After a feast of summer football during which Chile claimed the Copa America, the USA stormed the women’s World Cup (amid an impressive performance from England) and the Gold Cup is still unfolding in North America, focus will soon return to the domestic leagues. With the new Barclays Premier League season less than a month away, the 20 teams are looking to shore up their squads, shake off any holiday fatigue and sharpen up their fitness for the opening weekend.

Neil gave us his run down of the top four in the previous post, which was Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City and Man United. But, who will fail to beat the drop in the 2015/16 season? Who might get the Golden boot, and let’s take another view of the top four.



Tim Sherwood happily received the plaudits for masterminding Villa’s survival towards the back end of last season, but a quick glance at his points tally reveals that their resurgence was somewhat underwhelming in reality. Indeed, aside from a few moments of glory (great wins over Liverpool and Spurs and a FA Cup run), Sherwood’s team stumbled over the finishing line rather unconvincingly. With their star striker Christian Benteke looking likely to head for the exit, Sherwood will need to demonstrate there’s more to him than gilet-throwing and media sound-bytes.


Though Bournemouth stormed to the Championship title in impressive style last season, the Premiership is a whole different animal. Unfortunately, in today’s game, money talks – and Bournemouth simply don’t have a whole lot of it to throw around. In reality, Bournemouth’s entire squad cost less to assemble than any one of Chelsea’s regular bench-warmers, which will become telling as the season unfolds. Eddie Howe’s undeniable presence and authority in the manager’s dugout should see them steer clear of the bottom spot… but not avoid the drop.
20th – NORWICH
Alex McNeil at the helm of Norwich will bring back a Scottish manager to the Premiership, which suffered its first dearth of Scottish helmsmen since its inception when Paul Lambert was given his marching orders last season. Like McNeil, Lambert secured promotion for Norwich to the Premier League – but unlike his compatriot, he did not stick around to try and keep them in the top flight. McNeil will certainly have his work cut out for him this time around as he directs a squad that is much the same as the one which went down in 2014.
Of course, the prediction of Rooney as top scorer is largely dependent on United not signing another main man up top and Louis van Gaal actually playing him in his preferred position throughout the season. However, with a frighteningly creative midfield behind him, Rooney could finally realise the potential he showed while a teenager on Merseyside.

The signing of Radamel Falcao might threaten Costa’s place to some extent, but their contrasting seasons last time around will ensure that the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard gets first crack of the whip. His bustling and bullying style is right at home in the Premiership and at the apex of a formidable Chelsea attack, he will fancy his chances of improving upon last season’s tally.
The fact that the Argentine finished as top scorer last season despite his injury woes just goes to show that he is one of the finest talents in the Premiership and beyond. However, with exits for Stefan Jovetic and Edin Džeko looking increasingly likely, the sheer burden of weight on Agüero’s shoulders could exacerbate his injury proneness and cost him and his side dearly.


After last season’s almost embarrassingly easy march to the title, José Mourinho will be intent on building upon that success by adding a consecutive crown to his already impressive CV. He has taken somewhat of a gamble on the hugely disappointing Radamel Falcao and added Asimir Begovic as back-up to Thibault Courtois after Peter Cech’s departure, which is unlikely to affect his preferred starting eleven. However, the bedrock of confidence, backbone and winning mentality instilled in this team means that the sensible money is on them to retain the title.

Louis van Gaal had his tactical nous and decision-making capabilities questioned by media and fans alike last season – and rightly so. However, he pulled Champions League football out of the bag for his side and has signalled his intent to challenge for major honours already with the landmark signings of Bastian Schweinsteiger (a proven leader and winner), Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian and Memphis Depay. Surely more will follow before the season begins (a central defender and striker are key), but if he succeeds in acquiring his preferred targets, United will surely be a force to be reckoned with.
City’s only movements in the transfer market so far have been to secure the services of “one of the best attacking players in world football”, according to manager Manuel Pellegrini. Though Raheem Sterling’s potential is undoubted – as was best demonstrated alongside Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge in the season before last – he clearly struggled with the pressure last year and his petulance could be a cause for concern for his Chilean manager. Should more signings follow, City could overhaul their neighbours and perhaps even Chelsea – but as things stand, they probably have the third best squad in the league.
The sale of Peter Cech to Arsenal could well come back to bite Chelsea in the posterior, since Arsenal have been lacking a consistently safe pair of hands between the sticks since the retirement of David Seaman many moons ago. In Cech, they finally have that – and the inevitable clean sheet haul he will bring could make all the difference between perennial also-rans and genuine title challengers. An extra striker to take the burden of Oliver Giroud and last season’s star performers, Alexis Sánchez and Santi Cazorla, is vital, however. Their uncanny knack of finishing fourth despite all odds is unlikely to run out this year, either.

Who do you think will get the top four, bottom three and golden boot?  Betfair have some excellent markets and unbeatable odds.

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