Ever since May 22nd, the day that the Premier League season ended, we've all been counting down the days until the Premier League kicks off again, haven't we?
We all want to know if Arsenal will bomb or surprise us all, whether Sunderland's transfers will pay off or make the team implode and if Andre Villas-Boas will last a season under the iron fist of Abramovich.
Who will be the main contenders in the race for the title? Who will fight for their lives in the relegation battle?
I'll be giving 20 predictions for the new season, and remember some of these are very bold indeed.
In general, the 2011-12 season should be one of the most exciting yet.
Last season proved to be one of the closest seasons in Premier League history, with the relegation battle decided on the last day and the title race throwing curveballs left and right.
Every squad is looking very strong, especially the clubs at the top, with the big four turning into the big six. Next season could very possibly be the best yet.
Of course, these types of pieces usually receive a bit of stick, as every fan has their own predictions for their club and others. So feel free to share your predictions.
Perhaps one of the boldest predictions on this list, so hear me out.
Arsenal have been a consistent top-four finisher since the 1995-95 season, and that's not about to change just because two players could be leaving. Although Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are the main source of passes in the midfield, Arsenal can still function without them.
Many people forget a little something that happened on May 1st this season.
While Arsenal defeated Manchester United 1-0, the Gunners were already out of the title race, meaning that more people focused on the fact that Chelsea could catch up with United rather than realizing that the North London outfit had defeated the future Premier League champions.
Not only did Arsenal defeat their Manchester rivals, but they did it without "wantaways" Nasri and Fabregas.
If these two playmakers do in fact leave North London (and it's still an if), Arsenal will probably make moves for other midfield maestros like Juan Mata and Stewart Downing.
Either way, the public and media are overreacting about the "ARSENAL EXODUS." The Gunners will always have superb playmakers in the midfield with Wilshere and Ramsey at hand and should be able to finish in the top four like they've done for the last 14 seasons.
As for the trophy drought, Arsenal's players will be better than last season as most of them have matured and will prove themselves by finally bringing a trophy home to the Emirates.
With Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard to provide ammunition for Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, Liverpool will have one of the best attacks in the Premier League.
A top-four finish will be the Reds' priority, as they are always expected to make Europe, but Kenny Dalglish and his army will definitely be looking to win a trophy as well.
Their form at the end of last season was incredible, and if they can extend it to next season, they could end up providing a strong title challenge.
All in all, it'll be exciting to see how Liverpool will perform next season, and a top-four finish shouldn't be too hard for the Reds.
The title of this prediction is a bit vague, so I'll explain further.
Taarabt is the heart of QPR's squad, with a whopping 19 goals and 16 assists in the Championship last season. Without him, the West London side could very well still be stuck in the Championship.
If Taarabt stays, I predict QPR will enjoy a top half finish, something impressive for a club new to the Premiership.
However, if Taarabt leaves, I predict that QPR will be fighting in the relegation battle and will probably finish low in the bottom half.
Overall, Taarabt is the key to QPR's success in the Premier League next season. Let's hope he stays as we'd all love to see him play some top-flight football.
Although Swansea did finish third in the Championship, it's hard to see them finishing anywhere outside of the drop zone, and my prediction is that they'll finish dead last, completely flopping in their Premier League campaign.
Moving onto Blackburn. They looked extremely uninspirational this season, with the only memorable players being Chris Samba and Phil Jones.
The problem for Blackburn is that Jones has left for Manchester United, and Samba is likely to leave the Rovers for Arsenal, who are currently in need of a defender in the shape of the Congo international.
Even with these two players, Blackburn barely avoided relegation, nearly plunging to the second tier of English football on the last day of the season. In other words, it's looking pretty bleak over Ewood Park right now.
Many could argue that Wolves are a bigger relegation contender than Wigan, but I beg to differ. I hate to rain on Wigan's parade, as we all realized we have a soft spot for them when they celebrated their 16th placed finish on the final day of the season.
BUT (it's a big but), I can't see them retaining Premier League football without their two star players, Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega.
Dave Whelan very recently stated that Wigan "cannot afford NOT to sell the Frenchman," basically meaning that N'Zogbia is on his way to greater heights.
All in all, these two players were the main source of goals for Wigan this season, and their departure could mean the end of Wigan's Premier League ride of a lifetime.
Before even starting their season, Norwich already has loads of doubters who say the Canaries will only last a season in the Premiership. But I beg to differ.
