Who will win the league?
Sarah Winterburn: Last season I voted with my heart and said Arsenal even though my head was screaming Chelsea. Silly heart. Silly Winty. I am genuinely torn again this season but I appear to have talked myself into Manchester City. They will undoubtedly improve on last season as Raheem Sterling is a significant upgrade on Jesus Navas. Will they improve enough? An awful lot depends on Vincent Kompany’s form and whether he can drag Eliaquim Mangala along with him.
Daniel Storey:*Flicks through last season’s predictions* Oh I got this right last season. So I’m allowed to not have a clue this time around. No really…no clue. You know what, I’m going for Chelsea again. And I didn’t think I would.
(Next morning): I’m going City, with Chelsea second.
Nick Miller: Oh I don’t bloody know. Chelsea? City if they buy a full-back or two? Go on then, City.
John Nicholson: Arsenal. However, it is obviously stupid to back Arsenal to win the league because Wenger obviously isn’t good enough and he always messes everything up by not buying the right players at the right time. But everyone gets lucky once in a while.
Matt Stead: Chelsea. Although they’ve had a relatively low-key transfer window, the gulf between them and the rest last season was huge, and their competitors haven’t sufficiently strengthened. Looking beyond the squads, a Jose Mourinho is simply better equipped to win a Premier League than an Arsene Wenger or Manuel Pellegrini.
Ian Watson: Chelsea. I don’t think any of the chasers have yet strengthened significantly enough to topple Jose Mourinho. Arsenal require a top-class forward, City and United still need plenty so the Blues remain favourites for now. There’s plenty of business to be done between now and September 1, though. So ask me again then.
And rest of the top four in order, please?
Sarah Winterburn: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, with less than six points separating them. Daniel Storey has just tried to convince me that Liverpool will finish in the top four. Not falling for that, Storey, I know your game.
Daniel Storey: Can I just say now that I really think Liverpool will be much better? Thanks. I just don’t know if they can be better than any of the rest. Chelsea second, Arsenal third and United fourth. I’m totally unsure about that, too.
Nick Miller: Chelsea, Arsenal, United.
John Nicholson: Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City.
Matt Stead: Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United. The Gunners are getting closer but it’s still a couple of years away, while that City squad still looks creaky beyond the Agueros and, well, the Agueros. Any talk of the title involving United is ludicrous, but they’ll hold onto fourth with relative ease.
Ian Watson: Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City. Arsenal seem to have found a way to handle the big boys but I still envisage them getting sloppy. There’s too much uncertainty around what United will look like come the end of the window, while I don’t see City making any progress under Pellegrini. The opposite, in fact.
Who are going down?
Sarah Winterburn: Norwich without even the hint of a fight, Bournemouth with lots of good will but not a lot of points, and Sunderland. They have to go some time, right?
Daniel Storey: Norwich are, I think. Then I’m going to spice things up a bit with Leicester and West Brom. Yeah, West Brom. Lose Berahino late in the window and have Ideye, Anichebe and Lambert until January. Lambert then gets injured. I’m revealing too much.
Nick Miller: Norwich, Leicester, Bournemouth. (Ed. – Someone’s chatty)
John Nicholson: It seems easy and churlish to condemn Bournemouth to relegation but Tyrone Mings is a hostage to fortune with a name like that. Them, Leicester and Watford.
Matt Stead: Watford are nailed-on favourites. Untested manager, bloated squad and Heurelho Gomes is a recipe for disaster. Ranieri’s Leicester has a touch of the ‘QPR’ about them, then it’s one of Villa, Bournemouth and Norwich. I’ll go Bournemouth.
Ian Watson: Watford have made huge changes and Norwich have made very few. Both will go. Bournemouth look short still but the culture and direction Eddie Howe seems to have imposed upon the club gives them a fighting chance. As it stands, I think Leicester will drop, a few months after Claudio Ranieri gets the bullet around Christmas.
Who will be the best of the ‘rest’ (you can define ‘rest’ as you wish)?
Sarah Winterburn: Southampton will finish top seven again so are you asking who will finish in that coveted eighth spot? Stoke.
Daniel Storey: Spurs 6th, Southampton 7th, Swansea 8th, Newcastle 9th. I’ll stop now.
Nick Miller: Stoke will be pretty good, I reckon. Steady improvement continues. Their journey from hated cloggers to Barcelona B is one of the weirder, but nicer ones in the division. I don’t think Villa will be particularly good, but I’m becoming more and more fascinated by Tim Sherwood, so I’d quite like them to do well.
John Nicholson: As perverse as it seems I think Steve McClaren will do really well at Newcastle United, even despite the fact that everyone will still spell his name wrongly. And ironically, their former manager will take Crystal Palace into the top ten despite signing Connor Wickham for no good reason at all.
Matt Stead: Something doesn’t sit right with Newcastle or West Ham. Swansea have added quality without losing anyone, so they’re the boring tip.
Ian Watson: Southampton will do what Southampton now do. They’ll be battling Spurs for sixth. I’m not at all convinced about Newcastle, though I hope I’m wrong. Palace are an intriguing prospect but I can see Swansea making a decent fist of improving last season’s eighth-placed finish.
Who will be top scorer?
Sarah Winterburn: Sergio Aguero. Even if he misses seven/eight games on hamstring grounds, he is still the Premier League’s best player.
Daniel Storey: Was going to say Wayne Rooney because got him at 20s, but he’s 12/1 now. Aguero will win it, but I think the value is in Alexis Sanchez (20/1), Charlie Austin (45/1) and Troy Deeney and Callum Wilson both at 80s. Also, Rudy Gestede at 150/1 and Aleksandar Mitrovic at 100/1? I’ve spent all of my pocket money.
