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Here are our writers’ predictions for the new Premier League season

With the league recommencing today, we asked our staff how they figured the next 9 months would pan out.

The 21st Premier League season kicks off today.
The 21st Premier League season kicks off today.

Patrick McCarry

What do you hope to see this season?

Giving my allegiance away, I would like to see another close title race that is won by the red half of Manchester this time around. I hope that Newcastle can keep up their good form of last season as they were a happy surprise – even if they did throttle Manchester United at St James’ Park. I hope Swansea can keep positive under Michael Laudrup, that Wigan can start the season like they finished last (playing great football), and that Arsene Wenger can win a cup competition to get people off his back.

What do you expect to see?

Chelsea to enthrall us all with a commitment to attack and a Jekyll and Hyde duo of Terry and Luiz at the back. Luka Podolski to get 9 Premier League goals. David de Gea to make less flaps than last season and maybe give up on that beard project. Man City as the team to catch. All of the new boys to struggle with Southampton having the best chance of survival. The return of Harry Redknapp and Mick McCarthy when middle and lower ranked teams get the jitters.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

I will miss much of weeks two and three (Croatia beckons) but I will re-immerse myself in the league when I get back and try to make up for what is sure to be a disastrous start to the Fantasy Football. Might finally go digital as I’ve missed MOTD 1 & 2 for the past two years. Is that lovely Adrian Chiles fella still about?

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

2001: Manchester United 5-3 Spurs. Only United, at the time, could go in at half-time 3-0 down and still fancy their chances of winning.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

Goal-line technology will surely be introduced in the next year or two. I can see ‘B’ teams starting to surface to bulk up the lower divisions and give the ever-growing youth ranks some proper competition.

Top tip…

If you are thinking of travelling across the water(s) to see your favourite team – look into going to an away game. It is a whole lot more fun. Look at the fixtures and see when your team is playing Wigan – they always have spare seats and their fans will be happy for the company.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

Last season I had rotten luck with captains but I’m going to stick with Sergio Aguero as much as possible. Mancini has odd habits of resting players when you least expect it so don’t trust me too much. Cisse from Newcastle is another good shout.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

West Brom, Reading, West Ham

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Anthony Pilkington at Norwich and we all will be hoping to see a lot of Keiren Westwood in goal for Sunderland.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

The greatest sporting stage for showmen, journeymen and outright blaggards

(Sepp Blatter has belatedly backed the introduction of goalline technology – Anja Niedringhaus/AP/Press Association Images)

Fintan O’Toole

What do you hope to see this season?

Silverware for Everton. After over a decade in charge it’s the only thing missing from David Moyes’ tenure and after all the plaudits he has received for making the team consistently competitive on a shoestring budget, it would be nice to see some tangible reward.

What do you expect to see?

No silverware for Everton. The last few frustrating years have taught me not to expect much in that department and that was encapsulated by the anaemic second-half display in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool last year.

Away from my own personal wishes, I’m expecting Manchester United to return to the top after last year as they benefit from the acquisition of Robin Van Persie and the restoration of Nemanja Vidic, the Carlos Tevez soap opera to surface again to cause problems for Manchester City and the signings of Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and Santi Cazorla to help Arsenal overcome the loss of Van Persie.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

Plenty. As many of Everton’s games as I can and apart from that I imagine there will be enough top, top football on Sky Sports accompanied by top, top studio analysis to keep me entertained.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

I think it’s difficult to surpass the events of the last day of last season. Joleon Lescott’s miscued header and Jamie Mackie’s well-placed header combining to put QPR into an improbable advantage, Manchester City spurning countless chances during the second-half, Edin Dzeko finally giving them some hope after all the earlier frustration and then the whole stadium exploding as Sergio Aguero scored with Martin Tyler’s commentary providing the perfect soundtrack. Brilliant entertainment and it’s unlikely a title win will ever be achieved in such a dramatic manner again.

From an Everton viewpoint the relegation escapes of 1994 and 1999 brought relief while qualifying for the Champions League in 2005 was fantastic, albeit not reaching the group stages was something of a let down.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

The financial disparities in the Premier League to become even greater. It’s going to be impossible for the majority of teams to compete with the sort of power that the elite clubs can exert in the transfer market. I’d be skeptical whether the financial fair play rules can make any major difference but there has to be something done to change the current system where many clubs are constantly battling to survive.

