English Premier League Predictions for 2010-11 Season

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IAugust 16, 2010

English Premier League Predictions for 2010-11 Season

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    What an eventful summer of football it has been!

    From Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan completing the treble courtesy of a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final to the two perennial underachievers - Spain and Holland - both reaching the World Cup final, the off-season has been action packed.

    It barely seems as though we have had a break since Andres Iniesta sent the whole of Spain into raptures, yet here we are, with the latest Premier League season starting tomorrow.

    And what a start we are in for. The opening match sees free-spending Manchester City taking on Champions League participants Tottenham in perhaps the earliest "six-pointer" in history!

    Can City turn cash into success and upset the established order at the top of the Premier League? Can Tottenham kick on and improve on last season's fourth place? Can Liverpool bounce back and regain their position in the "Big Four"?

    At the other end of the table, how will newly promoted Blackpool, West Brom, and Newcastle fare? Will the new 25-man squad rules alter the season at all? Who will be the first manager to be sacked?

    All of these questions will be answered over the next nine months and, in this slideshow, I will give my answers, predictions, previews for all of these and more!

    Enjoy!

Arsenal

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    Manager: Arsene Wenger
    Stadium: Emirates Stadium
    Last Season: 3rd (75 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 4th

    Players In: Laurent Koscielny (Lorient, £10m); Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux, free); Kyle Ebecilio (Feyenoord, free); Phillips Roberts (Norwich, free)

    Players Out: Philippe Senderos (Fulham, free); Fran Merida (Atletico Madrid, free); Mikael Silvestre (released); William Gallas (released); Francis Coquelin (Lorient, loan); Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk, £6m); Sol Campbell (Newcastle United, free); Sanchez Watt (Leeds, loan)

    Key Man: Cesc Fabregas

    Persuading captain Cesc Fabregas to stay at Arsenal was the best transfer deal Arsene Wenger did this summer. Without him, it would have been hard to see the Gunners breaking the ever increasing trophyless spell.

    However, with Fabregas providing world class service to the likes of Robin Van Persie and new signing Marouane Chamakh, Arsenal will continue to be a major force in the league this season.

    Wenger has taken steps to cover the loss of four first team central defenders with the signing of Laurent Koscielny, but the goalkeeper's jersey still presents a problem for him. The sooner he signs a new one, the better for the Gunners.

    Verdict: 4th. If Van Persie stays fit, they could even challenge for the title, but I expect their season to be another trophyless one. Champions League football should provide some consolation, though.

    Cup Runs: As I said above, I see another trophyless season, but I do see a decent FA Cup run, perhaps reaching the semi-final or maybe even the final itself.

Aston Villa

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    Manager: Kevin MacDonald (caretaker)
    Stadium: Villa Park
    Last Season: 6th (64 pts)

    Last Season Prediction: 7th

    Players In: None

    Players Out: Andy Marshall (released); Wilfred Bouma (released); Marlon Harewood (Blackpool, free); Nicky Shorey (West Bromwich, undisclosed)

    Key Man: Ashley Young

    There is no doubt that the shock resignation of Martin O'Neill and the imminent departure of James Milner will have a detrimental effect on Aston Villa. O'Neill had built a brilliant young squad and I have doubts whether Bob Bradley, the most likely replacement, will be able to keep it up.

    With no signings thus far and the loss of such a good manager and the impending loss of their best player, the season ahead looks bleak for Villa.

    If they lose Ashley Young too then I see a bottom half finish, but with the England international alongside the exciting Gabriel Agbonlahor, there is still a glimmer of hope for the Villans.

    Verdict: 8th. Milner and O'Neill leaving will be a big blow from which they won't fully recover. They should still hold off the challenges from those immediately below them, but they will fall behind the rest of the chasing pack.

    Cup Runs: Possibly a decent run in the Carling Cup, but I can't see any silverware coming Villa's way.

Birmingham City

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    Manager: Alex McLeish
    Stadium: St. Andrews
    Last Season: 9th (50pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 18th

    Players In: Enric Valles (NAC Breda, free); Ben Foster (Manchester United, £6m); Nikola Zigic (Valencia, £6m)

    Players Out: Gary McSheffrey (Coventry, free); Gregory Vignal (released); Jared Wilson (released); Lee Carsley (Coventry, free); Artur Krysiak (Exeter, free); Frank Queudrue (released); Christian Benitez (Santos Laguna, free)

    Key Man: Barry Ferguson

    I got Birmingham very wrong last year. I tipped them for relegation, yet they secured a top half finish, and I tipped Christian Benitez to have a good season, and he has just left on a free transfer. Still, I will learn from my mistakes!

