Match of the Day 2 presenter Mark Chapman tips Arsenal for the title, and has high hopes for this year’s crop of promoted Premier League sides.
My Premier League champions
Just for something different I’ll go Arsenal. Petr Cech is a great signing for them. Listening to the pundits – which is my job after all – he will win them between ten and 15 points over the course of a season. That was the gap between them and Chelsea last year. Diego Costa aside, Chelsea were very fortunate with injuries last season. If they lose Nemanja Matic, John Terry or Gary Cahill for a long period, are they going to be able to cope?
My best buy
Cech is a brilliant bit of business, but the other one for me so far has been Ghana striker Andre Ayew on a free transfer to Swansea City. That’s a canny piece of business, and getting him so early means he’s had a full preseason with them.
The other great signing is Spurs signing Kieran Trippier from Burnley; he’s a really underrated full back and a bargain at £3.5 million.
My clubs for the drop
I think the story of this Premier League season will be that all three promoted sides will stay up. Bournemouth have a sensational manager in Eddie Howe; the club is set up through him, and he’s backed by a fantastic chairman in Jeff Mostyn. You could argue they’ve paid over the odds for the likes of Tyrone Mings – £8 million for a full back with no Premier League experience – but it’s quite good that they’re going for someone young and fresh and willing to buy into how Eddie runs a football club.
Norwich are in essence a Premier League club who kept the majority of the squad from when they went down in 2014. Their biggest worry is finding a striker who can get them 15 goals in the Premier League, but they’re no minnow. And Watford are part of probably the best scouting network in the world with their links to Udinese owners the Pozzo family.
It will be a wake-up call to several clubs in the Premier League. Much as I like Tim Sherwood and Steve McClaren, you could argue that Aston Villa and Newcastle haven’t been run as well as they should have been in recent seasons. Those two could very well be looking over their shoulders.
West Ham will be absolutely fascinating – not that I’m necessarily saying they will go down. Slaven Bilic is a little bit of a risk, and their season has been going on for a month already thanks to the Europa League. They have added pressure in that they are going into the Olympic Stadium next season, and don’t want that first game to be Rotherham at home.
My plan for England
Growing up in the North in the 80s, the England team weren’t anything to do with us because you could never go and watch them. They always played at Wembley. Historically I think northern England has had quite an odd relationship with the England team.
It was different between Euro 96 and 2007, when England played all around the country. But since they’ve gone back to Wembley, with games on a Tuesday or Friday night, a huge proportion of the country can’t go and watch them live. We should do what other countries do and travel around, play at St James’ Park or Anfield, because it’s a team for the country, not just for a part of north London.
Don’t miss a match
Stoke City v Liverpool, kick-off 4pm SS1
Monday: West Brom v Manchester City, kick-off 8pm SS1
See highlights of all the weekend’s matches, including Bournemouth v Aston Villa, Everton v Watford, Leicester City v Sunderland and Norwich v Crystal Palace on Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2