Top tip…Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Marouanne Fellaini to shine for their respective clubs and illustrate why Belgium should really be starting to make more of an impact at international level.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

For week one that dubious honor falls to Juan Mata simply because Chelsea are playing twice. After that it will depend on if I remember to update the team on a weekly basis.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester United

Manchester City

Chelsea

Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

Southampton look like they could struggle at this level, Norwich will suffer without Paul Lambert and for once Wigan may not be able to launch a heroic attempt at survival.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Given it is probably too soon to see Robbie Brady to make a breakthrough with Manchester United, it’s going to be more interesting to see if Wes Hoolahan at Norwich and James McClean at Sunderland can build on their hugely encouraging form of last season.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

A product that is often over-hyped with players’ antics causing frustration and the football frequently lacking in quality but ultimately providing enough drama and entertainment to compensate for all of that.

(Eden Hazard has been tipped to star for Chelsea – Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images)

Paul Fennessy

What do you hope to see this season?

A competitive title race, a decrease in the number of bad John Terry jokes, more teams being brave enough to adopt Swansea’s enterprising style of football and the talented young Irish players (McClean, McCarthy etc) pushing on from their promising displays last term.

What do you expect to see?

Plenty of commentators uttering the words ‘would you believe it?’, more reasons to introduce video technology as quickly as possible, as many meaningless and infuriating post-match interviews as ever and Man City continuing where they left off last season.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

Whenever I am not liveblogging it/working, I’ll most likely be ensconced on a sofa watching whatever game happens to be on that afternoon/evening.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

The Pedro Mendes goal that never was for Tottenham against United will always remain ingrained in my mind, owing to both the audacity of the Portuguese midfielder for having the temerity to try it, and the comedy of errors that followed thereafter. Special mention too for Tony Yeboah’s stunning strike against Wimbledon in 95. How it didn’t win goal of the season that year, I’ll never know.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

More dodgy foreign owners investing in clubs with mixed levels of success, better refereeing standards thanks the introduction of greater technology and at least one more big club to do a Leeds/Rangers and endure a dramatic fall from grace.

Top tip…

Aston Villa to improve markedly on last season’s performance. With the likes of Given, Dunne, Bent and Agbonlahor, they have a solid foundation in place, and in Paul Lambert, they have an exceptional young manager.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

Wayne Rooney. Van Persie needs time to adapt to United, Aguero will be likely to occasionally fall victim to Mancini’s striker rotation policy, so Wazza seems like the obvious selection.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

18. West Brom 19. Reading 20. Southampton

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

McCarthy and McClean are the obvious ones, but I will be particularly keen on following Marc Wilson’s performance. Another solid season, coupled with the blatant lack of alternatives at left-back, and Trapattoni will surely have to acknowledge that he is an automatic squad pick at the very least.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

Unbelievable, Jeff!

(Robin van Persie’s move to Man United has ruffled a few feathers – Barrington Coombs/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Adrian Russell

What do you hope to see this season?

A fresh, cliche-free, viewer-focused approach to punditry – especially on MOTD — that doesn’t insult every half-intelligent fan with filler, waffle and… ‘banter’. Step away from the pun, Lineker.

What do you expect to see?

The usual tripe. I’ll keep watching though won’t I, if this season is as exciting as last year. Also, Man City to win the big one again, hopefully Barcelona and Real will serve up another good title battle but it’d be nice to see the rest of La Liga join in.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

You mean, when I’m not following the liveblogs and match reports on TheScore.ie desktop and mobile devices? Good question… as much as I can get away with really. God bless Sky plus.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

Keano chasing Patrick Vieira up and down the Highbury tunnel.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

Depressingly, it’ll probably get more imbalanced with the top four narrowing yet more probably. Also, hoverboards.

Top tip…

Don’t play the Soccer Saturday drinking game unless you’ve had your dinner first.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

Thomas Vermaelen. He’s a goal-scoring centre-half, he’s going to step up to the plate of replacing RVP in the armband and his nickname is the Verminator.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

City

United

Chelsea

Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

Wigan

Southampton

West Brom

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Shane Long started well last season but needs to put a good, full Premier League season together now I reckon. And with Shay retired, we’ll all be keeping tabs on Westwood at Sunderland, no doubt.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

And it’s live.

(It’s a big season for Ireland’s Shane Long – Simon Cooper/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Gavan Reilly

What do you hope to see this season?

Manchester United winning the season with over 100 points and a cricket score for a goal difference.

What do you expect to see?

City winning it with United in a mediocre second – or, God forbid, a third – as a squad that no longer has world class depth is caught out while spreading itself too thinly trying to win four trophies and only finishing with one (the FA Cup).*

How much of it do you plan to watch?