    Alex McLeish probably overachieved with Birmingham last season. A fantastic run of results mid-season helped them enormously, but overall they did very well. Barry Ferguson was probably their best player, and if he can rediscover that form, there is no reason why Birmingham can't match last season's finish.

    The signing of Ben Foster is an excellent one. They had Joe Hart on loan last season, and in Foster they have the next brightest young England goalkeeper, but this time they have him permanently.

    Verdict: 12th. Won't quite manage the same dizzy heights as last season, but no threat of relegation. Ben Foster in particular could shine.

    Cup Runs: Nothing of note. Should get past the first few rounds, but no danger of silverware for the Midlands club.

Blackburn Rovers

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    Manager: Sam Allardyce
    Stadium: Ewood Park
    Last Season: 10th (50pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 13th

    Players In: Hugo Fernandez (Union Deportiva Cornella, undisclosed); Mame Biram Diouf (Blackburn, loan)

    Players Out: Steven Reid (West Brom, free); Yildiray Basturk (released)

    Key Man: Chris Samba

    Once again, the big lumps at the back, Chris Samba and Ryan Nelson, will be Blackburn's most important players this year. With very little threat in terms of attacking options, Sam Allardyce's team will find it tough to win games, but will also be tough to beat.

    They haven't made any headlines in the transfer window, so expect much the same as last season in terms of personnel and performance.

    How the ageing midfield cope this season could be instrumental in Blackburn's final placing.

    Verdict: 15th. With very little attacking threat, Blackburn won't score enough goals to progress too far up the table. No real threat of relegation but no chance of a top half finish either.

    Cup Runs: Blackburn are always hard to beat, but I still don't see them lifting any silverware this season. A quarter-final is perhaps the best they can hope for.

Blackpool

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    Manager: Ian Holloway
    Stadium: Bloomfield Road
    Last Season: 6th in the Championship (70 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: N/A

    Players In: Dekel Keinan (Maccabi Haifa, free); Craig Cathcart (Manchester United, undisclosed); Marlon Harewood (Aston Villa, free); Elliot Grandin (CSKA Sofia, undisclosed); Ludovic Sylvestre (Mlada Boleslav, undisclosed); Malaury Martin (Monaco, undisclosed)

    Players Out: Daniel Nardiello (released); Hameur Bouazza (released); Al Bangura (released); Danny Mitchley (released); Joe Martin (released); Stephen McPhee (released); Ben Burgess (Notts County, free)

    Key Man: Ian Holloway

    Boy am I looking forward to seeing Ian Holloway in the Premier League! Get ready for the most entertaining manager in it's history, even more so than Jose Mourinho.

    Much of Blackpool's fate depends on how he rises to the challenge. Guiding them into the promised land in his first season in charge was a superb feat, but staying in the division would dwarf even that.

    I usually back the least likely to survive. I predicted Reading and Hull would both stay up in their first season...I'm afraid the same can't be said for Blackpool. It's been a long time since the days of Stanley Matthews and co., the fans should enjoy it while it lasts.

    Verdict: 20th. No chance. The whipping boys of the league. Could even be on course to challenge Derby's lowest ever points total. Unfortunately, Holloway could be the first manager to be sacked too.

    Cup Runs: Third round exit from the FA Cup and we'll probably wave goodbye to them at the same stage of the League Cup.

Bolton Wanderers

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    Manager: Owen Coyle
    Stadium: Reebok Stadium
    Last Season: 14th (39pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 11th

    Players In: Martin Petrov (Manchester City, free); Robbie Blake (Burnley, free); Marco Alonso (Real Madrid, £1.6m); Tom Eaves (Oldham, undisclosed)

    Players Out: Ricardo Vaz Te (Panionios, free); Ali Al Habsi (Wigan, loan); Nicky Hunt (Bristol City, free)

    Key Man: Kevin Davies

    Owen Coyle has bought well in the transfer market so far. The acquisition of Martin Petrov on a free transfer is a superb buy, and Robbie Blake teaming up with Coyle again could add a little more firepower to the side.

