BBC Sport asks 'Who are the champions?'

A poll of football experts has been conducted by the BBC Sport website to produce a predicted top four for the 2011-12 Premier League season.

We asked 30 BBC TV, radio and online pundits, commentators and journalists for their one-two-three-four selections ahead of the new campaign, which starts on Saturday, and for an explanation of their selection.

OVERALL PREDICTED RANKING USING ALL BBC FORECASTS

1. Man Utd

2. Man City

3. Chelsea

4. Liverpool

Only six teams featured in the predictions, and our survey found that Manchester United were the overwhelming favourites to retain their title, with only three votes going to Manchester City and one to Liverpool.

Last season, Chelsea were landslide winners, but nobody we asked has backed their new young boss Andre Villas-Boas to deliver the title to Stamford Bridge. Overall, Arsenal are backed to finish fifth and only one person, Alan Shearer, picked Tottenham at all.

Do you agree? Send us your 1-2-3-4 predictions on Twitter. 

The poll predictions in full:

Alan Hansen

ALAN HANSEN, MATCH OF THE DAY

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"United are looking very strong and you can take your pick between Man City and Chelsea for second. Man City have still got a few weeks before the transfer window shuts and they will probably sign another couple of big players but, even if they don't, they've already got strength in depth.

"Chelsea have got an ageing team whereas United have got a much younger side. United have got a great blend of youth and experience, but with Chelsea it looks like that team might need to be rejuvenated in some way and that means new personnel."

More from Hansen on United and the title race

Alan Shearer

ALAN SHEARER, MATCH OF THE DAY

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Arsenal/Liverpool/Spurs

"United will be the team to beat again. Sir Alex Ferguson has added some very good summer signings to an already strong squad that has the winning mentality you need for the title. I can see Chelsea rather than City pushing them all the way, but United will win it. I have not got a clue who will finish fourth out of the other leading sides."

Gary Lineker

GARY LINEKER, MATCH OF THE DAY

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

Lee Dixon

LEE DIXON, MATCH OF THE DAY

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Liverpool

"United have strengthened well, and already looked strong in all departments - they remain the team to beat. That could change, however, because there are still three weeks to go until the transfer window closes and there are still some big deals to be done.

"As things stand, I have Arsenal down to finish fifth because it looks like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will both be leaving, but if they sign a couple of players then things could be very different."

Follow Lee on Twitter 

Jason Roberts

JASON ROBERTS, BLACKBURN STRIKER AND NEW 606 PRESENTER

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

"United's squad is very strong and they have an identity as a club that everyone buys into.

"The improvements that they have made will kick them on because, when players are injured or just rotated, the players that can come in are just fantastic.

"Other sides have strong squads too but United have the X-factor with their winning mentality and their manager is not going to settle for anything other than another title."

Follow Jason on Twitter 

Mark Lawrenson

MARK LAWRENSON, FOOTBALL FOCUS

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"Sir Alex Ferguson always gets the pre-season training right to gear United up for their traditional strong finish at the end of season. They have got a squad to cope with all the cup competitions, and the Champions League, and real competition for players and a winning mentality too.

"They have got the best team, the best squad and the best manager. Basically, they have got the lot."

Robbie Savage

ROBBIE SAVAGE, FOOTBALL FOCUS

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"The question is whether United have improved since last year. They haven't in the goalkeeping area, because they have lost Edwin van der Sar, but David De Gea is just going to get better and better.

"Their other signings look very good indeed and, with the movement and the pace of their attacks against City in the Community Shield, they clearly remain the team to beat.

"I expect City to push them close, because even if Carlos Tevez goes they still have Sergio Aguero. Chelsea are a year older and I think they will miss the injured Michael Essien, while the Kenny Dalglish factor at Anfield will push Liverpool into the top four because, unlike Arsenal, they are a club players want to join not leave."

Follow Robbie on Twitter. 

