Over the past three weeks a number of fantastic writers have contributed to a series of team-by-team previews ahead of the new season.
I’ve tried to gauge the opinions of our writers and my own personal feelings and put together a final league table that we may (or may not) see again in May. Each team name is a link to the corresponding preview, so if you’ve missed any or want to catch up on your team’s preview then take a look.
What swayed the decisions…
Predicting Chelsea to win the title was, for me at least, one of the easiest selections. The boys on the podcast were more split on their title predictions, but Chelsea have a depth in attacking areas that will be hard to beat over a ten month calender. Romelu Lukaku is more or less entering his first season as a Chelsea striker on the back of a very eye-catching loan spell at West Brom. Don’t forget about new signings Andre Schurrle, the returning Kevin De Bruyne and Dutch youngster Marco van Ginkel. Additionally, you have Oscar, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, Ramires and Frank Lampard. Even Michael Essien is still hanging about. This is what the term ‘selection headache’ has been waiting for.
When we first began publishing the season previews, Arsenal were happily slotted into the fourth place spot. But we’ve become increasingly worried about their lack of investment in the squad. Tottenham, on the other hand, have been extremely proactive this summer and with three or four starting eleven-boosting signings, they’ve leap-frogged their neighbours into the final Champions League spot.
I was unconvinced by West Brom throughout the summer, but the arrival of Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra will go a long way to filling the goalscoring void left by Lukaku. A strong midfield and these new options in attack has pushed the Baggies up the ladder into the top ten.
The relegation battle was breathtaking last year. This year I foresee a more straightforward drop door with Crystal Palace and Hull City going straight back down. A Mark Hughes-led Stoke City will be joining them, with Cardiff City investing just enough to stay safe.
Sunderland have their fair share of doubters this season but I see a squad good enough to survive, although I do worry if the ultra-intense summer training programme Paolo Di Canio has them on will wear them out in 2014.
It is a wide open season, perhaps like never before. So many teams around the midtable have reason for optimism and a handful have all invested heavily in their squads. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Norwich City push high into the top ten, or Fulham who have quietly gone about things this summer. Swansea City have high expectations, but will the added distraction of European football hinder their league ambitions?
West Ham performed well last season and have made some worthwhile additions to the squad, while it’ll be interesting to see how Everton fare under Roberto Martinez.
League Table Prediction