    With Jussi Jaaskelainen still between the sticks Bolton have one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league, and Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander could thrive off Martin Petrov's service.

    Neither are too prolific, though, so scoring goals may prove to be a problem for Owen Coyle's side. As you would expect from Bolton, though, they will be hard to beat.

    Verdict: 14th. Matching last season's finish, despite their good signings. Their lack of firepower could come back to haunt them.

    Cup Runs: Nothing of note. May win a few matches in the Carling Cup but will fall way short of glory.

Chelsea

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    Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
    Stadium: Stamford Bridge
    Last Season: 1st (86 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 2nd

    Players In: Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool, £6m); Matej Delac (Inter Zapresic, £2.7m); Tomas Kalas (Sigma Olomouc, £5.2m); Ramires (Benfica, £18m)

    Players Out: Joe Cole (Liverpool, free); Michael Ballack (Bayer Leverkusen, free); Juliano Belletti (Fluminese, free); Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce, £2.5m); Tomas Kalas (Sigma Olomouc, loan); Ryan Bertrand (Nottingham Forest, loan); Scott Sinclair (Swansea, loan); Jack Cork (Burnley, loan)

    Key Man: Didier Drogba

    The addition of Yossi Benayoun, mixed with the release of Joe Cole, is a strange one, but Chelsea's signings have ensured that, with the release of Cole, Ballack, and Belletti, no quality has been lost.

    A double last season will be tough to improve upon, but with the likes of Lampard, Essien, and Drogba, in addition to youngsters such as Gael Kakuta, and perhaps the signature of Brazilian wonderkid Neymar, they could match it.

    It is important they don't lose Ashley Cole, though. The England left-back is one of the best in the world and Carlo Ancelotti would find him very hard to replace.

    Verdict: 1st. Champions again. They have enough quality throughout the side and depth throughout the squad to hold off the challengers. The old guard have at least one more great season in them.

    Cup Runs: They couldn't win the FA Cup again, could they? Actually, I think they can and will. The Carling Cup may be a step too far, particularly with the second string side that would be fielded. The Champions League may see another heartbreaking semi-final loss, but I can't see them ending their European duck just yet.

Everton

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    Manager: David Moyes
    Stadium: Goodison Park
    Last Season: 8th (61 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 6th

    Players In: Joao Silva (Desportivo Das Aves, £500,000); Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw, free); Jermaine Beckford (Leeds, free); Magaye Gueye (Strasbourg, undisclosed)

    Players Out: John Ruddy (Norwich City, free); Dan Gosling (Newcastle, free); Carlo Nash (Stoke City, free)

    Key Man: Tim Cahill

    Losing promising midfielder Dan Gosling due to an administrative error was a massive cock-up and could come back to haunt the Merseyside club in the future, but this year David Moyes will once again be looking to propel his side to that elusive next level.

    The usual suspects - messrs Cahill and Arteta - will be pulling the strings in midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini, and if these three, Phil Jagielka, and Tim Howard all have good seasons, Everton could be pushing for a Champions League spot.

    Moyes has done well to keep hold of these big guns this season, but with interest in his players growing every year, this may be his last chance to break into the top four again.

    Verdict: 7th. Once again they will be embroiled in a tussle for Europa League spots with an optimistic view of the top four, but the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham all look that little bit stronger.

    Cup Runs: The quarter-finals of both cup competitions David Moyes' men find themselves in should be realistic goals. Whether or not they reach that stage, and perhaps further depends on the luck of the draw.

Fulham

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    Manager: Mark Hughes
    Stadium: Craven Cottage
    Last Season: 12th (46 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 10th

    Players In: Philippe Senderos (Arsenal, free);  Jonathan Greening (West Bromwich, undisclosed)

    Players Out: Chris Smalling (Manchester United, £10m); Erik Nevland (Viking, free); Elliot Omozusi (Leyton Orient, free); Christopher Buchtmann (Cologne, undisclosed); Wayne Brown (Bristol Rovers, free); Toni Kallio (released)

    Key Man: Bobby Zamora

    Roy Hodgson's exit was a massive blow for Fulham, but in appointing Mark Hughes, they have ensured that the damage won't be felt too harshly.

    The club may have to wait a long time before reaching the dizzy heights of a European final again, however, and with a relative lack of new blood in the side, they could struggle.

