- Chelsea: hard to pick against this bunch that played so well end of last season. They have done nothing to take away from their favorite's status. If they, as I do believe they will, add Essien from Lyon they will add to an already formidable midfield. Their one problem last season was having a legitimate front line striker. Drogba played poorly last season (by his standards). If the community shield game is any indicatiuon he is ready to come into this season with a vengence. But I am still not convinced he can navigate the rigorous of a full Premiership season as the lone stiker for Chelsea. Gudjonson is a nice player but no one mistakened him for Van Basten. Robbens is a wing player, albeit a top notch player, but not a first rate striker. Otherwise Chelsea is strong in midfield with Lampard, Cole, Makelele, Duff etc. Their defense also solid, and goalkeeping top notch. If Drogba can find the form he showed at Marseille Chelsea will run away with this, if he does not it will be more difficult but I cannot see any other team beating them for the title.
- Liverpool: Yes you read that correctly, I am picking the Reds for second place. I think they are loaded with talent - Garcia, Alonso, Cisse, Gerrard, Riise, Hypia, etc. Last season they suffered too many injuries to sustain any type of run during the season. This year they will contend especially with the confidence they gained from their Champions League Run of last season.
- Manchester United: This pains me to pick ahead of Arsenal, but the talent of this team is too much each week for most teams. They are still a little shaky in defense, with an older Keane at midfield. And Silvestre suffering from confidence issues they will give up soft goals. However with Van Der Saar in net they should not suffer GK problems that has marred them last season. Their real strength will be up front, with Van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Saha, Smith, Scholes, Giggs, etc they will overwhelm most teams in the Premiership. But they will not have the total talent to overtake the leaders.
- Arsenal: Yes this is painful to pick the Gunners so low. But I think they are too young this season. They will still be a top team with players like Berkham, Henry, Cesc, Van Persie, Pires, Ljunberg, etc. But losing players like Viera and Edu will be large midfield holes that are hard to fill. Gilberto is back and health so he will prove a stabilizing force, but with no Vieira there is not link between midfielders and attackers. Arsenal is in great position for down the road, they have tremendously talented youth: Cesc, Flamini, Senderoos, Bentley etc. But they are too young to play consistently game to game. They will win some spectacular games. But I fear trips to Liverpool, Manchester United etc will intimidate the young players...situations where having Vieira were crucial.