A new season is upon us and with it comes terrible predictions. Terrible, terrible predictions.
This really is a lovely time of the year, isn't it? During these August nights, I find myself spending an abhorrent amount of time riffling through the glorious comments sections that compose the various Guardian club previews that surface in the days leading up to the season. Not only are these pieces chock-full of comedy, they also feature one or two nuggets of genuinely good insight. Not that any of that is going to help me with my predictions in this space.
Last season, no one did particularly well at this game (does anyone ever do well when predicting a league table?). Peezy was the only man to forecast a Manchester United title run, so I guess that deserves some sort of praise. Good for you, guy. As for the rest of us - well, four of the five staffers who submitted tables foresaw a third-place finish for our Chelsea. Huzzah.
Whether this season shows marked improvement from our esteemed panel remains to be seen (doubtful). What we do seem to know, however, is that Manchester United will not repeat as champions. Take that, Ryan Giggs.
So, without any further delay, here is how the WAGNH hierarchy sees this season unfolding. Enjoy - and be sure to tell us how you think the league will play out in the comments section.
|1. Manchester City||1. Manchester City||1. Manchester City||1. Manchester City|
|2. Chelsea||2. Chelsea||2. Chelsea||2. Chelsea|
|3. Tottenham||3. Manchester United||3. Manchester United||3. Tottenham|
|4. Manchester United||4. Spurs||4. Arsenal||4. Manchester United|
|5. Liverpool||5. Pool||5. Liverpool||5. Arsenal|
|6. Arsenal||6. Arse||6. Tottenham||6. Liverpool|
|7. Swansea City||7. Who cares||7. Swansea City||7. Swansea City|
|8. Everton||8. Who cares||8. West Ham||8. West Ham|
|9. Newcastle||9. Who cares||9. West Brom||9. Everton|
|10. Stoke City||10. Who cares||10. Everton||10. Norwich City|
|11. West Ham||11. Who cares||11. Newcastle||11. West Bromwich|
|12. West Brom||12. Who cares||12. Aston Villa||12. Newcastle|
|13. Sunderland||13. Who cares||13. Fulham||13. Southampton|
|14. Fulham||14. Who cares||14. Southampton||14. Fulham|
|15. Aston Villa||15. Who cares||15. Sunderland||15. Aston Villa|
|16. Norwich||16. Who cares||16. Norwich City||16. Sunderland|
|17. Cardiff||17. Who cares||17. Cardiff||17. Stoke City|
|18. Southampton||18. Stoke||18. Stoke||18. Cardiff City|
|19. Crystal Palace||19. Hull Tigers||19. Crystal Palace||19. Crystal Palace|
|20. Hull||20. Palace||20. Hull||20. HULL CITY TIGERS|
|1. Manchester City||1. Chelsea||1. Chelsea||1. Chelsea|
|2. Chelsea||2. Manchester City||2. Manchester City||2. Manchester City|
|3. Manchester United||3. Manchester United||3. Manchester United||3. Manchester United|
|4. Arsenal||4. Spurs||4. Spurs||4. Arsenal|
|5. Spurs||5. Arsenal||5. Arsenal||5. Liverpool|
|6. Liverpool||6. Liverpool||6. Liverpool||6. Tottenham|
|7. Everton||7. Swansea||7. West Brom||7. Who cares|
|8. Who cares||8. Who cares||8. Swansea||8. Who cares|
|9. Who cares||9. Who cares||9. Who cares||9. Who cares|
|10. Who cares||10. Who cares||10. Who cares||10. Who cares|
|11. Who cares||11. Who cares||11. Who cares||11. Who cares|
|12. Who cares||12. Who cares||12. Who cares||12. Who cares|
|13. Who cares||13. Who cares||13. Who cares||13. Who cares|
|14. Who cares||14. Who cares||14. Who cares||14. Who cares|
|15. Who cares||15. Who cares||15. Who cares||15. Who cares|
|16. Who cares||16. Who cares||16. Who cares||16. Who cares|
|17. Who cares||17. Who cares||17. Who cares||17. Who cares|
|18. Stoke||18. Stoke||18. Hull||18. Who cares|
|19. Hull||18. Hull||19. Stoke||19. Who cares|
|20. Palace||20. Palace||20. Palace||20. Who cares|
And now, Kevin and Devin wax philosophical on the season to come:
At the top, I think the fight is between Chelsea and City. I do believe Chelsea will win the title, but I'm far too much of a pessimist to ever put it as a solid prediction. United should be third. They probably won't face much opposition for it. I think Arsenal, Suarez or not, should be favorites for fourth at this point. I think Gary Bale will leave Tottenham this season, and I think Spurs will struggle without him. They'll slide behind Liverpool, who may challenge for fourth, depending on if Suarez goes to Arsenal.
Behind the top-four picture, there's an intriguing top-half battle. I think Roberto Martinez will end up being a bit less well-regarded after this season as Everton slip behind Swansea, West Ham, and West Brom. Those three will be fairly close, I think, and could end up anywhere, even getting sucked into the bottom half.
Villa, Newcastle, Fulham, and Southampton all have the potential to click and end up in the top half, but, for me, they just have too many problems this season, and will finish safe from relegation but in the bottom half.
Of the bottom six, Sunderland is probably in the best shape, as another horror show like last season is unlikely, but they could easily end up in trouble again. Norwich will be in trouble, but they should be in the driving seat of the relegation battle come the last few fixtures. There's every chance the three promoted teams all go down this year, but I don't see great things ahead for Stoke and I think they'll be just pipped to safety by Cardiff. Sadly for Hull, I can see them being cut adrift early and floundering, while Crystal Palace will probably need a good deal of help to even be in with a chance of survival.
Based purely on my irrational love of Chelsea, I tend to select them as title winners ahead of every new season. Sometimes it skews on the path of blind allegiance without much substantiation. Occasionally we enter another campaign with a strong claim to the title. The band is back together at long last and it just feels like one of those years. Despite United's incumbency, Chelsea should have their hands on domestic glory by mid-March. That is, of course, if a million probabilities conspire to paint the portrait of yet another Mourinho success story. Only Chelsea and Manchester City have made large investments to strengthen their respective squads, while United have remained relatively quiet. Almost too quiet, if you ask me but that's a whole story I have no time to dwell on. Simply, this is the year. THE year. If Chelsea fail to reclaim league honors, many will rightfully argue that Mourinho's first year back is a failure. After all, he was brought home to provide stability and force Chelsea back to the summit after four years in the cold.
As I see it, Chelsea capture glory, City find their way into second, United struggle to a respectable third under Moyes, and AVB's project fizzles out before the end of the season, gifting Arsenal another season of CL football. Also, Liverpool finish higher than Tottenham. I know, I'm crazy.
Part II is coming later today...