    It is imperative that they keep hold of Mark Schwarzer and Bobby Zamora. Failure to do so could lead to a low, bottom half finish, while hanging on to these two may result in a challenge for the Europa League places.

    Verdict: 11th. With players such as Dempsey, Hangeland and Murphy supporting Zamora and Schwarzer, Fulham have a decent side who should comfortably achieve mid-table.

    Cup Runs: No finals this year unfortunately. This Fulham side probably reached it's zenith in the Europa League final, and I wouldn't be surprised to see an early exit in both domestic competitions.

Liverpool

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    Manager: Roy Hodgson
    Stadium: Anfield
    Last Season: 7th (63 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 1st

    Players In: Joe Cole (Chelsea, free); Jonjo Shelvey (Charlton, £1.7m); Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege, free); Danny Wilson (Rangers, £5m); Christian Poulsen (Juventus, £4.5m)

    Players Out: David Martin (MK Dons, free); Mikel San Jose (Atletico Bilbao, undisclosed);  Robbie Threlfall (Bradford, free); Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea, £6m); Albert Riera (Olympiakos, undisclosed)

    Key Man: Fernando Torres

    So many questions surround Liverpool's upcoming season. Will Torres and Gerrard stay fit? Is Roy Hodgson good enough to get them back into the Champions League? Who will be the owners at the end of the transfer window?

    The answers to these will shape the Merseysider's season. If Torres stays fit and on form, Liverpool should challenge for a Champions League spot. If new owners come in and provide some money for Hodgson, they could even challenge for the title.

    Joe Cole's transfer has probably been the most talked about of the summer, but other than that Liverpool's signings have been Europa League quality. Keeping Mascherano is vital, although it looks as if he is destined to leave Anfield.

    Verdict: 5th. They should push the top four hard and may even sneak into it, but without major investment, and without the guarantee of a fit Torres, the Reds may be looking at a second consecutive Europa League campaign.

    Cup Runs: Rafa Benitez turned Liverpool into a brilliant cup side, but it remains to be seen how Roy Hoddson fares in this respect. Carling Cup semi-final, early FA Cup elimination, and success in the Europa League are my predictions.

Manchester City

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    Manager: Roberto Mancini
    Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium
    Last Season: 5th (67 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 5th

    Players In: Yaya Toure (Barcelona, £28m); Jerome Boateng (Hamburg, £10m); David Silva (Valencia, £24m); Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio, £17m); Alex Henshall (Swindon Town, free); Albert Rusnak (MFK Kosice, undisclosed); Mario Balotelli (Inter Milan, £23m)

    Players Out: Valeri Bojinov (Parma, £4.5m); Martin Petrov (Bolton, free); Benjani (released); Sylvinho (released); Robert Mak (Nuremberg, £500,000); Gunnar Nielsen (Tranmere, loan); Javier Garrido (Lazio, £2.5m)

    Key Man: Carlos Tevez

    If placing Liverpool was hard, doing the same for Manchester City is nigh-on impossible. They are an unknown quantity. Will their superstars gel or will more go the way of Robinho?

    Whatever happens, the list of individuals in City's squad is impressive. Major depth in almost every position will mean their players can stay fresh throughout the season.

    After spending over £100m in the transfer window so far, with that figure likely to increase significantly with the signing of James Milner, they may take a bit of time to gel, but this could be the year City become a major force.

    Verdict: 3rd. They won't quite break the duopoly of the top two, but they'll come very close. Mancini knows how to win titles, and with a bit of luck he could even get another one this year.

    Cup Runs: All depends on which players play. City's second string side is as good as most teams' first, and if Mancini picks the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Adam Johnson, and Mario Balotelli then they could win any of the three competitions they will compete in.

Manchester United

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    Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
    Stadium: Old Trafford
    Last Season: 2nd (85 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 3rd

    Players In: Chris Smalling (Fulham, £10m); Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara, £10m); Marnick Vermijl (Standard Liege, undisclosed); Bebe (Vitoria Guimaraes, £7.4m)

    Players Out: Ben Foster (Birmingham, £6m); Zoran Tosic (CSKA Moscow, £8m); Tom Heaton (Cardiff, free); Danny Drinkwater (Cardiff, loan); Danny Welbeck (Sunderland, loan); Craig Cathcart (Blackpool, undisclosed); Mame Biram Diouf (Blackburn, loan); Josh King (Preston, loan)

    Key Man: Wayne Rooney

    Manchester United are spoilt for choice up front this season, with Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Hernandez, Obertan, and Macheda, but of these only Rooney is really world class.

