ANYONE who has been following the site will know Chelsea are my picks to win the Premier League but I expect it to be another close-run race.

Last season it was thrilling three-way fight between Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool before the Etihad outlasted their rivals to take the glory.

Arsenal set the early pace but Man United were never in the hunt and boss Davie Moyes lost his job and the club ended up not even making into Europe – and as Liverpool proved last season that isn't necessarily a bad thing when you're talking about the Europa League.

The Premier League lead changed 25 times last season and it promises to be another fascinating battle for the title and Champions League places.

Louis van Gaal should return Man United to where they belong but unless he strengthens again before the window shuts I can't see the Old Trafford men finishing head of the pack.

United kick off the Premier League season at home to Swansea at lunchtime and should win but a defence that needed strengthened has been weakened by the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra while new boy Luke Shaw is injured.

Chelsea on the other hand have addressed their main problem area by signing Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid – as well as bringing back Didier Drogba – and he's been joined by left-back Filipe Luis and keeper Thibaut Courtois. All won the title with Atletico and could be celebrating again as Jose Mourinho looks to stamp his authority in the second season of his return to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues finished just four points off the top last term after a late collapse but Costa can fire them to glory in the way Fernando Torres couldn't.

My only concern about the Blues is the price – and a best 2-1 with William Hill, Betfred and Paddy Power is short when you consider the quality of the sides chasing them.

Man City are likely to be their closest challengers and boss Manuel Pellegrini hasn't tinkered too much with a winning formula, signing Porto's Fernando for £12m and Malaga's Wilfredo Caballero for £6m. But his hands are tied slightly by the financial fair play restrictions which explained the capture of Frank Lampard. City are second favourites at 13-5 at Paddy Power and Coral and that's where they should finish.

If I'm right that will leave Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool fighting for the remaining two Champions League spots. The Gunners have shown their intention by splashing out £50m with Alexis Sanchez the big-name capture from Barcelona.

Arsene Wenger's men have looked good pre-season and after their trophy drought was ended last season the pressure on the French boss to deliver has subsided. On thing he always does is qualify for the Champions League and third place will do it. Arsenal are a biggest 13-2 at Coral and Ladbrokes for the title.

Liverpool had to lose Luis Suarez after one bite too many and they've spent the £75m from Barcelona wisely – but the way he played last season and linked with Daniel Sturridge probably made Suarez irreplaceable.

Boss Brendan Rodgers has captured the likes of Southampton trio Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren as well as Benfica's Lazar Markovic although Lallana and Markovic will miss Sunday's opener with the Saints.

So the Reds won't be far away but could rue having to let Suarez go and bookies agree with Liverpool out to 12-1 with the likes of McBookie.

Looking at the current squads I'd put Liverpool ahead of Man United unless van Gaal brings in some big-name defenders. United are 5-1 with most bookies and after the big five the lowest-priced side are Mauricio Pochettini's Spurs at 66-1 across the board.

At the other end of the table the market has been rocked by Crystal Palace losing boss Tony Pulis. That meant the sack race was won before it started and well done to anyone who backed the ex-Stoke gaffer at 40-1 before news broke of his bust-up with the board.

Pulis kept Palace up last season and without him they could struggle. They are now 2-1 second favourites behind Burnley to go down.

I'd reserve judgment on the Selhurst Park men until a new boss is appointed but I agree about Burnley. They are 8-13 at Ladbrokes and Paddy Power for the chop and I can't see them surviving. A better price is 11-5 at Ladbrokes to finish bottom.

West Brom could be in trouble if Alan Irvine doesn't make a fast start and QPR are 21-10 at Paddy Power to return to the Championship.

For Premier League top scorer I'm backing Costa at 7-1 with Betfred and each-way could be taken for a top-four place.

Man United's Robin van Persie, who will miss out against Swansea, is 5-1 favourite with McBookie and others ahead of 6-1 Sturridge who could miss his buddie Suarez.

Bookies will have taken one look at the opening Premier League fixtures and launched a pick-axe in the direction of the computer that picked them.

The big five have been handed games they’ll fancy winning and big hitters will put all of them on an accumulator. One factor in favour of the bookies is the fact matches are spread over three days starting with Man Utd at home to Swansea at lunchtime today and Chelsea travelling to promoted Burnley on Monday.

When you pick five there is always a chance of one letting you down but I can’t resist this line at a best 9-2 with William Hill and McBookie.

The other matches are Arsenal at home to Palace and tomorrow Liverpool against Southampton tomorrow and Man City at Newcastle. Arsenal could hurt a Palace side without Pulis while Liverpool face an all-new Saints.

City on paper face the toughest test at a Newcastle outfit also much-changed but I expect the champions to make a winning start.

It’s United who get us under way at 12.45pm on Saturday against a Swansea side who have lost three of their first-choice back five over the summer in keeper Michel Vorm, left-back Ben Davies and centre-half Chico Flores.

Pre-season friendlies don’t mean much but Louis Gaal notched up victories over Real Madrid, Roma and Liverpool with United scoring three goals in each game.

I’m backing them at 4-11 with William Hill and Betfred and United to score three or more pays 6-4 at Coral.

