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My Premier League 2011-12 predictions

Phil McNulty | 22:11 UK time, Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Manchester United's show of strength in the Community Shield win against Manchester City demonstrated their determination to land a 20th domestic title.

Can City build on their 2011 FA Cup win and seriously threaten their Old Trafford neighbours? Or can new Chelsea boss Andrea Villas-Boas bring the title back to Stamford Bridge?

Kenny Dalglish has spent £100m since returning as Liverpool manager in January, but will that be enough to beat Arsenal and Spurs to a place in the top four and a return to the Champions League, the publicly-stated aim of Liverpool owner John W. Henry?

And can any of the promoted teams - Queen's Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City - expect to survive in the top-tier?

So many questions - and time to dust down the crystal ball and to try to predict what the forthcoming Premier League season will bring...


Liverpool FC

This season could well define Arsene Wenger's stint in charge of Arsenal. Photo: Getty

The most crucial season of Arsene Wenger's time at Arsenal awaits. A chase for four trophies evaporated in the space of weeks last season to make it six years without silverware - accompanied by the most serious criticism of Wenger's time at the club.

Cesc Fabregas' future, or lack of it, has once again dominated the summer and Samir Nasri's reluctance to commit to Arsenal has only added to his problems and he may well depart for Manchester City.

Gervinho's arrival from Lille provides attacking excitement and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an investment in the future - but Arsenal supporters appear to be understandably wearying of Wenger's "jam tomorrow" promises and want serious first-team reinforcements now.

The weaknesses that cost Arsenal last season, vulnerability in central defence and a physical presence in midfield, have not yet been addressed.

They may well arrive once the saga of Fabregas' seemingly inevitable move to Barcelona is concluded. And their success will shape Arsenal and Wenger's season.
If they are, Arsenal may cling on to fourth place - if they are not then there is the real possibility of the Gunners dropping out of the select quartet at the top of the Premier League.

Prediction: 5th

New Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has battles to win off the field amid open discontent after he resigned at rivals Birmingham City following their relegation.

McLeish's cause has not been helped by the departure of a fruitful supply line as Ashley Young left for Manchester United followed by last season's player of the year, Stewart Downing, to Liverpool for £20m.

He has responded with the signing of the maverick but gifted Charles N'Zogbia from Wigan, and his replacement of goalkeeper Brad Friedel with Shay Given for only £3.5m could prove one of the summer's most astute pieces of business.

Villa will lean heavily on the goals of Darren Bent and will hope the promising Marc Albrighton continues to flourish - but expect a season of steady consolidation as opposed to spectacular achievement.

Prediction: 8th

Blackburn made a late escape from relegation last season as manager Steve Kean struggled in succession to Sam Allardyce following his abrupt sacking by Indian owners Venky's.

Little has happened this summer to dispel fears that this fine old club faces a struggle for survival this term, with outstanding youngster Phil Jones sold to Manchester United and David Goodwillie from Dundee United the main inward attacking investment. They will have high expectations for young Serb Radosav Petrovic.

Defensive giant Christopher Samba is also being coveted by other clubs and if he leaves Ewood Park, another personality of great influence will be lost. A heavy burden would then fall on other experienced figures such as Ryan Nelsen, David Dunn and Brett Emerton as well as keeper Paul Robinson.

Rovers can be formidable at home and they will need to be to survive. Kean has so much to prove - but the club's new hierarchy perhaps have even more.

Prediction: 18th

Owen Coyle, thumbs up to fans

After an impressive campaign last season, Owen Coyle's Bolton will want to push on. Photo: Getty

Bolton's season of great promise under manager Owen Coyle collapsed in the latter stages as they lost 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-final to Stoke and lost seven of their last nine league games to finish 14th, a disappointment given earlier results.

Coyle, however, is a shrewd operator and will be optimistic of revival despite Daniel Sturridge, a great success on loan from Chelsea, returning to Stamford Bridge and top scorer Johan Elmander leaving for Galatasaray on a free transfer.

Bolton have had some desperate luck in pre-season with both new signing Tyrone Mears and talented South Korean Lee Chung-Yong suffering broken legs.

The danger of losing outstanding central defender Gary Cahill to Arsenal still casts a cloud, but the real spirit of Bolton will remain in the burly shape of Kevin Davies, and Coyle has made some wise cut-price deals in the transfer market with the addition of Nigel Reo-Coker after his contract ended at Aston Villa and Chris Eagles, who he knows well from his time at Burnley.

Coyle's big reputation in the game is deserved and I expect Bolton to threaten the top 10 and show again in one of the cup competitions.

Prediction: 12th

Another season, another new manager at Stamford Bridge after Carlo Ancelotti was seen off at the bottom of a flight of stairs at Goodison Park following defeat at Everton.

Into the breach, and into the huge expectations of owner Roman Abramovich, steps 33-year-old Andre Villas-Boas after his season of success at Porto, in which he claimed the domestic double and the Europa League.

Chelsea are still chasing Tottenham's Luka Modric as their showpiece summer signing, a potentially defining purchase if successful, but it remains to be seen if Villas-Boas can find any way of successfully moulding a partnership out of £50m Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba.

Torres was a poor imitation of the world-class striker he was at Liverpool after arriving at Chelsea, but it is premature to suggest that stature has been lost forever. If Villas-Boas can flick the right switches he and Chelsea will flourish.

Villas-Boas will be expected to bring Abramovich the Champions League, but first he must find a way of reinvigorating a squad that has leaned too heavily on elder statesmen such as Frank Lampard and John Terry.

Josh McEachran can provide young legs and prodigious talent in midfield, Daniel Sturridge's time may well have come and the arrival of formidable teenager Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht may soon pose another threat to the old guard.

Chelsea should never be dismissed, especially if they can somehow persuade Spurs to part with Modric, but I see the title going elsewhere and Villas-Boas claiming one of the cup competitions - with Abramovich hoping it is the Champions League.

Prediction: 3rd

Everton fans

Everton supporters will cast a wary eye on the foot of the table throughout this season. Photo: Getty

Another summer without transfer cash for manager David Moyes, with growing concern among fans as chairman Bill Kenwright continues to be frustrated in his search for new investors or owners.

Everton fell foul of their trademark awful start last season but pulled the campaign around to finish a respectable seventh. Goodison Park remained formidable with Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea all beaten.

The question is how long can Moyes continue to perform the trick with no room for manoeuvre in the transfer market and a talented, but wafer-thin, squad? It is impossible to see Everton threatening the top four unless the financial climate at the club changes.

Moyes will hope to keep Arsenal target Phil Jagielka and try to ensure youngster Jack Rodwell finally fulfils his potential. And in teenager Ross Barkley he has another outstanding local product to nurture.

Will all this be enough to improve on last season? I don't think so. Same again and a dangerous presence in the cups.

Prediction: 7th

The sudden departure of manager Mark Hughes at the end of last season could have unsettled Fulham but the succession was superbly handled with the swift appointment of Martin Jol.

Jol is a man with plenty to prove in England after his contentious sacking at Spurs. He is a popular figure and will bring real personality and presence to the Premier League as well as acumen.

Fulham finished a creditable eighth last season and Jol will hope for the same again with the bedrock of his squad still in place with Brede Hangeland in defence, Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey in midfield and Bobby Zamora providing the goal threat up front.

It would be a major surprise if Fulham struggled this season, although they must cope with the distraction of the Europa League, and Jol will be on a mission to show he can be a force one more in England.

Prediction: 11th


Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will be hoping to finish in the top four this season. PHOTO: GETTY

Kenny Dalglish's game of Premier League catch-up has come with a price tag of more than £100m attached as Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing joined Andy Carroll and the brilliant Luis Suarez in the new-look Liverpool team.

Dalglish will also be revitalised after reclaiming the job he has wanted for the last 20 years and his simple presence will act as a unifying and galvanising force at a club that has wasted too much time on off-the-field acrimony in recent years.

There is a real sense of optimism around Anfield despite mixed pre-season results, and in Suarez Liverpool have a player who gives them a thrilling extra dimension in attack.

Downing has been bought to provide supply for Carroll while Henderson and Adam will strengthen in midfield, giving added freedom to Steven Gerrard once he is fit after groin surgery.

Owner John W. Henry has already set his sights on the top four and make no mistake Dalglish will be doing the same, in private if not in public.

Dalglish has problems to solve at left-back and in central defence, but if he does that successfully I expect Liverpool to seriously threaten Arsenal and Spurs for fourth place - and well worth a few pounds of anyone's money to win a cup without the added fixture congestion of the Europa League.

Prediction: 4th

The infamous Old Trafford banner has been stripped away and the clock has stopped ticking. Manchester City ended 35 years without a trophy by winning the FA Cup last season and established even firmer foundations for progress with a place in the Champions League.

Carlos Tevez has hogged plenty of headlines with his so-far unfulfilled desire to leave, but the arrival of his outstanding fellow countryman Sergio Aguero has calmed any nerves.

Boss Roberto Mancini must wrestle with that weight as his task now is to prove he can plot a serious Premier League title challenge with such an expensively-assembled squad - which may well have Arsenal's Samir Nasri added shortly.

City should gain great self-belief from finally winning a cup and I believe this will sustain them for a more concerted attempt on the title this season, inspired by the brilliance of David Silva, one of the Premier League's most elegant and watchable performers.