Dan Walker

DAN WALKER, FOOTBALL FOCUS

1 Man City 2 Man Utd 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

"Two years ago, Lawro said City would win the title in the next three seasons, so this is his last chance! Sergio Aguero was the signing of the summer, which might give them the edge and they can add in January if necessary as well."

Follow Dan on Twitter 

Ian Dennis

IAN DENNIS, 5 LIVE SENIOR FOOTBALL REPORTER

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Liverpool

"I'm tipping United to retain their title. I know they have lost some experienced players, most notably Edwin van der Sar, but don't forget people such as Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs will provide valuable guidance.

"I think United have captured some exciting young talent with David De Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones, who I was impressed with for England Under 21s in the European Championships in Denmark. United are the team to beat."

Follow Ian on Twitter 

Phil McNulty

PHIL McNULTY, CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

" United showed enough in coming from two goals down to overcome City in the Community Shield at Wembley to make it clear they will once again be the team to beat this season.

"City will come closer this time around but I believe Sir Alex Ferguson's side, strengthened by new signings and developing youngsters, will have enough to see off their rivals once more and claim a 20th domestic title."

Follow Phil on Twitter 

Phil McNulty's Premier League predictions

Guy Mowbray

GUY MOWBRAY, MATCH OF THE DAY COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"United to win it again - but only just. Once more, Sir Alex Ferguson has shown that nobody times it better in the transfer market to move and improve his squad through the generations.

"City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal will all kick on from last season - but United will, for me, have the champions edge to get them there in what should be a thrilling title race."

Follow Guy on Twitter 

Steve Wilson

STEVE WILSON, MATCH OF THE DAY COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

" Whilst Spurs and Liverpool will come close to Arsenal, I reckon the Gunners have what it takes to cling on to their place in the top four, but no more. Chelsea are undergoing a bit of a transition under a new young manager who will need to bring in more new young players; given time they'll be back to their best, but not just yet.

"City have strengthened, but doubts persist about the manager's approach and just how united a squad they are. Which leaves United - who look to have bought pretty well in the summer, and who were already better than the rest. Title number 20 is on the way."

Steve's blog on getting ready for the new season

Jonathan Pearce

JONATHAN PEARCE, MATCH OF THE DAY COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Arsenal

"United have bought top players to rejuvenate their squad and yet still retain enough experience to chisel out gritty results. Chelsea's key players are in the autumn of their careers and I didn't like the lack of unity during last season's blip.

"But I still take them to finish above City, who will have to wait one more year to gel into a consistent enough team to win the title and will shed too many silly points in drawn games. Once the Cesc Fabregas saga is resolved, Arsenal will have enough to hold off Liverpool and Spurs for fourth, and Robin van Persie is my tip for the golden boot."

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John Motson

JOHN MOTSON, MATCH OF THE DAY COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Liverpool 4 Man City

"I am backing either United or Chelsea for the title because I think it will be incredibly close, but if you absolutely pushed me for a winner, I would pick United. I consider their squad to be the best in the league, even stronger than City's.

"I cannot see any other challengers doing enough to displace Chelsea as United's closest rivals but whether they win the league depends on how their new manager Andre Villas-Boas settles in."

Alistair Mann

ALISTAIR MANN, MATCH OF THE DAY COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

" In winning their 19th title in May, United finished nine points clear, having won the most games, scored the most goals and lost the fewest matches. Statistics which surely mark them out as overwhelming favourites to retain their crown?

"They've offset high profile retirements with the prodigious youthful talents of Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David De Gea and there seems certain to be a marquee acquisition before the end of the month. While Chelsea and Manchester City continue their respective transitions, United's unwavering consistency will ensure that title number 20 will be theirs."

Follow Alistair on Twitter 

Pat Nevin

PAT NEVIN, 5 LIVE PUNDIT

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Liverpool

"United won the title last season and they are better this year. Chelsea will push them all the way but this depends on who is bought between now and the end of the transfer window - if Chelsea get Luka Modric from Tottenham, then that might make the difference."

