English Premier League Predictions 2013-2014

The English Premier League has seemed static for several years. Manchester United could always be counted among the favorites, with moneybags Chelsea & Manchester City posing the biggest challenge to that hegemony, and Arsenal certain to be thereabouts without ever really getting there. Spurs would always be fashionable outsiders, followed by an overachieving Everton, a cast of comfortably mid-table sides and newly promoted surprise packages. And after all of that, the dross: comedy clubs (Newcastle, QPR), plucky strugglers (Wigan, Reading), and desperately poor clubs (Wolves, Birmingham).

This summer’s managerial shakeup could change all of that. The catalyst, of course, was Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement after 26 years and 38 trophies. A few years ago, during a night out in London, I argued with an Aberdonian that Fergie was a poor tactician, and that his real strength lay in man-management. Certainly, he commanded absolute loyalty from every player he wanted to keep, knew how to eke years of fine service from players like Giggs, Scholes and Ferdinand, and knew when to get rid. All of this compares favorably to other managers, even excellent ones like Arsene Wenger, who was only able to build one dominant side at Arsenal. By all counts, Ferguson built at least four.

Though a fine manager, David Moyes will struggle to fill his predecessors shoes, and even if he should eventually settle into the role, there is almost certain to be a rebuilding period as he stamps his own authority on the club. There are also ramifications for Everton, who Moyes managed for over a decade. With Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini newly installed at Manchester City, each of the top 3 finishers from last year have a new coach. In addition to an influx of new players, this is one of the more unpredictable seasons in recent memory. Nonetheless, here are my guesses for the final league table, with key player in parenthesis:

  1. Chelsea (Juan Mata)
  2. Manchester City (Sergio Aguero)
  3. Arsenal (Santi Cazorla)
  4. Manchester United (Robin Van Persie)
  5. Tottenham (Gareth Bale)
  6. Liverpool (Philippe Coutinho)
  7. West Ham (Kevin Nolan)
  8. Southampton (Adam Lallana)
  9. Everton (Leighton Baines)
  10. Swansea (Jonathan de Guzman)
  11. West Brom (James Morrison)
  12. Stoke (Robert Huth)
  13. Aston Villa (Gabriel Agbonlahor)
  14. Norwich (Ricky van Wolfswinkel)
  15. Newcastle United (Hatem Ben Arfa)
  16. Sunderland (Jozy Altidore)
  17. Cardiff (Kim Bo-Kyung)
  18. Fulham (Dimitar Berbatov)
  19. Crystal Palace (Marouane Chamakh)
  20. Hull (Tom Huddlestone)

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