Friday 16 August 2013
The Barclays Premier League season returns this weekend and football fans will be busy making their choices as to who will shine this campaign. We asked the experts who will be commentating on and analysing the action for Premier League Productions, BT Sport and NBC Sports as to who they think will be the stars of 2013/14.
Title winner: Manchester City
It changes from day to day. Manchester United looked slick against Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield, they did really, really well but I am going to go for Man City. They have got all of their business done and have got all their players bedded in. Manuel Pellegrini has bought really well and strengthened in key areas. I have spoken to a lot of people who have worked in Spain and they said he is a terrific coach. I don’t think anyone is going to run away with it, it will be really, really close.
Runner-up: Manchester United
Rest of the top four: Chelsea, Liverpool
Fourth spot is wide open and Liverpool are my dark horses. Philippe Coutinho is an amazing player and he will a major player for them this season. He is an elegant player, he is really cool on the ball, he never panics, he has got an eye for a through-ball and has got a lot of assists as well.
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Sergio Aguero will get his fair share of goals, we will have to see how Alvaro Negredo does at Manchester City but I don't think you can look past Van Persie. He has got the lot.
Player to watch: Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
He will probably be the quickest player in the League. He is super quick and a lot of left-backs might have a lot of trouble with him. If full-backs get close to him, he will burn them off, so many might stand off him. A winger that quick is hard to come by. Players like that are so influential and they are a good outlet. If I was playing in central midfield the first thing I would do is give him the ball and say, 'Go on, roast the full-back.'
Signing of the summer: Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur)
Soldado is a born finisher. His link play is decent. He has got a good first touch but he is not that bothered about link-up play, he just wants to get his quota of goals.
I've been asked a few times, 'Who do you think is going to win the league?' and I think that with this summer the way it is, it is almost impossible to pick.
You can point to Manchester City, who have done their transfer business early and that’s a benefit to them. At the moment, Man Utd need to strengthen their midfield.
When it comes to the top four, I would probably put Chelsea at the top, with Manchester City very close and Man Utd not far behind. If Arsenal make a big signing then they could be in the mix again.
Top four: 1) Chelsea, 2) Man Utd, 3) Man City, 4) Liverpool.
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
He'll be playing in most games and they create a load of goals. At Man City, goals will be shared around, while neither Chelsea nor Arsenal have the same quality of striker. Maybe Spurs' Roberto Soldado will score a few but no one can touch Van Persie.
Player to watch: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
He has the makings of a very good player, if he is given his chance at Stamford Bridge. He could be a real star.
Signing of the summer: Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Top four: Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United
Top scorer: Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur)
One to watch: Ravel Morrison (West Ham United)
Title winner: Chelsea
As it stands now, I am going for Chelsea. They have the most settled squad. Man City will go close but Jose Mourinho's influence will make a difference. He has been there and done it, he now has a different group of players and probably has maybe more attacking talent at his disposal now. Mourinho will bring a certain degree of organisation to it and that will help. As well as the experienced players, he has got young talent in the squad and they will want to prove themselves.
Second: Manchester City
It is a straight shoot-out between Manchester United and City. But with the players and the goals they have got there, City have the edge. I like Fernandinho, Navas gives them something different and Negredo looked lively when I last saw him play.
Rest of the top four: Manchester United, Arsenal
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
He is the complete centre-forward. He works hard, he has got great movement, he is not bad in the air, he is lively in the box, he can score all types of goals and there is a spark and an energy about him.
Player to watch: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur)
He is a very good signing. I saw what Brazil did to Spain in the Confederations Cup, they were too powerful in midfield and he was at the heart of it. He can do everything, he can control, he can pass, he was great in the tackle and good in the air.
Signing of the summer: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)
This is a very good bit of business and if Cardiff stay up. He is got pace and that's a huge thing. They have showed great ambition.
"I say Manchester City will be top start to finish - a hair's breadth ahead of Chelsea. Manchester United will not be as far behind as many people are expecting - David Moyes' side have a strong core.
"Then Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs will be competing for that fourth spot, and maybe someone like Swansea City to come in on the outskirts of it.
"There are many exciting new signings this year, but Wilfired Bony, the Ivorian striker at Swansea, is the One To Watch. He scored 31 goals in 30 Dutch league games last. Some players haven’t replicated their form in the Premier League, but he has the weapons to make quite an impact."