Last season’s Premier League was one of the most unpredictable in years and featured goals aplenty. After a World Cup characterized, certainly in the early stages, by teams realizing simply sitting back and defending no longer cut it in the modern game, there is reason to expect there will be even more fireworks this time around. With the start of the new campaign less than 48 hours away, and bearing in mind the potential for squads to change considerably in the remaining two weeks of the transfer window, here’s how the final table might look.
1 Chelsea (7/4 – odds provided by Bovada.lv)
Chelsea have arguably enjoyed the most impressive transfer window of all, chiefly thanks to addressing their major weakness last season with the signing of Diego Costa. If they can keep the former Atletico Madrid striker fit and find the right position for Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea’s consistency under the nous of Jose Mourinho may power them to the title.
2 Manchester City (9/4)
The champions have moved to address their weaknesses at center-back and defensive midfield and certainly have the tools to repeat their success. But there should be doubts about their ability to maintain their motivation, the fitness of Sergio Aguero and Manuel Pellegrini’s tactics in the big games.
3 Manchester United (9/2)
The hiring of one of the Premier League’s most tactically astute managers, Louis van Gaal, will see Manchester United make a significant improvement on last season’s disaster. Yet the veteran Dutch coach has not yet got the players required to get the club back to the top in his first season.
4 Arsenal (6/1)
Fresh from ending their trophy drought, Arsenal enter the season with their best squad in some time, having spent impressively over the summer, particularly on Alexis Sánchez. Yet the lack of a top-class holding midfielder and absence adequate depth at center-back, coupled with Arsène Wenger’s shortcomings against the best teams will see them again fall short of a concerted title challenge.
5 Liverpool (10/1)
Brendan Rodgers is undoubtedly an excellent coach and manager, and he has been able add the depth to his squad that was missing last season. However, the loss of one of the world’s few true game-changers in Luis Suárez and the demands of the Champions League could see Liverpool fail to match last season’s accomplishments.
6 Tottenham (50/1)
Mauricio Pochettino will do a fine job at Tottenham if given the time, which under Daniel Levy is far from a given. The former Southampton manager will bring a defined and attractive style of play and should get better performances out of players like Erik Lamela, but he needs further additions at both ends of the pitch.
7 Everton (100/1)
After coming so close to a Champions League berth, Everton have done superbly to keep Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry, while Roberto Martínez has done shrewd business by bringing in Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu. Despite Martínez’s excellence, Everton just lack the strength in depth to break into the top four.
8 Newcastle United (750/1)
After the gloom that surrounded St James’ Park following the sale of Yohan Cabaye and the lack of a permanent signing in nearly 18 months, Newcastle have bolstered their squad encouragingly this summer. Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Daryl Janmaat should all do well and help Newcastle finish safely in midtable.
9 Stoke City (2500/1)
Despite some nervy times in his first season, Mark Hughes led Stoke to midtable comfort and should do so again this time around, despite adding little to his squad, other than the so far unfulfilled talent of Bojan Krkic.
10 West Ham (5000/1)
Constant murmurings of discontent between manager and owners has the potential to hugely undermine West Ham’s season. If they can maintain the harmony, then Sam Allardyce will lead them to safety, albeit with little entertainment. Unlike last season, the arrival of Enner Valencia means they have an alternative to the perennially injured Andy Carroll.
11 Sunderland (2500/1)
Gustavo Poyet finally got Sunderland to reproduce their fine cup form in the league to mount a sensational late escape from the drop last season, and he should now kick on and avoid such drama this time around.
12 Southampton (500/1)
It’s hard to remember a team that has had so many of their assets stripped in one summer, with their manager and a hosts of key players poached by bigger clubs. Some quality still remains and some decent signings have been made, but under a man who has had a mixed coaching career in Ronald Koeman, Southampton will have their upward trajectory checked.
13 Swansea City (2500/1)
Swansea struggled last season, with dissent in the club precipitating Michael Laudrup’s dismissal. Garry Monk got them playing good football after his appointment, although the 35-year-old still has much to prove himself as a coach. Still, without the complications of the Europa League and with good signings like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jefferson Montero, Swansea should be fine.
14 Queens Park Rangers (5000/1)
With the incredible amount of money they spent and the players at their disposal, QPR should never have been relegated and once they were they should have been promoted without the need for the playoffs. It would be another major failure for Harry Redknapp were he unable to lead a squad, boosted further spending on Rio Ferdinand, Mauricio Isla, and Steven Caulker and featuring (at the time of writing) Loic Remy, to safety.
15 Aston Villa (1500/1)
All is now well at Villa Park. The tandem of Roy Keane and Paul Lambert seems a strange one, while owner Randy Lerner only remains at the helm having failed to find a buyer. The summer signings have also been far from inspirational, but Aston Villa may just have enough to survive.
16 Hull City (2500/1)
Steve Bruce did a fine job keeping Hull afloat last season and reaching the FA Cup final, but could face an even tougher job this time around with the strain on a small squad of the Europa League. The loss of Shane Long further adds to Bruce’s challenge and the considerable fee received for the Irish striker will have to be reinvested wisely.
17 Leicester City (5000/1)
After romping to the Championship title last season, Leicester will likely spend all season battling against the drop. The squad lacks Premier League experience but momentum from last term and the management of Nigel Pearson may prove enough.
18 West Bromwich Albion (2500/1)
The decision to hand the reins of the team to Alan Irvine, whose last managerial job saw him sacked from Sheffield Wednesday in League One, was one of the strangest appointment of recent times. West Brom’s major signing, Nigerian striker, Brown Ideye, does not convince, and it’s difficult to see where the goals will come from.
19 Crystal Palace (5000/1)
Tony Pulis got a decidedly average Crystal Palace squad to massively overachieve last season in guiding them from the foot of the table to the serenity of 11th place. With Pulis apparently not getting the money he wanted to improve the squad, he has departed to leave the club in a torrid positon just days before the start of the season. They may be in an even worse predicament next May.
20 Burnley (5000/1)
Sean Dyche did an incredible job to get a modest squad promoted last season, but having spent precious little this summer it is difficult to see him pulling off an even greater feat to keep the afloat.