Football

Who will be the last team standing?

Our writers peek into their crystal balls and pick the top-four finishers

IAIN MACINTOSH

There are five teams fighting for four places this season, but I can see only two of them winning the title.

Every side in contention have 11 men capable of matching the very best in Europe, but Chelsea and Manchester City have the squads to do it week in, week out for nine months.

I think that the leadership and cunning of Jose Mourinho will just put Chelsea ahead of City, a view that was only strengthened by the lack of intensity in City's performance against Arsenal at Wembley last Sunday.

Behind them, Arsenal's stability and steady improvement should grant them third place, but the battle for fourth is so hard to pick. 

For now, I would just tip Liverpool to take fourth, but if Manchester United can add two or three quality players between now and the closure of the transfer window, I'll have to revise that view.

And don't completely write off Everton either. They might surprise people.

IAIN'S PREDICTIONS:

  • Champions: Chelsea
  • 2nd: Man City
  • 3rd: Arsenal
  • 4th: Liverpool/Man Utd

NEIL HUMPHREYS

Naturally, this prediction has more ifs, buts and maybes than a stammering teenager on a first date. But if the best 11 of all the contenders are fit and available, Manchester City stand alone. They have the greatest depth and the least weaknesses (if any).

Last season, their biggest issues were centre back and adequate defensive cover. Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna tick both boxes.

Arsenal and Chelsea have both strengthened up front, but City's forward line of Sergio Aguero, Stefan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo might as well don trench coats and trilby hats and go after Al Capone. They are untouchable.

A question mark still hovers over defensive midfield. Fernando must step up to give either Fernandinho or Yaya Toure a deserved break.

Throw in Samir Nasri, James Milner, Jesus Navas, some old bloke called Frank Lampard and the diminutive genius David Silva, City are an enthralling, attacking side.

They already have the best squad. They've just got to take care of those ifs, buts and maybes.

NEIL'S PREDICTIONS:

  • Champions: Man City
  • 2nd: Chelsea
  • 3rd: Arsenal
  • 4th: Liverpool

GARY LIM

It's clear that Manchester City, despite the lack of real big-name arrivals, still possess the best squad in the English Premier League.

But they will have to fend off the challenge of Chelsea, who function better as a unit than any other Premiership side.

The Blues, however, seem to have an edge. In Jose Mourinho, they have a manager who doesn't sit around not winning anything for very long.

The shrewd additions of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas should give them the firepower they sorely missed last season.

Arsenal are the dark horses. Any team with Mesut Oezil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey have to be fighting for silverware. But the worry is that they do not have a squad deep enough to sustain a simultaneous push for Premiership and Champions League glory.

The battle for fourth place will be between arch-rivals Manchester United and Liverpool. The lack of European football should see the Red Devils pip Liverpool to fourth.

GARY'S PREDICTIONS:

  • Champions: Chelsea
  • 2nd: Man City
  • 3rd: Arsenal
  • 4th: Man Utd