    A lot will depend on how he reacts to his poor World Cup. I suspect it will make him even more hungry to show what he can do. It's no exaggeration to say that he carried United for much of last season.

    But if the defence stays fit then he may not have to do the same again this year. United are always there or thereabouts, and this season will be no exception.

    Verdict: 2nd. Another challenge for another title but will miss out to Chelsea and only narrowly avoid the indignity of finishing below the "other" team in Manchester.

    Cup Runs: Another final in at least one of the domestic cup competitions is a very real possibility, but a semi-final is the best they can hope for in the Champions League. I see them going out in the quarters.

Newcastle United

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    Manager: Chris Hughton
    Stadium: St. James' Park
    Last Season: 1st in The Championship (102 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: N/A

    Players In: Dan Gosling (Newcastle, free); James Perch (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed); Sol Campbell (Arsenal, free)

    Players Out: Nicky Butt (released); Fabrice Pancrate (released)

    Key Man: Joey Barton

    Newcastle have engaged in very little transfer activity ahead of their return to the top flight, but perhaps this isn't surprising given their current squad cruised through The Championship last season.

    Joey Barton in midfield causes much debate amongst football fans but there is no doubting his quality when he is on song. If he, Kevin Nolan, and Jonas Gutierrez can provide good service for the likes of Andy Carroll, the step back up to the big time could go smoothly for Newcastle.

    However, with a squad probably weaker than the one relegated two seasons ago, the Magpies need to be careful they don't become a yo-yo club, too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League.

    Verdict: 16th. Back where they belong, it could be a tough season for Newcastle but the boardroom problems seem to have subsided a little and focus will hopefully remain on the pitch enough for them to stay up.

    Cup Runs: They could shock a few and reach the latter stages of the FA Cup, but there is no danger of any silverware coming their way this season.

Stoke City

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    Manager: Tony Pulis
    Stadium: Brittania Stadium
    Last Season: 11th (47 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 14th

    Players In: Carlo Nash (Everton, free); Florent Cuvelier (Portsmouth, undisclosed); Kenwyne Jones (Sunderland, £8m)

    Players Out: Andy Griffin (Reading, £250k); Steve Simonsen (Sheffield United, free); Amdy Faye (released); Diego Arismendi (Barnsley, loan); Ibrahima Sonko (Portsmouth, loan); Nathaniel Wedderburn (Northampton, free); James Beattie (Rangers, £1.5m); Carl Dickinson (Portsmouth, loan)

    Key Man: Kenwyne Jones

    Stoke are fast establishing themselves as a solid Premier League side, and with the wonderful addition of record signing Kenwyne Jones, they could continue their improvement this season.

    And with rumours abound that Jones' record could be broken by Hugo Rodallega in the coming days, Stoke could have a fearsome attack in the making.

    Rory Delap's long throws still cause panic and unease in opponent's penalty areas, and you can be sure that Tony Pulis won't desert his physical tactics that have served him well so far.

    Verdict: 10th. With Jones in attack, ably assisted by the likes of Ricardo Fuller and, behind him, Delap and Dean Whitehead, Stoke could raise a few eyebrows this season.

    Cup Runs: Perhaps a little flutter in the Carling Cup, but they won't harbour any real hopes of trophies.

Sunderland

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    Manager: Steve Bruce
    Stadium: Stadium of Light
    Last Season: 13th (44 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 15th

    Players In: Titus Bramble (Wigan, £1m); Cristian Riveros (Cruz Azul, undisclosed); Simon Mignolet (Sint Truidense, £2m); Ahmed Al-Muhammadi (ENPPI, loan); Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes, £2m); Danny Welbeck (Manchester United, loan); John Mensah (Lyon, loan)

    Players Out: Daryl Murphy (Celtic, £1.5m); Jamie Chandler (Darlington, free); Roy O'Donovan (Coventry, undisclosed); Lorik Cana (Galatasaray, £5m); Nyron Nosworthy (Sheffield United, loan); Kenwyne Jones (Stoke, £8m); Marton Fulop (Ipswich, undisclosed)

    Key Man: Darren Bent

    Kenwyne Jones' departure will be softened by the arrival of Danny Welbeck on loan, who could really emerge this season if he is given enough first team football.

