There’s an unwritten rule of blogging which holds that all blogs must publish some form of predictions piece before the new season gets underway. With the help of Ben Shave, David Dickson, Jack Pitt-Brooke, Jamie Cutteridge, Luke Moore and Tom Goulding, here’s our own humble offering.
Premier League Winners
Ben Shave: Manchester United.
Chris Mann: After last year’s disastrously optimistic backing of Liverpool I really ought to play it safe and go for Manchester United, but I’m not going to do that. Manchester City, mainly because I’d like to see a ‘different’ team win the title.
David Dickson: I always shy away from delving too deep into this question as far as predictions go, not wishing to jinx my beloved Blues. Unfortunately, I feel United is the obvious answer. City are probably a year (and a manager) away from inevitably reaching the summit, and I have a feeling AVB will either romp ahead early or be sacked by January. United have made a couple of decent signings and, short of David De Gea being an absolute Taibi, I think they’ll nick a close one.
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester United.
Jamie Cutteridge: Manchester…United. I’ve got a horrible feeling that Fergie is building another one of THOSE teams that he tends to build. So many options up top, a solid defence, a good young ‘keeper. Stick Modric or Sneijder in there and it wouldn’t even be close.
Luke Moore: Manchester United.
Tom Goulding: Manchester United.
Your top four (and why)
BS: United (because there’s still something of the juggernaut about them), Chelsea (because André Villas-Boas is the Special Two and therefore can’t finish first), City (it’s the least they can do…) and Liverpool (least worst of the rest).
CM: Manchester City, closely followed by United, with Chelsea comfortably third. I see fourth place as a straight fight between Arsenal and Liverpool, with the club that holds its nerve later in the season taking the spoils. So, by that logic, Liverpool.
DD: United, Chelsea, City and Liverpool. Writing this in early August, if we assume Fabregas and Nasri both leave North London, I don’t think Arsenal stand a chance. In fact, I think even Tottenham will do them for fifth. Unless, that is, the Gunners fancy signing a rock of a centre-back to reinforce their defence. Liverpool look alright. Since Suarez is liquid gold, Carroll usually does his bit, and they’re surely allowed special dispensation from the Premier League to play at least nine midfielders a game, I’ll say they’ll sneak into the top four.
JPB: Manchester City won’t score enough to match United but should finish second, ahead of Chelsea, providing that Roman Abramovich fails to convince Daniel Levy to part with Luka Modric. Arsenal should squeeze out Liverpool for fourth, although the latter’s signings could come good.
JC: Manchester United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal (in that order). I can see City pushing United close this year, and finishing second will be more down to impressive winners and, as shown in the Community Shield, Mancini’s tactics, as opposed to a general lack of quality. AVB has a rebuilding squad at his disposal which should be enough to fend off the challenge of Kenny Dalglish and his legion of midfielders.
LM: United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal. Whilst I think Liverpool will be much better this year, United, City and Chelsea are guaranteed to be in there which leaves just one place. I think Arsenal will pip Liverpool to it, with Spurs in sixth.
TG: Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool – because they will be the four teams with the most points.
BS: Wigan, Norwich, Swansea.
CM: Blackburn, QPR and one from Wigan/Norwich/Swansea.
DD: Blackburn (Jones out, Samba surely to follow, managed by a buffoon, run by a cartel of fantasists). Swansea (Will enjoy a Hull/Burnley/Blackpool-style run of nobbling Liverpool/Arsenal early on before collapsing from January onwards when faced with the realisation that they can’t defend so much as a sandcastle from an obese toddler). From there, I’m stuck. Wigan will hover around as usual, and a standard in-house crisis at QPR could see them be the ones to plummet. Not that I’m hoping that will happen…
JPB: Swansea to escape, even with Leroy Lita up front. Neither Norwich nor QPR have quite enough quality, while Blackburn will not recover from a poor start even after sacking Steve Kean at Christmas.
JC: Blackburn are nailed on. There’s just no real quality in their squad and Steve Kean will be gone by November. His replacement, Colonel Sanders, won’t do any better. Swansea look the weakest of the promoted sides, so I’ll stick them down this year, along with Wigan because at some point gravity will come to bear in DW land. Norwich will score enough goals with Holt and Pilkington to stay up, whereas Warnock will shout QPR to safety.
LM: Wigan, Blackburn, Swansea.
TG: Swansea, Norwich, Wigan.
Premier League Golden Boot
BS: Tempted by Luís Suarez at 14-1 and Agüero at 16-1. But I’ll say Javier Hernández.
CM: If he stays fit, Robin van Persie. As he probably won’t, Luís Suarez.
DD: Fernando Torres.
JPB: Javier Hernández.
JC: Fernando Torres. He’s going to go off big-time.
LM: Sergio Agüero.
TG: Darren Bent.