I’m going to make a concerted effort to at least catch every single United game this year – I tend to get most of them but often on a Saturday I’m lost to other exploits, but this year I’ll try to get all of them. Also, pretty much anything involving a top-five team, I’ll try to watch.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

In all honesty, there are three: Martin Tyler’s “LIVERPOOL LEAD IN STOPPAGE TIME!” after Stan Collymore made it 4-3 Newcastle (and Keegan’s ‘I would love it’ that followed); that Bergkamp goal against Newcastle; and that “AGUERRRROOOO!” at 4:53pm on May 13 last year. I was working that day and TheJournal.ie office was stunned firstly by my gregarious roaring, and then my staggering silence as the league slipped away from my beloved United with seconds to go.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

A wage cap, though I reckon that will exist as a worldwide or Europe-wide thing. We’re getting to the point where FFP aside, giant clubs are going to face very profound credit crunches and the only way to ensure the viability of the industry is to limit spending.

Top tip…

Newcastle to challenge for the title. Genuinely.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

I honestly don’t plan on keeping a regular one – for the first week it’s Ashley Cole, and only because it’s a double gameweek.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Newcastle.

Who will get relegated?

Wigan, West Brom and Southampton.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Given this week’s events I think we should all be keeping an eye out for Kieren Westwood at Sunderland – and at the very least hope that we see him on a more-than-irregular basis. Conor Sammon (‘Sammon of College’, as we knew him back in the Belfield Park days) may also have a role to play if Wigan surprise me by managing to stay up.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

A glorious cavalcade of thrills, spills, guffaws and groans – long may it continue.

*Gavan’s answers were written before Robin van Persie’s move to United happened.

(Ashley Cole will be hoping for another solid season at the back for Chelsea – Rich Schultz/AP/Press Association Images)

Hugh O’Connell

What do you hope to see this season?

After three seasons hovering around the mid-table wilderness Liverpool storm back into the top four and set the league alight with a brand of free-flowing, possession, pressing football which has the pundits tipping them to win the league next season.

Elsewhere, Manchester City to retain their title, Chelsea to fall apart with Roberto Di Matteo gone by Christmas, AVB to have a similarly bad time at Spurs and Big Sam and his West Ham to go straight back down. Oh and Man United to continue their decline in Fergie’s last years. There’s more but that’s enough bitterness from me for now.

What do you expect to see?

United to do what they have done many times before and win the title back following the pain in Sunderland last season when it slipped from their grasp. Manchester City to have that difficult second season and for doubts to grow about Mancini who really, it could be argued, should have done a whole lot better last season with the players at his disposal.

Chelsea to continue their good success in the cups while also getting back into the Champions League places. Arsenal to continue to defy the low expectations set every time they sell their best players as they seem to have done every summer for the last three or four years.

Elsewhere, Newcastle to struggle and Spurs to have a difficult season but make progress under AVB. All three promoted sides to stay up but Wigan to finally go down.

And for my beloved Liverpool, some form of progress on last season but a fifth or sixth placed finish with somewhere in the region of 65 points.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

As much as possible as is always my intention at the beginning of the season. Having Sky Sports in the house helps this goal immensely but I find it difficult to watch MOTD when Liverpool have lost which meant I missed a lot last season!

I rarely miss a Liverpool game and intend to continue that this season. Super Sundays will be dependent on what the missus is up to.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

It’s difficult to top the last five minutes of last season and Sergio Aguero’s last-minute Premier League title winner. Rarely have I celebrated as much as I did for a team that I don’t support but that was a truly special football moment which beats much of anything I have seen from Liverpool in the Premier League in 20 years.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

Something to be done about the growing number of irresponsible foreign owners in the game. What that will be I am not exactly sure but the situation at Portsmouth is a massive, massive warning sign to other clubs who are similar to them and currently reside in the Premier League.

Liverpool nearly went into administration two years ago, I don’t think people have fathomed just how close that came to happening and how serious it would have been that the country’s most successful club was on the brink of meltdown.

The growing problems at Manchester United cannot be sustained forever. At some point, probably when Fergie leaves (which will definitely be in the next 20 years) there are going to be serious problems that will force the game’s governing bodies to act but what they will do and whether it will be sufficient remains to be seen.

The way UEFA have so far treated their Financial Fair Play model indicates that many of the most senior people responsible for the governing of the game are not serious about it and that is worrying in the long term.