    Sunderland have experience throughout the side, and with Craig Gordon keeping goals out at one end and Darren Bent banging them in at the other, they could be in for a good season.

    Their fortunes depend on those of Bent. Lose him to a long-term injury and Steve Bruce's men could really struggle.

    Verdict: 13th. Another good season for Bent should help them to easily avoid relegation and be pushing for a top half finish.

    Cup Runs: Nothing of any significance. Should progress through the first couple of rounds in each but they will soon be knocked out.

Tottenham Hotspur

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    Manager: Harry Redknapp
    Stadium: White Hart Lane
    Last Season: 4th (70 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 8th

    Players In: Sandro (Internacional, £6m)

    Players Out: Jimmy Walker (released); David Button (Plymouth, loan); Adel Taarabt (QPR, £1m); John Bostock (Hull, loan)

    Key Man: Jermain Defoe

    Harry Redknapp did a fantastic job guiding Tottenham into the Champions League last season, finishing just five points off North London rivals Arsenal.

    He has resisted the temptation to tinker with his squad in the summer, and this could prove a wise move. Spurs have a young and exciting set of players and have also got great depth in almost every position.

    They will be tough to beat again, and if Defoe gets in free-scoring mode, another Champions League spot is a real possibility. Redknapp's comments of a title challenge are perhaps a little too optimistic, but Spurs will be a force.

    Verdict: 6th. However good their squad is, the five teams above Spurs have that little bit more about them. They will push for fourth for much of the season but eventually tail off like the Tottenham of old.

    Cup Runs: I can see a good run in one of the domestic competitions for Spurs, perhaps even reaching a final. The Champions League is a different story. They should qualify for the group stages but will do very well to progress any further.

West Bromwich Albion

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    Manager: Roberto Di Matteo
    Stadium:
    The Hawthorns
    Last Season:
    2nd in The Championship (91 pts) 

    Last Season's Prediction: N/A

    Players In: Pablo Ibanez (Atletico Madrid, free); Gabriel Tamas (Auxerre, £800k); Steven Reid (Blackburn, free); Boaz Myhill (Hull, £1.5m); Nicky Shorey (Aston Villa, undisclosed)

    Players Out: Andwele Slory (released); Robert Koren (Hull, free); Filipe Teixeira (released); Jonathan Greening (Fulham, free); Borja Valero (Villareal, loan)

    Key Man: Scott Carson

    The epitome of a yo-yo club, West Brom face another tough test to stay in the division. They have bought fairly well, getting three players with Premier League experience for relatively cheap, but their squad still looks weak.

    A lot will depend on the form of Scott Carson. If he produces the type of form that won him an England call-up, The Baggies might survive. If he suffers the howlers we all know he's capable of, they won't.

    The front two - Roman Bednar and Ishmael Miller - will also be important. If they can get on a good scoring streak then West Brom may be playing top flight football for a second consecutive year.

    Verdict: 19th. Another immediate relegation for West Brom, and worse still I predict that Roberto Di Matteo will be the first manager sacked this season.

    Cup Runs. Nothing. Zilch. Zero.

West Ham United

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    Manager: Avram Grant
    Stadium:
    Upton Park
    Last Season:
    17th (35 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 9th

    Players In: Thomas Hitzlsperger (Lazio, free); Pablo Barrera (Pumas, £4m); Frederic Piquionne (Lyon, £1m); Tal Ben Haim (Portsmouth, loan)

    Players Out: Guillermo Franco (released); Ilan (released); Josh Payne (released); Mido (released); Matt Fry (Charlton, loan)

    Key Man: Carlton Cole

    West Ham suffered a terrible season last year. They were predicted to battle for a Europa League spot, but instead found themselves fighting relegation.

    Zola out, Grant in, and there is a new optimism about Upton Park. They have bought well, with Barrera and Piquionne in particular standing out. Hitzlsperger is a good buy too, and Tal Ben Haim once again teams up with Avram Grant.

    If Carlton Cole finds his shooting boots then West Ham should have the season most were expecting them to have last year. If not, they could struggle.

