As the English premier league is a meagre week away now, its that time of the year when I look to put my neck on the line and make a prediction of the EPL. So here it is from first to last, my pick for how the season will finish:
1. Arsenal - Yes, yes, im a gunners fan. But that aside, we went close last year and have pulled off two good signings, i think this could be a great year for the gunners.
Key Player: Robin van Persie (if he stays fit, he will score 20+)
2. Man Utd - wow, isnt Javier Hernandez good. Its quite scary imagining United pairing him with Looney Rooney. I think Sir Alex has proven he can get average players to perform (think Butt, neville, O'Shea and Fletcher), combined with the quality of the up front men they will be the biggest threat for me
Key Player: Wayne Rooney (its not only coincidence that he played badly and England played badly)
3. Chelsea - Im not impressed by Chelsea. i think they are distinctly average and yes they peaked at the end of last season, however none of their stars had a good world cup and are looking very much like world cup hangover could leave them lagging early on in the season. They are ageing at a scary rate and if Cech gets injured they are in big trouble as Turnbull has Flapianski skill unrivalled!
Key Player: Didier Drogba (he was the catalyst last year)
4. Liverpool - I am a huge fan of Roy Hodgson and believe that Liverpool (should torres stay fit) will regain their place as a member of the big 4.
Key player: Fernando Torres (much like van persie, needs an injury free season)
5. Man City - its only a matter of time before they break into the top 4, however they make very wierd signings! I still believe Mancini is the wrong man for Man City. He is too defensive! I also am very interested to see who they have to get rid of due to the new 25 player ruling.
Key Player: Yaya Toure (25 million for a defensive mid, he better marshall that defence like a fat kid guarding the last piece of cake)
6. Everton - Again, i am a very big fan of David Moyes and the work he has done at Everton. In Cahill, Arteta and Pienaar they have players that would fit into most teams starting 11. In Tim Howard they have a solid shot stopper who has definately grown since leaving United.
Key Player: Steven "Schillo" Pienaar (Mzansi's best)
7. Aston Villa - I think they have a good squad and should they hold onto James Milner they will be there and thereabouts again. They unfortunatley will not progress due to the lack of financial muscle.
Key Player: Richard Dunne (he was brilliant in defence with Collins last year, if they can keep it that miserly again they might push for higher honours)
8. Tottenham - Many will wonder how i can put them this low, but its simple. Spurs have proven over and over again that they can not cope with a European campaign. Should they fail to qualify they might be better off, but i would put an outside bet on them losing all 6 games after champ league group games (even if its against Blackpool!)
Key Player: Gomes (The Brazilian shot stopper kept them in it in the back half of the season last year and will need to perform similar heroics again this year)
9. Birmingham - They are a dirty team that ruined Eduardo's career. Their fans have no class and their manager is a ginger! but with Carson Yeung's money they are going to be a comfortable mid table team!
Key Player: Barry Ferguson (he has enjoyed his return to England much more under the ginger guidance)
10. West Ham - Avram Grant's performance as a manager in England is simply outstanding. West Ham are also free from the financial ridicule of the prior year with Gold and Sullivan's money and i see them returning to mid table where they belong.
Key Player: Scott Parker (the captain has the ability to inspire those around him)
11. Stoke City - They are a team that don't lose many home games and that has been the foundation of their success. I don't see much changing this season, expect them to rely heavily on Rory Delap's throw ins again
Key Player: Rory Delap (even though he cant play football, that throw in is lethal, as can be seen that teams would rather concede a corner!)
12. Fulham - It doesn't matter what Mark Hughes does this year, its going to seem boring in comparison to last seasons epic Europa league run that got manager Hodgson a bigger job!
Key Player: Bobby Zamora (possibly should have been included in the England shambles of a world cup squad!)
13. Blackburn - Sam Allardyce will always have an average team, but hey thats Allardyce. They will punch, kick, hijack and possibly shoot you if you have the ball, but it works for them.
Key Player: Paul Robinson (He will have lots of work to do. His team will also only score one or two in a game meaning a clean sheet is imperative)
14. Sunderland - I think they are seriously going to miss last seasons captain Lorik Cana, they have replaced him with a bunch of unknown players and it could see them involved in an ugly scrap to stay up
Key Player: Darren Bent (he scored 50% or more of Sunderlands goals last year, one with the assist of a beach ball!)
15. Newcastle - The team that were too good and too big to go down, really were too good to go down. In history that will be one of the biggest disappointments in EPL. They should stay up this season unless there are more manager-go-rounds
Key Player: Jonas Gutierrez (the Argentinean had a decent world cup and is good on both defense and attack)
16. Bolton - They look better under Coyle, but i still think there is some time to go before he completely changes their style into his. There are rumours that they could sign Tom Cleverly on loan from United, that would be a great coup.
Key Player: Gary Cahill (There is a reason a lot of big clubs are interested in the Englishman and he has a sweet shot on him too!)
17. West Brom - I like their style and for that i will give them the nod over Wolves. The perennial yo-yo club really need to do it ugly and make sure they stay up!
Key Player: Roberto di Matteo (he holds the record for the quickest FA Cup final goal, but can his limited management skills keep WBA up?)
18. Wolves - Mick McCarthy is a terrible commentator, but not too bad a manager. Wolves were never likely to stay up last season, but they did and that is to his credit!
Key Player: Kevin Doyle (a player who has the right qualities for a team in the bottom half of the premiership. A good fighter and great leader of the line!)
19. Wigan - they simply don't deserve to be in the premiership. losing 9-1 and 8-0 last year is poor. they may even come last.
Key Player:Hugo Rodallega (His ten goals last year was the only surviving factor)
20. Blackpool - They should enjoy the experience, but i cant see them doing anything fancy. i think Cardiff would have been better suited to the premiership, but Blackpool were entertaining in the playoff. Hopefully they do better than the last playoff winners Burnley!
Key Player: Brett Ormerod (its his goal that got them up, can his goals keep them up?)
Thats all for now!