Only Love Soccer’s No Holds Barred, All-Encompassing English Premier League Preview
This is of course without knowing what other players might be brought in before the end of the transfer window on Aug. 31.
1. Manchester City. Hate to say it, but can’t see anyone beating them.
2. Manchester United. Haven’t added to their squad like their 900 billion fans might like, but still have more money and better players than most everyone else.
3. Chelsea. Chelsea finishing third and competing again in the Champions League is largely dependent on whether Fernando Torres returns to the player he was before he came to Chelsea.
4. Arsenal. The Gunners are a good shot for finishing here even if Robin Van Persie leaves. Their summer signings have been astute.
5. Liverpool. They’ll be better under Brendan Rogers, but just lack the quality of the the teams above them.
6. Tottenham Hotspur. It’s very possible Spurs will make some big signings before the end of the transfer window, but with their current squad, finishing even this high might be too much to ask.
7. Everton. Don’t they finish here every year? It hasn’t been as terrible a summer as it usually is. With Jack Rodwell heading to Man City, can they avoid losing anyone else?
8. Newcastle. With the lack of new signings, for Newcastle to have a similar season to last year, they’ll need Demba Ba and Pappa Dembiss Cisse to have huge years again.
9. Fulham. If they can hang on to Clint Dempsey, which looks increasingly unlikely, Fulham is one of the better mid-table teams in England.
10. Sunderland. The Black Cats haven’t really signed anyone, but if I know Martin O’Neill, they’ll bring in about four players on Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.
11. Aston Villa. Renewed optimism at Villa Park thanks to the departure of Alex McLeish (and hiring of Paul Lambert) can’t mask the fact that this team will be heavily reliant on very young players unless they sign someone late.
12. Wigan. Could we finally have another Wigan season where they aren’t fighting off relegation all year long? Well, new signing Arouna Koné certainly won’t hurt.
13. Stoke City. Stoke are always pleasantly, boringly decent. This year should be no different.
14. West Ham. Aside from their every few years relegation, West Ham tend to be a fun, attacking side. Oh wait, Sam Allardyce is their manager now. Nevermind.
15. Queens Park Rangers. I want to pick QPR as a team to get relegated. I think with their mix of so-so players and aging, mediocre veterans (Park Ji-Sung aside), there is a very good chance. Nonetheless, they have enough quality to escape. Right?
16. Reading. I don’t know much about Reading, but they were impressive in the Championship and have made some good signings in the summer.
17. West Brom. How good West Brom is this year is largely dependent on whether Steve Clarke turns out to be a decent manager or not. They have a team that should be good enough to escape relegation.
18. Norwich City. I’d love to say the Canaries will be safe this year, despite Paul Lambert joining Villa, but it will take quite an effort from Chris Hughton to keep what is a fairly weak squad from getting relegated.
19. Swansea City. I think Michael Laudrup is a pretty good manager, but he has a big job to do, taking a team that overachieved last year and keep them playing well enough to stay in the EPL without really signing anyone.
20. Southampton. Southampton were dominant in the Championship this year, but look destined to go down in a blaze of glory.
Player of the Year: Mario Balotelli, Man City