Intriguing to see what impact they can make on the Champions League - and dark horses for the title.

Prediction: 2nd


Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Champions Manchester United have added new signings to bolster their squad. PHOTO: GETTY


Manchester United ended last season in pain after being outclassed by Barcelona in the Champions League final - but a record 19th domestic title provided plenty of consolation and proof of Sir Alex Ferguson's enduring powers.

He was not about to go quietly and has set about the task of rebuilding a squad depleted by the retirements of Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes. And the manner of their comeback and win against Manchester City last Sunday once again marks them down as the team to beat this season.

Ferguson has bought well with the acquisition of a fine young keeper in David de Gea from Atletico Madrid. Phil Jones is talented enough to act as instant cover for any defensive emergencies and Ashley Young's arrival from Aston Villa adds fluidity and versatility to an already potent attack given the presence of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez. He will also provide competiton to spark Nani to a return to his best.

The Scot would like to add another quality midfield player with Scholes gone, but added bonuses have come with the growing maturity and promise of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck after their loan spells at Wigan and Sunderland respectively.

United will need to improve on under-par away form that was propped up by results at Old Trafford, where only two points were dropped and they will face a renewed challenge from their affluent neighbours.

I am unconvinced the current United squad can reclaim the Champions League unless Barcelona perish, but they are good enough to notch title number 20.

Prediction: 1st

Joey Barton's Twitter feed has provided the colourful backdrop to Newcastle's close season with talk of his exit following on from the loss of Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January and captain Kevin Nolan to West Ham.

Manager Alan Pardew has been working the markets and will hope the explosive but unpredictable Demba Ba will provide a regular source of goals while Cheik Tiote is the mainstay of a midfield that contains promise if Hatem Ben-Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux can steer clear from injury. Barton may even be rehabilitated at some point and for all the criticism aimed at him, he has never been accused of being a bad footballer.

Gabriel Obertan often looked out of his depth at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to cut his losses has landed the winger on Tyneside in an attempt to prove his worth in a signing that is a gamble, at best, by Pardew.

Newcastle often seem only a step away from self-inflicted injuries and their height of expectation this season should be survival. Something I expect them to achieve in relative comfort - although this is Newcastle we are talking about.

Prediction: 15th

Manager Paul Lambert has been at the forefront of a remarkable transformation that has witnessed Norwich returning to the Premier League and there is a realistic chance that he can confirm his hero status in Norfolk by keeping them there.

Norwich will expect much from the creativity of Wes Hoolahan and the goals of Grant Holt but Norwich have also been active in the transfer market with strikers James Vaughan and Steve Morison coming to Carrow Road from Everton and Millwall. Defender Kyle Naughton has so far failed to fulfil his potential at Spurs, so will be hoping he can get his career heading in the right direction during his loan spell.

They will be backed by passionate full houses at home and this is where they must set the platform for survival. Lambert's know-how, accumulated as a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund and throughout a fine playing career, should not be under-estimated and the Canaries may just defy the odds to stay up.

Prediction: 17th

QPR cruised to the Championship under that master of winning promotion Neil Warnock - who now has his familiar problem of keeping a side in the top tier after getting them there.

So much will depend on the enigmatic Adel Taraabt, who is staying at Loftus Road after flirting with a move to Paris St. Germain. He revelled in the Championship but it remains to be seen if he can transfer his flamboyant style to the Premier League after failing to make an impact at Tottenham, where he was eventually deemed surplus to requirements.

If he can, then QPR's chances of survival will soar and he will be a crucial creator for Warnock's new "DJ Bothroyd" strike force of DJ Campbell and Jay Bothroyd. Kieron Dyer's signing from West Ham is a throw of the dice from Warnock in the hope he can somehow go a spell without injury and make a meaningful contribution at some stage.

QPR's fans have been disappointed by the lack of big-money signings following promotion. If they survive, the season can be considered a big success for Warnock and his players.

Prediction: 16th


Stoke played in their first FA Cup final last season and will now compete in this year's Europa League tournament. PHOTO: GETTY

Stoke are often damned with faint praise but not here. A 13th-placed finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup final appearance represented more fine work by manager Tony Pulis last season.

Their failure to show anything like their true form in defeat to Manchester City at Wembley was a major disappointment but they will be back for more this season in the atmospheric surroundings of the Britannia Stadium with a style based on the wing-play of Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington serving up the supply for Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters.

Plenty of eyes will be on Jonathan Woodgate to see if he can give his career the finale his talent deserves after so many injury problems, and chairman Peter Coates usually finds the funds to back Pulis so expect more additions before the deadline.

I may be in the minority but I admire Stoke, love the raw atmosphere of the Britannia and expect the Potters to be in and around the top 10 once more, especially if they finally master the art of picking up points away from home.

Prediction: 9th

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce must have spent the entire summer with his mobile phone clasped to his ear as he embarked on what amounted to almost a complete refit of a side that collapsed badly in the second half of last season after losing Darren Bent to Aston Villa for £24m.

He took his transfer fund to £40m by selling Jordan Henderson to Liverpool before putting together a new-look combination of youth and experience that he hopes will at least repeat last season's 10th-placed finish.

Wes Brown and John O'Shea have arrived from Manchester United to provide the experience while Connor Wickham's £9m signing from Ipswich Town provides the youth as Bruce pulled off a real coup by persuading one of the country's most coveted youngsters to move to the Stadium of Light.

Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner will add midfield strength along with David Vaughan, a real star of Blackpool's gallant attempt to stay in the Premier League last season.

On the surface Bruce looks to have used his money very wisely - now he needs the results to convince a Wearside public that grew decidedly discontented at times last season.

Prediction: 10th

Brendan Rodgers has long been tipped as a real managerial talent and he proved it by taking Swansea into the Premier League via the play-offs last season.

A disciple of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Rodgers' Swansea returned to the big league for the first time 1983 on the back of Scott Sinclair's goals and Joe Allen's midfield performances - but can they make the step up?

Danny Graham will have heavy goal-scoring responsibility as a club record £3.5m signing from Watford while Wayne Routledge is fortunate to get another chance to realise a talent that is too often unfulfilled, with the same applying to Leroy Lita after his £1.75m move from Middlesbrough.

It is about time Wales had a presence in the Premier League and Swansea's style suggests they will win admirers - but I fear a long struggle to avoid relegation.

Prediction: 19th


Spurs will look to get back in to the Champions league after conquering Inter and AC Milan last season. PHOTO:GETTY

Bitter-sweet season for Spurs last time out as Champions League wins against AC Milan and Inter Milan were followed by a slump in form that saw them drop out of the top four and contention for this season's tournament.

As much will depend on who Spurs keep rather than sign as Chelsea continue to pursue Luka Modric. If Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy can stay firm and convince the Croatian that White Hart Lane is the place for him, then they can prepare again for another season rich in promise.

If Modric is lost, and at this stage Spurs have not moved one inch from their "not for sale" stance, then worries will increase that Champions League participation was a one-off treat rather than a regular diet.

Brad Friedel's signing is a wise move away from the unreliable goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes but Redknapp's main priority still has to be that regular 20-goal striker to go alongside the exciting Rafael van der Vaart after his attackers failed to do the business last season.

If Modric stays and is happy, then Spurs will be in the top six, eyeing the top four and worth a trip to the bookies for one of the cups.

Prediction: 6th

The Hawthorns was the perfect place for Roy Hodgson to restore his reputation after his sacking at Liverpool as he succeeded Roberto di Matteo and took them to a comfortable 11th in the table.

Now he must build on the hope and optimism engendered and the signs of the summer look good. Ben Foster is an upgrade on Scott Carson in goal, Chris Brunt has signed a new contract and Peter Odemwingie has stayed. And with Shane Long signed from Reading, Hodgson will feel the Baggies are in good shape.

Hodgson may have struggled at Liverpool but West Brom has looked as comfortable a fit for this experienced operator as Fulham did when he took them to the Europa League final. I expect them to have a campaign of consolidation.

Prediction: 13th

A good-news, bad-news summer for Wigan. Manager Roberto Martinez turned down Aston Villa but best player Charles N'Zogbia didn't, leaving a gaping hole in their attacking resources.

Tom Cleverley's return to Manchester United after a loan spell is also a blow for one of the most unpredictable sides in the Premier League, capable of beating the best and losing to the worst with equal expertise.

Talented midfield James McCarthy will be crucial to their season if Wigan can keep him away from an increasing group of admirers, as will striker Hugo Rodallega.

Wigan have danced around the drop with regularity. If Martinez can do the same again this season then his reputation will be enhanced, but this may be the season when they do not escape.

Prediction: 20th

Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy believes the Premier League will be tougher this season and has warned Wolves they must improve their results against other relegation battlers. PHOTO: GETTY 

It took a late goal from Stephen Hunt to keep Wolves up last season - but now is surely the time for this great old club to stop seeking to simply survive under Mick McCarthy and set their sights a little higher.

And backed once more by chairman Steve Morgan, McCarthy has spent £12m on two players who could help them do just that.

Jamie O'Hara has completed a permanent move after a successful spell on loan when McCarthy may just have seen a mirror image of his own attitude to defending when spending £7m to take Roger Johnson from Birmingham City.

