We're five games in and it's fair to say that we can ascertain a teams chances now that the squads have been finalized and preferred elevens are beginning to take shape.

Arsenal: Last year, Arsenal were the team I felt that would drop out of the top 4 because of a weak defence, and a poor goalie. Have these areas been addressed? Ospina is certainly a capable goalkeeper, but has yet to start. The defence is in a similar state to last season with a good full-back (Sagna) being replace by another in DeBuchy, who's now injured. However, Chambers is more than capable of filling in there. I think Arsenal are good enough to stay in the top four, but it may be a struggle. Neither Sanchez nor Welbeck will score enough goals to challenge for the title, and Ozil is flattering to deceive at the best of times. Arsenal will beat enough average teams enough times to achieve the top four finish, but won't trouble anyone along the way. 3rd.

Aston Villa: Villa are a curious case. When I look at the Villa squad, I see a very average side. There isn't a player in the Villa squad that would be on my list of transfer targets if I was building a squad. How Keane fits in will be the interesting story for Villa. The Lambert, Keane axis won't last the season and it will be interesting to see who goes first. Villa will be in another relegation punch up this season, but they should survive. 14th.

Burnley: I like Dyche, and I like what Burnley try to do as a club. However, the quality simply isn't there to survive. Being economically practical is one thing, but it doesn't bring Premiership survival for promoted teams. Big teams won't like going to Turf Moor, but the big teams will come away with more points than they will drop there. Burnley will give it their all, and will shock one of the big teams along the way, but that will be the highlight for them. 20th.

Chelsea: It will be a straight fight between Chelsea and City for the title, and I'm backing Chelsea to come out on top. They are simply more streetwise than City and possess a squad of excellent balance. Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the league, Chelsea have a tight defence, creative midfield and will score goals. It's the perfect recipe for a title assault. Injuries could be their biggest danger. Will Costa stay fit? Unlikely, but Remy is an able deputy and Hazard adds unbelievable quality. And then there's Drogba to terrorize the weaker teams. 1st. 

Crystal Palace: Palace sealed their fate before the season started when Pulis left. Would you back Warnock to keep Palace up? Pulis added the simplicity and guts to an average squad which was the difference in staying up. Zaha blows hot and cold and simply doesn't work hard enough for a team attempting to stay up. And one weak link in the chain is enough to relegate a hard working team. 19th.

Everton: This season won't match last season, as I'm still not 100% certain of Martinez's credentials. Last season they played beyond themselves as they enjoyed the freedom of breaking free of the constraints of the tactics employed by David Moyes. Having said that, the defending principles that Moyes instilled was the basis of their success, and they embraced a freer attacking style. Martinez doesn't do defending as 13 goals conceded in 5 games this season will attest to. Other teams are benefitting from Martinez's lack of defensive nous. Lukaku is overpriced and one wonders if he will kick on now that he has the permanent move? Looks an indifferent season. 7th.

Hull City: Another side who won't reach the heights of last season. Their form at the end of last season was terrible and often can linger into a new season. Selling Shane Long was a strange sale considering that goals are so important to a club trying to establish themselves in the Premier League. Signing Ben Arfa can only hurt the dressing room, and he isn't fully fit. Plus the off the field uncertainty won't help them either. They will survive, if only just. 15th.

Leicester City: What was lost in the melee of their 5-3 win over United was that Leicester played very well in that game, as they did against Arsenal at home. They will do just fine this season, and won't be in any danger. Vardy may have a bumper season performance wise, if not goals wise. The signing of Cambiasso looks inspired, and Pearson is a clever manager. Decent side. 12th.

Liverpool: I felt for them last season as they won't get as good a chance to win the league for a long time. However, I was suspicious that Suarez would go missing when they needed him, and they did. This season is going to be far tougher as teams begin to suss them out. They need Sturridge back quickly, and they need to drop Gerrard as he's just slowing down the pace of their passing. Either that or play him centre-half. They will make 4th, but only just.

Manchester City: Selling Negredo will cost City the league, simple as. Neither Aguero or Jovetic will stay fit long enough to score the necessary goals to outpoint Chelsea. Mangala is a good signing, and he'll take the pressure off the fabulous Kompany, and signing Fernanado to me signals the intent to sell a sulking Toure eventually. Considering Toures lack of interest, and goals being in shorter supply they will fall short, if not by much. 2nd.

