Story by Ben Steele
Well it seems like only yesterday that Martin Tyler was screaming “AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” as the Argentine decided the 2011/12 season with effectively the last kick of the campaign. But here we are, looking forward to next season. The football is simply going on forever! So can Manchester City hold onto their title? Who’s making up the top 4? And possibly most importantly, which teams are going to be the subject of our championship columnist’s musings by the time the 2013/14 season rolls around?
At the top of the table it’s the usual suspects. Manchester City won the title in a nail biting finish last season and do you really think Sir Alex Ferguson is really going to roll over and let Mancini’s men waltz to the title next season? If you do then you’re probably reading the wrong website. United have signalled their intent already signing Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund and will be out to take back the mantle of best team in Manchester. The local rivals will also have to compete with the now reigning Champions League holders, Chelsea. Roman Abramovich has finally achieved his goal of funding a team to the pinnacle of European club football and will no doubt look to consolidate that position; something that can only bring an improved league position. With new signings galore to be expected it may be a race to see which of the 3 managers (Ferguson, Mancini and Di Matteo) can be first to get his team playing with any sort of chemistry. My money is on Sir Alex Ferguson, and Manchester United, to win that race; and as a result to win the league.
4th and the Europa League
While the 2 Manchester clubs and Chelsea should make up the top 3 positions in the table the fight for the 4th and final Champions league place may be equally as exciting. Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool will be the teams competing for that and very obviously only 1 team can take it. If Arsene Wenger can convince Robin Van Persie to stay then Arsenal, who finished last season on a strong run of form that saw them snatch 3rd place, will be considered favourites to finish in the top 4. Spurs and Newcastle will be aiming to build on the promising seasons they both had last year while Liverpool will be really hoping for the opposite. The scousers were amusingly inept throughout the whole league season and as a result Kenny Dalglish got sacked leaving Brendan Rodgers to pick up the pieces. Arsenal always seem to find a way to finish in the top 4 and with Van Persie still on their books I’m backing them for 4th spot.
As usual the early season favourites to go down will be the newly promoted sides. Reading, Southampton and West Ham United will all be aiming to secure a premier league place for the future. Realistically the West Ham team that was relegated was too good to have gone down and with the top division experience at their disposal they should be ok. In Rickie Lambert and Billy Sharp Southampton have 2 strikers who are proven goal scorers in the lower leagues and if they can transfer even half of their goal output to the premier league they too should be ok. However, I’m not confident in that. I like Southampton so I hope I’m wrong though. Reading hit an incredible run of form in the Championship something that will be much tougher in the Premiership and as a result I also see them going down.
So who joins Southampton and Reading? QPR finished 17th last season, but will presumably spend big this summer in an attempt to consolidate a place in the league. It’s a tough call but I see one of the 2nd year teams being found out, so QPR, Swansea or Norwich could also go down.
Obviously this is the very early stages of the new season, the transfer window hasn’t really kicked into gear and much could change. So stay tuned, we’ll have much more stuff coming up over the next few weeks.