Johnson's form shaded as Birmingham were relegated but he was battling against injury and I also saw him produce several towering performances last season. This deal could prove a real winner for McCarthy and Wolves.

Steven Fletcher came good towards the end of the season and Kevin Doyle's return will be vital, as will the combative and creative contributions of Hunt and Matt Jarvis.

This may just be the season when Wolves and their supporters don't spend the final few weeks in a cold sweat.

Prediction: 14th


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  • Comment number 1.

    Predictions are just predictions and just that and will have no bearing on where everyone finishes next season. Let's take a look at your predictions from 2010:

    Arsenal - "but face fight for top-four place." ... Comfortable top 4 finish.
    Chelsea - "Champions" ... Finished 2nd
    Liverpool - "Top 4 contenders" ... Finished 6th and no where near 4th place
    Man united - "second" ... Finished as champions
    Man City - "Top four and must contest for silverware" ... Only correct prediction.

    Your predictions from 2009:

    Arsenal - "fourth." ... Finished 3rd
    Chelsea - "Second" ... Won the trophy - champions
    Liverpool - "Champions" ... Finished a shocking 7th
    Man united - "third" ... Finished second
    Man City - "Europa League places" ... Only correct prediction.

  • Comment number 2.

    Lovely informative piece on Norwich there

  • Comment number 3.

    Have you not learnt yet? Every year Wigan get predicted to finish last by everyone. I think the exception was last year when they were set to finish 19th and Blackpool last. Can you not see that Wigan have the youngest team in the Premier League and will only get better. They will be this years surprise package I promise you. And I'm not even a Wigan fan! Sounds like either a bitter West Ham fan that wrote this or someone who doesn't really follow the Premier League.

  • Comment number 4.

    *Wes Hoolahan (a not i) - a lot of reports have been making that mistake recently...

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really don't agree with all this talk of Liverpool taking Arsenal's place in the top 4. Yes we need a CB which is apparent and also Cesc and Nasri need to go but all of this I'm sure will be sorted out. Between Liverpool and Spurs you've pretty much got the England B team and yes I agree they will be a threat but Arsenal are 2 players short of title contenders and these players WILL be bought in time! If not then we might struggle but even without Cesc or Nasri our front line will be Gervinho,RVP and Arshavin-I'd have that any day ahead of Suarez(un proven), Carroll(over priced) and Gerrard(On his last legs)! Sorry scousers but even with the biased Liverpool Panel they call the BBC Experts you're still not good enough-Another £100mil me thinks!!

  • Comment number 7.

    for the first time in a long time us liverpool fans can confidently go into the season with some hope of challenging utd.


    Liverpool fans go confidently into every season (Je Cole being the missing link springs to mind about last summer) before realising several teams are simply better than them. Whilst I think they'll be be better than last season, the signings of Henderson, Adam and Downing hardly strike fear into other fans.

  • Comment number 8.

    If this is not the final table, I'll be staggered:

    1.) Chelsea
    2.) Man Utd
    3.) Man City
    4.) Arsenal
    5.) Tottenham H.
    6.) Liverpool
    7.) Everton
    8.) Fulham
    9.) Sunderland
    10.) Aston Villa
    11.) Stoke C.
    12.) W.B.A.
    13.) Bolton W.
    14.) Wolves
    15.) Newcastle Utd
    16.) Swansea C.
    17.) Blackburn R.
    18.) Wigan Ath
    19.) Norwich C.
    20.) Q.P.R.

  • Comment number 9.

    TomTom - Gervinho has looked quality so far. Even if he doesn't set the Premier League alight, your "football kicking donkey" comments are way off.

    Phil - your predictions are fine, but you need to start manning up and basing your end-of-season comments on them. You're always saying Arsenal will finish outside the top 4, then when they finish 3rd/4th you say it's a disappointment.

  • Comment number 10.

    What is it with Liverpool fans who suddenly feel they have a devine right to be in the top 4-Under Rafa you bought your way to 4th place and had the luckiest reuslt EVER against Milan who anyone in thier right minds know they threw it away by being over confident at half time and now you've bought a couple of players who can't even get into this rubbish England team and suddenly you're challenging for the title!! I bet £100 Gerrard is your player of the season again this season and thats with him being injured!! He's all you've got and all your worth-Over the hill and living on past glories!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Pundits are regular in overestimating where Liverpool will finish. Apart from Suarez, they've signed three players that wouldn't get into any of the top 4 from last season's team and their defence is weak, yet they're predicted to dislodge Arsenal from 4th, nonsense.

    Man United will win it at a canter, their squad looks formidable and if Sneijder joins they'll be much better than anyone else. City still have too many off days and Chelsea haven't really improved their squad.

  • Comment number 12.

    Predictions for 2011/2012

    1. Manchester United
    2. Manchester City
    3. Chelsea
    4. Liverpool
    5. Tottenham
    6. Arsenal
    7. Everton
    8. Sunderland
    9. Stoke
    10. Aston Villa
    11. Bolton
    12. Fulham
    13. West Brom
    14. Newcastle
    15. Wolves
    16. Wigan
    17. QPR
    18. Blackburn
    19. Norwich
    20. Swansea

  • Comment number 13.


    Just a quick one if you're reading this-If you had Barca and Madrid in the EPL where would they come in your predictions-Barca first and say Madrid 4th? I'm off home now but hope you might see it fit to answer it as I think its a good question? Good night gents!

  • Comment number 14.

    u state arsenal's defence has not improved this season, i have to disagree vermaelen (equivalent to vidic=man u and terry=chelsea defense) who missed virtually all of last season injured, so wasn't involved in the defensive mistakes, is back so the defense is stronger and Szceszny in goal is a massive improvement, i agree that arsenal need another defender to cover. Also if cesc and nasri do leave we have ramsey and gervinho aswell as probably a new signing (maybe Mata) so i fully expect arsenal to be top 4 and Liverpool are a team that have spent money on average players adam had a good season last year but that was his first season teams learn just look at marcus stewart, henderson is young and has potential but he probably won't play as much and downing is a typical english player over recent years has potential but never fulfills it. Liverpools only hope is suarez but he could miss the start of the season because of playing in the copa america

  • Comment number 15. echo_me (#1) pointed out, your predictions are historically way off mark. In fact I am surprised you did not pick Liverpool for the title. Here is my prediction:
    a. Man United could likely win it. I say likely because, this time unlike past years, their defense is a quite shaky. And Van Der Saar is no longer back there to save them (sorry I have watched De Gea for 3 years now with Atletico, and, whilst a good goalie, he is shaky a lot of times). The loss of Van Der Saar is huge Phil, Their victory over City was frankly due to negative tactics by Mancini. So I am not so sure United is a shoo-in for the title.
    b. Chelsea: They have added Lukaku but have lost Essien and Zhirkov. The window is still open, but their midfield is not as strong as it used to be. Reinforcements have not been brought in. Lampard is now more prone to injury. Their defense is still rock solid. But remember they were only 5 points above Arsenal and level with City last year. I fancy Chelsea 3rd or 4th.
    c. Liverpool: Sorry all the euphoria is much ado about nothing. Their additions are average players (Adams, Downing etc etc). Suarez and Caroll are excellent, but Caroll is injury prone. I don't see Liverpool getting 4th, UNLESS Arsenal does not make some additions I and others suggest below (Wenger has said he will but who knows).
    d. Arsenal: I make no secret that I am an Arsenal fan. Your prediction of 5th could come true Phil, unless Arsenal sells Fabregas, Nasri, Bendtner, Almunia, Eboue, and even Diaby right away. Take the money offered for them and run. Add some funds to those monies and bring in: Cahill AND Samba AND Juan Mata. There would even be enough to bring in Marek Hamsik AND maybe Adam Johnson from City (or even Diego). So if they bring in all of Cahill, Samba, Juan Mata, in addition to any of Marek Hamsik, Diego or Adam Johnson, Arsenal will be battling for the title. If not, or if they bring just one of Cahill/Samba AND/or one of Mata/Hamsik/Diego/Johnson, I see them battling for spot 3-5.

    The rest of your predictions can come in any order.

  • Comment number 16.

    as long as man city don't cheat/buy their way to the league title it should be a good season

    for god sake, is it still the school holidays!!

    I wont be taking any of this to the bookmakers thats for sure.

    I think all teams to come up will go straight back down, thats it from me as the rest is a lottery, we all know the top 6 but the rest is anyones guess.

  • Comment number 17.


    this is not championship manager!

  • Comment number 18.

    Predictions never seem to go down well, always cause arguments on here.

    Yet again you rate Arsenal as Europa League contenders, but they've never finished out of the top 4 under Wenger. I don't see this changing this year either, Liverpool have bought a lot of over-rated players that will take a while to gel, so your bias to them is them only reason they're in the top 4 for you. Did you even watch the community shield match? Man City didn't play football, their terrible to watch with no attacking instinct, i don't believe they will do that great this year either, especially if Tevez gets his wish to leave!

    I don't believe QPR have a chance in the Prem, they've brought in very few players of real quality. Taraabt is over-rated, he'll get bullied off the ball every time he touches it in the Prem. I think Swansea could be dark horses this year, no one really believes they can stay in the division but if they turn the Liberty into a fortress like it was last year, they could do well with their attractive style of passing football.

    Top 4: Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City

    Blackburn, QPR, Norwich

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil, not very bold predictions if you ask me.

