Q&A: Mark Lawrenson, Chris Waddle & Martin Tyler

TV's top pundits say Man U will retain the Premier League, but Man City have the man to watch

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Q&A: Mark Lawrenson, Chris Waddle & Martin Tyler
Written By
Jack Seale
MARK LAWRENSON, MATCH OF THE DAY (pictured above)

Who will win the Premier League?
Manchester United. They’ve got the best 11, best squad, best manager. Their second team would finish top six. They’ve got the new players in early, so they’re up to speed in terms of fitness and coaching. You could win the league by three points, and you might gain those points in the first few weeks of the season.

The top four?
Man City have got a real chance of finishing second. Chelsea third — it’s difficult for the new manager, because they haven’t strengthened the side. And those big players are all a year older. Liverpool for fourth — they finished well last season and they’ve added Doni, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing since then. 

Arsenal still haven’t got an experienced goalkeeper, a dominant centre-half or a leader on the pitch, which Fabregas never was. I don’t understand Wenger. Spurs aren’t quite there. They’ve waited to get the right price for Luka Modric, but most of the top players who could replace him have gone.

Who's a player to watch?
Sergio Aguero. He’ll be a revelation. This lad only needs an inch of space to play in. He’s got a strong build for a small player — you cannot bully him — and an eye for goal. He’s not too dissimilar to Tevez: not as all-action, but very clever in the penalty area. I like the way South American players have got a bit of nastiness in them.

Which teams will flirt with relegation?
I have to say Norwich and Swansea. I always look at who will score the goals to keep the promoted sides in the league. For QPR, Jay Bothroyd and Adel Taarabt will score. So alongside Swansea and Norwich, either Blackburn or Wigan. Blackburn have new owners, but no players want to go there because they might get relegated. Wigan have lost N’Zogbia and Tom Cleverley and might lose others.


CHRIS WADDLE, ESPN ANALYST

Who will win the Premier League?

Manchester United have set their stall out. They’ve bought players very early, although Ryan Giggs getting older and Paul Scholes retiring are big losses. It’s not easy to find creativity in midfield — that’s why they want Wesley Sneijder.

The top four?
Chelsea will be runners-up. They have the players and the experience — but if someone said do you want the Premier League or Champions League, they’d say Champions League. It’s the one thing missing from their honours list, and I think it preys on their minds a bit.

If there’s anybody to gate-crash the top two it’ll be Manchester City. Good strike force, on a high after winning the FA Cup. They’ll not lose many games. Spurs were unlucky last year. They had injuries and they struggled against the bottom clubs, not the top teams. There are points there that would have got them in the top four. Liverpool need to sort out their defence.

Who's a player to watch?
I’m expecting big things from Luis Suarez. He’s just won the Copa America with Uruguay, looked good last season and, with the other players Liverpool have got, he’ll set the league on fire - like Zola, Bergkamp or Henry did..

Which teams will flirt with relegation?
It’s very hard for the teams coming up — the players they’ve signed have been Championship players. But apart from the top five plus Everton and Aston Villa, anyone could have a problem. Wigan will be involved. Sunderland have signed some unknown quantities. It’ll be an interesting year for Bolton — they didn’t finish well last season and haven’t really strengthened their squad.


MARTIN TYLER, SKY SPORTS COMMENTATOR

Who will win the Premier League?
Manchester United will set the benchmark again. They’ve been very quick in the transfer market. I remember saying to you last year that Javier Hernandez would be the signing of the season [he did as well - clever man. JS] – and now, David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones are potentially players who will have not just good careers, but long careers.

The top four?
Manchester City will be genuine rivals to United. They’ve built their team quickly, which carries risks — but there are rivalries at all the top clubs. City are in a good place. Chelsea still have faith in the senior members of the squad — if they stay fit they’re very good players. They won the Asia Cup without conceding a goal. I hope we have more than four teams going for the top four places.

Liverpool are fascinating. For the new players, a big club is a psychological test, but Kenny Dalglish is such a legend that you can’t be around him without feeling some of it. Arsenal should have won the league last season, but the wheels came off and they have to show they’ve got over it. There’s not much evidence that’s the case. Spurs? Sustaining success is the hardest thing to do in sport and other teams have greater resources, but Harry Redknapp’s great when the odds are against him.

Who's a player to watch?
Sergio Aguero. He has the physique to look after himself in the Premier League, and the ability to push City towards winning that or the Champions League. South Americans are really feisty competitors, and he certainly brings that. He’s the logical replacement for Carlos Tevez.

Which teams will flirt with relegation?
I like the way teams coming up now try to play rather than sneak a 1—0, and Swansea will do that. Winning games is what keeps you up, not drawing them. Norwich will come and have a go as well: manager Paul Lambert is getting a lot of praise, and rightly so. QPR will have to dig into their resources — they won’t survive without doing that, even with Neil Warnock’s experience. Sometimes you’re only as good as your budget.