We're hours away from the start of the season. And we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with everyone's favourite Saturday afternoon companion, Jeff Stelling, to find out where he thinks the title will end up this season. Sit back and enjoy his thoughts on the new campaign, and then join Men United to find out (in time) why he'll be a Men United legend before long. Read the full feature here.

1 Aug 2015

Jeff Stelling

The title winners?

It's not good news for Chelsea or Jose Mourinho, we're afraid. With Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott fit again, and potentially the missing piece in the jigsaw, Petr Čech, between the posts Jeff is backing Arsenal for the title:

I'm not sure if Chelsea are as strong this season as last season. And again the transfer window has not closed yet so Jose Mourinho may well do something.

I think they're a bit more vulnerable. And of course, Diego Costa's hamstrings. You know every Chelsea fan's gonna be looking at them every single time he plays. I think they'll be right there. But if I was to be bold, I'm gonna say Chelsea to finish second. Sorry Jose.

Arsenal with Oxlade‑Chamberlain fit again, Theo Walcott fit again they have a fantastic squad. Okay defensively I still think they can look a little bit vulnerable. You know if you looked at Chelsea's back four and Arsenal's back four you would pick all four Chelsea players ahead of all four Arsenal players I think it's fair to say. But going forward they are as exhilarating as ever.

I think every Arsenal fan would have liked to have seen them sign another holding midfielder player or another defender. And look, they may do so. That's the difficulty at this stage of the season. You're not quite sure you know the squads are not finalised. But Petr Čech is a high quality goalkeeper. There was no question about that. He has still got a lot of good years in front of him.

You know if Arsène Wenger can just balance the attacking desire with a bit of pragmatism then I think that they will be the team to beat this season.

Arsene Wenger

Same top four?

Possibly, but I think Liverpool may not be far away this season. They had a disappointing season last season. But I think Brendan Rodgers has signed some fantastic players. Obviously Benteke has started brilliantly. Nathaniel Clyne I've seen on a regular basis at Southampton and he is a terrific player. Fantastic engine, gets up and down all the time. James Milner has a lot of experience there, you know. Flaminio and Ings are great additions too.

Louis van Gaal's under the most pressure by a long, long way because they've spent hugely and they've brought in some good players.

No doubt about it. Schneiderlin, fantastic in the Premier League already. Schweinsteiger if they can keep him fit. A big if. Will be terrific for them as well.

But I think the big question Manchester United fans will be asking themselves is - If they lose David de Gea, who will play in goal? Sergio Romero wasn't good enough to get in the Monaco team and the Sampdoria team over the last couple of seasons.

He hasn't addressed the central defensive situation, and up front they look like they're putting all their eggs in the Wayne Rooney basket. I'm not actually convinced they will be stronger - they need to start well.

Manchester City have spent big money spent on Raheem Sterling. Will he be a success there? Yes, I think he will. He's a quality player. I think at times he was unfairly criticised last season. He was certainly badly advised.

Then they brought in Fabian Delph, who unfortunately has picked up an early injury as well. But City's problem is they still have too many players who are, you know, getting a little bit older a little bit less athletic.

You know they have some ordinary players, Fernando, Fernandinho, defensively I think they're vulnerable as well. Mangala doesn't look the part. Demichelis is getting on in years, and I think they could be in for a relatively difficult season.

He hasn't addressed the central defensive situation, and up front they look like they're putting all their eggs in the Wayne Rooney basket.

Who are the surprise packages?

Two teams. Crystal Palace. I met Alan Pardew at Gatwick Airport this year. When he was Newcastle manager he was Mr Angry, Mr Frustrated, and sometimes his passion got the better of him, and you just see the times he hated himself. And then he went to Crystal Palace and worked wonders.

And Stoke as well. I think Stoke will have another good season. Bojan's fit. They've signed Afellay as well. I mean they've got players coming from huge clubs to come to play for Stoke. It's fantastic. I think they'll have a very good season under Hughes.

Read more about why Palace and Stoke are Jeff's surprises in 2015/16.


What about the new faces on the block? Bournemouth, Norwich, Watford.

They've all got a chance. One thing about Bournemouth is you know how they're going to play. Because Eddie Howe's team get the ball down and they pass it and pass it and pass it.

Then they've got half a dozen players who do that, and Callum Wilson who can stick the ball in the back of the net. And they're a great team to watch. A lot of big sides will go there. 12,000 people will be literally breathing down their necks.

Sylvain Distin's 37, but he's still got a turn of foot, you know, and that experience will really help. I fancy Bournemouth to survive.

I think Watford are an unknown quantity. Quique Flores, the manager, well, the manager at the start of the season shall we say. I mean it was crazy (last season with the number of managers they hired and fired). But he's got a great track record in Europe. Obviously he won the Europa League.

And Norwich, well I worry for Norwich because you know they came through the playoffs - they were fantastic in the playoff final. A lot of people have said they've got a lot of players with Premier League experience. And yes, they have, but a lot of those players were the players that took them down a couple of seasons ago, and that worries me.

Find out more about why Jeff thinks Norwich are going to struggle, his thoughts on Newcastle United and West Ham, why Jose has under cooked it this year in transfer market and why Francis Coquelin is the real deal for the Gunners.

So that's it. Jeff's preview - the full feature is here. Top stuff from the North East's finest. You can join Jeff at Men United and be the first to find out why he'll be a Men United legend before we hit May. That's our prediction this season.

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