As the 2013-14 English Premier League gets set to kickoff in a few minutes, I thought I would compile a quick list of predictions for the season. Here goes...
20. Crystal Palace - Most agree Palace are over their heads in the EPL, so don't look for much chance at avoiding relegation.
19. Norwich City - The Canaries spent heavily in the offseason, especially on Dutch forward Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but I don't see enough to avoid relegation in its third season back in the top league.
18. Hull City - Biggest additions were a couple Tottenham bench players, which aren't going to be enough to keep Hull up in its return.
17. Cardiff City - smart spending for the promoted side should be able to keep Cardiff up.
16. Newcastle United - I came close to moving them into a relegated position, as I just don't see much chance of Newcastle having a good season. A managerial change during the season is inevitable for Alan Pardew.
15. Stoke City - An influx of American talent will make this one of the more popular teams in the US, but Stoke looks like it will once again play a conservative style that won't be very fun to watch.
14. Sunderland - Jozy Altidore joins Sunderland in top form and could spark manager Pablo Di Canio's offense.
13. Aston Villa - Coming off a very disappointing season, the once-mighty Villains will once again rely on young phenom Christian Benteke up front to avoid relegation.
12. West Brom - One of last season's early surprise squads, West Brom lost top goal scorer Romelu Lukaku and struggled at the end of last year.
11. West Ham - Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan lead a solid squad that could finish anywhere from sixth to sixteenth, depending on health and luck.
10. Fulham - A week ago, I was talking about Fulham as a candidate for relegation, but some outstanding transfers make its outlook much more positive. Darren Bent's addition at forward could be a steal.
9. Swansea - Wilfried Bony joins a talented Swansea side that features one of the attackers in the EPL in Michu.
8. Southampton - Rickie Lambert is one of the best young forwards in the world, and he leads a Saints club that should shine this season after a solid summer transfer season.
7. Everton - Roberto Martinez begins his first season as Blues manager with a solid squad that will once again rely on excellent play from left back Leighton Baines, but lack of quality forwards continues to be a big problem.
6. Liverpool - Luis Suarez will sit out the first six matches of the season, which will likely cost Liverpool a strong start, but they will be better than last season because of continued growth from young phenoms Philipp Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.
5. Tottenham Hotspurs - The Spurs are likely to lose Gareth Bale and gave up on Clint Dempsey after one year, but they added Roberto Soldado and Paulinho among a host of transfers, spending most of the money they are about to get whenever the Bale saga ends. Spurs will once again threaten to make the top four until the very end.
4. Arsenal - A surprisingly quiet transfer season, despite a lot of rumors, has the Gunner faithful wondering what this season will bring, but Jack Wilshere should lead this team to another Champions League berth. Arsene Wenger will once again make the moves necessary to be in the top four in the January transfer window, if necessary.
3. Manchester United - David Moyes takes over as manager, but everyone is talking about what is going to happen with unhappy Wayne Rooney. Man U needs Rooney to contend with the top teams, but Robin van Persie will have a 20+ goal scoring season no matter what.
2. Manchester City - Manuel Pellegrini joins as manager, and he takes over maybe the most talented squad on paper in the EPL. They've lost enigmatic Carlos Tevez, but added Alvaro Negredo and Fernandinho, two of the best signings this summer in the league. Sergio Aguero will be one to watch this season, as he could have a big year or be relegated to the bench because of all the talent on this squad.
1. Chelsea - Jose Mourinho returns to lead a talented squad that should be able to get back to the top. Look for Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to benefit most from a more widespread attack.
Player of the Year
5. Jozy Altidore - maybe a little homerism here, but Altidore is in great form and will need to have a productive first year for Sunderland to avoid relegation
4. Jack Wilshere - Arsenal needs a big year from JW to hold on to its perennial Champions League berth
3. Leighton Baines - the best left back in the world once again returns to Everton despite rumors of joining Moyes at Manchester United...after another stellar season, a bigger offer from the Red Devils will likely mean a transfer
2. Robin van Persie - will once again lead the league in goals
1. Eden Hazard - Mourinho will help make a great player even greater