It seems like a lifetime ago that Martin Tyler was reaching for the tissues following Sergio Agüero’s last minute heroics against QPR.
With the 2011/12 season widely dubbed ‘the greatest ever’, the 2012/13 season has a lot to live up to. This summer has seen managerial changes galore, and with players swapping clubs left, right and centre there’s sure to be a few Chamakh’s for every van Persie.
So what will the Premier League table look like come May 2013? Let’s take a look at what might happen at the top end of the league…
Last season: Champions
Summer business: Minimal. Rodwell comes in to boost their ‘homegrown’ quota by one – Gareth Barry is now completely pointless. An already strong team has been kept together, and they are good enough to win the league again. Selling Adebayor/ Santa Cruz remains a priority to meet the Financial Fair Play regulations. On-form and motivated bi-polar billionaire Carlos Tevez could be crucial.
Successful season: No more fall-outs, team grows together. Tevez stays and enjoys playing football more than golf and forms an outstanding partnership with Agüero. City win the league before the last minute of the last game of the season. Champions League semi-finals appearance and an FA Cup win.
Disappointing season: More fall-outs undermine Mancini’s influence. Overpaid fringe players cause a negative atmosphere. Team’s lack of wingers means opponents learn to play against them, and they struggle to hit the heights of last season. Lose out to United in title race and another early exit from Champions League.
Prediction: Champions. City still have the strongest 1st and 2nd XI in the league, possibly only behind Barcelona and Madrid in the World. Barring an injury-ravaged season, they should be good enough to retain the title. Agüero to be crowned Top Goalscorer and Player of the Season.
Last season: 2nd
Summer business:Robin van Persie. Shinji Kagawa. Wonderkid from Crewe. Haven’t yet sold Berbatov, which is a worry. Aging squad needs further refreshment.
Successful season: RVP stays fit, forms a telepathic partnership with Rooney and beats his previous seasons’ goal tally. United beat City and regain the league title. Competitive Champions League campaign and a domestic cup win.
Disappointing season: RVP returns to his old ways and misses half the season with injury. Rooney left to prop the team up, gains weight and loses his hair again. Kagawa fails to settle and team continues to lack midfield creativity. City win the league at a canter and United end the season trophy-less.
Prediction: 2nd. The addition of van Persie keeps them ahead of Chelsea in the City-challenging crowd. Fergie rarely let’s his teams underperform and this season will be no different. Valencia, Nani, Kagawa and Young mean RVP will have chances in abundance. Strong title challenge.
Last season: 3rd
Summer business:Lost captain van Persie to rivals United. Fans despair. Wenger signs well with Podolski, Giroud and the outstanding Cazorla. Wilshere and Diaby working towards fitness.
Successful season: van Persie’s exit makes room for the new partnership of Giroud and Podolski. Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain offer deadly width and pace to tear teams apart on the counter attack. Cazorla becomes the new David Silva. Arsenal challenge for the title and put strong building blocks together for next season. Domestic cup win to end trophy-less streak.
Disappointing season: Another trophy-less season. Without van Persie, the team struggles for goals. Giroud fails to adapt and Podolski plays like he did at Euro 2012. Cazorla has no one to pass to except Walcott, who still hasn’t learnt to shoot. Fall behind Spurs in the final standings.
Prediction: 4th. Santi Cazorla is the signing of the summer so far (value for money). A lot depends on how the new forwards adapt to the Premier League. Season will be seen as transitional after losing the Dutchman. Fans will be on Wenger’s back, unfairly so.
Last season: 4th
Summer business:Two good signings in Vertonghen and Sigurdsson, but the impending departure of Modric to Madrid weakens the starting XI. Moutinho is lined up as the ideal replacement but yet to be agreed. Andre Villas-Boas in for Harry Redknapp brings an entirely new management style – aesthetically at least, the move to handsome young manager from a blushing scrotum shows progress.
Successful season: AVB settles quickly into the hot seat and continues the Tottenham tradition of bold attacking football. Tottenham outscore their opponents and challenge for the top four again. They will see RVP’s departure as a chance to leapfrog Arsenal into the Champions League slots.
Disappointing season: The defensive frailties that plagued Villas-Boas’ Chelsea side reoccur and his Spurs team to concede too many goals. With no attacking spearhead, Tottenham create chances but struggle to finish them, and drop out of the European places altogether. AVB is sacked for a second consecutive season and goes to manage Inter.
Prediction: 5th. This will largely depend on AVB’s ability to bring in a striker to lead the line. The permanent move of Adebayor is still in the pipeline, but alternative options are dwindling. The Portuguese needs to move fast, as Defoe won’t be able to carry this team on his own. Expect lots of classic Villas-Boas squats.
Last season: 5th
Summer business:A few minor signings, nothing like the headlines of Cabaye and Cisse of previous windows. Keeping hold of their best players is an achievement in itself.
Successful season: A strong squad with plenty of talent that is mentally stronger for last year’s experience kicks on. Key players stay fit and lead Newcastle to another European-qualifying finish, with hopes of a good run in this season’s Europa League.
Disappointing season: Cisse gets injured, Ba struggles and Newcastle are light on goals. The best XI is good, but the squad is shallow and a long campaign domestically and in Europe takes its toll and the Magpies limp to a mid table finish. Stars like Ben Arfa and Cabaye leave in January.
Prediction: 7th. With Liverpool and Chelsea seemingly stronger than last season, Newcastle will struggle to match a 5th place finish. 7th would be solid and Pardew could seek further squad investment next summer knowing he has built a consistent European standard team.
Last season: 6th
Summer business:Busy. Eden Hazard signs for $100bn. Younger brother Thorgan signs for a packet of sweets. Marin and Oscar provide more attacking midfield options. Drogba leaves to run riot in the Chinese Super League. Essien continues his post-injury hibernation.
Successful season: Torres finds form, fed by a midfield full of attacking flair and invention. New players blend seamlessly into the squad and score for fun. Chelsea mount a title challenge and have a good go at retaining the Champions League. Retaining the FA Cup would be a bonus. Hazard named Young Player of the Year and tops the league’s assist table.
Disappointing season: Torres finds no form. New team of flair midfielders are stifled by Di Matteo’s defensive tactics and the team looks disjointed. Unable to keep up with the Manchester clubs and make little impact in the cups, RDM is sacked before the season’s end.
Prediction: 3rd. Chelsea have spent the most of all English clubs and it should show. Torres looks on hot form after Euro 2012. Di Matteo builds around defensive stability and needs the midfield provide Torres with the chances to hit 30+ goals this season. Title challenge, good cup runs, possibly one domestic cup win but a strong season overall.
Last season: 8th
Summer business:Kenny “stuck in the past” Dalglish leaves, Brendan Rodgers comes in. A couple of summer signings but nothing ground-breaking. Major talking point has been Rodgers seemingly casting out £35m man Andy Carroll.
Successful season: Rodgers gets the team playing attractive football which the fans haven’t seen for years. Suarez and Borini form a strong combination, with Carroll also used in rotation. Joe Cole remembers how to play football. Solid push for Champions League places. Cup run to a final.
Disappointing season: More of the same. The team relies on Reina-Agger-Gerrard-Suarez spine too heavily and squad can’t cope with injuries. Another slump into mid table and no cup runs of note. More unrest, and Rodgers isn’t given time to implement his philosophy. Jay Spearing is relied upon. Glen Johnson is asked to performance defensive duties.
Prediction: 6th. Rodgers is a likeable manager who will engage players and fans alike with attacking, creative football. It may take time to organise a team around his philosophy, so don’t expect too much in his first season.
Predicted final table: