It’s hard to claim these days that the Premier League is the most talented league in the world. Not when the past two summers have both seen the reigning player of the year sent off to Spain. At the very least, England’s top clubs have been eclipsed by the juggernauts of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and even Bayern Munich.
Year after year, the English Premier League produces magic and entertainment. Last season’s title race was one of the wildest in some time, a story with enough twists and turns to make Lewis Hamilton’s head spin. There is a reason we keep coming back for more every season, and it isn’t just the television coverage. From top to bottom, the Premier League is a competition where seemingly anything can happen. I can’t wait to see it all unfold again.
Continue reading to find my predictions for the upcoming season.
The Title Race
Most everyone expects this to come down between Chelsea and Manchester City, and I’m no different. Mourinho’s side had some rough results as last season came to an end, but they spent the summer spending money. They brought in Diego Costa, who torched La Liga last season for Atletico Madrid. The hope is, that after Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, and Samuel Eto’o, Chelsea have finally found the high priced striker who will succeed in replacing Didier Drogba’s goals. For good measure, they brought the 36-year-old Drogba back, too.
But that was just part of Chelsea’s summer splurge. They grabbed former Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, to provide additional creativity in the midfield. Defenders David Luiz and Ashley Cole have left the club, but Chelsea bought Filipe Luis from the Spanish Champions to bolster a defense that allowed the fewest goals in the Premier League last year.
Beyond their signings, I think Chelsea will win the title in part because of the clubs around them. City has had a slow offseason, by their high standards. Liverpool, meanwhile, sold the golden boot winner, and they will now have to deal with European competition. If Mourinho can’t win the title this year, it is because he is not the genius some think he is.
The Champions League Spots
Manchester City will have a tough struggle to hold on to their title, but there’s no reason to expect them to drop out of the top four entirely. There is too much class and ability on this side for that to happen.
Manchester United will benefit from a lack of European play, and Louis Van Gaal appears poised to bring them back up into the top 4. I expect LVG to get the most out of Robin van Persie, who he knows well from his time with the Netherlands, and Wayne Rooney, who has been named captain. United’s biggest signing of the transfer window so far is Luke Shaw, who will miss the start of the season due to injury. But rumors continue to have them chasing Juventus’ Arturo Vidal.
Arsenal, as much as it pains me to say it, might pose a title threat this season. They don’t have the funds of Chelsea or City, but Arsene Wenger perennially has the Gunners in the top four, and Alexis Sanchez is, in my opinion, the most important transfer a Premier League club has made so far this summer.
That leaves Liverpool, Tottenham, and Everton on the outside looking in. I think the Reds will find life without Suarez, and in Europe, very difficult. Mauricio Pochettino was a great hire for Tottenham, and their big signings from last summer now have a year in England under their belt. But I have learned by now not to trust Spurs. As for Everton, I don’t know how much more Roberto Martinez can squeeze out of the Toffees. It was important that they bought Romelu Lukaku permanently from Chelsea, but he is not exactly a new signing. Everton have largely stayed the same, while the competition for fourth has grown even more difficult.
The Relegation Fight
The bottom of the table is a bit more of a craphshoot, as always. The newcomers are Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers, and Burnley. QPR have the resources needed to survive at this level, and Harry Redknapp mostly knows what he’s doing. I expect that they’ll stay up. Leicester, too, should be able to remain in the Premier League. So who is going down?
Burnley will struggle mightily in the Premier League. This is a club that has had to renovate their stadium this summer just to meet regulations. As such, a squad that finished second in the Championship has largely gone unchanged. I don’t think they have it in them to stay up.
West Brom finished 17th, just outside of the drop zone last season. Now, they are headed by Alan Irvine, their fourth manager in less than a year, a man who has never managed in the Premier League before. The Baggies finished in the top half in 2012-13, but just two years later I’m not sure they can survive.
Sunderland needed a miracle to escape relegation last year, and they found one. I don’t think they can find another one.
Hull, who finished 16th last year and may have to deal with the Europa League, might just live to see another year in the top flight. Southampton had a disastrous summer, losing their manager and many key players, but I can’t see them going from 8th to relegation. Crystal Palace surprised many last year with their performance under Tony Pulis, but as of yesterday, Pulis is out. They might be in trouble too.