Dan Roan

DAN ROAN, SPORTS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

1 Man City 2 Man Utd 3 Liverpool 4 Chelsea

"Despite their defeat in the Community Shield, and question marks over manager Roberto Mancini's tactics, City now have the squad to reach the next stage of their Abu Dhabi-financed development and bring about a shift in the English game's balance of power.

"Only United can prevent City from winning the league this season, but they, like the much-improved Liverpool, are a team in transition, with ageing Chelsea fading and beleagured Arsenal in rapid decline. It will take time to fit the talents of Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones into Sir Alex Ferguson's side, and this will give City an opportunity they might just seize.

"Such is the club's vast wealth, it could just be the start of an era of unprecedented success both here and in Europe."

Follow Dan on Twitter 

Graeme Murty

GRAEME MURTY, 5 LIVE PUNDIT

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

" The team that finishes above United will be champions, but I just cannot see anyone managing it this season. My heart tells me that Liverpool will be second but, realistically, they are fourth best. City and Chelsea will be battling it out to be runners-up."

Sam Lyon

SAM LYON, BBC SPORT WEBSITE

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

" Not always at their best, Man Utd still won the league by nine points last season - and they've gone and splashed out more than £50m on strengthening their squad since. David De Gea has big gloves to fill following Edwin van der Sar's retirement and Phil Jones is more one for the future, but Ashley Young is a fine acquisition and Sir Alex Ferguson's options going forward and in defence look unrivalled.

"Add in the manager's nous and the arguable fact that only Liverpool among their rivals have so far really improved their squad this summer, and it's tough to see past a 13th Premier League title for the current champions."

Follow Sam on Twitter 

Mark Bright

MARK BRIGHT, BBC LONDON

1 Liverpool 2 Man Utd 3 Man City 4 Arsenal

"Liverpool finished 22 points behind United last season but only Sir Alex Ferguson amassed more points than Kenny Dalglish since the 'king' took over from Roy Hodgson.

"Why will they win it? The Reds have four players who could grace any team in the Premier League: Pepe Reina, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, then add to the mix promising youngsters like John Flanagan, new faces like Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing plus team spirit, desire and 21 years of hurt."

Follow Mark on Twitter. 

Steve Claridge

STEVE CLARIDGE, 5 LIVE PUNDIT

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Arsenal

"I don't see anyone pushing United, and it is very difficult to see past them for the title. We haven't seen enough of Chelsea under their new manager to know about their shape and system, or if they are going to do any better than last year.

"City have spent £500m on a side to stop other teams playing, and Arsenal's policy still appears to be to look five years into the future."

Paul Fletcher

PAUL FLETCHER, BBC FOOTBALL BLOGGER

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Liverpool 4 Chelsea

"It was not a vintage United team last season but they still won the Premier League and reached the Champions League final. Sir Alex Ferguson has brought in fresh legs in Ashley Young and Phil Jones. Their rivals have all strengthened as well - some in great number - but they still lack United's know-how.

Follow Paul on Twitter 

Matt Holland

MATT HOLLAND, 5 LIVE PUNDIT

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"United are the benchmark for all their title rivals and their performance in the Community Shield on Sunday suggested that again they will be the team to beat. If they do land Sneijder, they will be closer to Barcelona in the Champions League but they already have the quality to win the Premier League.

"City are another year wiser and should push them close and Chelsea will be strong too, but their new manager has to work out who to pick out of Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and even Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool will improve on last season but I still think they need a new centre-back before they become contenders."

Follow Matt on Twitter 

ALISTAIR BRUCE-BALL, RADIO 5 LIVE COMMENTATOR

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Liverpool

"There are only three teams who can win the title - United, City and Chelsea - and United will once again come out on top. There is still talk of Wesley Sneijder possibly joining the club, which really would be the icing on the cake, but United still have a myriad of options going forward.