After being promoted to the Premier League, morale will be high within the Norwich squad, while some of their competitors in the relegation battle will have low morale, with both Blackburn and Wigan losing key players.
This extra morale over their relegation opponents could just mean another season in England's top tier.
Norwich seem to be a club with a lot of heart, and their Premier League dream might not be so short-lived after all.
Psh... Fernando Torres, what a joke.
We all know the story, and if you don't, then you're probably in the wrong section of this website.
After arriving from Liverpool for a massive £50 million, he completely flopped, scoring only one goal in the entire second half of the season.
The good news is he's promised to be twice the player he was last season, so Chelsea fans can expect a whopping two goals from him next season.
All right, I'm done making fun of Torres, back to the actual prediction.
Many Blues' fans are talking about how Torres will become a Chelsea legend and will be the EPL top scorer next season, but I really can't see that happening. He hasn't connected with any other attacker, and with Andres Villas-Boas bound to bring Hulk or Radamel Falcao to Chelsea from Porto, Torres' playing time will be very limited.
Torres still has a long way to go if he wants to live up to the fans' expectations. With the pressure to score, the competition for his position (Drogba, Anelka, Kalou, Sturridge, and possibly Falcao/Hulk) and a small amount of playing time, Torres won't be making an impact at Stamford Bridge any time soon.
Robin van Persie is in the best form of his life. He scored 21 goals in half a season, 18 in the Premier League making him the third highest scorer.
That means he hit the net more times than Darren Bent, Peter Odemwingie, Chicharito and Andy Carroll in (I'll say it again) half a season.
Notorious for being in the physio room more often than the pitch, van Persie's proneness to injury is the one thing stopping him from taking the Premier League by the horns.
However, after returning from injury for the second half of Arsenal's season, the striker showed much less vulnerability to injury.
For example, after receiving an injury in the Carling Cup final in February it was stated that van Persie would be out of action for around three weeks. However, the determined Dutchman made himself fit in time for the clash against Barcelona which was just a week after his injury.
At 27 years old, van Persie is nearing the peak of his career, and with the prolific goal scoring form he's been in, there's virtually nothing holding him back from becoming the 2011-12 Premier League top scorer.
In the past, Manchester United haven't had the biggest success when it comes to immediately replacing their star goalkeepers.
After Schmeichel left Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson tried a number of different replacements, including Tim Howard and Fabien Barthez. When these players made a number of hilarious slip ups and lapses in concentration, the United boss became filled with frustration at how hard it was to replace Schmeichel.
It wasn't until 2005 when Ferguson finally found a world class player to stand between the posts in Edwin van der Sar, six years after the departure of Schmeichel.
Now that van der Sar has retired, Ferguson has decided to replace the Dutchman with David de Gea, a promising young goalkeeper with a ton of potential. Reds' fans are excited about the Spaniard's move to Old Trafford, but a Manchester United contract does come with a whole lot of pressure (as well as a ton of money).
David de Gea may not be able to handle the pressure of playing in a Manchester Untied shirt, and it's very possible that he'll have some slip ups and make some bad decisions (cough cough Manuel Almunia).
Sure, people say that he's extremely talented, but didn't everyone say the same about Howard and Barthez?
Steve Bruce has brought a whopping nine players to the Stadium of Light, including promising young attacker Connor Wickham and Manchester United duo Wes Brown and John O'Shea.
The reason why Sunderland has the funds to make all of these transfers were the sales of Jordan Henderson to Liverpool this summer and Darren Bent to Aston Villa in the January transfer window, even though three of the Black Cats' transfers have been free ones, including Sebastian Larsson's and David Vaughan's.
So the big question is, will all these transfers rebuild the squad in a positive way, or will they overload it and make Sunderland implode?
Wes Brown and John O'Shea's arrivals from Old Trafford should bolster the Sunderland defense to a certain extent, although the two weren't exactly star players back in Manchester. Nonetheless, they came at a bargain price and are all around decent defenders.
Another addition to the Sunderland squad that brings more excitement is Sebastian Larsson, a talented winger who didn't quite make it at Arsenal, but succeeded greatly at Birmingham.
His transfer will add some depth to the Sunderland squad, as the departure of Jordan Henderson means that the Black Cats will need a new main playmaker, and Larsson is a player with enough ability and talent to step up in that position.
The nine new players in total may result in some poor form for Sunderland at the start of the season, but once the players have been integrated into the squad, the Black Cats can even start targeting Europe.