Top tip…

Lukas Podolski to do some serious scoring at Arsenal and make then forget about that Van Persie fella pretty quickly.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

I am unlikely to have one but if Liverpool’s Lucas stays fit it’s hard to see beyond him to be one of the league’s most consistent performers.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester United
Manchester City
Chelsea
Arsenal

In that order but obviously I’d love if Liverpool could replace one of them.

Who will get relegated?

The aforementioned Wigan, as well as West Brom and Norwich both of whom will have different managers by the end of the season to the ones they have now.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

The retirement of Shay Given makes the progress of Kieren Westwood something to keep a close eye on. Also it will be interesting to see how some of the Irish players at Norwich like Pilkington and Hoolohan progress in their second PL seasons and whether Trap gives them the call.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

How about a song instead… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHhzi8PvDYw

(Keiren Westwood has acknowledged that he needs to be starting more regularly for Sunderland this term – SCOTT HEPPELL/AP/Press Association Images)

Tony Cuddihy

What do you hope to see this season?

Better to concentrate on what I don’t want to see. Here goes: Referee baiting; Paul Konchesky; Arsene Wenger’s neck bulge; Sam Allardyce lasting more than two months in the West Ham job; Joey Barton (thank you, Marseille); Jim White’s head exploding on Transfer Deadline Day (Sky’s capital letters, not mine); Jamie Redknapp’s trouser leg; Robbie Savage – anywhere; managers third-personing themselves; Geoff Shreeves.

What do you expect to see?

All of the above, except for Paul Konchesky, but also the brilliance of Papiss Cissé, Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata, Joe Hart and Thomas Vermaelen (the best defender in the league). I expect to see Manchester United sweep all before them and van Persie to be a massive success. I expect nobody to remember who manages West Brom (Steve Clarke, for future reference). I expect every SUPER SUNDAY to feature the BIGGEST GAME in the history of the BARCLAY’S SUPER SUNDAY, until the next SUPER SUNDAY. I expect a massive managerial shift in one of the top six clubs by January, and nobody to like Andre Villas Boas very much. I expect Wayne Rooney to be average, and the player of the season to be Santi Cazorla. He’s a delight.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

I plan to watch every ridiculous detail that time allows.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

Thierry Henry’s swivel and volley against Manchester United in 2000. I support neither side, but the Frenchman has easily been my favourite player to watch in football and that goal upset me, it was so good.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

Sir Alex Ferguson to retire as he approaches his 90th birthday, but apart from that, who knows? Topless presenters, maybe? Cheerleaders?

Top tip… Keep the volume on Sky Sports News down at all times.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

Nikica Jelavic to start with, but sooner or later I expect Matthew Etherington to take on the mantle. I’m terrible at Fantasy Football.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

1st: Man United; 2nd: Man City; 3rd: Arsenal; 4th: Chelsea.

Who will get relegated?

Reading, West Brom and QPR.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

James McCarthy. He plays every game for Wigan, is consistently excellent and if he adds goals to his game then a move to Arsenal awaits.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence.

“There’s always next year.” (I support Liverpool)

Wigan’s James McCarthy (right). Credit: Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images

Ben Blake

What do you hope to see this season?

More… Papiss Demba Cisse wonder goals, Mario Balotelli madness, Nemanja Vidic on the pitch, Manchester United silverware.

Less… Goal line controversies, racism in football, Joey Barton.

What do you expect to see?

The Manchester sides going head-to-head once again with Chelsea and Arsenal not too far behind. Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool will be a more competitive team while Newcastle may struggle to repeat last season’s achievements.

Meanwhile, Swansea to continue the good work of Rodgers under Michael Laurdrup and Sam Allardyce will set West Ham out to play direct football.

How much of it do you plan to watch?

A hell ova lot.

What’s your standout Premier League memory from the past 20 years?

Eric Cantona’s goal, and celebration, against Sunderland in 1996. It was the first season I paid close attention to the Premier League.

What changes (if any) do you expect to see over the course of the next 20 years?

Manchester United to begin a 30-year barren spell when Alex Ferguson eventually calls it a day.

Top tip…

If you turn on Setanta’s coverage to find Pat Dolan sitting in the studio, switch over immediately.

Who will be captain of your Fantasy Football team?

For Week 1, I’ve gone for Fernando Torres. I fancy him to have a big season plus it’s a double week for Chelsea.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

Wigan, Southampton and Reading.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Hoping to see Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark get more game time at their clubs as both will be important players for Ireland in future qualifying campaigns.

Describe the last 20 years of Premier League football in one word/sentence?

Eventful.

Read: Van Persie: No hard feelings with Arsenal>

Read: Football, eh? Here are the 21 greatest moments in Premier League history>

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