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Thursday 16 August 2012

Premier League 2012/13: Pundits' picks

Find out who our football experts think will make the headlines this season

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is the pundits' choice to finish top goalscorer

The start of the new Barclays Premier League season is less than three days away and the excitement is building ahead of the big kick-off.

In anticipation of the new campaign, asked the experts working for Premier League TV their predictions for the 2012/13 campaign.

Nigel Winterburn

Title winner: Manchester City
They will be the team to beat. I watched a couple of their pre-season matches and the Community Shield and there's strength right through the squad. They could almost put out two teams of internationals. They are the Barclays Premier League champions and everyone will be out to beat them but they have that class; the players will want to do it again.

"Manchester City could put out two teams of internationals"
- Nigel Winterburn

Runner-up: Manchester United
They know how to pick up results at important times. With Nemanja Vidic coming back, the signing of Shinji Kagawa, who I really like, the possibility of one or two players coming in and the likes of Wayne Rooney already there, they will be the team to push Manchester City. If City are not fully focused then United could take advantage.

Rest of the top four: Arsenal, Chelsea
Arsenal have bought quality this season and added to the signings they made at the end of last summer, they are going to have a better season than a lot of people think. They still have a lot of attacking options, even if they lose Robin van Persie. It's really hard to judge what Chelsea are going to do this season. They have bought some terrific players but I worry about the loss of Didier Drogba, who was sensational in the big matches last season.

Top scorer: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Rooney is always going to be up there. He has got consistent pedigree. But look out for Lukas Podolski at Arsenal, he could be a surprise. If he moves into the centre there is the potential for him to score lots of goals.

Player to watch: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
I hope we are going to see a lot of him. He could be sensational for Man Utd given time to settle in. He can play as a second striker or at the head of a midfield three as that attacking player and provide chances for the rest of his team-mates – he is an exciting player.

Iain Dowie

Title winner: Manchester City
They look a very well-rounded side. They have got everything, goals, clean sheets, probably the best goalkeeper in the Barclays Premier League and the back four is very, very good. They can win in many ways. I'm a great admirer of Roberto Mancini. He's a very strong manager and has done a very good job there. Last season Man City found a way to win and that will give them huge confidence.

Runner-up: Manchester United
It's always foolish to overlook Manchester United. They will have a response, Sir Alex Ferguson demands that. The players in the team, like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, will expect a reaction. I am sure that will happen.

"Gary Speed told me that Joe Allen is an outstanding young footballer"
- Iain Dowie

Rest of the top four: Chelsea, Arsenal
Chelsea have recruited quite well, the only trouble is they have selected a large number of players and how are they all going to settle in. They may come in with a very late charge. Arsenal have selected a decent front line, carrying a bit more punch and a bit more power.

Top scorer: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
He has everything; he can score a goal out of nothing, has a wonderful turn of pace in the box and is sharp. Aguero can manipulate the ball very well and can sniff out a tap-in. He’s brave and his work-rate is outstanding. You also look at the players alongside him that can help him. His supply lines are fantastic.

Player to watch: Joe Allen (Liverpool)
People maybe don't realise how good a player Olivier Giroud is and Shinji Kagawa will fit in very well but I'm going with Joe Allen. He's an outstanding young player. I spoke to the late, great Gary Speed and he rated Allen very highly. He said Allen is an outstanding young footballer. He can find a pass and create a chance. Gary knew his way around midfield players, he knew what he was talking about and I have seen enough of Allen. I really admire him. He likes to hurt you with a pass and I like that, people who can play positively.

Gareth Southgate

Title winner: Manchester City
Now that they have won it, the fear of the unknown is gone. They have got a different challenge because they have got to win after winning, which in itself is a very difficult thing to do but with the squad they have got, they should have comfortably won the title last season.

Runner-up: Manchester United

"Kagawa did very well in Germany and the Bundesliga is a good comparison with the Barclays Premier League"
- Gareth Southgate

Rest of the top four: Chelsea and Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool
It will be interesting to see who the big clubs sign before the transfer window closes because that can alter things enormously. It's going to be a real battle for the top four. I expect Chelsea to be a lot closer, Tottenham will challenge and Liverpool will get better this year.

Player to watch: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
Of the new guys coming in, Kagawa is a really interesting signing. He did very well in Germany and the Bundesliga is a good comparison with the Barclays Premier League in terms of the style and athleticism of the game.

Top scorer: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
I loved watching him last season and if he plays regularly, he could well be ahead of everyone else.

Alan Curbishley

Title winner: Manchester City
They have got the squad, they don't need to tinker with it too much and if they do, I'm sure it's only going to be to improve it. They have got the UEFA Champions League to contend with but because they have been there and got that first one, there's that little bit of hunger around the place. They know that they can't stand still because Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal will not let them.

"I can see Chelsea reinvigorating themselves after their Champions League win and putting in a bit of a challenge"
- Alan Curbishley

Runner-up: Chelsea
I can see Chelsea reinvigorating themselves after their Champions League win and putting in a bit of a challenge. I don't like to discount Man Utd but I just think that Chelsea, on the back of the Champions League triumph, have enthused Roman Abramovich and by the time we get to deadline day there will be a bit more business done.

Rest of the top four: Manchester United and Arsenal

Top scorer: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Man City have got the ammunition. He's that type of player who will give you the 90 minutes and if he's got a hat-trick, he'll want to get four or five. He just loves scoring goals. In the first year you are an unknown quantity a little bit and this year defenders may have a better idea of how to deal with him but, saying that, he did look very special.

Player to watch: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
I just hope that it is him. He is a little bit different and to be injured for the whole of the season was a big blow, not just for Arsenal, but for England too. We would all like to see him back. He has got most things in his locker.

Don Hutchison

Title winner: Manchester City
They are the favourites. They have got depth in every position and because they have done it once, they know what it takes. The pressure is on for the likes of Man Utd.

Runners-up: Manchester United
I think they will still be up there, I would never write them off but there will be a five- to 10-point gap between them and City.

"I think Brendan Rodgers is going to revitalise Liverpool"
- Don Hutchison

Rest of the top four: Arsenal, Liverpool
Chelsea may miss out. Brendan Rodgers is going to revitalise Liverpool. He has a lot of work to do but he has impressed the fans and has spoken well. He might copy what Johan Cruyff did at Barcelona in implementing this style and now they are having all this success. In a few years Liverpool could challenge for the title again.

Top scorer: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
In his second year he will come to the fore, he will score goals. With all Manchester City's firepower and quality players around him, he will nick it.

Player to watch: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
I was listening to journalist Graham Hunter talking about him on the radio and he was raving about him. He said that Cazorla is excellent and he'll fit into the English style of play. He loves a tackle, loves to get stuck in and can play right across the midfield four.

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Key Points

  • Pundits select their picks for the new Barclays Premier League season
  • Gareth Southgate and Iain Dowie are two of the experts giving their selections
  • The campaign gets under way this weekend