1st Manchester United – I said this at the start of the season, and I’m not gonna change it in the light of a couple of high-scoring wins for Chelsea. United were horrendously unlucky with the injury crisis they had in December/January last season, and if they can avoid the same thing happening again, they’ll be in with a shout. The worrying thing for them is the spending of other clubs: United haven’t signed anyone who’d make their strongest eleven this summer. United look like they’re coming to the end of an era, with the Glazers’ annihilation of the club’s spending power, but they have a good enough squad in place at the moment to put up a strong challenge.
2nd Chelsea – I think Chelsea have lost a bit about them over the summer. Cole and Ballack were good players for them, and I’m not sure Benayoun (whilst reliable) is a match-winner. They were lucky that their nearest challengers were a bit poor last season; and whilst they might have scored about 800 goals, they still lost six games. Defensively questionable, for me, especially with the loss of Ricardo Carvalho, and fingers crossed that Premiership strikers will get at Terry a bit, who was shown up to be the average player he always has been at the World Cup. Ramires should be an improvement over John Obi Mikel, though, and they’ll certainly be up there.
3rd Man City – Pains me to say it, really, but I think City are gonna do well this season. They looked good against Liverpool, and the ‘World Cup formation’ that Mancini uses seems to really suit their players. For all the money Milner cost, him and Johnson cutting in from the wings is a fantastic prospect. The only thing that could go wrong for them, really, is dressing room disharmony. A few big egos, and they can’t all play every week. Balotelli could prove to be a disruptive influence, especially if he finds himself on the bench a few times, and of all their signings, there’s bound to be a couple that don’t work out. But there’s bound to be a few that do.
4th Arsenal – This was a tough call, but I reckon if Arsenal keep van Persie fit, they should have a enough about them to stay in the top four. They’ve made what look like a couple of good signings in Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny. The new-boy Squillaci will give them a bit of cover at centre-half, and the fact that they don’t have to play Big Sol any more surely works in their favour. Hopefully for the Gooners Theo Walcott will learn how to play football at some point and fulfil his massive potential.
5th Spurs – Spurs are unlucky that their relative equals of last season have so much bloody money; which in my book will be enough to push them out of the top four. Done well to get Gallas in on a free, with the injury problems faced by King and Woodgate, and will certainly add experience to their defensive options. Should be a good signing so long as he keeps his toys well inside the pram. The Champions League may provide a distraction, depending how far they get. Bale and Lennon staying fit will be important; they’ve got the potential to cause more than a few full-backs more than a few problems.
6th Liverpool – This Liverpool side has far, far too many average players, and as good a signing as Joe Cole may turn out to be, it’s not enough to get them back up there and challenging. They’ll miss Mascherano if he goes, which would mean Gerrard would have to drop deep, which in turn would mean Torres never sees the ball. They’re relying on Torres staying fit, because they really are knackered without him: their other strikers might be good prospects, but not good enough to build a strong side around at this moment in time.
7th Everton – Had a horrendous time of it with injuries last season, and assuming it doesn’t happen again, I think we might see them do well this time round. Not added much to the squad, admittedly, (I can’t see Beckford doing a great deal) but they have a great squad on paper anyway. They’ve got a good, stable manager in Moyes, and that should be enough to push Villa out of the top seven.
There you have it. The bona fide, unquestionable, get-down-the-bookies-now, top seven for the 2010-11 Premiership season. And if I’m wrong, I can always pretend I would’ve called it if I’d done this after the transfer window closes.
Slag me off, tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, but more importantly, put your own reputation on the line: who’s in your top seven for this season?
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