Manchester United: Flattering to deceive. None of their defenders look like proper defenders and don't look like they can provide the defensive solidity needed. Carrick will probably play centre-half but will they be in a position to challenge the top 4 by the time he's fit? Unlikely. There's goals everywhere in them, including for the opposition. Van Gaal will get it right given time, but the points deficit to the top 4 may be too great by the time he does. Especially given the fixtures they've had, and the points haul from those games. 5th.

Newcastle United: An utter shambles. Average footballers who go on a run every now and again and do enough to stay up. And then they sit on their arse until they're in danger and wonder how they got into trouble. Pardew isn't popular yet remains because Ashley wants him there, while Ashley wants to sell the club because the fans detest him. Get the picture? Soap opera doesn't cover it, and it belittles a once great club. Expect the usual roller coaster which will end up on safety eventually. 13th.

QPR: Old Harry is up against it again, and it looks like being a long season. They are struggling against teams with decent attacks, and look very brittle at times. They will scrap away against teams around them, but against better teams they seem to throw in the towel after a goal goes against them. Will they get enough points against teams around them? They should, but it will be tight. They need to stop the hammerings against better sides as goal difference can be worth a point at the wrong end of the table. 17th.

Southampton: Decent start from a club who lost a talented manager and decided to sell it's star names. However, they have bought well in Long to replace Lambert and picked up tidy players to replace the departed stars. And Koeman is a shrewd football man. He kept Schneiderlin and that was a huge victory for Koeman. Schneirlin keeps the side ticking over, and offers what a proper midfielder should in terms of work rate and passing. They won't stay in the top 4, but they won't trouble the bottom half either. 9th.

Stoke: Motoring along nicely and will do well this season. Once again Hughes has bought well, and will be very difficult to beat which is a Hughes trait. Diouf and Moses bring pace, while Krkic could be the ace in the pack. Sidwell and Bardsley bring honesty and toughness to an already hard side. No-one will want to go to the Britannia and won't welcome them either. 8th.

Sunderland: It really is up to the top brass at Sunderland on how well they do this season. Leave Poyet to business and they will be ok. Start interfering again, and they won't. Poyet is a decent manager, who knows his football. He makes a team, and has them scrapping for "ugly" ball which wasn't always a trait for Sunderland teams. Assuming Poyet is left to his own devices, they should be ok. 10th.

Swansea: The current bright start won't last. Gary Monk just doesn't strike me as a Premier League manager, and the squad looks decidedly average. Able to defend and create a certain amount of chances, but that's about it. I think they could struggle, but they will survive. It will be tight, but their lack of goals will be a problem. 16th.

Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs are annual bottlers. The one team you can be confident of coming back against if you go a few goals down. How long has it been since they won a derby against Arsenal? They have a talented squad, yet are going nowhere. Pochettino is a talented manager and should get it right in time, but whether he gets enough time is another matter. The overhaul of the squad looks to be going in the right direction with defensive problems being addressed. Time is what Pochettino needs and knowing Spurs, he won't get it. 6th.

West Bromwich Albion: It looks like their stay in the Premier League is coming to an end. The disastrous tenure of Pepe Mel has left the squad desperately short of confidence when they were already short of quality. Their summer signings don't inspire confidence. Lescott is overpriced at a free, and the acquisitions of Baird, Gardner, and Samaras on frees tells you of their priorities. It's not going to be an enjoyable season for them. 18th.

West Ham United: The Hammers are the ultimate small dog growling at the bigger dogs. They employ an extremely effective manager in Allardyce and they want him out for not playing sexy football? Allardyce isn't a football purist, but he's not predominately long ball either. He likes his team to get the job done, and then play football. Nothing wrong with that unless you're the Hammers. They have spent their time chasing the dreams they can't achieve instead of admiring what they've done. Valencia and Sakho add bite up front; with Downing, Noble, and Nolan creating a midfield anchored by the excellent addition of Alex Song; while Jenkinson is a good defensive addition. And then Andy Carroll is due back to terrorise defences. It looks like being a good season, even if they sack Allardyce. 11th.

 

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