"The Champions League will be a healthy obsession for Sir Alex Ferguson after his team's humiliation by Barcelona at Wembley in May and that could distract from the title challenge, but the same goes for United's two closest rivals, City, who will be desperate to do well on their return to the European Cup after 43 years away, and Chelsea, whose owner Roman Abramovich has made it the Holy Grail."

Follow Alistair on Twitter 

STEVE WYETH, BBC RADIO MANCHESTER

1 Man Utd 2 Chelsea 3 Man City 4 Liverpool

"If last season proved anything, it's know-how and resilience that appears increasingly significant in a sustained challenge for the title. United and Chelsea still have enough of that to edge out the increasing threat of City to their dominance, and I'll back United to make it number 20."

James Pearce

JAMES PEARCE, SPORTS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"Chelsea have a new manager who might take a bit of time to find his feet in the Premier League, and who knows his priority may be the Champions League. City have the distraction of a first Champions League campaign.

"I tip United - a good squad which has been impressively strengthened over the summer."

Follow James on Twitter 

Nigel Adderley

NIGEL ADDERLEY, 5 live FOOTBALL REPORTER

1 Man Utd 2 Liverpool 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

"I can't see beyond United winning the title again. There will be no World Cup hangover for players like Wayne Rooney this season which should help their youngsters integrate into the team.

"Liverpool have so much attacking flair now so Steven Gerrard should benefit from not being overburdened. Chelsea need Fernando Torres to start scoring quickly and also develop an understanding with whoever plays alongside him. Arsenal should scrape into the top four providing the Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri money is spent on the right areas of the team.

"Despite the millions lavished on their squad, I think City may miss out on the top four - rather like Tottenham last season - a decent run in the Champions League could have a negative impact on their domestic results."

Follow Nigel on Twitter 

PETE STEVENS, BBC LONDON

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Chelsea 4 Liverpool

"I feel that this season will be the tightest ever for the race to be crowned champions of the Premier League. Certainly any of the top three could be winners with a re-emergent Liverpool featuring more predominately than they have for several years.

"However, United know better than anyone else how to win it. Consistency was the key to last season's success and they just edge out the other four when it comes to having that essential component this time around, but expect a thrilling season going right down to the wire."

Follow Pete on Twitter 

Alistair Magowan

ALISTAIR MAGOWAN, WEBSITE TACTICS EXPERT

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Liverpool 4 Chelsea

" If United can win the title without Rooney showing his true spark then they should have no problems with him fully energised, and whether or not Wesley Sneijder comes to Old Trafford will have no bearing on them defending their title.

"City will need to improve against the big teams, while Liverpool should capitalise on new signings, where Chelsea and Arsenal have failed to do so."

Follow Alistair on Twitter 

Ian Cheeseman

IAN CHEESEMAN, BBC RADIO MANCHESTER

1 Man City 2 Man Utd 3 Chelsea 4 Arsenal

" The great unknown right now is who will be signing who before the transfer window closes and I fully expect City to pull two or three rabbits out of the hat, with Samir Nasri seemingly the deal closest to being done.

"So, I am tipping City to win the title on the basis that they will make a couple of jaw-dropping additions to their squad. If that doesn't happen, I wouldn't be quite so convinced. Regardless, United, who have dealt well in the summer, will have the consistency to challenge."

Follow Ian on Twitter 

Chris Bevan

CHRIS BEVAN, BBC SPORT WEBSITE

1 Man Utd 2 Man City 3 Liverpool 4 Chelsea

"Chelsea are an unknown quantity because of their new manager and, although City's squad is packed full of quality, Mancini's tactics are not ambitious enough to win the title.

"Liverpool have the players and manager to challenge at the top again but despite some rebuilding of their own during the summer, United already look the finished article, and their attitude and attacking approach is why they have had such sustained success."

Follow Chris on Twitter 

Chris Bevan's blog from the Community Shield

How the poll worked

Our pundits were asked to predict their top four, in order.

We allocated four points for each first place, three for second, two for third, and one for fourth.

The teams were then ranked according to their total points.

You can use our Premier League predictor to produce your own forecast.