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…
I MAY not be in David Moyes or Jose Mourinho’s league just yet, but as the author of Goaltastic I do take in more football than the average man.
Hell, I’m even the reigning Hinckley Times Official Fantasy Football League champion.
So as you can imagine, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my team for the forthcoming season.
Now you don’t need me to tell you that the likes of Robin van Persie and Juan Mata are probably going to score well this season – their double figure price tags tell you that – but what a canny manager needs to find is value for money, cheaper chaps that might make a mockery of their prices.
Here are my top five…
Simon Mignolet was a solid stopper at Sunderland last year, and this season despite moving to Liverpool – who are far more likely to keep their opponents at bay – remains relatively kind in price as the levels were set before Pepe Reina was transferred. This means for just £5.5m you can grab a slice of the Liverpool clean sheets, plus save points.
He’s getting on a bit, granted, but Nicola Anelka is as lethal as ever judging by his pre-season form for West Brom, and he was one of the fittest in the Juventus squad last season according to the Italian side’s coaches. Plus he’s cheap as chips too, at just £5.5m for a proven Premier League goalscorer.
Yeah yeah, we all know how much of a red herring being a scoring sensation in the Dutch leagues can be, myself more than most being a Middlesbrough supporter having to endure Afonso ’30 goals last season’ Alves, but it’s a real miracle that Swansea snaffled up Ivorian hitman Wilfred Bony to lead their line ahead of some of the continent’s bigger guns.
There’s always a bargain to be had in finding a player out of position – midfielders playing up front, defenders playing in midfield, goalkeepers playing in defence… Okay, scratch that last one, but Irishman Seamus Coleman, listed as a defender for Everton, has been playing as a winger in some formations for his team this season, leaving him dangerously close to being a defender playing UP FRONT. For £5m, how can you not go for that?
Now I know £9.5m isn’t exactly cheap, but… Roberto Soldado is World and Euro champs Spain’s number one striker at the moment, he’s been a 20 goal a season man for the last three campaigns, and he’s without competition for places at a Spurs side burgeoning with midfield talent. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d be laying a cheeky punt on Soldado for this season’s Premier League Golden Boot.
Agree? Disagree? Leave me your bargain spots in the comments, and put your money where your mouth is by signing up to our free league at fantasy.premierleague.com and then join the competition by using the code 148075-41877.
SPANISH international striker Roberto Soldado is heading to White Hart Lane, a director at his current club Valencia has confirmed.
In a tweet, Antonio Sese has today confirmed that the striker, who has scored 59 goals in 101 games for Spanish side Valencia, has been secured by Tottenham.
The Premier League side have seen off rivals for his signature including Liverpool by matching his 30 million Euro buyout clause – an offer cash-strapped Valencia couldn’t refuse.
The news will surely be welcomed by Spurs fans, who have been waiting about five years for a truly world class striker to join the club which Soldado could well be – and next season should be an exciting one for the Lilywhites, if they can only hang on to star man Gareth Bale this summer as well…