Championship Promotion Candidates
BS: Anyone but Cardiff (I’m a Watford fan). Leicester, Birmingham, Reading, Burnley, maybe West Ham, though after the first round of games I’m less confident about picking them.
CM: I should really back Southampton, but I think promotion will be beyond us this season. Leicester to finish top with West Ham and Reading joining them in their ascension.
DD: Nottingham Forest. Not that I think they’ll win the whole thing, but I think you-know-who will do the business and at least guide them through a play-off campaign graced by at least four Lewis McGugan strikes from forty yards. Also, I thought I better be the only one not to say Leicester.
JPB: Leicester and West Ham to take the automatic places, Cardiff going up through the play-offs.
JC: Leicester – how can you not back Sven and The Nuge? Plus, Michael Johnson could run that league. West Ham – early slip-up aside, Big Sam will get results. And Brighton, if only because Will Buckley is a star in the making.
LM: Leicester City.
TG: Leicester City.
BS: I wouldn’t be worthy of the ‘Portuguese football blogger’ if I didn’t pick Real Madrid, would I…
CM: Barcelona once again.
DD: Valdes to Busquets to Xavi to Iniesta to Xavi to Iniesta to Xavi, through ball to Messi, past two, inside to Villa. Gol. On an average week, multiply this by four. Against Madrid, multiply by two or three. I hesitate to say, we haven’t seen much of Barça with Messi crocked. I genuinely think that’s Madrid’s only hope in hell.
JC: Barça. Yes, José is building a nice squad, but come on, did you watch Barça last season? Sanchez gives them scary options.
BS: Dortmund again, provided they get knocked out of the Champions League nice and early.
CM: I’d like to see Dortmund make it consecutive titles, but think Bayern will be back to their usual imperious form.
DD: Bit of a cheat this, no? Dortmund looked bloody good last week, and Bayern looked their usual early-season shambles. It’ll be a dogfight between the two.
JPB: Bayern Munich.
JC: Dortmund. With Pulp’s recent comeback, this is my second favourite mid-nineties revival.
LM: Bayern Munich.
TG: Bayern Munich.
BS: Milan. Inter to implode both swiftly and hilariously under Gian Piero ‘five formations in one game’ Gasperini.
DD: I’d bloody love Napoli to hit the heady heights, but I fear the title will belong in Milan once again. Ahem.
JPB: Would love to say Napoli but think Milan will have enough.
JC: Milan. Without going all Andy Gray, the Italian league looks weak but AC’s options up top scare me, half through their quality, half through fear alone.
BS: It would be wonderful to see Lille consolidate, but I’ve got a feeling about Marseilles.
CM: Marseilles to hold off the riches of PSG (just).
DD: It looks like everyone would love to see PSG fail, love to see Lille repear on last year, and I would personally love to see Marseilles do the business. As for a prediction: I’ll leave that to those more in the know…
JPB: Solidarity with Arab money clubs – PSG.
JC: PSG. Money can buy success.
Champions League Winners
CM: Barcelona will maintain their grip on domestic football, but I think Real Madrid will take the honours in Europe.
DD: I think another Premier League-dominated year could be on the horizon. Squads have generally improved and are well-rested, and if Arsenal can scrape through the qualifying round, I think we could see all four teams go far. Whether they can beat you-know-who though (Steve McLaren? – Ed.) remains to be seen. In my crystal ball, they won’t. Barça.
JC: Real Madrid. They’d have won it last year if Pepe hadn’t been sent off. José loves two-legged affairs *insert Heather Mills joke here*.
LM: Real Madrid.
Champions League Dark Horses
BS: Not sure how dark they are, but I’d back Porto at their best against anyone.
CM: Shakhtar Donetsk are a far stronger team than they often get credit for being. Another run to the latter stages of the competition is on the cards.
DD: It’ll be an interesting year. Manchester City, Napoli, Valencia and Dortmund will all bite at the big guns, and take some casualties along the way. I think one of those four will make the semis. Hedging my bets there a little, I know…
JPB: There’s no obvious reason why Shakhtar can’t make the quarter-finals again.
JC: Everyone is going to say Lille, right? Which means they’re not dark horses. Sod it, Manchester City. They’ll make the final and then realise Gareth Barry is in the squad and collapse in confusion.
LM: Do Dortmund count as dark horses? If not, I’ll go for Napoli. I think they’ll really enjoy themselves.
TG: Manchester City.
European Golden Shoe
BS: Benzema. Why not?
CM: Cristiano Ronaldo.
DD: Messi. Or Ronaldo. Or Messi. Or Darren Bent.
JPB: Lionel Messi.
JC: Torres. As I said, he is going to go MASSIVE.
LM: Probably Messi again, but I’d like to see someone like Lucas Barrios do it. If he can get fit and then stay fit he’s pretty prolific.
TG: Robbie Keane.
Feel free to return to this post in May and mock our ineptitude. See you then.