    How about Citeh to finally win it ( buy it)
    Man U to falter badly on account of dodgy keeper
    Liverpool in 2nd cos of new found spirit
    Chelsea to fight for that second spot but fall away due to injuries
    Arsenal to hang on to 4th and maybe win a cup
    Villa to be fighting against relegation
    Stoke and Bolton ahead of Spurs and Everton at least on a par, and include Sunderland too
    Swansea and QPR to have good runs and avoid the drop
    Out of Norwich, Villa, Wolves Wigan and West Brom to go down
    The Mighty Arse
    Man U
    West Brom

  • Comment number 20.

    But by far the biggest most rediculous statement is this:

    i have to disagree vermaelen (equivalent to vidic=man u and terry=chelsea defense)

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm still under the impression that it will be a two horse race for top spot between United and Chelsea. City have got the players and finances to challenge but I just get the feeling that Mancini ultra defensive approach (in comparison to the other top teams) could lead them to drop points in games they should win. Also I think its great for the likes of Spurs and Arsenal that people seem to be think that neither will make the top four let alone challenge for the title. Spurs could have been in the top four with a top class striker last year and Arsenal would have finished above City if they hadn't finished the season with relegation form after blowing all competitions plus if they get a top centre half and goalkeeper they will challenge. Liverpool will probably be the most interesting team as they've basically thrown together a new team many of who are still fairly new to the league and the pressure of being at a top club. It really could go either way with them, could click and they could challenge for the top four or finish in or outside of the europa places.

  • Comment number 22.

    gunner do you all
    you sound a bit jealous since arsenal last won something liverpool have been to 2 champion's league finals and won the f.a cup. liverpool have bought players who have played in the premership not from a poor french league and the championship you have players at the club who don't want to be there at least liverpool have the balls to ship them out

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil, I came to the same conclusion about Liverpool's situation in the domestic cups, only a few weeks ago....

  • Comment number 24.

    You had to jinx Man United, didn't you????.. >:{

  • Comment number 25.

    Hahahahahaha.... These predictions give me jokes... haha.. This is like the Cesc saga. Everyone knows he wants to leave yet the media keep reporting about it with all these made up lies to make it seem more real haha. Clearly this guy hates Arsenal and dislike them completely.

    According to most writers predictions are that Arsenal is out of top four for the past 10 years... yet they keep coming on the top 4 each season and the others keep changing.

    However I do agree with one thing here, Unless Man City don't use their brilliant attackers properly ie: not park the bus and actually play some atacking football when they have the lead, unless Arsenal buy good defenders, Unless Chelsea completely change their team Man UTD will win that famous 20th league no doubt.

    Man City should stop parking the bus and saying Man UTD is much higher than them since they have the best players in the league. It's them trying to park the bus is where they go wrong surrendering whatever the lead they have. They do not have a record of coming back to haunt teams when they are down with goals. Most teams struggle to win games after going down so that's really not an issue. It's a run of 38 games. If they improve that I may think they can even win the league.

    Chelsea is just getting old, as simple as that. If anyone is going out of the top 4 it will be Chelsea. Just like man city they have excessive forwards and most of them are old too. They will definetely not be in the top 3

    Man UTD loks favours to win.

    As a gunners fan all you journalist and sport writers should really stop trying to trample Arsenal as they never really got trampled and now you lot just look sad for writing stupid idiotic things haha. Arsenal may not win the league, I think they will win a trophy though this season, They will assess their defensive issues making them title contenders again and they will definetely be in the top 4. My predictions are,

    1) Man UTD
    2) Arsenal
    3) Man City
    4) Liverpool
    5) Chelsea
    6) Tottenham
    7) Everton
    8) Aston Villa
    9) Fulham
    10) Sunderland
    11) Stoke City
    12) Bolton Wanderes
    13) West Brom Albion
    14) New Castle UTD
    15) QPR
    16) Blackburn
    17) Wolves
    18) Wigan Athletic
    19) Swansea
    20) Norwich C.

  • Comment number 26.

    #6 What planet are you on.

    -And Before it is said i am not and never will be a Liverpool fan-

    Arsenal are in a shambolic state at the moment your two best players don't want to play for you, van persie is quailty but always injured and your defence is, well, nothing short of pathetic and you come along saying your two players of the title. In the last few years your seasons have imploded around march/april how do expect to launch a title challenge with form like that, your only in the top 4 now cause spurs got to the champions league quarter finals!

    The only team that look to have made good signings so far is united, apart from de gea, I personally think that united could struggle in the early part of the season (as usual) even with a really good pre-season under thier belts. By christmas i think de gea will have learnt the language enough for matches and will have been toughtened up (like hernandez). So really the same as most seasons if United are in touching distance at christmas its thiers to loose.

    And like any pradiction that could be blown out of the water by anything, we don't know how good AVB is at chelsea they could wipe the floor with everyone or if city get thier act together and play more offensive football they could run away with it.

    Isn't that what makes football and the premier league so good?

  • Comment number 27.

    I think Liverpool might win the league, cos paying £20million each for Downing and Henderson, as Mark Lawro says, is such great business.

    Maybe not.

    How about buy someone like N'Zogbia for a fraction of the price? Or even buy Lionel Messi for the combined fees of Henderson, Downing and Carrol?

  • Comment number 28.

    cliveeta - you honestly think Man Utd will drop to 5th place?! Crazy.

    Good piece on Wolves, Phil. I think they may be a surprise package this season. Here's my predictions;

    1. Man City
    2. Man Utd
    3. Chelsea
    4. Arsenal
    5. Liverpool
    6. Tottenham
    7. Sunderland
    8. Everton
    9. Bolton
    10. Wolves
    11. Stoke
    12. Villa
    13. Newcastle
    14. Fulham
    15. West Brom
    16. Norwich

    Any of the following - Wigan, QPR, Blackburn and Swansea could go down IMO. It's difficult to say though.

  • Comment number 29.

    Good One Phil but I Can't see liverpool finishing above Arsenal
    Here is mine
    1/2. Manchester City
    1/2/3. Chelsea
    2/3. Manchester United
    2/3/4. Arsenal
    5/6. Liverpool
    6. Everton
    7. Tottenham
    8. Fulham
    9. Stoke
    10. Aston Villa
    11. Bolton
    12. Sunderland
    13. West Brom
    14. Newcastle
    15. Wolves
    16. Wigan
    17. Blackburn
    19. Norwich
    18. QPR
    20. Swansea

  • Comment number 30.

    I think Manchester United will take this premier league by storm. I honestly can NOT understand why people think Liverpool are going to be title challengers this season. Every season I hear the same thing "this is our season", "we've got a new squad, a new era".

    Mark my words. Manchester United will win this title by at least 9 points! There is no other club in the country that has the same team spirit, hunger and belief as us red devils. We are the club that every other club should look up to.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Also, I can see Newcastle United going down.....

  • Comment number 33.

    yes I really think that without the security of the awesome VDS ( like Schmeichel before him) ManU will falter, the defence will no longer be as solid.
    Remember how Arsenal's goalkeeper problems have hurt them the last few years.....

  • Comment number 34.


    Interested to know your thoughts on some of the players from the United Youth Cup winning team. They've kind of gone under the radar with the new signings, but I geuinely think that Paul Pobga and Ravel Morrison (provided he stays out of prison) might well break into the United first team this year. They will certainly play in the Carling Cup, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some Premier League appearances as well. They could provide the guile and pace that we were missing last year. If your good enough you are old enough as they say.

  • Comment number 35.

    1-Manchester United
    3-Manchester City

  • Comment number 36.

    1.Man Utd
    2.Man City

    Arsenal 6th if they sell Nasri and Fabregas
    United easy 1st when they get sneijder
    2nd-6th covered by 5 points, a close race for Silver!

  • Comment number 37.

    Sorry, but all of you who say Uniteds deffence will falter this season, think again. Phil Jones, Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Da silva twins will be a force to be reckoned with!

  • Comment number 38.

    Dead easy to predict the top 4/5.
    All the teams with bottomless wallets,as usual.
    I would'nt give any of them a chance if they had to survive on the average income of all the other teams in the prem.

  • Comment number 39.

    The most ridiculous prediction I ever seen so far but I don't want to judge it because it's what you think will happen and it's not about what I think.

    So Phil, there seems to be a pattern in the last 2 prediction(including this):
    You just say the team which won the premier league lsat season wins it again this season. In that case it's Manchester United this season and the last one you got it wrong.
    You predict City's correct in the last 2 but this time, seriously, City will finish Higher than Chelsea? Phil, if you have been watching the premier league closely, during the APRIL-MAY time, it has always been the 2 horse-race battle between Chelsea and United during the last seven years(probably except the 04-05 1 where arsenal came 2nd). During the last 7 years it has either been Chelsea or Man u win the league, Chelsea 3 times, United 4 times. So why different this time, City will badly miss Tevez if he leaves and Aguero may need 1/2 of the season to get adapted and City mostly play Defensively.
    Now about Arsenal, people(yes, including you Phil) have been saying Arsenal will be outside the top 4 but again and again Arsenal proved them(including you) wrong.
    What would have happened to Arsenal if Vermalaen and RVP were fit all season?
    Arsenal may have won the league, maybe not.
    Swansea city, if they keep their attractive passing style and make Liberty a fortress again, I think they will finish higher than 15.
    Chelsea/United 1st
    Chelsea/United 2nd
    Arsenal 3rd
    City 4th
    Liverpool 5th
    Oh and by the way, you have overestimated Liverpool over Arsenal. Liverpool bought 3 over rated English players for 75m
    Carroll 35m vs Sneijder 32m = Sneijder 32m
    Young(perfect bargain for UTD) 16m vs Downing 20m = Young 16m
    Liverpool's only saviour is Suarez and probably Gerrard!
    COME ON CHELSEA!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    1 - Man Utd
    2 - Chelsea
    3 - Man City
    4 - Liverpool
    5 - Spurs
    6 - Arsenal (if they lose Fabregas and Nasri)

  • Comment number 41.

