COMMENTARY | I'm a big fan of prediction pieces, if for no other reason than they go to show how little so many of us knew before a season kicked off.
It was just one year ago, after all, that many were certain that Manchester City was destined to repeat as champions and begin a new run of Premier League dominance. Now here we are about to kick off the 2013-14 season, and both City and its Manchester rivals are set to begin new eras.
Football really is a funny old game.
3 not-so-bold 2013-14 Premier League predictions: Chelsea will win the league
The Blues have been the sexy pick to win it all since the return of Jose Mourinho, so much so that some have named the Chelsea boss as being the real signing of the summer. Predicting that Chelsea will win it all has become so hipster, in fact, that I've seen some pundits instead choose the likes of City and even Tottenham (seriously) as their to-be champions, presumably doing so just to be different.
I find that being unique is often overrated. You could debate that City's squad is overall better than is Chelsea's, and Manuel Pellegrini has the skills necessary to win a trophy with that team. The "Special One/Happy One" didn't return to finish second. Truth be told, I could see Chelsea running away with this a la United last season if the two Manchester clubs stumble coming out of the gate.
3 not-so-bold 2013-14 Premier League predictions: Tottenham Hotspur will finish above Arsenal
I'd hit out at myself for being a homer here, but the truth of the matter is that several Arsenal supporters I know feel the same way. Gareth Bale or no Gareth Bale, Tottenham is right now better off than it was a year ago, impressive for a side that finished the campaign with a franchise-record 72 points. Add the signings of Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue with whoever else may be coming in before September, and you've got the makings of a Champions League squad.
All the while, Arsenal is apparently waiting for Liverpool to take back its vow to not sell Luis Suarez.
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas had what may have been the most important season of his managerial career last year. Gone are the bad memories from his tenure at Chelsea, and here to stay is a reputation that had AVB linked with the Real Madrid and Barcelona gigs a couple of months ago. Just this week, Paulinho told reporters that Villas-Boas was a big reason the player chose Spurs over any other EPL suitors.
If Tottenham majority shareholder Joe Lewis is serious about giving Levy a blank check, we could be looking at a real shift in the balance of power in north London. I understand Spurs supporters have been down this road every season over the past several years, but it has to be said: If not now, then when?
3 not-so-bold 2013-14 Premier League predictions: United won't win a (meaningful) trophy
This is not me having a go at David Moyes. I think he's a fine manager, and that he will ultimately shine at the club. He is, however, replacing a legend in Alex Ferguson. Some hiccups along the way are to be expected.
United are right now a team in waiting. They're waiting for the Wayne Rooney situation to be resolved. They're waiting to sign Bale (it's not happening). They're waiting to sign Cesc Fabregas (probably not happening). They're waiting to sign Luka Modric or Mesut Ozil (more possible). That's a dangerous way to enter a season that begins with an away fixture against Swansea City, a home game against Chelsea, an away match versus Liverpool and then a September 22 showdown with City at the Etihad.
Patience will be the name of the game at the kickoff of the Moyes Era. Remember that, United fans, if your beloved club is fighting to remain in the top three come next spring. Everything will be fine. Order will eventually be restored.
You can't win it every year, after all.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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