Premier League predictions 2010/11
Posted 16th July 2010
The title contenders for the forthcoming Premier League season are preparing for the campaign in a similar manner to last summer.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are largely happy with their squads, while Manchester City are keen to splash the cash to join the established elite.
The speed of City's progress is the most interesting ingredient of this season's title race. Can Roberto Mancini mould the influx of talent into genuine contenders, or is the regular turnover of big names expecting constant selection incompatible with rapid development into league winners?
David Silva, Yaya Toure and Jerome Boateng have already arrived at Eastlands and more major signings are sure to follow. Champions League qualification is the minimum requirement for Mancini, but fourth place is as high as I can see them going this term.
Liverpool, rebuilding under Roy Hodgson, will again be the odd men out, bringing to an end the era of the big four. The Reds lack strength in depth and overhauling Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are realistic targets. A sixth place finish would be a reasonable start for Hodgson.
Arsenal are another team in transition as Arsene Wenger rebuilds a fragmenting defence. William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell have all departed and more reinforcements are needed to join Laurent Koscielny. Maroune Chamakh is an exciting attacking signing but the Gunners will again struggle to make an impact on the title race, especially if Cesc Fabregas leaves.
This leaves Chelsea and Manchester United, who have each won three titles in the last six years, to fight it out for the trophy again. Neither has significantly strengthened, knowing that their current crops of players are good enough to win trophies. Michael Essien and Owen Hargreaves will be like new signings when they return to fitness. The Blues could well edge it again due to their greater number of match winners. Indeed, Chelsea's Premier League odds make them favourites for the competition.
The relegation places will again not be dominated by freshly promoted teams. Only one team dropped straight back to the Championship and although that fate will probably befall Blackpool, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion have enough to survive. However, the Premier League relegation betting suggests it will be tight at the bottom.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United and Wigan Athletic are vulnerable, while Birmingham City and Fulham cannot be complacent after successful campaigns last time around. Wolves and Wigan could well reacquaint themselves with second tier football in 2011.