    According to the sub text on the link, Phil McNulty makes some "Bold predictions."

    But of course they're nothing of the sort. They're very safe and simply follow the conventional wisdom. Which in fact is the herd mentality footballing press pack is famous for.

    The thing which sticks out for me is virtually every football hacks inability to get their heads around Liverpool's decline.

    I'm a Spurs fan so have no particular axe to grind when it comes to Liverpool, but what is it with everyone and their expectations of grand things at Anfield?

    They had a very ropey season last year and were poor the year before too. They had a little surge at the end of last season as other sides did throughout the year, but the final table doesn't lie and their performances when looked in the context of two years shows them to be the sixth best team in the land.

    So how come they're suddenly going to leap-frog not just Spurs, but Arsenal too?

    Is it because they've made some amazing signings? Amazingly expensive one's maybe, but most of the people they've bought are unproven in the Premier League and have no track record to speak of.

    Would Henderson get into any of the other of the top six sides? Jay Spearing? Charlie Adams? What exactly has Carroll done in his career? He may turn out to be amazing, but we haven't the evidence to say it yet. Even Suarez only scored a handful of goals last season.

    And then we look at their stalwarts Gerard and Carragher and neither are getting younger and both prone to injury and loss of form respectively.

    Spurs went to Anfield at the end of last season and beat them comfortably. They were the same old average Liverpool we'd seen for the last two seasons.

    It seems to me that the media must be swayed by the large number of ex Liverpool pros doing punditry, otherwise I can't think of a single reason why they shouldn't be predicted sixth this year, as they were last.

  • Comment number 42.


    you have not watched enough of De Gea. Sorry. SAF had planned to buy him as understudy to VDS but he could not get him. This year, there is really no one in the market of quality (Bayern got the best). So De Gea it is. But you are not admitting how much comfort VDS gave United defenders back there, and rescued them from their mistakes, where other goalies would have let them into the net. VDS/Ferdinand are not as solid anymore. Evans, Smailing, Jones are good but not good enough to provide that airtight defense you once had. Plus Scholes is gone. So boast all you want but I think United's defense could be its demise this season! I still fancy them to win the title though.

  • Comment number 43.


  • Comment number 44.

    Arsenal fans eh? Lol!

    With no European fixtures to distract them, I expect Liverpool to be challenging for a CL place but I don't think they're strong enough for the title. Tottenham, too, look likely to challenge for a top 4 but seem to lack strength in depth and they really need to hold on to what they have. Chelsea need to strengthen the midfield, they especially need a playmaker, otherwise I think the season will be too long for them, although they will be challenging for the title; Man City need a new manager to put together the galaxy of overpaid mercenaries, and they still look weak at the back which Mancini realises and so sets them up accordingly; Arsenal will need to keep Fabregas and strengther further, otherwise they'll be fighting for a top 4 finish again; Man Utd do look a bit weak at the back, despite the claims of some on here, but they do look the strongest overall and, especially if they get Schneider, I can unfortunately see them winning the title again. A lot still depends on what happens in the rest of the transfer window though, a lot of time left in the mix yet. I also expect to see someone surprising at the wrong end of the table - Villa, maybe? Not really that strong overall and relying on Bent to score all your goals would concern me if I was a Villa fan...having said that, now watch them finish 4th...!

  • Comment number 45.

    As a chelsea fan, your prediction that chelsea will finish 3rd is prayer for the dead. My chelsea will win the premier league. I am happy chelsea is not your favorite to win it. Your favourite teams never win the premiership.

  • Comment number 46.

    I say with gritted teeth that I think Man United will win the title yet again this season. Out of the top teams they have arguably recruited the best players who have shown great potential. Ashley Young is almost at the peak of his career and there is still a lot to come from him, plus Phil Jones and David de Gea are very talented. The latter two are still a bit raw and this may or may not cost United depending on how they react to being at a big club.

    After seeing City's collapse against United last Sunday, I think winning the league is still in doubt for them as you can buy all the amazing players in the world but they don't necessarily make a well-oiled machine. They have the new distraction of the Champions League and with egos like Balotelli and Tevez disrupting issues at the club, they are by no guarantees going to win something this season.

    My club Chelsea is in transition and there are a lot of ifs to consider in order for them to be successful this season. As far as the league goes it's an unknown quantity because AVB could either get off to a flier or he could be a real flop. I will predict a 2nd place finish with a possible renaissance in the Champions League.

    Liverpool might well take 4th place from Arsenal this season and Spurs might recover enough to make that trio an interesting tussle for that position.

    In terms of relegation, I think that Wigan will finally bite the dust along with Swansea and Blackburn.

    My dark horse to spring a surprise and do well this season are West Brom. I don't think they'll suffer from second season syndrome, but instead Roy Hodgson may guide them to 7th or 8th place.

  • Comment number 47.

    The usual underestimating of Wigan and Arsenal, and over estimating Liverpool!
    Finally got to see Pool, Spurs, City, Arsenal and United play this last weekend.

    Man United are class above the rest City are damn good too. After that Arsenal and Spurs. Not only Liverpool won’t finish 4, they won’t even come close. It seems every player who does well at Liverpool is promoted to world class or top notch. Suarez is good player, though not good enough to get Madrid and City of the world excited and nowhere near as good as RVP, but HE IS NOW WORLD CLASS. Meireless does everything well, but is not great at anything, but he has been designated as great buy! Downing, your average good player is now better than players who are ahead of him when it comes to making it to England’s national team.

  • Comment number 48.

    I guess you are from another planet

  • Comment number 49.

    Phil, your predictions are always largely based on the season previous to the one you blog about, meaning they are false, for example Liverpool finishing second one year, the next you predicted them to be Champions, they came 7th.

  • Comment number 50.

    Your favourite teams never win the premiership.
    Well said!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Okay there is only one way to look at this, De gea will be a huge flop this season therefore man u will not win anything, they have limited back up in terms of good goalies. Arsenal always come out with promise at the start of the season, but i guarantee they will also flop over the christmas period. Man city look strong but there is limited team cohesion due to respect issues of ballotelli towards mancini this will effect the whole team. Aguero will not kick off to a good start to the season, and therefore they need to rely on tevez, who actually wants to leave. Liverpool will have an average season getting back into champions league spots. But overall i can see chelsea winning two trophies this season, one will be the league and the other will hopefully be the champions league. Torres for golden boot and becoming the best striker in the world.
    Dark horses this year if they keep modric (which they hopefully won't) are tottenham, under harry redknapp anything is possible!!

    My league predictions are as follows:
    5.Man city
    10.stoke city
    12.west brom
    16.Norwich city
    20.A villa (will die this year because of big losses in squad)

  • Comment number 52.

    sorry u sad lot but its utd again. and yes we will overturn barca when the time comes. its a definate if we sign snjeider

  • Comment number 53.

    The time for predictions is when the window is closed.

    But as it stands currently, the top two will most likely both reside in Manchester. The order being determined by whether Man City's kick up the ass in the charity shield undermines them or motivates them. Utd will be Utd. They always are. City have the strongest squad but have yet to compete in Champions League and title races at the same time.

    Chelsea and Arsenal are the most difficult to predict: a new young manager and the transfer dealings for Arsenal far from complete yet.

    Liverpool and Spurs are the dark horses. They have great potential but have yet to deliver.

    If I were putting money on anything, the only thing I'd bet on would be Man Utd in the top two. But i wouldn't put more than £20 on that to be honest.......

    I'd like to see Blackburn relegated just to teach those Indian morons who sacked Sam Allardyce a lesson......

    Other than that, if Stoke get Crouch and Palacios, I can see them having a right good go this season.

    Whether we all want to watch football after seeing all those mindless yobs rioting, I dunno. Some will see it as a way to reaffirm their faith in life. Others will ask why we waste so much money on boys with their toys.

    I ask the simple question: are we surprised at 20 years of neglect when we get 24/7 football saturation coverage year in year out? I love football, but it's not the only thing in life you know. And no matter how much money it makes Mr Murdoch, 24/7 football is no way to run a society.

    Is it?

  • Comment number 54.

    I guess you're a Chelsea fan like me and I agree everything in your prediction except Liverpool finsishing higher than Arsenal(unless they don't buy a CB or replacement for FABREGAS, THEN that'll probably happen)and City. Spurs Finsishing higher than United is Absolute joke unless Spurs buy Hulk(which is a transfer rumour), keep Modric(which they may be won't) and buy real madrid CDM diarra.
    Swansea won't go back to cahmpionship, instead blackburn will.

  • Comment number 55.

    My predo for the top 5 from a Man Utd supporter.

