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Predictions for the coming season

Premier League

Champions: Manchester United – I’ve been toying between United and their City rivals, but the signing of Robin Van Persie has clinched it for me.

Champions League places: Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal – Manchester City will run United all the way and Chelsea wont be far behind. Their new signings are extraordinary. Arsenal will win the battle for fourth despite losing Van Persie, their replacements are of high quality. Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle will all challenge Arsenal and it could realistically be any one from those four.

Europa League: The three losers in the battle for fourth place for will finish 5th, 6th and 7th and with cup success likely to come from the teams in the top 7 positions, I think all 7 will have some kind of European football next season.

Relegation: This is the toughest call to make in years, the quality at the bottom has improved and no one is dead certain for relegation. If Wigan replicate their end of season form, and that’s a big if, they’ll be safe and I think they’ll be fine. Swansea and West Brom are unknown quantities with their new managers and may struggle, but both have signed excellent players and could achieve more than expected. Speaking of excellent signings, QPR have built a squad that on paper will be no where near the relegation zone. Norwich may find their second season difficult and I predict they will go down with Southampton and one other. It’s too hard to predict as each team has plenty of reasons why they could stay up.

Championship

Champions: Bolton – despite losing a lot of their players, who were no doubt on larger contracts, they’ve managed to keep a lot of quality and added to it with the likes of Keith Andrews, Matt Mills and Benik Afobe.

Promotion and play-offs: Once again the Championship is tighter than is humanly possible. At least half the league can realistically say they have ambitions to get promoted. Narrowing it down somewhat, Leeds, Leicester, Wolves, Blackburn, Birmingham, Blackpool, Cardiff and Brighton all have a very strong chance of achieving promotion.

Relegation: I think it’s a season to far for the likes of Bristol City and Barnsley, they struggled last season and both have weak squads that haven’t added any real quality. Joining them could well be Millwall, who in my eyes have very little prospects to stay afloat this season.

League 1

Champions and promotion: I expect three teams to be head and shoulders above the rest this season: MK Dons, Sheffield United and Swindon. None of the relegated teams have a chance of promotion and the rest of League One is poor. Saying that, don’t rule out Preston, they’ve bought well a la Charlton and may have an outside chance.

Relegation: If Portsmouth survive, they’ll go down, it’s a lose lose situation for the crisis club. The perennial just-about survivors will again be down their struggling to avoid League Two. Walsall, Orient and Yeovil will be candidates, as will promoted club Shrewsbury and Bury may find their second season difficult to cope with.

League 2

Champions and promotion: Several teams have strong cases for this one. Rotherham, Southend, Chelenham and Torquay will be up there from those who missed out last season, especially Rotherham who I think may win the league. Relegated Wycombe have strengthened with the likes of Matt Spring and Gary Doherty (who will be more than just a laughing stock in this league), whilst Chesterfield have a great chance at bouncing back. Fleetwood, having won the conference at a similar style to Crawley will want to replicate them and gain back to back promotions.

Relegation: You can’t look past Barnet, who somehow stay afloat each year on the last day, it would seem. Another strong candidate would be Burton who struggled last season and only stayed up thanks to a decent start. Those two are my favourites to go down.

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