Premier League top six: Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool
Manchester City and new boss Manuel Pellegrini have done their transfer business much earlier this summer than last year, when they left it late and missed out on the likes of Robin van Persie. Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Fernandinho all look like cracking signings, while Manchester United and Arsenal have lagged behind in terms of major deals.
Jose Mourinho is back at Chelsea but will he do as well second time around? He certainly has the talent but I feel City will pip the Blues to the title.
New Manchester United boss David Moyes will be under pressure from the start and I reckon they’ll finish third, but it will take him time to adapt to his new role and this season could be something of a transitional year for the Red Devils.
Arsenal will have enough to finish in the top four again, while I think Spurs will finish fifth, especially as Gareth Bale looks to be on his way out of White Hart Lane.
I think Liverpool will finish one place higher in sixth this season, but they are a long way off challenging for a top four spot.
Premier League surprise package: Norwich
Norwich boss Chris Hughton has brought in a host of new players this summer and I’ve been impressed by the quality of players arriving at Carrow Road. Defender Javier Garrido has made his move permanent after spending last season on loan at Norwich, while midfielder Leroy Fer, defender Martin Olsson, winger Nathan Redmond, goalkeeper Carlo Nash and strikers Ricky van Wolkswinkel and Gary Hooper have also made the move to East Anglia.
Fer will bring a real physical presence to City’s midfield, while van Wolfswinkel scored a hatful of goals in Portugal for Sporting Lisbon (45 goals in 87 appearances in all competitions, with 28 of those goals coming in Portugal’s Primeira Liga).
Premier League bottom three: 20th Crystal Palace, 19th Hull City, 18th Cardiff City
All three sides have brought in new players but I feel they will all struggle in the top flight, as the gap between the Promised Land and the Championship continues to grow.
Premier League top-scorer: Christian Benteke
Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke is 16/1 with Sky Bet to be top scorer this season and I reckon it’s worth a punt. Benteke signed a new deal this summer after a superb first season in the Premier League, and I think he’ll be up there again as he looks to impress Belgium boss Marc Wilmots in a World Cup year.
First Premier League manager to be sacked: Alan Pardew
I think Pardew has done a decent job at St James’ Park but the arrival of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football caused a stir earlier this summer and who would be surprised if Pardew left, given Newcastle’s knack of being in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Premier League Fantasy Football captain: Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool skipper is still going strong and continues to chip in with goals and assists for the Reds.
FA Cup winners: Liverpool
The cups represent Liverpool’s best chance of silverware this season and I think Brendan Rodgers could deliver success in the FA Cup, which would be a decent return at the end of his second season in charge of the Reds.
Champions League winners: Real Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti is the new man in charge at the Bernabeu and won Europe’s top club competition twice during his time in charge of AC Milan. I think Ancelotti could be the one to earn Real’s 10th European Cup triumph.
Championship top two: 1 Reading, 2 Ipswich Town
Reading boss Nigel Adkins and Ipswich Town chief Mick McCarthy have both won promotion from the second tier with Southampton and Wolves respectively and they know what it takes to guide a team to the top flight.
The 46-game Championship season is a real slog and Adkins and McCarthy could well be top dogs again.
You can currently get 7/1 on Ipswich to go up this season with Sky Bet and I think that represents decent value.
Championship top-scorer: Jordan Rhodes
The Blackburn striker bagged 29 league goals last season (two for Huddersfield) and was one goal behind Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray, who finished top scorer in the Championship. I think the Rovers hitman will finish top of the tree this season.