    Man Utd to win by more points then last year. We will be crowned before we face city towards the end of the season.
    Chelsea - a lot may be getting on a bit but they still have a good team.
    Man City - some great players (Silva) but bad team, same as last year they will drop too many easy points. If they sack Mancini b4 the end of the Jan transfer window they might pip Chelsea to 2nd.
    Arsenal - They seem to have gone backwards compared to last year.
    Liverpool - they will improve but not by much. They brought mostly 2nd rate (or unproven) players...can't seriously expect a cripple along with the one decent international player to carry the team that much. Spurs will be close, maybe even same pts but lower gd.

    So pretty much the same as last year...Also Man Utd to be runners up in the Champs league to Barca while beating Real madrid in semis.

  • Comment number 56.

    Was going to have a go at #6's comments (Suarez = unproven?!? Watch him set up Kuyt's first goal against United at Anfield again) but won't as it's already been done.

    For what it's worth, my predictions (if Chelsea get Modric and Liverpool buy a good LB and CB):

    1. Chelsea
    2. Man Utd
    3. Liverpool
    4. Man City
    5. Arsenal
    6. Tottenham
    7. Everton
    8. Sunderland
    9. Aston Villa
    10. Fulham
    11. Stoke
    12. Bolton
    13. Newcastle
    14. Wolves
    15. West Brom
    16. Blackburn
    17. QPR
    18. Wigan
    19. Norwich
    20. Swansea

    And by summer 2014 Liverpool will have won the league and be one of the best sides in the world - I have that much faith in Kenny :).

  • Comment number 57.

    My predictions are
    1st Liverpool
    2nd Man Utd
    3rd Man City
    4th Chelsea
    5th Arsenal
    6th Tottenham
    7th Stoke
    8th Fulham
    9th Sunderland
    10th Bolton
    11th Everton
    12th West Brom
    13th A. Villa
    14th Newcastle
    15th Wolves
    16th Wigan
    17th Blackburn
    18th Swansea
    19th QPR
    20th Norwich

    There will be a top six miles in front of everyone else.
    As mush as I like the promoted teams i just feel that the experience of the other teams will keep them up.
    And Liverpool kinda deserve a title after a 20 year wait

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm afraid I only agree with you on one or two predictions Phil. I think Swansea will surprise people this season and stay up, whereas Stoke are dark horses for relegation this year. Oh, and Chelsea and Man City? They'll bomb, big style.

    I myself wrote a blog entry predicting the finishing positions of the 20 Premier League teams, with a little justification for each one:

    Check it out to see how someone uses 'common sense' rather than 'expertise' to predict how the table looks at season's end. :)

  • Comment number 59.

    I personally think Manchester City have a good chance at taking the title this year. Ferdinand, Giggs etc are a year older and a year more injury prone, while City are able to recruit fresh blood almost at will. I would say I dont want City to win it, but the realist in me says that they might very well.

    At the bottom, I see Blackburn struggling (when will owners learn not to sack big Sam without a sensible replacement strategy) and also Newcastle, who have lost some of their top performers and replaced them with a number of unknown quantities from France. If it all gels, they will be fine, but it could turn into another fine mess up at St James Park.

    Spurs dont seem to be adding anything to the squad this summer, so unless theres a last minute swoop a la VDV last year, or a "tactical" loss over 2 legs to Hearts to lighten the schedule, I dont see them improving on 5th this year.

  • Comment number 60.

    calling all chelsea fans... you have got be glad mcnulty has not predicted us to win the league, the curse is lifted! however he has given us a chance of winning the cl so bye bye to that (groan)

  • Comment number 61.

    People who are saying De Gea will be a flip are absolutely right for these reasons:
    1. Cannot speak English yet, may take him 6 months-9months to learn English so that means Communication breakdown between Defence and Goalie would be Major Problems fr the red devils.
    2. Needs to adapt to Premier League which may take about 3 - 6 months so Don't expect many clean sheets Man u fans this season.
    3. He's well and truly Under Pressure to repeat what VDS did for UTD for 6 years.
    4. He's young.
    5. Man U may well have to wait another 6 years for a keeper like VDS or Smeichel.
    6. By the way of that DZEKO goal, things are not looking good for DE Gea.

  • Comment number 62.

    That just proved that Liverpool are going to be 1 of the most over rated teams in the whole wide world

  • Comment number 63.

    oh on my comment about de gea it's not flip, it's flop

  • Comment number 64.

    I seriously think that many people are underestimating Liverpool. With the feel-good-Kenny factor they won most of their last few games and a batch of fresh faces wiill keep the team spirit high. And to thos e of you who dont rate Suarez then you didnt watch the Copa ( nor the WC for that matter) he is a class player. Dalgleish will get the best out of solid signings Adam and Downing. Seems they are much better off going into the new season than Arsenal who couldnt be in a worse situation ( I am a lifetime fan)
    Losing either Cesc or Nasri is Ok ( but not to any English team) but both is disaster. No dominant DM ( sorry Song does not have it at all) and a shaky defence needing input just 3 weeks to go does not look good. However we will be the best team to watch, whether its playing magnificent footie or throwing games away!

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil, as ever your article leaves me utterly disappointed. I clicked on a link which proomised "bold predictions" but have seen nothing of the sort. How original to root for Man Utd 1st! If they don't come 1st, you can just defend yourself by saying it's unusual. Man City 2nd? With the money they've spent I should think so! Not exactly a bold prediction though is it?

    A bold prediction might actually be more accurate than your previous years' predictions - maybe finally accepting that Liverpool, if anything, are going to do worse than last year after wasting colossal amounts of money on unproven or distinctly average players. Or questioning the signing of a new keeper by Man Utd that historically is unreliable in important games. Or actually predicting a top 4 finish for Arsenal, since despite squad weaknesses this season as in many before, Wenger has secured them a top 4 spot in every season he's been manager.

    These are not bold predictions - they are cowardly, hedge-my-bets, say-what-the-media-wants-me-to-say predictions.

  • Comment number 66.

    Kris@62 sorry r u a chelsea fan? with all the ageing players cant see you boys challenging.
    But liverpool are a little overrated as they also have ageing players who are past it gerrard & carragher and need to strengthen in defence but there midfield and attack are the strongest its been in a decade

  • Comment number 67.

    What I dont understand is how every year many people (including commentators and fans) say that Arsenal need to bolster their defence and sign a reliable keeper but Wenger never does. Then sure enough during the season their form in defence is poor and their keeper lets in too many goals. If Wenger know's the area's where the team are deficient then he should spend more on players for those positions. Its common sense.

  • Comment number 68.

    The Theory of the 'Magic Triangle'

    As Brian Clough (and now Fergie) has realised, the team with the best GK and centre back pairing almost always wins the league. The reason is that having a solid defensive unit means that it only takes one moment of magic from the attack to win a game- over 38 games this can be the difference between drawing/losing tight games or edging them by the odd goal.

    Man Utd and Chelsea have won the last 7 titles because they have been far superior in this area of the pitch- VDS, Rio, Vidic & Cech, Terry, Carvalho/Alex. Arsenal are a prime example of how costly it is to poorly staff this crucial area of the team. Whilst their midfield, attack, and full backs are equal to (and in some cases better than) those of their rivals, they lag way behind in the 'magic triangle'- barring maybe Vermaelen (who's always injured) none of their centre backs or goalkeepers would even make the Chelsea or United squads (Alex, Ivanovic, Smalling, Jones are far superior).

    On that basis, I predict that this season will be the closest yet. United and Chelsea have arguably the best 'magic triangle' on paper, but De Gea is untested in this league, the jury is still out on Luiz and Terry & Rio are getting old. Arsenal have bewilderingly failed to strengthen theirs (yet) and Liverpool still haven't found a world-class partner for the ageing Carragher. Tottenham will be at the mercy of either error-prone Gomes or injuries to key center backs. That leaves City- they have the joint-best (with Reina and Cech) keeper in the league, two quality experienced center backs in Kompany & Toure and most of all are relatively settled (in that area at least).

    I predict United to win if De Gea comes good, Chelsea if Luiz is all he's cracked up to be, and City if both of the above scenarios fail to occur. Arsenal are dark horses but only if Wenger spends BIG on his 'magic triangle'.

  • Comment number 69.

    The only prediction I will make is that Mr. McNulty will be wrong approximately 90% in his predictions. From the responses so far, your definitely starting to bore people with your constant "Liverpool will win/finish in the top 4" etc., your Liverpool Supporters badge is showing, again! Sad, very sad.

  • Comment number 70.

    All the people saying the Liverpool will flop again (I make no bones about it, season before last, and the start of last season we have been appalling) - every player we have signed is either an improvement on our squad or a big talent for the future. I'll include Carroll and Suarez in this because everyone else seems to, even though they were signed last season.

    Luis Suarez - The most talented player in the Premiership. Who else can produce the moments of magic that this guy can? He was player of the tournament in a tournament that included Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. As someone has already said, check out the assist for Dirk Kuyt against ManUre.

    Andy Carroll - Admittedly, we over spent on Carroll - £35m is a lot to spend on any player, but it must be remembered that we knew Chelsea would stump up the bill. He has a lot of potential and will be a force in the coming season. Put it this way - Andy Carroll or David N'Gog? Becasue that's who was our backup for Torres for the last couple of years.

