Jim Barry's predictions 2013/14
There are only days remaining until the most exciting league in the world kicks off for another action-packed season of goals, controversy and talking points.
The action is already under way in the Football League and Scotland, but who will be the biggest winners and losers during 2013/14 campaign?
Well Squarefootball's Jim Barry has looked deep into his crystal balls over the past week and today reveals his predictions to the world. So who will win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup etc? Here is what our Scottish football expert has to say.
Chelsea – They will be born again under the Special One. This team probably needs to lose one or two of the more experienced veterans that are on board the ship but that won’t happen. Lampard, Terry and Cole are loyal to the core when it comes to Jose; there will be no messing about in the dressing room this year, the attitude will be great, the football pragmatic, and with improvements from younger players like Oscar and Hazard combined with the attitude of the old core Chelsea will reign supreme yet again.
Who will finish in the top four?
The top four will be Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.
This is not the most imaginative line up for the top four but Arsenal are the only team in danger of missing the cut. I think that Arsenal will ultimately retain their Champions League spot as they are intent on getting Luis Suarez this summer and Luis Suarez is intent on obliging them. Their north London rivals look set to lose their best player to Real Madrid; there is going to be a serious war chest available at White Heart Lane to build a credible challenge over the next 24 months but they are not in a position right now to leapfrog Arsenal. The great unknown is whether Liverpool become more direct in their approach and have more desire to succeed. They will replace Suarez with Costa from Atlectico Madrid but making the transition from Spain to England has not always been easy and it probably won’t be enough to get Liverpool into the top four this year.
Who will be relegated from the Premier League?
Newcastle United, Sunderland and Crystal Palace.
I think that Cardiff have enough invested in terms of finance and enthusiasm to retain their top flight status this year and Hull City are now accustomed to Premier League football so should not be intimidated by their return to the top flight. Crystal Palace unfortunately are my yo-yo team this year. There is usually one newcomer that just gets cut adrift quite quickly and I feel The Eagles will fill that void this year.
Sunderland are managed by a mad man in my opinion. I genuinely think things are going to go very badly wrong in the dressing room with landmines exploding left, right and centre. I predict chaos for the Black Cats and another adventure in the Championship next season.
It may not be a major shock but the biggest team to go down this year will be Newcastle. They were appalling last season and I really feel that the long term security they have invested in Alan Pardew will lead to some very unenthusiastic performances this season. The Magpies are following the Eagles back into the second tier.
Who will be the Premier League's top scorer?
Despite the fact that I think United will pass their league crown to Chelsea this year (primarily because one manager knows how to win leagues and the other is learning) I think Robin Van Persie will be the top scorer. The Dutchman is a goal machine; his manager has utmost faith in his abilities so he will start when fit, and his nearest rival, if he stays in the league, will be suspended early in the campaign for munching on human flesh last year.
Who will win the FA Cup?
I think Manchester United will take the FA Cup. I feel that David Moyes will have a reasonable first year in charge, probably without Wayne Rooney, but with a very talented set of players. The season will be capped with a trophy at Wembley and a platform will be set to build a title challenge in 2014/15.
Who will win the League Cup?
Tricky one to predict, it’s hard to believe that this trophy is on any manager's list of targets for the season ahead, but someone will win it. Plucked from the air I will go with Liverpool to win the trophy. They are possibly not going to play reserve teams in the competition and Brendan Rodgers will be very keen to get some silverware in the cabinet to justify his brand of lateral passing possession football. Arsenal are equally desperate for silverware and if Wenger puts all of his efforts into winning this trophy it is a very achievable goal for the Gunners.
Barcelona are simply the best team in the world regardless of their humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich last season. They will not be caught out like that again and I am certain that there is so much quality at the club they will be able to counter the weaknesses that were exposed last season. They are refusing to sell players like Fabregas and are bringing the next generation of mega-stars like Neymar, Barcelona have no intentions to become the second best team in the world anytime soon.
Who will win the Europa League?
