THIS season, more than any I can remember anticipating, is a hard one to call.
The top three teams from last season, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, all have new men at the helm.
Arsenal underperformed last season – but then, Arsenal have underperformed for a good few years now – while Spurs and Liverpool could both be facing up to life without their star men next season.
I can’t see any other team seriously breaking into the top four, but which of these six elite squads will is a hard call.
There’s my disclaimer out of the way.
But neck on the line I find it hard to see past Mourinho’s Chelsea for the title.
His team has a strength in depth matched only by Manchester City, with some real creative talent in the form of Hazard, Mata and Oscar – plus if anyone can hit the ground running it’s the Special One, a manager adept at settling into new clubs, with the benefit of having been here and done it before.
It’s this that gives him the edge over Pellegrini’s star-studded legions of Manchester City, who I’m placing second come May.
Last season, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal gave themselves a mountain to climb, and they climbed it admirably during the second half of the season. If they come out of the traps in the same form as they finished last time around, I can see them overhauling David Moyes and Manchester United’s defending champions, who’ll have to settle for fourth place.
Liverpool and Spurs I see missing out, without the depth in their squad to maintain a season-long campaign – although I will tip the Lilywhites’ new boy Roberto Soldado for the Golden Boot.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a look at the other half of the table and predict who’ll be relegated…
JOSE Mourinho’s Chelsea are going to win this season’s Premier League – according to cold hard maths.
Statisticians at Bloomberg Sports have revealed their first ever Premier League end of season projections – forecasting the finishing position and points of every team in the league.
And their number crunching has revealed that the Blues will pip United and City to the title in a three horse race, with Moyes finishing third in his first season at United.
They predict that Arsenal will beat off their rivals to the last Champions League spot, and all the promoted teams – Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Hull City – will be relegated straight back to the Championship for the first time since 1998.
Bill Squadron, President of Bloomberg Sports, said: “As fans around the world debate the 2013-2014 Premier League season from a purely subjective standpoint, we are adding our mathematically-derived predictions to the debate.
“Using the same objective data analytics that drives our Match Analysis tool, we are pleased to unveil a purely data-driven projection for each team.
“Not only does this make for great content for fans, but it also provides data that helps them beat the bookie.”
For more information go to www.bsports.com
WANTAWAY Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has accused the club of reneging on an agreement in his contract which stated he could leave Anfield this summer if they had not qualified for the Champions League.
The Uruguay international has also said he will submit a written transfer request by the end of the week if the Merseyside outfit continue to block a potential move to Arsenal.
Suarez, in interviews given to the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, said he believes a clause written into the contract he signed last summer entitles him to a move.
“Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go,” the 26-year-old said.
“I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.”
Liverpool have rejected two bids from Arsenal – of £30million and £40,000,001 – for Suarez this summer.
MANCHESTER United won the Premier League – check.
Manchester City second – check.
Chelsea and Arsenal qualify for the Champions League – check.
Spurs pushing them close – check.
Smug face – check.
Liverpool pushing for Europe – errr…
Nevertheless, this has undoubtedly been my best ever year for Premier League predictions, and to prove it click here to see my punditry from last August.
I’ll be milking this one over the close season, I can tell you.
CHELSEA, Arsenal and Spurs are currently locked in one of the closest races in Premier League history.
Sadly for the trio, it’s not the title at stake, but to secure Champions League football.
Anyone who says that Germany has now eclipsed England and Spain as the top league on the continent should cast an eye at the strength of the squads vying for third and fourth places – with World Class talents like Juan Mata, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Santi Cazorla, Jermain Defoe and more facing off for the right to represent England over the next few weeks.
And sadly, one of these squads – all of which could arguably challenge for the European crown next season – will miss out.
It’s a hard one to call – but you can vote for who you think should miss out with out vote below…
BORUSSIA Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke locked himself in a Bernabeu toilet as he could not bare to watch the final minutes of last night’s Champions League win over Real Madrid.
The German side conceded two late goals before clinging on to secure a 4-3 aggregate win and book their place in the final at Wembley.
He said: “It seems like we only can do it with drama – for the first time in my life I had to give up due to heart problems.
“I went to the toilet for the last minutes, locked myself in, covered my ears and looked at my watch. I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head.”
POLICE in Nottinghamshire are urging residents to think before they dial after a football fan, so disgusted with the referee’s decision to send-off a player in last night’s Champions League clash, rang 999.
The 18-year-old Manchester United supporter was watching the second-leg tie against Real Madrid from his home in a village near Bingham at around 9.20pm last night when he made the call.
He felt the moment Reds winger Nani was controversially dismissed for a high challenge was a crime and so decided to call police, reportedly to report “a robbery”.
He later apologised for his actions, claiming to have been caught up in the excitement.
Control Room Chief Inspector Ted Antill said: “While this recent example may be amusing, it illustrates the sort of insincere calls we have to deal with on a daily basis in the Control Room.
“They waste our time and they direct us away from genuine victims of crime, particularly if we dispatch officers out to something that turns out to be a bogus report.
“I would ask people to think before picking up the phone for emergency services.
“There may be people out there in real trouble who need our help and they have to wait because we are tied up with calls like this one, reporting a referee from the television.
“It’s no joke.”
ANOTHER Spurs match, another win dragged from the jaws of disappointment by Gareth Bale.
The Welsh flyer scored an exocet-like strike from range at the death tonight – after scoring earlier in the match – to see off a spirited West Ham away from home 3-2.
They now sit above London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal in third place in the Premier League.
Is there any player this year that has single-handedly pulled their team up the table as Bale has done, and with such style as well?
It surely has echoes of Robin van Persie for Arsenal last season, and arguably Bale has more importance to Spurs than Van Persie to Man Utd, Messi to Barcelona, Ronaldo to Real Madrid etc.
Getting Champions League football will be one hell of an achievement for Andre Villas-Boas, given the strength of competition from the likes of Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool this season – but by god, keeping hold of Bale will be a bigger battle this Summer.