    Verdict: 9th. Last season was a blip, expect the Hammers to be safe from relegation and around mid-table come May.

    Cup Runs: No real surprises here. Perhaps get through the first few rounds before being knocked out.

Wigan Athletic

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    Manager: Roberto Martinez
    Stadium:
    JJB Stadium
    Last Season:
    16th (36 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 12th

    Players In: James McArthur (Hamilton, £1m); Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes, £6); Ali Al Habsi (Bolton, loan); Antolin Alcaraz (Club Brugge, free); Ronnie Stam (Twente, £3m)

    Players Out: Titus Bramble (Sunderland, £1m); Tomasz Cywka (Derby, free); Mario Melchiot (Umm Salal, free); Paul Scharner (released); Jason Koumas (Cardiff, loan)

    Key Man: Hugo Rodallega

    With a small and flimsy squad, Wigan have a tough season ahead of them, and will be involved in the fight to stay in the league. They have spent almost £10m in the summer, but these players are unknown quantities and may struggle to adapt.

    Mauro Boselli could prove vital to Wigan's season. If he hits it off, something he failed to do in Argentina, then his goals, coupled with Rodallega's could keep the side up.

    It is imperative they keep hold of Rodallega, otherwise all their hopes lay on Boselli, who could sink or swim. I would even go as far as saying that is Rodallega leaves, Wigan will get relegated. If he stays, they will stay up.

    Verdict: 18th. Whatever happens, Wigan will be embroiled in a relegation battle that will go all the way. They could fall either side of the line, but I think their immediate rivals have stronger squads. Either way Martinez could challenge Di Matteo for the first sacking of the season.

    Cup Runs: With such a small squad, an early exit out of these competitions could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

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    Manager: Mick McCarthy
    Stadium:
    Molineux
    Last Season:
    15th (38 pts)

    Last Season's Prediction: 16th

    Players In: Jelle Van Damme (Anderlecht, £2.5m); Steven Fletcher (Burnley £6.5m); Stephen Mouyokolo (Hull, £2.5m); Stephen Hunt (Hull, £3m); Adlene Guedioura (Charleroi, £2m); Geoffrey Mujangi Bia (Charleroi, loan)

    Players Out: Jason Shackell (Barnsley, undisclosed); Mark Little (released); Daniel Jones (released); George Friend (released); Chris Iwelumo (Burnley, undisclosed); Alan Irvine (Sheffield Wednesday, free); Andrew Surman (Norwich, £500k); Sam Vokes (Bristol City, loan)

    Key Man: Steven Fletcher

    Seeing Mick McCarthy in the top flight two seasons running is almost as rare as seeing West Brom staying up, but he did a fantastic job with Wolves last season.

    For the second consecutive summer, McCarthy has bought brilliantly in the transfer window. Steven Fletcher arrived for a club record transfer fee and could be instrumental in any success the club enjoys, while Stephen Hunt is another shrewd buy.

    Whether they'll be able to build on last season's 15th place finish remains to be seen, but I think they will be threatened by relegation until late on.

    Verdict: 17th. Despite having a good, strong squad, Wolves' first XI will never strike fear into opponents. They should be able to replace injured or suspended players with ones of similar quality, however, which could prove to be the telling factor in their eventual survival.

    Cup Runs: I can't see any surprise coming from Wolves here. Maybe as far as the quarter-final in the Carling Cup but even that is a little optimistic.

Your Thoughts

21 of 21

    So, there are my predictions for the upcoming season. No doubt most of you skipped all the slides and only read your team's and your immediate rivals, so here is a complete table of my picks:

    1. Chelsea (C)

    2. Manchester United

    3. Manchester City

    4. Arsenal

    5. Liverpool

    6. Tottenham

    7. Everton

    8. Aston Villa

    9. West Ham

    10. Stoke

    11. Fulham

    12. Birmingham

    13. Sunderland

    14. Bolton

    15. Blackburn

    16. Newcastle

    17. Wolves

    18. Wigan (R)

    19. West Brom (R)

    20. Blackpool (R)

    What are your thoughts on these predictions? Last season only two teams finished where I thought they would - Manchester City and Hull City. It goes without saying that I'm hoping for a better success rate this time around!

    Where do you think your team will finish? Who will get relegated? Who will be champions? Who will be in the top four?

    Give your views in the comments section!

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