Defending champ looks destined to go back to back

The English football season kicks off this weekend with the first round of the Premier League. Sports editor Steve Hepburn takes a punt on who is going to be top dog and who will be heading south come May.

 

CHAMPION

Manchester City: Hard to see how this mob can be beaten. Perhaps it will not win the league by 19 points like last year but with players such as Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus up front, it will be goal-hungry. New man Riyad Mahrez out on the wing will create havoc.

 

CONTENDERS

Liverpool: Made some big signings but hard to see it happening. Too inconsistent.

Arsenal: Will be interesting in the post-Wenger times. Not much excitement has come through the doors in the off-season.

Tottenham: The north Londoners have signed no-one in the transfer market. A good squad still but everyone is a year older and the legs could go near the end of the season as many back up from exploits in Russia.

Chelsea: Lost its keeper but replaced him with someone else worth more than the GDP of half of the South Island. Jimmy Greaves once said never pay more than a tenner for a keeper. Still plenty of classy players but a year too soon perhaps. Eden Hazard may not see the year out.

 

BUBBLING AROUND

Manchester United: Manager is not happy after his pleas for some more artillery fell on deaf ears. Still has plenty of talent but it could go two ways. Michael Carrick has moved into coaching so expect to see plenty of short, pointless passing from the side. Over-rated midfielder Fred has arrived.

Leicester City: Came home with a bit of steam last year and has some quality.

West Ham: Everyone loves the Hammers and they could be better this season.

Everton: Made some major signings and may at last be moving out of their neighbour’s shadow. But they’ve promised before. Bring back Peter Reid and Trevor Steven!

Crystal Palace: Plenty to like about this outfit. Could be a bolter.

Wolves: One promoted team always does reasonably well and the men from the Midlands look as though they are up for a tilt.

 

MID-TABLE MEDIOCRITY

Fulham: Promoted and will win a few but not many, really.

Burnley: Massive overachiever last season and hard to see how it can go this well again.

Southampton: When he was a player no-one thought Mark Hughes would be any good as a manager. Look at his track record and they were not totally wrong.

Watford:  A manager with a winning percentage of barely 40% does not promise much.

 

RELEGATION CANDIDATES

Bournemouth: The love-in for Eddie Howe may be about to end.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Bit of a nothing team is the Albion.

Cardiff City: Manager a bit flighty and that is never good in a relegation dogfight.

Huddesfield: League team is better.

Newcastle: Signed no-one and the manager and owner are not getting on. The soap opera is about to begin.

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