Welcome to a little roundtable post that the contributors here at Bitter and Blue have had to look at the season ahead and come up with our predictions for the 2012/13 season.
I'm sure it will provoke plenty of discussion so feel free to fill up the comments thread with any responses....
Premier League Champions
(Danny Pugsley) The bookies have City as slight favourites and I'd say this is about right - just. Having enjoyed success last time around they will be keen to taste it once again but the past few years have proved how difficult it is to repeat. The Champions League may have an impact on the domestic front but the talk is that the Premier League will be the main focus once again.
(Bosnian Bronco) Manchester United, would love to put City but United have a history of losing the EPL crown and then clawing back the next year to win it all. They have done this from '06 - '09 and then the following season Chelsea won the crown only to have it go back to United the following season. Arsenal won it in 01-02 and it went back to Manchester United the following season, Arsenal '97-'98 and Blackburn '94-'95 all had the same results. On three of those occasions Manchester United came back and won two or more consecutive years.
(Sonics097) City, primed for another season at the top.
(shuddertothink) Man City. The EPL's best squad will continue to grow as a unit and gain more experience in what it takes to win. The best forward corps, the best midfield trio of De Jong, Toure and Silva. Add those to Kompany and Hart and well, it's hard to see how we will not win it. City must have better away form to compensate what will in all likelihood be a slight drop off from last seasons stunning home form.
(Danny Pugsley) City, United,Chelsea, Arsenal.
(Bosnian Bronco) Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool.
(Sonics097) City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal.
(shuddertothink) City, United, Spurs, Chelsea
(Danny Pugsley) Southampton, Swansea and Wigan. I fancy one of either Norwich or Swansea to plummet after losing their manager and it could be a jump too far for Southampton. You wouldn't bet against Wigan staying up again but they will be there or thereabouts.
(Bosnian Bronco) West Ham, West Brom, Wigan. I would have put QPR in here but something tells me they will claw their way from the bottom three. The loss of Hodgson will probably be too much for West Brom.
(Sonics097) Reading (20), Norwich (19), West Ham (18).. Reading will have trouble back in the top flight, Norwich might struggle after losing Lambert, and there is too much of a circus at Upton Park for me.
(shuddertothink) Southampton (20), Reading (19) Norwich (18) Southampton's leap through the divisions will prove too big an obstacle, they lack quality. Reading, good manager but just not strong enough, nor street wise. Norwich survived comfortably last year but Holt scored nigh 40% of their goals, if he is slightly off form they will be relegated. A shame really as Chris Hughton is one of football's good guys.
FA Cup winners
(Danny Pugsley) Tempted by Chelsea given their recent record but it's been a while for United so maybe they do it this season.
(Bosnian Bronco) City, I think even though they won't win the EPL they will get silverware. Too strong of a squad to go home empty handed.
(Sonics097) Spurs.. no real reason, just a feeling.
(shuddertothink) Chelsea. It's a lottery though.
(Bosnian Bronco) Liverpool. They have success in the domestic tournaments and their squad will get better with manager Brendan Rodgers.
(Sonics097) Cup: City.. why not?
(shuddertothink) Everton, a team for whom cup silverware is important.
(Danny Pugsley) They exorcised some demons last season but ultimately fell short. Having won La Liga last season though (which they were desperate to do) this year Real Madrid go all out for Europe's top prize.
(Bosnian Bronco) Bayern Munich, strong squad that has remained in tact for the off season. Their strongest area is the midfield where they simply deliver the ball to Gomez who although has missed an incredible amount of opportunities has a great return in goals.
(Sonics097) Real Madrid.. I think it is their time. Mourinho will build off of last year's La Liga triumph in Special One fashion.
(shuddertothink) Real Madrid, best squad in the world with the best manager in the world. Need a creative, possession type midfielder.
Premier League Top Scorer
(Danny Pugsley) So important to United and it is unlikely he misses too many games so I'll go for Wayne Rooney.
(Bosnian Bronco) I will take the 40-1 on Edin Dzeko, this is more of an extreme but he has the ability to accomplish it. However it is highly unlikely considering that he will be the 4th option behind Mario, Tevez and Aguero.
(Sonics097) Premier League top scorer: Going to go out on a limb here and say Torres. Should get more minutes with Drogba and plenty of chances with a revamped, serviceable midfield and wingers. Looked solid in the minutes he played at the Euros, he can still do the job. Too many strikers at City for someone to grab the top spot.
(shuddertothink) Rooney, takes penalties, is a flat track bully who scores at unimportant times (and crucial times).
First manager sacked
(Danny Pugsley) First time in a number 1 role for Steve Clarke and knowing how important Premier League survival is West Brom won't be slow to pull the trigger if results aren't going the right way (as proved with Roberto di Matteo).
(Bosnian Bronco) AVB, Harry's shoes are going to be too big to fill. Modric is extremely unhappy along with no word on Ade's deal yet I don't see them finishing in the top five.
(Sonics097) Michael Laudrup. First season in the Premier League, he's got a tough task ahead to fill in the shoes of Brendan Rogers. If Swansea are struggling by December/January, I think he could be on the way out, harsh as it might be.
(shuddertothink) Well, AVB will succeed, I think. So he's safe. Will it be a relegation haunted team as usual? No. For me it will be Di Matteo. Chelsea didn't get great EPL results under RDM and he may not get the results this season without another striker and having to integrate many new, albeit exciting, signings. If they are wobbling at any point mid-season he could be gone. Chelsea need 4th for it's unlikely they win the CL again.