I am proud to be going into my 11th season as one of the voices on the Premier League Preview show, which goes around the world to 200+ countries. It is a now traditional warm-up for the weekend’s fixtures featuring comments from managers and players but also fans and journalists.
But having voiced my share of games yesterday, it was clear from our studio discussions that if you ask who is going to win the title, or who is going down this year, there is very little consensus. Even with the benefit of hindsight from week one, people cannot call it.
I was going for Man City for the title although there is a still a big doubt at the centre of defence which is why they are chasing Jonny Evans at West Brom. Man Utd looked impressive at Old Trafford against West Ham but how will they look against a big six team away from home? Lukuku – as I said in the preview of United’s game at Swansea – could be the missing link after all those draws against teams they should probably have beaten last season. But I also have a sneaking feeling that I should have gone for Tottenham – as I did last season. They will certainly not be any worse, despite playing at Wembley Stadium. Harry Kane is unlikely to have an injury that will keep him out for as long as it did last term, and they are a young team growing together who could make it third time lucky after a 3rd and a 2nd place finish. There are those who think Chelsea’s woes are being overplayed, there are those that say Liverpool will outscore whoever they play, and that Everton could yet be a force in the title race.
And then there’s the relegation fight. Here, because of the loss of Sigursson, I went for Swansea. Tammy Abraham would need to score 20 goals and a more to keep them up, and Fernando Llorente’s absence in the first weeks of the season through injury could be damaging. Brighton under Chris Hughton need to be more ambitious than my club Norwich were under him a few years back. He was far too negative, especially away from home. Newcastle are essentially a similar team to the one that went down and you could make a case for Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and a few others.
Those Premier League predictions are tosh right now. None of us really knows. That Huddersfield defeat of Palace, that Burnley win at Chelsea – the first weekend showed us that. But we have a Premier League in which everyone can beat anyone and it’s that unpredictability that will sustain it for many years to come…
Enjoy the ride and prepare to be surprised!