Continuing on from the last prediction is a more specific one about one of Sunderland's latest transfers. Connor Wickham, one of the summers biggest prospects, was by far Sunderland's most important transfer so far, and the fact that the Black Cats got his signature is huge.
While many expected the former Ipswich attacker to sign for the likes of Arsenal or Manchester United, he instead chose 10th placed Sunderland, a humble but determined club. However, this decision could be one of the best in the young starlet's career.
Without the pressure of playing at a top-six club, Connor Wickham should hit the ground running at Sunderland and will prove to be a very important asset both in the season to come and for the future.
At only 18 years old, the U21 England international has tons of potential and could make Sunderland's future very bright.
With only nine goals in the Championship last season, it may not seem like Wickham would make an impact at Sunderland. However, he'll be under very different circumstances at the Stadium of Light.
With new playmakers like Larsson and Vaughan in the Sunderland squad, Wickham should be provided with plenty of ammunition to hit the net, and the striker, along with Asamoah Gyan, should be the main source of goals for the Black Cats.
Connor Wickham's got a good chance of winning this award, with his main competition being Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere. However, Wickham has an edge for the award, as he doesn't play for top-six club, meaning he won't have nearly as much pressure as the young talent at Arsenal, Chelsea and the Manchester clubs.
All in all, it'll be interesting to see who wins the award, but I think Wickham will prove himself enough at Sunderland to be rewarded with the highest honour a young player can get.
We all know what Roman Abramovich's real standards for a manager are: Win Barclays Premier League. Win FA Cup. Win Champions League.
But really, we all know Chelsea won't win a historic treble, something only achieved by an English club once before. It just won't happen.
With the Premier League closer than ever with the big four turning into the big six, Chelsea's chances at finishing first are slim and not only because of the competitiveness of the league. Chelsea's squad is rapidly aging, with a number of their key players well past their peak.
Chelsea probably won't be winning anything but the FA or Carling Cup this season, but if Abramovich is smart, he'll keep Andre Villas–Boas at Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese could easily become one of the best managers in the world at Chelsea, he just needs a bit of time and a treble won't come on his first season.
For the past few seasons, Aston Villa have been a consistent sixth place finisher, but that's about to change.
The Birmingham outfit parted ways with their main playmaker this summer as Ashley Young went to Manchester United, but the England international wasn't the only player leaving Villa Park.
Nigel Reo–Coker, John Carew and the ever reliable keeper Brad Friedel have also all departed Aston Villa, meaning that the Villans are without an adequate keeper, as well as many of their key midfielders.
Stewart Downing is next on the list of players leaving Villa. No club has signed him yet, but a number of top-six clubs are interested in the winger, with Arsenal in the front seat in terms of obtaining the winger's signature.
Along with my prediction of Aston Villa having a bottom half finish, I also predict that Darren Bent will suffer a season of poor form. He's the type of player that scores his goals by beating the offside trap and cooly finishing it into the net, but without any substantial playmakers at Villa, who's going to provide him with passes?
Aston Villa don't necessarily have the funds to buy decent replacements for the key players leaving, so next season they'll find themselves with a few gaps in a squad that will have much less depth.
Maybe not the boldest prediction on this list, but considering how much the Premiership is changing, it could be considered bold.
For those of you not familiar with what a typical Everton season is, I'll give you the tour.
Before the season starts, a player or the manager will state that their target is to qualify for Europe and that they're confident they'll achieve it.
But when the season starts, the Blues will endure some poor form, hovering around the relegation zone. Everton will play better against big clubs than they do against small clubs, creating upsets against teams in the top six but having poor performances against relegation contenders.
At the turn of the year, Everton's form will start to improve, and by the end of the season, they'll be near the top of the form table.
That's a typical Everton season, and I've got my money on the Blues doing it again.
If you just winced when you saw the picture of Harry Redknapp, don't worry, you're not the only one.
Tottenham's future may be looking uglier than their manager (OK, maybe not that ugly). Although they finished fifth in the league, they now seem to be the weakest link out of the big six, as Liverpool seem to now have a much stronger squad than the Spurs.
Aside from this, Luka Modric, the main playmaker at White Hart Lane, has clearly expressed again and again that he wants to leave Tottenham. Harry Redknapp has refused to let him leave and has given the Croatian international a very high price tag (overpriced, in my opinion).
