CATCH THEM IF YOU CAN

 
Trevor Steven
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Man United are my tip for what looks like a riveting Premier League season

UNCERTAINTY caused by riots has overshadowed the start of the Premier League season a little, but if we look past that there is every reason to believe this term could be one of the best yet.

I expect a step up in quality because nearly all the leading teams have invested in really exciting players – and a few more look like joining before the transfer window shuts.

I see the top six streaking further ahead of the pack – even if it is actually a top three – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea – plus three more pretenders – Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham – scrambling for that priceless fourth spot.

United are the champions and have built on a position of strength with big buys. Shaking up the squad is always a risk, while the loss of the retired Paul Scholes will be a big one.

Yet it’s hard to see a team who look better equipped to win the league than they do. What would really complete the jigsaw would be the much-rumoured signing of Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman is a class act and could put United streets ahead. I think it might yet happen – watch this space.

Chelsea weren’t too far away last year and I fancy them to improve under Andre Villas-Boas. I’ve been impressed by the young manager in pre-season; he is always giving instructions, a real coach, and players respond to that. Yet they don’t look equipped to dominate as United often do. If they do regain the title I think it will only be by the odd point.

City and Liverpool will be stronger again, leaving Arsenal and Tottenham with their work cut out to qualify for the Champions League again.

At the other end of the table, I can’t see much hope for the thrifty billionaires of QPR – much as I think Neil Warnock will make the best of a dire situation. Loftus Road is a great little ground, but I think it could become a happy hunting ground for the top flight’s big beasts.

ROLL OF HONOUR | TREVOR’S PREDICTIONS

Premier League Man Utd
FA Cup Aston Villa
Champions League Barcelona
Relegation QPR, Norwich, Swansea