With the Premier League season starting tomorrow, the 2013/14 campaign looks set to be another fascinating one.
Here's a look at what the table could look like come May.
20. Hull City
The Premier League new-boys will struggle to survive in the top-flight under Steve Bruce. Having won automatic promotion finishing 2 in the Championship, they may need to make a few Premiership quality signings to have a chance of survival. Despite signing Danny Graham on a season long loan from Sunderland, he failed to make an impact last season scoring no goals for the Black Cats.
19. Crystal Palace
Charismatic manager Ian Holloway has established himself as a proven Championship manager, managing to promote former team Blackpool as well as current club Crystal Palace. However, in his only Premier League spell Blackpool were relegated from the top-flight and Holloway is likely to face a difficult struggle if he is to save Palace from the drop, especially after losing Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United, after his influential performances last season for Palace’s play-off winning side.
18. Stoke City
Stoke will be under new management from Mark Hughes in the upcoming season following the dismissal of former boss Tony Pulis, who lead Stoke to their first top flight promotion in 23 years. However, Stoke will not go down without a stubborn fight with a thick-skinned defence, but a lack of goals may leave them short for points come the end of the season.
17. Cardiff City
Welsh new-comers Cardiff City will be likely to face a tough season in their debut season in the Premier League. While the fight to beat relegation will be intensely close, I believe with signings such as: Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur and Andreas Cornelius from FC Copenhagen, I believe that Cardiff will have just enough to avoid the dreaded drop.
Having had a poor conclusion to the last Premier League campaign; Fulham may have a relegation scrap on their hands. However, Fulham may have too much quality in their squad to get relegated having acquired the services of Dimitar Berbatov last season, who played a pivotal part of their season scoring 15 goals.
Paolo Di Canio may be hoping to break in to the top half of the table; however Sunderland struggled to score goals last season which may be their downfall. New signing Jozy Altidore will have to adapt to the Premier quickly if Sunderland are to resolve their striker dilemma.
14. Aston Villa
Christian Benteke turned out to be an essential signing for Villa last season scoring 19 goals in a remarkable debut season. Having signed a new deal at the club he is likely to play an important part of Villa’s campaign under Paul Lambert. Lambert placed faith in his young team who struggled last season; however after gaining experience in the Premier League I can see Villa having a more successful campaign than last.
13. West Ham United
Following an impressive season in their return to the Premier League, the Hammers will be looking to build on that success. However, I believe that they will have a quite, but content season safely avoiding the drop but not challenging in the top half of the table.
The Saints had a promising spell under new boss Mauricio Pochettino, playing an attractive style of football. While having the tendency to leak soft goals, Southampton have singed defender Dejan Lovren. As well as adding highly-rated midfielder Victor Wanyama from Celtic, this should steer them comfortably away from the relegation zone.
11. Norwich City
The Canaries boasted an impressive defensive record last season; however struggled for goals. As a result, Norwich have signed strikers Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon, and Gary Hooper from Celtic in attempt to resolve their goal-scoring issues, which should help them to a solid mid-table finish.
10. West Bromwich Albion
Steve Clarke guided Albion to a marvellous season, finishing in their highest position ever. Meanwhile, West Brom are likely to miss the goals and strong presence of Romelu Lukaku who has returned to Chelsea, which could result in the Baggies being left short for goals. However, proven goal-scorer Nicolas Anelka has been recruited in hope of replacing Lukaku. But I can’t see Albion improving on last season’s position.
9. Newcastle United
Alan Pardew’s side endured a difficult season in their 2012/2013 campaign. While they will be seeking for a Europa League place, I believe that the Magpies will be narrowly beaten to highly sought after European places.
With the 10-year reign of David Moyes drawn to a close, I can see the Toffees facing a tough season under new boss Roberto Martinez. While new signings such as: Arouna Kone from Wigan, and the loan signing of young starlet Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona have bolstered the squad, I believe that Everton will face a challenge in keeping hold of prized assets, Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines. This in mind I believe Martinez will lead Everton to a slightly disappointing eighth place finish in his first season in charge.
7. Swansea City
Swansea have assembled the capture of forward Wilfried Bony to add to their already established squad. I anticipate a top six challenge from the League Cup winners if Michu can reproduce his incredible form from the previous season. Swansea’s dominant possession tactics will conduct them to an exciting season for Swans fans.
Brendan Rodgers will be wishing that his can side can fight for a Champions League spot, which the Reds have been craving. I believe the Liverpool will be a strong force in the Premier League and can compete for a top four place if they maintain consistency; however I believe holding on to Luis Suarez is essential for their season. The future of Suarez could make or break Liverpool’s season, but keeping the Uruguayan could ignite a return to the Champions League for the Merseyside club.
5. Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs will be hopeful of a Champions League finish. While the future of Gareth Bale is unclear, Spurs have added clinical finisher Roberto Soldado to their squad. As well as promising Brazilian talent Paulinho. If Tottenham are able to hold on to the Welsh wizard Gareth Bale, I believe that they are destined for the Champions League. On the other hand, the sale of Bale will be the downfall of Spurs’ top four challenge.
While the Gunners are yet to make any big-name signings, pressure is growing on boss Arsene Wenger. Arsenal are expected to spend big and are rumoured to be close to a few top-class signings. If they are to make big signings a title challenge wouldn’t be far from their reach, meanwhile a lack of transfers could leave Arsenal in jeopardy of dropping out of the top four, but may just have enough quality to manage a top four finish.
3. Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini has begun his reign at City by splashing out on players. Manchester City have spent almost £100million on Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho who will all need to make instant impacts if City are to fight for the title. While City have bags of quality in their squad filled with world class players, I believe Pellegrini’s team will need time to gel before they can win the Premier League title.
2. Manchester United
The Red Devils cruised to the Premier League title last season, with Robin van Persie goals being crucial to their success. While United will have to get used to new life under David Moyes, I still believe United have immense quality in their squad to attempt to retain their title; however I believe they will just be beaten to first place. If Rooney is to depart from Old Trafford this summer this could affect their season in terms of the goals and assists he provides, leaving them behind competitors in the title race.
Much to the delight of Blues fans, Jose Mourinho has been reunited with the club. Mourinho will be seeking to take the Premier League by storm for a second time and I believe the return of the ‘special one’ is exactly what Chelsea need to regain the Premier League title. Chelsea’s squad has been improved with the signing of German international Andre Schurrle. Players such as, Juan Mata will be influential to Chelsea’s season as he provides many goals and assists for the team; however I believe that Chelsea need to buy another striker if they are to win the league and Wayne Rooney could be the answer. If not, the title race will be very open next season.
One thing that is guaranteed is that the Premier League will not fail to disappoint. With the title race, relegation battle and fight for fourth set to be competitive fought out between numerous clubs.
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