Redknapp has admitted himself that without Modric, Tottenham could easily fall back into a mid table club, and it's true. Modric is the heart of the midfield at Spurs, the main source of passes, and without him, there's going to be a huge hole in the Tottenham squad.
Either way, with or without Modric, Tottenham still won't have what it takes for a top-five finish. It's that simple.
Arsenal had the best away form in the league last season, to the extent where they actually looked more comfortable on the road than they did at home.
The Gunners should be able to continue this run of good form, and if they can, their title challenge could start to worry the other top-six clubs. With the best away record in the league, all a club needs to do is improve it's home form in order to secure a finish in the top two.
All in all, Arsenal should be able to shock its haters by cranking out consistent solid performances while travelling.
Arsene Wenger took a while to finally confirm the signing of Gervinho, but it's bound to pay off.
The Ivorian international's dribbling skills combined with his pace mean that he's the perfect signing for Arsenal, as he's a world class striker that can accompany Robin van Persie up top. He played a substantial role in Lille's domestic double, scoring 15 goals with as well as 10 assists.
His superb knack for accurate finishing releases the pressure off of Robin van Persie to be the only source of goals for Arsenal, and Gervinho together with the Dutchman could make one of the best strike forces in the league.
Gervinho is a fairly versatile attacker, and his favourite position is actually a winger. This means that Walcott could move into the striking position with Gervinho taking his spot on the wing, something I know a lot of Arsenal fans have been waiting to see.
Gervinho does have some doubters, but I can't wait until the season starts, so I can just say, "I told you so."
Samir Nasri is simply incredible. Every single goal he scores makes your jaw drop, and as I once heard a commentator say, "He just can't be ordinary."
We all know about his dribbling skills, as displayed against Fulham. Twice.
The way he weaves the ball around defenders is amazing to watch, as the goals he scored this season were almost all from sheer solo ability.
But, surprisingly, the Frenchman is a team player and can spot a pass from any corner of the pitch. He's emerged to be one of the best young playmakers in the Premier League, which is shocking considering how much he can do just by himself.
He's bound to be PFA Player of the Year one season, and my bet is that it'll be next season.
So the question isn't whether or not he'll win the award, it's which club will he do it with?
After completing his move to Manchester United, Ashley Young is finally surrounded by players who are at his ability, meaning he'll thrive more than ever.
With some of the leagues best finishers in Wayne Rooney and Chicharito, Ashley Young will do his thing and give them the same clean, accurate, well-timed through balls that he gave to Darren Bent and the other strikers at Aston Villa.
Except this time, there's a much larger chance that United's top class strikers will turn the passes into goals.
With 11 assists in the league last season, Ashley Young should be able to add onto to that record and have the most assists in the league.
Manchester City's defense is as solid as a rock, and there's no reason why that won't continue. With Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure, Micah Richards, Gael Clichy and many more, each and every one of City's defenders are strong and sturdy defenders.
They especially showed this in the 0-0 draw to Arsenal, when the Gunners dominated the match, but the only reason they didn't win was because Roberto Mancini's tactic was to "park the bus."
Now, it was kind of pathetic that City and Arsenal are title rivals and City didn't even make an attempt at attacking, but nonetheless, it worked.
Joe Hart and his defenders ground it out until the very last minute to keep a clean sheet and walk away with a point.
Lot's of clubs talk about how they're going to "park the bus" when they're already in the lead in a two-legged draw or when a point will suffice from a match, but Manchester City are one of the few that can actually pull it off.
The Sky Blues conceded only 33 goals this past season, but I'm expecting even fewer goals conceded in their next campaign.
For the last seven seasons in English football, only two clubs have won the Premier Leauge: Manchester United and Chelsea.
But with the Premier League closer, more competitive and just better than ever, that's surely about to change.
Like I said before, Chelsea's squad is rapidly aging, with many key players past their primes.
On the other side of London though, Arsenal's youngsters will continue to mature, with a few bound to peak soon, and many others at the age where they consistently improve season after season.
Manchester City also have an array of talent, both young and old, as do Liverpool.
But what about Manchester United? They did win the Premier League title, but not as convincingly as others have done it in the past.
With key players Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes retired, Old Trafford could be looking very different, playing with a goalkeeper that has little experience playing for a big club and two other youngsters yet to integrate into the squad.
The Manchester outfit should certainly finish in the top three, but this may not be their season for a title.
Overall, next season will be an intense one, with close battles at the top of the table as well as the bottom. I hope you enjoyed these predictions and feel free to voice your own.