    Jordan Henderson - Steven Gerrard's long-term replacement, and an undoubted talent. Again, £16m (not £20m as some are saying) is a lot, but will be worth it.

    Stewart Downing - Liverpool haven't had a good left winger since John Barnes. Now we have, and for less than some people think (he is another one that cost £16m not £20m). Will take the place of Maxi, who is still not that good despite the multiple hat-tricks he scored at the end of the season.

    Charlie Adam - The replacement for Xabi Alonso that we have been sorely missing. As Alex Ferguson said, his free kicks alone are worth £10m, so to have got him for £8.5m is a very good deal.

    Doni - Free transfer, and better than Jones, who is leaving for personal reasons. Doni won't be used much because of the fact that we have the best 'keeper in the world wearing number 25.

    All this being said, I would be very happy with 4th place this season. North London teams always seem to bottle it, so I think that it will be Arsenal that make way for us - they don't really seem to have strengthened that much (Gervinho is a good player, but so is Nasri, who still looks like he will be leaving, and Oxlade-Chamberlain is like Henderson for us - one for the future), especially in the areas that they really need to. Spurs are about to lose their best player as well (Modric will be a Chelsea player by the end of the transfer window) and don't seem to have anyone lined up to replace him. As for the top 3 - I'm not going to say who I think will win the league, because it pains me too much as it is. But Chelsea and City will finish second and third, not necessarily in that order.

  • Comment number 71.

    with all the ageing players cant see you boys challenging.
    Romelu Lukaku long term replacement for DD
    Oriol Romeul short term replacement for Essien but soon will be long term
    Thibaut Courtis long term replacement for Cech
    Josh McCechran long term replacement for Frank(he's got throat infection which may give Josh more 1st team play)
    Sturridge long term replacement for Anelka.
    If we just add a plamaker, probably Modric and a .tricky winger like A.Johnson, we can challenge for the title next season.

    but there midfield and attack are the strongest its been in a decade
    Liverpool's midfield and attack in 2008/09:
    is way better than current Liverpool midfield and attack(my predicted liverpool midfield):

  • Comment number 72.

    My prediction:
    1 Man Utd
    2 Chelsea
    3 Spurs
    4 Liverpool
    5 Arsenal
    6 Man City
    Man Utd are too good for the others.Chelsea can only stick to its second place.Keeping Modric and buying a striker will enable Spurs to improve. Comeback for Liverpool.Arsenal and City for Europa!!

  • Comment number 73.

    @68 RicinhoCFC
    Agree on every single detail and your theory is the best theory I have read since "End of the World" theories. You're an absolute genius. Oh and by the way are you an Chelsea fan because that CFC at the end of your name tells me so!

  • Comment number 74.

    Liverpool will win the EPL. It's time. Luis S., Gerrard, Carroll, Meireles, Kuyt, Reina will make history. ManU will finish second, with a good year for DeGea. Arsenal will finish empty-naded once again. Chelsea will be third thanks to a rejuvenated Torres and ManC, fourth.

  • Comment number 75.

    ryan babel really? and its alright having long term replacements but they wont be ready for this season that goalkeeper on loan somewhere else already and these are all players no1s ever heard of.

    And two strikers are better than 1

    Il agree with Josh McCechran think we will be seeing englands future midfield come to the front htis season with McCechran, Wilshere and Cleverley

  • Comment number 76.

    Man City win the league, Liverpool 2nd, Chelsea 3rd, Arsenal 4th, Man Utd 5th Everton 6th, Spurs 7th. It will end like that.

  • Comment number 77.

    Everton 5th with no new signings??

  • Comment number 78.

    meant 6th

  • Comment number 79.

    Posted this on another BBC blog a few days ago and don't see much that has changed my mind.

    "Given the changes/signings/rumours that have happened over the summer it's going to be difficult to predict the top 6 in order next year but here's my go

    1 - Manchester United/Chelsea (Very difficult to tell who will take the title I think Manchester United will just get it but it will be so close one mistake/bad run could decide it)
    2 - Chelsea/Manchester United
    3 - Manchester City (i think they will just drop away from the title chase in around april - possibly later)

    4-6 is really difficult to call with Arsenal beset by rumours of unrest, liverpool spending big. Tottenham don't appear to have made to many changes this year so they may get left behind slightly. I think it could end up in any order depending on how well the teams settle and play over the year here's my guess
    4 - Arsenal - provided they don't lose Fabregas and Nasri I think they can hold on to fourth (they may even suprise me and finish higher). If they lose one or both then unless they spend to replace then I think they may struggle for fourth
    5 - Liverpool - they weren't that far off by the end of last season and have improved with the signings they have made plus they don't have European football to worry about which should keep players fresher towards the end of the season. (Given the teams ahead of them though I don't think they are quite ready to break back into the top 4 yet)
    6 - Tottenham - I may be wrong but I don't recall too much activity from them transfer-wise (mostly rumours of Modric leaving). Without some reinforcements I think they may hav slipped back

    Relegation is tricky
    3 from 5 probably but not sure which ones
    Wolves, Wigan, Swansea, Norwich and QPR"

    Will go a little further now and predict that at least one of the 3 promoted clubs will survive but I don't really know enough about them to say which one(s)

  • Comment number 80.

    1. Man Utd
    After that I dont care..

  • Comment number 81.

    Phil's inaccuracy and bias rules once more.

    I cannot understand why you seem to forget the past seasons in predicting the coming one.

    Your battering of Arsenal seems to suggest they should finish below Rovers! I expect predictions based on history and fact, and since they are predictions, a small subjective element to them, but, totally ignoring the recent past and publishing this rubbish based entirely on a subjective view and rumours is lazy journalism. If this is what it takes to get a job as a football corespondent/journalist, I should quit teaching as your job seems even easier than mine.

    100 quid says that Arsenal finishes in the top 4 again and you are wrong AGAIN!

  • Comment number 82.

    My Predictions:

    1. Man U
    2. Man City
    3. Liverpool
    4. Chelsea
    5. Arsenal
    6. Tottenham
    7. Stoke
    8. West Brom
    9. Sunderland
    10. Everton
    11. Newcastle
    12. Swansea
    13. Fulham
    14. Wolves
    15. QPR
    16. Wigan
    17. Bolton
    18. Aston Villa
    19. Blackburn
    20. Norwich

    You may think that stoke and west brom are a bit high but the signings of upson and woodgate will solidify their defence even more and if they sign crouch and palacious aswell im sure they will finish high.
    Then with west brom signing the quality keeper ben foster they will concede less and chris brunt will keep on playing his great balls through to the new pair upfront of odemwingie and long whom are both clinical finishers.

  • Comment number 83.

    Oh god, I have 9 in identical places to you, and only 2 more than 1 position away... I'd best change them or I don't stand any chance my bet with my friend!

  • Comment number 84.

    Hope that phil writes a blog telling us how right or wrong his predisctions will be at the end of the season wish there was some league 1 blog on here somewhere though

  • Comment number 85.

    I'll be damned if Chelsea don't win the league. None of you have ever seriously how good Villas-Boas seriously is.
    I spent 4 years in portugal, and Porto fans worshipped him and to Benfica fans he is what Mourinho is to Barca.
    Chelsea lacked good tactical knowledge last year, I mean credit to Ancelotti he did well in his first year, but when it comes to those top 4 games I think Villas-Boas has the edge

  • Comment number 86.

    De Gea is only one goalkeeper in Manchester United arsenal. They have three others who can step in if Gea does not pan out.

  • Comment number 87.

    1. Man. Utd.
    2. Chelsea
    3. Man. City
    4. Liverpool
    5. Arsenal
    6. Tottenham
    7. Everton
    8. Fulham
    9. Stoke
    10. Sunderland
    11. Aston Villa
    12. Bolton
    13. West Brom
    14. Newcastle
    15. Wolves
    16. Wigan
    17. Norwich
    18. Blackburn
    19. QPR
    20. Swansea

  • Comment number 88.

    Making predictions is something of a mugs game and it's a game that only the bookies can win, in the main that is.

    So Phil's predictions are as good as any that I've personally seen thus far - it is after all a finger in the air job.

    I'd like to know if Phil made these predictions post events at Wembley on Sunday, or like Gabriele Marcotti and Paddy Barclay, did he make his predictions prior to Sunday?

    That win over City appears to have convinced a lot of pundits and fans alike that despite the loss of Scholes in the summer, United have real strength in depth. The addition of Sneijder will make it very difficult to back against the champions. The only real concern for United is de Gea - is he going to cut it? Time will tell.

    The best we can hope for is that the Premier League is interesting at the top and bottom in relation to the fight for the title and the battle to avoid relegation.

    Looking forward to it, this season could be the most exciting in Premier League history.

  • Comment number 89.

    If Barca and Real Madrid where in the EPL, they would be first and second.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ no. 58 Graeme

    So that's your prediction based on 'common sense'? I read your Man City report first… and just stopped right there. It wasn't even worth continuing. If you want to use your common sense, think about this…

    If a player goes to a rich club solely for money, he risks his career through having to fight for his place in the squad to begin with, then if he doesn't have a good season he's devalued and where's he gonna go? Fine, for an 'old' player like Patrick Viera who can retire but most of City's active squad are young. You think Lescott likes being considered an over-paid flop? He's hungry, he wants to play every game! The work-shy mercenaries get found out pretty rapidly – Adebayor, for instance. Tevez wanting to leave has little to do with the club atmosphere, he has a history of leaving clubs after a couple of seasons and somehow has an inflated opinion of his worth. Yes, he scored more goals for City than anyone else but do you see any other club rushing to buy him? He's trouble.

