THERE is no doubt that CHELSEA were comfortably the best team in the league last year and thoroughly deserved to be crowned champions. Carlo Ancelotti did a tremendous job to do the double in his first year in charge and although the Champions League will be a major target this time around, a second Premier League title looks well within their grasp.
Both Joe Cole and Michael Ballack have left this summer, but it now looks as if Brazilian midfielder Ramires will be joining from Benfica and Yossi Benayoun has been added from Liverpool. The latter isn’t exactly an inspiring acquisition, but he could play an important role in the squad and there was a togetherness about Chelsea last term which will stand them in very good stead.
Some people are saying this is one of the most open title races in recent history, but I think there are big questions with all of the Blues’ rivals. Manchester United will always be a threat, but they rely too heavily on Wayne Rooney and this could also be a season too soon for the younger members of their squad.
Arsenal have the potential to be serious challengers, especially if, as now looks likely, they manage to keep on to Cesc Fabregas. Marouane Chamakh could be another of Arsene Wenger’s master purchases, but consistency will once again be the crucial factor for the Gunners.
Liverpool look as if they’re going to hold on to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, but surely this season will be about consolidation for Roy Hodgson’s men and trying to get back into the top four.
The big imponderable is MANCHESTER CITY and I simply can’t have them at as short as 9-2 with William Hill. Roberto Mancini is going to have a hell of a job on his hands to keep his squad happy and it will surely take time for them to gel. There are plenty of other sides who will be going all out for fourth spot, so it may therefore pay to lay City to get a top four finish at around 5-7 on Betdaq.
Looking at the other end of the table and it wouldn’t be a surprise if BIRMINGHAM struggled this season. Teams will be better prepared for their defensive tactics and goals will again be their problem. I’m not saying they will go down, but it could be worth selling their points at 42 with Sporting Index.
The Championship is going to be mightily competitive this year and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top 12 in the betting end up champions. However, I was impressed with NOTTINGHAM FOREST last season and their play-off heartbreak against Blackpool can inspire them to a title challenge.
League One doesn’t look nearly as open and although I give a squeak to Huddersfield and Peterborough, SOUTHAMPTON look like a good thing.
Chelsea to win the Premier League at 17-10 with Paddy Power
Lay Man City top four finish at 5-7 on Betdaq
Sell Birmingham total points at 42 with Sporting Index
Nottingham Forest to win the Championship at 9-1 with Coral (e/w)
Southampton to win League One at 12-5
with Paddy Power