|Aston Villa could be a dark horse this season under manager Unai Emery. — AFP/VNA Photo|
After two months and thirteen days, that’s 10 weeks or a little shy of 1,800 hours, Premier League football is back later today.
Well, early hours of Saturday morning, but close enough.
Finally, back to spending my Saturday and Sunday evenings glued to the television watching game after game, with a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign hooked to my door for the foreseeable future.
Last week I suggested that it will be Manchester City who will be crowned champions, and nothing’s happened in the past seven days to change my opinion.
But what about the teams around them? And what about the cup competitions both in Europe and England?
My predictions for the Premier League is Manchester City first, Liverpool second, Arsenal third and then either Manchester United or Newcastle to finish fourth.
That said, if Liverpool are to finish closest to City come next May, I still think they need one, or two new signings, particularly in midfield.
As for the fourth spot, I think that could be decided by how Manchester United and Newcastle fair in the Champions League.
If both make it past the group stages, I do wonder if they will have big enough squads to finish the season strong and push for a top four place.
Outside of the top four, I’m interested in seeing how things pan out at Aston Villa. Since former Arsenal boss Unai Emery took over midway through last season, the team from the West Midlands has grown from strength to strength.
I don’t think they’ve enough to finish top four, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Villa make to the final of either the Carabao or FA Cup.
Tottenham I worry about. I think their new Australian manager Ange Postecoglou knows that if they lose captain and prize-asset Harry Kane, it will be a struggle for Spurs.
And now to the bottom.
Luton Town, Premier League new-boys. Great story, especially if you’ve seen their, let’s just say, quirky stadium, but I can’t see anything other than a tough nine months ahead for The Hatters.
I think I can say the same for Burnley and Sheffield United. Remarkable achievement to secure promotion to the Premier League, but enjoy it while it lasts, as I fear all three of the new Premier League teams will be relegated come next May.
So over to Europe. I saw a Manchester United fan-pundit claim they will win the Champions League. Not in a month of Sundays.
Europe’s biggest prize was won last season by Manchester City, and I think Pep Guardiola wants more.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see City in the final on June 1, at Wembley Stadium, in London.
Europa League? My heart says Liverpool, but I think Jurgen Klopp’s priority will be to push City as much as possible in the Premier League.
So there you have it. Manchester City are still, and will be for a good few years, the team to beat.
Let battle commence.