    It also seems that people have short memories. The players Mancini is trying to offload belonged to Man United's secret weapon, Mark Hughes – and Mancini wants to build HIS squad. It's still work in progress and last year was patchy and cautious but already Mancini is talking of the need to score more goals this season and I believe that will happen, or else he's out.

    You may look at the Community Shield game and say, 'same old negative City' but they played badly and were still two goals up at half time. I was bitterly disappointed they shipped three goals but then I read a post-match quote from Vincent Company who said "The serious stuff begins next week", in other words, Man City did not even consider that trophy important enough to be hungry for it. Obviously they were hungry enough to demolish Inter 3-0 in a very impressive display the previous weekend.

    I believe that those players, most of whom are now settled, are really up for the fight in this campaign. Manchester City are going to be very difficult to beat.

    …oh, and there's the small (literally) matter of one Sergio Aguero… by all accounts a sharper, better finisher than Tevez ever was!

    I'm not predicting anything except that both Manchester clubs will be in the top three.

  • Comment number 91.

    Another season, another prediction that Wigan will finish 20th and get relegated, come on face it, everyone hates us for being in the league and they cant handle a small club can be so successful. Im sorry but this is a awful article, you say James McCarthy will be the star? That comment sums up your knowledge. Yet another season we prove everyone wrong.

  • Comment number 92.

    If Fabregas leaves Arsenal, as appears to be the case, I can not understand that Wenger doesn't snap up Wesley Sneijder before Man.United do. He is a more accomplished and more mature player than Fabregas is, has achieved more, isn't too old, and would fit perfectly in midfield. He is a great provider of penetrating passes to the likes of Robin van Persie. The names that are circulating right now on the wish-list of Arsenal, are in my view, second rate; no world class names there
    that Arsenal need in order to stop underachieving. The sale of Fabregas will bring in the money to buy Sneijder. Surely Arsenal can cough up money to buy a decent defender as well ? Look beyond British borders, because the names in the fray right now are overpayed underachievers.

  • Comment number 93.

    For the life of me I can't quite understand the drastic pessimism about Blackburn's upcoming season?

    Losing Phil Jones was disappointing and will hurt. The same can be said for Jermaine Jones (curiously absent from most of the punditry I've read). Kalinic also looks to be on his way. Apart from these however, who else have we lost of note?

    Petrovic is a young international playing for a good Serbian national team. It remains to be seen if he can fill Jermaine Jones' boots in centre mid but the manager has done well to bring him in at such a reasonable cost.

    Goodwillie is also young and promising. Of course he doesn't follow the current vogue of being a kid that couldn't make it at United, Arsenal or Chelsea but 16 goals from 37 Scottish Premier League games last year, the SPFA Young Player of the Year award and a call up to the full national side aren't bad indications. Plus he doesn't exactly have to be the next Shearer to improve on last season's goalscorers (being the next Gallacher wouldn't go amiss mind).

    And like many other teams we're still trying to bring in a few more new faces. I'd say another defender, midfielder and striker will be here before the end of the window but I do want to leave to conjecture aside here.

    Compared to Villa who have lost Downing and Young for N'Zogbia and Bolton who have lost Elmander and Sturridge (35% of their league goals last year leaving huge pressure on Davis and Klasnic to score!) we're not doing too badly.

    Throw in the traditional struggles of newly promoted clubs and the disarray at Newcastle (48% of 2010/11 league goals lost with Carroll, Nolan and Barton!) plus none of the other clubs making great changes to their squads and I fail to see what the fuss is.

    The top seven will be the same clubs as last year (not sure I care on the order) and the other 13 could finish in any order. 10 points separated 8th to 18th last year, I can see it being similar again.

  • Comment number 94.

    1. Newcastle United

    2. Fulham
    3. Manchester Utd.
    4. Abu Dhabi City
    5. Wenger's Whiners
    6. Tottenham Rioters
    7. Everton
    8. West Brom
    9. Chelski
    10. Notlob
    11. Villa
    12. Wolves
    13. Norwich
    14. QPR
    15. Stoke
    16. Liverpool
    17. Swansea
    18. Blackburn
    19. Wigan
    20. Mackems

  • Comment number 95.

    i"m glad his predictions never come true.

  • Comment number 96.

    Should also chip in that I'm really looking forward to seeing a full season of Junior Hoilett plus excited about Rochina and Formica.

  • Comment number 97.

    Phil, Predictions are a guessing game (you should know that as you have predicted / guessed wrong lots of times). Your guess is as good as mine, so here goes.

    ARSENAL: You say 5th but I disagree agree as they are struggling to retain players, and need a re-start which takes a couple of years. I say mid-table.

    ASTON VILLA: You say 8th but I disagree agree as they are struggling to recapture the form of the MON years, and need a re-start which takes a couple of years. I say struggling in mid-table.

    BLACKBURN: You say 18th and I have to agree, they are a poor team with inexperienced ownership and management trying to do everything on the cheap. I say relegation zone.

    BOLTON: You say 12th and I agree, they have a very capable coach in Owen Coyle but they are still inconsistent. I say mid-table.

    CHELSEA: You say 3rd but with an unproven EPL coach they will have to play really well and have lots of luck. Carlo Ancelotti was treated poorly and that may come back to haunt them. I say third & fourth will be a race between Chelski & Liverpool.

    EVERTON: You say 7th but I disagree agree as they are struggling recently and Moyes seems to have lost his way. I say struggling in mid-table.

    FULHAM: You say 11th but I disagree, they were poor but workman-like under Sparky but now not sure so. I say relegation zone.

    LIVERPOOL: You say 4th and they have a unique (for them) season with no European commitments or distractions. I say third & fourth will be a race between Chelski & Liverpool.

    MANCHESTER CITY: You say 2nd and I would agree, but for different reasons. I am a lifelong City supporter (through ups and downs, more downs than ups). Kompany & DeJong & Silva & Hart are tremendous assets, Toure bros are inconsistent, and Balotelli is a dreadful liability. I don’t rate Roberto Mancini as an EPL winning coach. He is much too defensive minded, and he is tactically naïve playing too many players out of their preferred positions and too many midfielders and not enough strikers. RM is arrogant and doesn’t take advice. If they doesn’t finish at least second and also win another cup after spending all that money on that massive squad and payroll then he will be gone this season (FFP rules could really hurt City). So they have to finish at least second and win another cup to do better than last season. I say first & second will be a race between City & Utd.

    MANU: You say 1st and I w

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil - you seem to have overlooked the fact that Liverpool's defence is atrocious... When a 33 year old Carragher is their best defender, I find it hard to believe that they'll finish fourth.

    Spurs to finish fourth, just, ahead of Arsenal (5th) and Liverpool (6th)

  • Comment number 99.

    Ahh this is fun predicting what places teams finish.. heres mine..

    1) Man UTD
    2) Chelsea
    3) Man City
    4) Liverpool
    5) Arsenal
    6) Tottenham
    7) Sunderland
    8) Everton
    9) Aston Villa
    10) Stoke
    11) West Brom
    12) Fulham
    13) Bolton
    14) Newcastle
    15) Blackburn
    16) QPR
    17) Wigan
    18) Swansea
    19) Wolves
    20) Norwich

    I think the top 3 will stay the same.. Chelsea will have McEachran and Sturridge coming through.. Man City are still the same level as last season imo. Liverpool and Sunderland will have good seasons with the depth they now have. Tottenham & Arsenal havent done enough in transfer window. Everton have a good top 10 table team. Aston villa getting goals with Bent. Stoke have bought some good players but think Europe will give them too many games to play this season. Rest prob speak for themselves..

  • Comment number 100.

    A quick question for those saying that Liverpool's form over last season to finish 6th basically represents how they'll do this season. Are you expecting us to hire Roy Hodgson again until January to make a complete balls-up of the first half of the season? Is it likely the team will have to rely on a kid to play central-midfield for the last few months of this season?

    I don't want to slate Hodgson really as he's a decent man, nor do I think that the form shown under Dalglish should be expected to continue or be maintained for a whole season. However, let's be realistic and consider a few facts -

    - Liverpool under Dalglish played very well, a better system, tactics and belief.
    - The signings might not be spectacular but they do address key areas (width and someone who can cross, depth in midfield, flair in midfield with Aquilani, hopefully a solid left-back if Enrique arrives).
    - No Europe, the focus on every league game will be huge.
    - Luis Suarez, one poster called him "unproven" while also stating Gervinho would be key for Arsenal. The less said about that the better. Anyway, he is talented and will cause problems.

    I agree with a lot of people that predictions are basically for fools (except the guy whose bought his house from it...) but no-one can dismiss the possibility of Liverpool getting into the top four. I would certainly say they're extremely unlikely to win the league, something staggering would have to happen for that. But Arsenal are looking vulnerable, I think they're an injury to RVP away from problems.

    It's going to be very interesting though, there's a lot still to happen before the transfer window closes but I think we've got an exciting season ahead.


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