The new Premier League season starts this weekend. With lots of new signings and several managerial changes, many teams will be optimistic, but how long will that optimism last?
After correctly predicting this summer’s World Cup final, I thought I’d have a go at forecasting the top positions in this year’s league – including where I think Spurs are likely to end up – as well as previewing the likely contenders.
Last year there was a suggestion that Liverpool threw the league away. They didn’t, Chelsea did. In the run in, Mourinho’s team lost to Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, whilst only picking up a point against Norwich.
The Special One’s main excuse for these setbacks was his side’s lack of a top class striker. This summer Chelsea have rectified this by snapping up Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe last season. They also pulled off a transfer coup, beating Arsenal to the signing of Cesc Fabregas.
Mourinho has had another year to make his mark on the team and it’s hard to see them making the same mistakes, this time around.
2nd Manchester City
As the two richest clubs, it’s hard to look beyond City and Chelsea for the title. It seems financial fair play isn’t working just yet. At least City have been given some FFP sanctions and this might be enough to give “plucky little” Chelsea the edge.
City are, of course, reigning champions and they achieved this playing attractive, attacking football. However, it’s hard to shake the feeling that they won last year’s title by default, while their challengers slipped up.
Even without a marque signing this summer, they should be strong enough to take second place.
3rd Manchester United
I am a great admirer of Louis van Gaal and would like to have seen him at Spurs. Not only is he a much better manager than David Moyes but their chairman seems finally to be addressing some of the obvious deficiencies in the United squad.
LvG’s stay at the club will probably be a relatively short one – I can see him staying for a couple of years and winning two or three trophies. The big question is whether he can put in place a system and a group of players that will help future United managers (see his influence at Barcelona and Bayern Munich).
Ferguson won the league with probably a worse group of players. Moyes was clearly no Ferguson but, at least in the short term, LvG could be.
Liverpool had a great season last year but lost their talismanic star striker this summer, leading to a spending spree that has drawn comparisons with Spurs’ Bale funded binge.
The key differences are that Liverpool already have a system and a squad ready to cope without Suarez, and Rodgers has bought more carefully, adding some proven Premier League experience.
Even so, last year’s title near-miss was an anomaly – Liverpool had some luck and went on a run. This season they will revert to the mean. A creditable fourth and a Champions League place is about right.
Above Spurs, surely not!
Well they have been for quite a few seasons, so it would be brave to predict a reversal this year. Champions League football and the extra wages made possible by their new stadium, allow Arsenal to attract bigger players. These should be Spurs’ targets.
The signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona is a signal that Wenger recognises the team’s weaknesses and is prepared to spend on a big name but I still think that there are four better teams than our North London neighbours.
6th Tottenham Hotspur
So sixth again? But a better sixth, if that makes sense. The football will surely be more fun to watch, and we’ll have a coherent plan and some signs of progress.
With a rejuvenated Manchester United, sixth will be more of an achievement and hopefully we’ll run the teams above us close – probably losing out on fifth to Arsenal on the last day! A run in the FA Cup or Europa League would also be welcome, especially now the latter rewards the winner with a Champions League spot.
Of course this is just a prediction, I would love Pochettino to surprise me. If I’m being optimistic I could just about see us challenging for third or fourth place. The problem is, there are five very good teams in the league, all with bigger wage bills, bigger turnovers and bigger matchday income – we are sixth for all three.
The ultimate goal is for a happier fanbase and if Spurs play better football that’s half the battle. Avoiding being thumped by City and Liverpool, along with not losing three times to West Ham and Arsenal, would be a bonus.
Do you agree? Will Spurs be challenging for the title or will they be lucky to be in the top half? Please let us know your opinion in the comments section below.