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Premier League: Top-six prediction

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Transfer deadline day is often a particularly hectic and highly illogical time. As the seconds gradually tick down to the end of the window, clubs and managers have often been known to take leave of their senses as they frantically scramble to secure one last deal to bolster their squad for the campaign ahead.

This year, the final hours of the window proved to be particularly dramatic, with a number of Premier League clubs embroiled in exciting drama until the final stages.  Following the close of the transfer window, GMS predicts how the top six will look at the end of the season:

1. Manchester City 

There was no last-minute mega deal for the 2011/12 Premier League champions during the last throws of the transfer window, and that is due to the simple fact that the club efficiently secured their preferred targets earlier in the summer. 

City, now under the management of experienced Chilean Manuel Pellegrini following the departure of Roberto Mancini, invested heavily once again prior to the start of the new campaign and boosted their ranks with a number of impressive signings that will ensure they are able to wrestle the title back from their local rivals.

In Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, nicknamed 'The Beast of Vallecas', City boast a formidable physical presence who will complement the technical skill of Sergio Aguero and provide serious competition for Edin Dzeko. Indeed, Negredo has enjoyed a hugely promising start to his career at the Etihad Stadium, coming off the bench to score in consecutive games. 

In addition to Negredo, City also acquired Montenegrin starlet Steven Jovetic, Spanish winger Jesus Navas, Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho and experienced Argentine international Martin Demichelis. The latter should provide the defensive cover desperately required in the absence of instrumental captain Vincent Kompany while Jovetic and Navas are two attacking talents that, providing they adapt to the physical nature of life in the Premier League, will wreak havoc among opposition defences. 

The sense of comparative calm that has descended upon the blue half of Manchester will also significantly enhance their chances of claiming top spot. The egos attached to the likes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have now departed while Mancini's exit should see an element of cohesion and togetherness return to the City dressing room. 

While a shocking but narrow defeat to top-flight newcomers Cardiff may have served to somewhat dampen the considerable expectations around the Etihad, City's unrivalled strength in depth will secure the title this season. 

2. Chelsea

Chelsea's 2012/13 campaign was certainly eventful. Wealthy owner Roman Abramovich provoked fury at Stamford Bridge after he dismissed club favourite Roberto Di Matteo, just a matter of months after the Italian had secured the Champions League trophy. 

What is worse, is that Di Matteo's temporary replacement was the unpopular figure of Rafael Benitez. The Spaniard's brief spell in the Chelsea dugout was largely miserable as fans outrightly refused to accept the former Liverpool boss as one of their own, but he did still manage to win the Europa League following a last-gasp victory over Benfica in Amsterdam.  

Returning boss Jose Mourinho's first transfer window back in charge of the Blues was a curious one, to say the least. While he spent much of the summer voicing his desire for a new striker, the capture of Anzhi Makhachkala's Brazilian midfielder Willian from under the noses of London rivals Tottenham raised a number of eyebrows, given the club's existing talent pool in that particular area of the pitch. 

Mourinho was eventually able to secure that coveted new striker in the shape of veteran Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o, who should provide a suitable alternative to the stuttering Fernando Torres and largely ineffective Demba Ba. 

Chelsea's abundance of talent and tactical flexibility under the tutelage of the mercurial Mourinho should ensure that the club are able to mount a serious title challenge this season. However, I believe they will just miss out after a valiant effort. 

3. Manchester United

Despite many previously labelling their squad as one of the weakest in United's top-flight history, the Red Devils won the Premier League at a canter last season. Finishing 11 points clear of nearest rivals City, the commendable achievement was a fitting way for Sir Alex Ferguson to end his supremely successful tenure in charge at Old Trafford.

However, despite the general optimism surrounding the club's chances of retaining their Premier League crown, a farcical first transfer window under new boss David Moyes has left many supporters concerned at a lack of depth to the squad, particularly in the midfield areas. 

After failing to land many of his preferred targets, such as Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas and England left-back Leighton Baines, Moyes was forced to make do with just the signing of combative Belgian international Marouane Fellaini. The former Everton man will certainly add bite with his rather imposing physicality, but he is far from the Paul Scholes replacement that the club were ideally searching for. 

Most might considerable a third place finish for a club of United's pedigree simply unthinkable. However, I believe their significant failings in the transfer market this summer in comparison to rivals City and Mourinho's Chelsea will see them lagging behind those two clubs in the race for first place. 

4. Arsenal

It's been a characteristically chaotic start to the domestic season for Arsenal. After a humiliating opening day defeat at the hands of Paul Lambert's improved Aston Villa side, agitated fans voiced their utter distaste for the club's apparent refusal to spend heavily on new recruits. 

Since then, however, the Gunners' form has drastically improved and long-serving manager Arsene Wenger also managed to appease disgruntled supporters with the eye-catching capture of German playmaker Mesut Ozil. It could certainly be argued that midfield was the area in least need of strengthening, but it would surely be foolish to criticise such an impressive signing as a result.

Arsenal still look a little lightweight in attack following the injury suffered by Lukas Podolski, and much will depend on French striker Olivier Giroud's ability to continue to thrive off of the service provided by Arsenal's impressive group of creative talent. Much has been made of rivals Spurs' top-four chances this year, but I believe Arsenal have what it takes to pip them to fourth place. 

5. Tottenham Hotspur 

Spurs' ambitions for the new season are unmistakably clear. Having invested huge sums of money in seven impressive new signings during the summer, the aim is unquestionably to secure their spot back in the Champions League. They will have to do it without Gareth Bale of course, with the Welsh winger having finally completed his world-record move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. 

Whether the North London outfit have what it takes to achieve their goal this season remains to be seen. Losing a player of Bale's undoubted quality would be a hammer blow to any team, but chairman Daniel Levy and manager Andre Villas-Boas have invested wisely in a number of highly-talented players including Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen, former Valencia striker Roberto Soldado and Belgian Nacer Chadli. 

The new recruits will need time to acclimatise to their new surroundings and become familiar with each other. If everything gels together you certainly wouldn't put Champions League qualification beyond them, however I think this transition period will last a little longer than some are expecting and they will continue to fall just short of their fierce rivals. 

6. Liverpool

Much is expected of manager Brendan Rodgers during his second season in charge at Anfield. While Liverpool certainly displayed huge improvement during his first campaign in charge, a lack of ruthlessness and cutting edge often proved to be the Reds' downfall. 

Liverpool have begun the season in formidable form, with three consecutive 1-0 victories ensuring they sit at the top of the table heading into the season's first international break. England international Daniel Sturridge has continued his superb form from last season and in Philippe Coutinho, the club have a real star in the making.

With Luis Suarez still to return to the fold after his 10-match ban, Liverpool should be capable of sustaining a period of good form and mounting a real challenge for Champions League qualification. Their impressive defensive record so far this season highlights a dogged determination and steely resistance that should only be boosted by the deadline day signings of defensive duo Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Llori. 

Despite the numerous positives, however, the promising new talent secured by their direct competitors might just ensure that the Anfield faithful are left waiting a little longer for that elusive return to Europe's elite competition. 

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