Early Prediction on How the 2013-2014 Premier League Table Will Finish
It's never too early to think about how the next Premier League season will finish. With the 2013-14 fixtures announced, each club knows when and where their toughest fixtures appear.
Can Manchester United reclaim the trophy? Will Chelsea or Manchester City sneak ahead of David Moyes in his first season at Old Trafford? Can Tottenham finally topple Arsenal? Will a surprise package take the league by storm?
Here's some early predictions considering just that.
Bottom Half of the Table
Of course, the Premier League is not just about the battle at the top. All three promoted clubs are obvious relegation candidates, but a number of resident top-tier sides will be looking over their shoulders.
While the likes of Stoke City and Norwich City are likely to struggle once again, teams such as Sunderland, Fulham and Southampton should be looking to improve. Paul Lambert's Aston Villa side will also take huge promise from remaining a Premier League side, and with a handful of shrewd signings, can push towards the top half of the table.
19. Crystal Palace
18. Stoke City
17. Cardiff City
16. Norwich City
13. Aston Villa
11. West Bromwich Albion
10. West Ham United
West Ham United finished 10th during the 2012/13 season. Sam Allardyce's men are expected to strengthen during the summer and look to be showing ambition in the transfer market.
The confirmed signing of Andy Carroll is a great capture for the club, as the powerful Englishman fits in perfectly at the Boleyn Ground. Although Alvaro Negredo has rejected a move to London, the fact West Ham are hunting players of his calibre can only mean good things for supporters.
Expect gritty, determined displays from a team who know how to make any opponent feel uncomfortable.
9. Newcastle United
Newcastle United's current crop of players can't perform worse than last year, surely?
If "Yohan Kebabs", "Sammy Amamobi", "Hatem Ben Arfri", "Jonas Goltierez" and "Papiss Seesy" play to half of their potential, the Northern club will be just fine.
Or should be just fine.
Although Joe Kinnear's appointment as Director of Football raises many questions as to how the club will be run, St. James' Park is crammed with talented players. Alan Pardew may now be nothing more than a silver-haired lapdog, but the manager should expect a huge response from the current squad after last year's lacklustre campaign.
8. Swansea City
Swansea's ninth-placed finish was an excellent result in a memorable 2012/13 season for the Welsh club.
Michael Laudrup's team took their foot off the gas once the Capital One Cup trophy had been secured and played out the final month of the season with little to care for. This suggests an improvement can be made next season, especially if the Swans hold onto Michu during the summer.
The Liberty Stadium plays home to an exciting bunch right now. Laudrup is working quietly to bring in the players he wants, and considering his previous success, the Dane's judgement should be fully trusted.
Roberto Martinez's Wigan Athletic side and the current Everton squad couldn't be further apart in terms of style.
The Spanish manager created a stylish passing team that lacked defensive quality at the DW Stadium, while David Moyes left Goodison having installed an effective unit that grinds results out as a team.
Martinez is likely to alter the way Everton do things, especially if he loses key players such as Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. He will certainly need time to adjust and implement his own ideas. As we have seen with Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, this is likely to produce mixed results, but a brighter future in the long-run.
6. Tottenham Hotspur
With or without Gareth Bale, it will be difficult for Tottenham to replicate their fifth-placed finish from last season.
The Welshman's goals won Spurs 25 points during the 2012/13 campaign, including many last minute winners and equalisers. On a personal note, he is likely to be marked more intensely, as teams will no doubt formulate plans to stop him hitting the afterburners.
Although the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have proven great players shine for many years, it's now Bale's time to do exactly the same.
Andre Villas-Boas will undoubtedly strengthen across the summer, with a new striker the main priority. Spurs' main rivals for a Champions League spot will continue to get stronger. Despite a yearning for European football, White Hart Lane may need to settle for the Europa League once more.
The potential loss of Luis Suarez is massive for Liverpool. Even so, Brendan Rodgers' men have shown they can play even better football without the Uruguayan forward.
Players such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho can be a huge part of Liverpool's future. Quality signings such as Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas continue to improve a young squad, while the potential capture of Simon Mignolet and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should excite the Anfield crowd.
Rodgers has worked Liverpool into playing smart, free-flowing football. The former Swansea boss has already proven he can instantly improve the team with intelligent signings, and his willingness to give young players a chance bodes well for the next few years.
It's likely starlets such as Fabio Borini, Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso will continue to improve. A summer of hard work could push the Merseyside club towards the top five, especially with city rivals Everton entering a period of change.
Arsenal's 10-game unbeaten run at the end of last season proved exactly what Arsene Wenger's side are capable of.
The Frenchman has significant money to spend for the first time in many years and must use his budget wisely to ensure the Gunners maintain pace at the top. The leading pack will galvanise—there is no doubt about that—so Arsenal must land a number of world-class signings across the next few weeks.
With Gonzalo Higuain and Asier Illaramendi on the potential purchase list, the Emirates club looks to have an exciting year ahead.
3. Manchester United
David Moyes' first season as Manchester United manager will be full of expectation, pressure and the need to successfully succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
Although playing Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the first five games is a real challenge, early results could set a precedent for the rest of the campaign. If Moyes grabs a decent slew of points from these fixtures, the revolution is truly on. If United lose all three, the Media Pressure Wagon will follow his every move.
Manchester United are linked with plenty of players, including Thiago Alcantara, Kevin Strootman and Cristiano Ronaldo. The club has been exceedingly quiet on any deals, making it hard to judge exactly how the team will look next year.
With Manchester City and Chelsea plowing huge money into top players, the Old Trafford club may lose its edge during the upcoming season.
2. Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini is obviously changing the way Manchester City do things.
Executive chief Ferran Soriano has already suggested the club is entering a new era. From first inspection, that era seems to revolve around a continental style of play. Jesus Navas and Fernandinho have been snapped up for lofty prices, while the likes of Edinson Cavani and Isco are continously linked to the club.
Expect to see a brand new City next season. The Etihad faithful are perhaps nervous of what lies ahead, but you can expect a plethora of major names to pull on Sky Blue when August arrives.
Everything is in place for Chelsea to win the 2013/14 Premier League title. Success arrives in cycles, and with the Manchester clubs dominating for three years, Jose Mourinho has the exciting task of taking Chelsea back to the top.
This squad knows how to win things. Having captured the Champions League and Europa League within the last two years, it's also a group that is ready to step up under the new manager. A ridiculous wealth of talent—particularly in midfield—is available for Mourinho to use. With Romelu Lukaku also returning to the club, an alternative forward to Fernando Torres or Demba Ba is ready to go.
Of course, Mourinho is likely to sign a number of players across the summer. Edinson Cavani, Hulk and many other international names will be linked to a Chelsea move in the immediate future. With optimum resources, a winning squad and plenty of room for improvement, Mourinho's return could well be a happy one.
Who do you think will win the 2013/14 Premier League season? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter: