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Aug 09

Negredo at Manchester CityOne of the clearest indications of the summer being over: the start of the new English Premier League football season. This should be an exciting 2013/2014 season following some major managerial changes and as usual, another transfer circus. First game is Liverpool v Stoke on August 17th.

Alex Ferguson stepped down from the champions Man United, following around 1500 matches in charge, and it will be interesting to see if they can be as successful with David Moyes as boss. I doubt it. There are better squads in the EPL and the Red Devils will not win it this time.

The major transfer stories this summer has been Luis Suarez (Liverpool to Arsenal?), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd to Chelsea) and Gareth Bale (Tottenham to Real Madrid?) which are still unsolved. Suarez has been eager to push through a move to a Champions League club, mostly through media it seems. He was recently seen as very disrespectful to the club by the manager Brendan Rodgers. As much as some fans would like to see him rot in the reserves, this is not likely to happen with his talent and current value.

Let’s have a look at some of the best long-term season bets and predictions ahead of the new EPL season. Odds are from William Hill.

1. Top Goalscorer – Edin Dzeko 34.00 / 33/1 – Of course Van Persie is the big favorite here but I can’t resist Dzeko (Man City) with these odds. I think he will have an improved season under Pellegrini and he looked sharp during pre-season.

2. Straight Forecast – 1. Chelsea 2. Man City – 6.50 / 11/2 – I can only see these two teams competing for the league this year, not by coincidence the two “rich” clubs. If Chelsea can improve their defence a bit, they look likely to win under Mourinho, with an attack-minded City chasing them to the last game!

3. Top Midlands Club – Aston Villa 2.37 / 11/8 – Should have a better season this year and will beat West Brom and Stoke.

A quick team-by-team guide to the new Premiership season

Arsenal

The Gunners were never in the title hunt last season but secured a Champions League spot yet again at the expense of North London rivals Tottenham. Without doubt, their biggest problem last season was trying to replace Robin Van Persie. They are currently embroiled in a transfer saga to bring Luis Suarez from Liverpool, a move that would certainly raise expectations at the Emirates.

Aston Villa

Last season was a bitter struggle for Villa but a late season rally pulled them up to 15th place. For much of the campaign the spectre of relegation was looming large and they will be desperate to start positively this season. Their revival was largely due to the imposing figure of Christian Benteke and they have managed to retain him for the new season.

Cardiff City

Cardiff will be competing in the Premier League for the first time following their promotion from the Championship. Manager Malky Mackay obviously has limited means in the transfer market and they are pinning their hopes in record signing Steven Caulker from Spurs.

Chelsea

The Blues may not have enjoyed quite the same level as success under Benitez that they had enjoyed with Di Matteo a year previously but the Europa League and a Champions League spot were eventually achieved. The Chelsea faithful made it perfectly clear what they thought of the man in charge but can have no qualms about his replacement. Jose Mourinho will be greeted like a returning hero and Chelsea will be intent in launching a serious title challenge this season.

Crystal Palace

Palace finished fifth in the Championship but gained promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs. There have been a few new acquisitions in the summer but they are going to face an uphill struggle in the shadow of their wealthy London rivals.

Everton

Everton played out another satisfactory campaign under David Moyes last season to finish sixth but must now face life without him. His move to Manchester United may have temporarily jolted the Toffees but they look to have made a wise choice in Roberto Martinez. Although Wigan were eventually relegated, their FA Cup victory was handsome consolation and further enhanced the reputation of Martinez. He will have more to work with at Everton and it will be a surprise if he cannot continue in the same mould as Moyes.

Fulham

Fulham were rather enigmatic last season, varying between brilliant and very poor. They final mid-table finish summed up their season. Martin Jol has introduced a few new faces and they are capable of providing stiff opposition to anyone in the Premiership.

Hull Steve Bruce

Hull

Hull City are perhaps the most surprising of the newly promoted clubs, although they were in the Premiership as recently as 2008. Steve Bruce has brought in several new players but they have struggled a little in pre-season and face a daunting trip to Stamford Bridge to start their Premiership campaign.

Liverpool

Liverpool fans will be anxiously waiting to see whether they can retain Luis Suarez in the face of persistent interest from Arsenal. A seventh place finish last season was as good as they were in a campaign where they were strangely impotent at Anfield.

Manchester City

Roberto Mancini paid the price for a rather tame surrender of their League title to neighbours United last season. Their FA Cup final defeat at the hands of Wigan dealt the hammer blow on his reign. His biggest mistake was probably his failure to add to the squad following their triumph the previous season. Manuel Pellegrini has been joined by four new players at a cost of £90million and the indications are that City mean business this season.

Manchester United

The Champions will be under close scrutiny as they finally start the post-Ferguson era. David Moyes will find expectations a lot higher than at Everton but he is inheriting a side that won the league in a canter last season. Want-away striker Wayne Rooney is providing Moyes with his first test in charge and the Champions League will provide with a different challenge altogether.

Newcastle United

The Magpies flirted with the relegation zone last season before clambering up to 16th place. The ructions caused by the appointment of Joe Kinnear appear to have died down a bit but Alan Pardew will start the season under pressure. The fans will be hoping for a lot better this season.

Norwich City

Norwich were something of a revelation in 2011/12 but failed to achieve quite the same consistency last season. Even so, they were always quite secure in mid-table and avoided the relegation scrap that many had predicted. Manager Chris Hughton has brought in several new players and offloaded a lot of dead wood during the summer.

Southampton

Southampton’s surprising appointment of Mauricio Pochettino caught many pundits on the hop but he delivered Premiership survival. The Saints began the season with a virtually impossible run of fixtures against the top sides and were quickly under pressure. If they can get the season off on the right note they could make further strides towards the calmer waters of mid-table.

Stoke City

Stoke continued to graft away in mid table last season and finished 13th place. It came as something of a surprise when Tony Pulis was sacked and Mark Hughes appointed in his place. The fans are going to take some convincing that the Welshman is the man to take them into the top half of the table.

Sunderland

The Black Cats clung on to their Premiership place in 17th place last season and look set for another hard season. Paolo Di Canio’s appointment surprised many but the fans have quickly taken to him and he has been busy recruiting new staff through the summer.

Swansea City

Swansea continue to be the surprise package of the Premiership and their Carling Cup success showed how far they have come in such a short time. With teams like Arsenal and Everton lamenting the lack of silverware, Swansea already have a launch pad to close on the European places.

Tottenham Hotspur

The summer has been all about Gareth Bale for Tottenham fans. Having missed out on the Champions League it was always going to be a struggle to hang on to their star player. The record signing of striker Roberto Soldado went almost unnoticed. They are a good side, with or without Bale. Whether they are a top four side may depend on whether he stays or goes.

West Bromwich Albion

West Brom enjoyed the heady heights of eighth place last season and Steve Clarke has acted quickly to replace Lukaku with Anelka. The Frenchman may be in the Autumn of his career but he could prove to be a shrewd purchase as the Baggies aim to keep up their progress.

West Ham United

Tenth place last season was greeted as a success by Sam Allardyce who was intent on securing Premiership survival as his main objective. The test now will be to see whether he can take the club up a notch and compete with the top sides.

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written by Stefan


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