It is difficult to say how serious the better teams in the competition like Spurs will perform if they are competing for Champions League spots domestically. I personally think that Tottenham are the best side in the competition even if their Welsh star bales off to Madrid, on paper I think they should be winners come May but typically we see teams from leagues like Portugal come to the fore at the latter stages so a Benfica victory wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Who will be promoted from the Championship?
QPR, Leicester and Wigan.
I think in Harry Redknapp, QPR have a fox that all other teams in the division lack. They are still swimming in money at Loftus Road and I imagine that the ownership will demand a pretty swift return to the top flight. You can expect some serious signings in January if QPR are on the brink of a return.
I think that Leicester will go up automatically with QPR. For the most part of last season Leicester looked a really solid shout for the Premier League but they seemed to just tail off at the end. I think they will have learned from that experience, I think they will have belief in their ability to challenge at the top of the league, and once again the Foxes will strut their stuff in the top flight.
Wigan have a limited time to make a return with their parachute payments. They may find it hard to adjust to this level of competition again following the Premier League fairytale but as we all prepare for the big party over in Brazil next June Wigan will be competing with England for the headlines on the back pages of the red tops.
Who will be promoted from League One?
Wolves, Bradford City and Sheffield United
Wolves should be far too strong to struggle in this division. It looks certain that they are going to lose their Premier League type players like Kevin Doyle but a salary like the one Doyle has cannot be justified at this level. One would imagine that there should be enough quality remaining on board and enough pride in the fan base to get the Wolves back into the Championship straight away and as league winners to boot.
Bradford City had their best season in a long time last year and I have a sneaking feeling that they are going to keep that good luck rolling once again this year by moving up yet another level to the Championship. I feel there is a real positive momentum at the club right now and they will keep their fans cheering for another 12 months to come.
Sheffield United would have been a top pick for promotion last season as far as I am concerned and I will stick by my guns again this year. There is too much history and pride at this club to linger another season in the third tier. The Blades had a decent season last year but came unstuck in the play-offs, I think they will make the play-offs aging this year but should have enough about them to go that step further and get promoted into the Championship.
Who will be promoted from League Two?
Portsmouth, Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon
Portsmouth really are a fish out of water all they way down in League Two. This may be hilarious for all Southampton fans as they prepare to take on the likes of Manchester United again this season while Portsmouth prepare for Newport County but I really feel that Portsmouth have sunk as low as they can possibly go now and may well return to League One with some silverware.
Oxford are starting to establish themselves in league football once again and they had a respectable season last year finishing eight. With that little bit more experience and the backing of a passionate home support we should see Oxford slowly climb through the leagues yet again.
I am going to go all romantic and select AFC Wimbledon. In all likelihood it is not going to happen but I will be pulling for them all the way.
As for the fourth team, well the play-offs are an absolute lottery! I will wait to be surprised.
Celtic will win the league, the main question for me is how many points will they get and what will be the margin of points over the runner up. I am going to guess 88 for the points total and a margin of 25 points on the second place team, but let’s hope things prove to be a lot closer.
I am picking Hibernian for the second spot, but this is mainly because I selected them to finish second in my preview article a couple of weeks ago! Having seen the first weekend of action I think it will be very close and very exciting with Aberdeen, Dundee Utd, Motherwell, St Johnstone and possibly Inverness CT pushing for second. I am going to back Dundee Utd to do the job as I feel the extra goals that David Goodwillie can bring to the team this season will give the Arabs that tiny bit extra that they needed last season.
Who will win the Scottish Cup?
I think Celtic will win the Scottish Cup. It’s a competition that Celtic always treat very seriously so when teams like Clyde knock the Hoops of the competition they are not knocking out the Celtic reserves, Celtic always put out their big guns for this competition.
Who will win the Scottish League Cup?
Like its English cousin this competition is very difficult to predict. It’s a trophy that is not highly regarded at Celtic Park so that opens up quite a lot of possibilities in this year's competition. Motherwell are a team that have had great success in the league in recent years but the fans would love nothing better than a piece of silverware to crown what has been a relatively successful era in their history, its Motherwell for me this season.
Calling all football fans: Do you agree with Jim's predictions? Who do you think will be the main winners and losers? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.
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