quality at the back and depth in the rest of their squad means they may have to wait another year to regain Champions League football.

Fourrh place: Liverpool

The recent loss of star striker Suarez to Barcelona leaves Liverpool looking a lot weaker than last year. Liverpool have lost not only Suarez's goals, but also the assists he makes, the space he creates and the fouls he draws.

His influence on Liverpool was huge and he will prove impossible to replace. Daniel Sturridge will go someway to replace Suarez's goals, but he is not on the same level as the Uruguayan and he thrived on the service that Suarez provided. Philippe Coutinho and new signing Lazar Markovic will take some of the creative burden, but cannot replicate Suarez either.

The signings Liverpool have made have strengthened the squad for the upcoming assault on several fronts, but arguably only Dejan Lovren improves the first team. Adam Lallana should play second fiddle to Coutinho, while Markovic will likely occupy Suarez's place in a different formation meaning the team has lost strength there.

Emre Can looks unlikely to trouble Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson for their starting spots and will probably be a benchwarmer. Rickie Lambert looks to be a sound investment at £4 million, with the 32-year-old offering goals from the bench for a couple of seasons.

Liverpool's main flaw last season was in defence, where they conceeded 50 goals in 38 games. Lovren will partially help to solve this problem, although the full-back issue is yet to be resolved.

Last season, Jon Flanagan performed admirably out of position at left back, but he needs to be playing in his favoured right-back slot ahead of Glen Johnson. This leaves them in need of a left-back, as Jose Enrique does not cut it at the top level.

Liverpool's squad looks capable of maintaining a consistent level in several competitions, however without Suarez that level will most likely not be enough for a title chase this time around.

Third place: Arsenal

Arsenal have lifted a huge monkey off their back after winning their first trophy for nine years, and will be looking to push on from that next season. Crucially, Arsenal have not lost any key stars in this window. Thomas Vermaelen has been linked with a move away, but for now he remains an Arsenal player. Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger surprised everyone by splashing the cash early, beating Liverpool to the signing of Alexis Sanchez.

The signing of David Ospina has more than replaced Lukas Fabianski and the Colombian should both provide back-up and challenge no.1 Wojciech Szczesny. Meanwhile, the arrival of Mathieu Debuchy has covered the loss of Bacary Sagna. Southampton youngster Calum Chambers has also been brought in and will probably be used as cover for centre-back and right-back.

In midfield, Arsenal are well-stocked, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Mesut Ozil all capable of playing through the middle, with some capable of playing out wide as well.

However for all the depth, Arsenal require another midfielder, a truly powerful one to partner Ramsey and dominate a game. Rumours continue to link the club with a move for Real Madrid's Sami Khedira, but for now Arsenal are found wanting.

Many Arsenal fans have been clamouring for a forward and Wenger has obliged by bringing in Chilean Sanchez from Barcelona. The forward can play on the wing or through the middle and should relieve some of the burden on Olivier Giroud. Also, Theo Walcott should return from injury to contribute a lot more goals to the side.

Arsenal could make a challenge for the title but without a holding midfielder they may miss out.

Second place: Manchester City

Manchester City are the reigning champions and are still strong contenders to retain their title. The club has been relatively subdued in the market so far this summer, with only Bacary Sagna, Fernando and Willy Caballero joining for a combined £16 million.

Joe Hart has shown he needs to be kept on his toes and Caballero should do just that. The former Malaga man was voted the best 'keeper in La Liga a couple of years ago and may well oust Hart if he doesn't perform.

In defence, City remain strong. Martin Demichelis struggled last year but grew into things as he adjusted to the pace of the English game, although a better defender is probably still required. Elsewhere, Pablo Zabaleta has competition from new-boy Sagna, while Vicent Kompany and Aleksandr Kolarov should still be solid.

Fernando - City's £12 million signing from Porto - adds more steel to an already strong midfield with Yaya Toure committing and Fernandinho proving to be a great signing. Further forward, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas will still be providing plenty of goals and assists.

Up front, City are probably stronger than any one else in the league. If Sergio Aguero remains fit, he will be crucial to any title challenge City make, however, if he doesn't City still have the talents of Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and the currently-injured Alvaro Negredo. Goals will not be a problem.

City look to be a very strong team and will probably take the title to the wire, but they're not quite favourites.

Champions: Chelsea

Chelsea fell short last season thanks to some poor results towards the end of their campaign. Their main problem last season was a lack of a consistent striker, which Jose Mourinho has remedied by dipping into the market for Spaniard Diego Costa. A host of other signings have been made this summer as well.

Chelsea are probably the best equipped in the league in goal, with Mourinho saying both Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois will remain at Stamford Bridge.

In defence, Chelsea have pulled off the deal of the summer by managing to secure a huge £50 million for David Luiz as he moves to PSG, and with Kurt Zouma having been signed for £12 million in January, his replacement was already in place. John Terry and Gary Cahill were regarded by many to be the best defensive partnership in the league last year. Right back Cesar Azpilicueta has flourished under Mourinho, while Atletico's Filipe Luis has filled the gap left by Ashley Cole after his move to Roma.

Nemanja Matic and Ramires have a strong partnership in the middle of the pitch with Cesc Fabregas set to slot in ahead of them after Arsenal turned down the chance to resign him. Eden Hazard and one of Willian, Oscar or Mohamed Salah will take up the wings with flair and fluid movement.

Costa isn't the only new signing up front, with Chelsea also completing a move that sees fan favourite Didier Drogba return to the club. The recent sale of Romelu Lukaku will serve as a blow but the remaining forward options should have enough quality.

Chelsea are currently the favourites for the title, but should any of the other four make the signings they need this could easily change.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Premier League
Arsenal
Liverpool
Manchester United
Football
Manchester City

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