Nick Miller: Wayne Rooney. I presume Storey has said Romelu Lukaku?
John Nicholson: If they play him as a proper striker and as long as he loses his rag a bit, Wayne Rooney.
Matt Stead: The only thing stopping Sergio Aguero is those troublesome paper legs. That Wayne Rooney is his closest challenger merely emphasis the paucity of brilliant strikers.
Ian Watson: With Wayne Rooney actually set to be used as he’s supposed to be, he’ll be close to the Golden Boot. In fact, screw, it. Rooney will win the Golden Boot.
First manager to leave their job?
Sarah Winterburn: Quique Flores. Largely because I had actually forgotten he was Watford manager until I looked at the odds.
Daniel Storey: Brendan Rodgers is the favourite. Sheesh. I’m going to be controversial and say Roberto Martinez. Don’t think eight managers should be shorter. They’ve got to play all of last season’s top eight before the end of October. Bet you didn’t know that, did you?
Nick Miller: I don’t know whether Slaven Bilic will be the first, but he’ll certainly be the most spectacular. Can’t see Claudio Ranieri lasting, either, but he won’t be sacked strapped to the front of a lorry playing his Gibson Flying V like that bloke in the new Mad Max film. Bilic might.
John Nicholson: Claudio Ranieri looks set to be a disaster. However, a bad start for Liverpool will see Brendan on his way, no matter how well moisturised he is. Big spending means big and immediate pressure. Their fifth game is against Manchester United. If they haven’t won a game after that match, bye bye Brendan hello Mr Klopp.
Matt Stead: Dick Advocaat to jump just before Quique Flores is pushed.
Ian Watson: Ranieri will be a goner but it depends if someone beats him to it. I think Tim Sherwood is in a spot of bother. He’s lost his two best players and signed mainly untested talent. A poor start and things could get strained at Villa Park.
Best signing of the season?
Sarah Winterburn: Sticking to my guns here and saying Sterling. You might say that a £44m signing should be good, but remember that he is only 20 and under an awful lot of pressure. If he delivers, it will be doubly impressive.
Daniel Storey: God I’ve got loads. I’m having three: Georginho Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Jordy Clasie.
Nick Miller: Yohan Cabaye is an obvious one, and People Who Watch Dutch Football say Jordie Clasie is a steal for Southampton. Bastian Schweinsteiger might be the most enjoyable. Proper signing, that. Lovely.
John Nicholson: Yohan Cabaye amd Patrick Bamford to Palace are very good indeed. More prosaically, Jimmy Milner to Liverpool looks a good fit.
Matt Stead: Alderweireld ties with Clyne. Relatively low fees, Premier League experience, solves a problem for their clubs, and they’re ruddy good. Gestede runs them close, and Eder is brilliant on FIFA (you’d have to ask Sky Sports News what his work-rate is out of 20, though).
Ian Watson: Christian Benteke will be a big success at Liverpool and James Milner is an absolute frickin’ steal. I’m really intrigued to see Yann M’Vila if he joins Sunderland, but let’s say Benteke.
And the worst?
Sarah Winterburn: Radamel Falcao. Even Jose can’t get three furlongs out of a dead horse.
Daniel Storey: West Ham have paid £10m for Angelo Ogbonna. Stoke have paid £6m for Joselu. Sunderland have paid £8m for Jeremain Lens.
Nick Miller: One of Liverpool’s. Not sure which one, but if we’ve learned nothing else from history…
John Nicholson: Well we all know it will be someone Tim Sherwood has signed. Let’s say Idrissa Gueye, then. Tim will probably make him cry.
Matt Stead: Albert Luque has finally found his successor at Newcastle in Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Schweinsteiger fawning won’t last long, either.
Ian Watson: I’m struggling to get my head around Fabian Delph at Man City. Much like he did.
Going continental temporarily, who will win the Champions League?
Sarah Winterburn: Barcelona. No great insight here – they’re just so much better than everybody else. And this time they have a whole season of Luis Suarez.
Daniel Storey: Barcelona, I guess. All their new signings will be fresh come January, when it matters.
Nick Miller: Juventus?
John Nicholson: As a big Rafa fan, I have to say Real Madrid. You can’t beat Rafa in Europe. Even when he loses, you know, really, he’s won because he’s a more highly evolved life form.
Matt Stead: It may be tipped every single summer, but Barcelona to retain the trophy. They’ll beat Bayern 2-0 in Pep’s last game.
Ian Watson: Bayern Munich.
And, finally who would you most like to fail, and why?
Sarah Winterburn: Not groundbreaking but Jose – he enjoyed an awful lot of luck last season and it would be tres amusing to see that run out.
Daniel Storey: Jose is a dreadful arse at times, and readers of this fair site claiming I love him makes me itch. I’d also really like Louis van Gaal to cock it, even though I quite like him. S**t United was a fun United.
Nick Miller: I guess Newcastle on the basis that relegation might get Mike Ashley to change something (although I’m far from convinced by that theory). At some point during the season people might see that loveable, feel-good story Bournemouth can actually be quite unpleasant, too.
John Nicholson: I really don’t feel like that about football these days. Not now that ‘arry is no longer a manager anyway. (Ed. – Creep)
Matt Stead: Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph for being money-grabbing Englishmen with no prospects. Not really, because I’m an adult human. I’d quite like to see Bilic fail at West Ham actually; the Olympic Stadium stuff grates a touch.
Ian Watson: He seems like a good egg so I can’t say I want Petr Cech to fail but I’d love to see the reaction if he drops a couple of b*llocks early doors. I’m not sure I could handle the sight of Emmanuel Adebayor saluting Sherwood again without want to throw something.