Wayne Rooney is United’s new captain and in van Persie's absence I’m on him to celebrate by scoring the first goal of the Premier League campaign. He is 7-2 at Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.

Elsewhere best bets could be Stoke who are a best 20-21 with BetVictor at home to Aston Villa. The Britannia is one of the
toughest places to visit and with Villa threatening to be no better than last season struggle I’ll be on the home.

Antepost tips

Chelsea win title
Costa ew top scorer
Burnley finish bottom

Day 1 tips

Big five
(9-2, William Hill, McBookie)

Rooney to score first
(7-2, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes)

(20-21, BetVictor)

  1. Chip 8 years ago

    Woohoo!! Thank you, Mr F. It was worth the wait :D

  2. Johnny J 8 years ago

    fabregas e.w top scorer 100/1

    (but costa is a top pick will he take pens? and freekick?)

    lambert to be sacked before xmas price??

    • Mr Fixit 8 years ago

      Johnny J, Costa is likely to take pens but we won’t know until they get one. Lambert could be off if he has another poor start – Pulis waiting in the shadows to take over first struggling side to have a vacancy I’d imagine but that could be West Brom.

    • Jack Fenn 8 years ago

      I would call it unlikely that Costa takes penalties. For me it’ll more than likely be Hazard who even took a couple when Lampard was on the pitch last year. He’s only ever not scored one penalty, which was saved. He’ll most likely be 2nd choice though.
      Fabregas is 100-1 for a reason, Mourinho has said he’ll play central midfield most likely in a 4-3-3, for me no value.

    • Jack Fenn 8 years ago

      Tad confusing there. I won’t be backing any top scorer. But Costa will, I imagine, be 2nd choice penalty taker behind Hazard.

    • Mr Fixit 8 years ago

      Jack, Costa took them at Atletico but unless Chelsea have said who’ll be on them or they get one we won’t know. Hazard remember wasn’t a Mourinho favourite last season.

  3. gazza1 8 years ago

    Top scorer for me has to be aguero if he stays injury free. I think rvp will miss too many games ( not getting any younger) and Costa will need some time to settle.
    I’m going title winners Chelsea and city arsenal and Liverpool to make up the top 4 but not necessarily in that order ( think arsenal could go very close)
    have a profitable season dude’s

  4. Duncan Poundcake 8 years ago

    West Brom v Sunderland looks like a no one wants to lose game – small stakes on ht/ft ,West Brom/Draw @ 17/1 and Draw/Draw @ 4/1 : 20/80 GL all

  5. gazza1 8 years ago

    For the drop I’m going for
    Burnley (obvious)
    wba ( complete mess)
    palace ( Tony pulis did an unbelievable job last season I will go as far as to say no manager in world football would have achieved what he did not even mourinho so no matter who comes in they are doomed)

  6. John 8 years ago

    Outside bet could be Newcastle to make the top 6, last time i checked Patrick Power had them at 9/1, just a thought and maybe worth a small bet

    • Mr Fixit 8 years ago

      John, I’m not with you on Newcastle. It’s the big five then Spurs or Everton for me.

  7. Ad 8 years ago

    I think there’s a chance Costa won’t prove to be quite the player people think he is this season. He was in the perfect place at the perfect time leading athleticos line last season, and with having to adapt to a new team, a new culture and a new league, I think he’s too short at 7/1. I’m not saying he won’t do very well- if he starts up front every game for chelsea he’s bound to score some goals- but he’s only had one season in football as a proven scorer at the top level, and I don’t think that’s enough to guarantee he will be a hit in England straight away. Though I’m not his biggest fan, I think Rooneys a better bet at 12/1. He’s a proven scorer in this league, is now captain and likely to play all the time, and doesn’t have the midweek champions league games be rested for
    At the weekends. Ramsey @ 66/1 each was looks worth a go too. If he stays fit all year who knows, the boy scores goals for fun these days.

    • Jack Fenn 8 years ago

      Although you could be correct with your words for Costa needing time to adapt. This one-season wonder thing is somewhat of a myth. Considering the season before last where he was played out of position to accommodate Falcao over the past 2 seasons he’s averaged a goal every game and a half. He also had one rather decent 6 month loan spell maybe a year before that.
      Then again…our record with ‘proven’ stikers is something you may want to be wary of :D

  8. kris 8 years ago

    with all the respect mr F, i have to say my thoughts about the top scorer. costa he was amazing in la liga, but i dont think that he will be the same how he was in atletico. one very good example is TORRES. different kind of football : in England you see more strong games and in Spain more technical games. costa he become the costa who we see today after the perfect team spirit of atletico or better their coach. chelsea can win the title but the top scorer from other team. dont forget that mourinhos lovely player is drogba. maybe costa will fit not like torres. i dont say that you will be wrong for 100% but you can see and other options for example: shurle, aguero, dzeko, negredo, rooney, van persie. i see chelsea to win the tittle and the top scorer to be from city or utd. more chances i give to utd because we will dont play in eu cups. so i will take rooney or van persie.

    • Mr Fixit 8 years ago

      kris, it’s an open market that anyone you’ve mentioned can win. Costa’s always impressed me and remember Torres was brilliant for Liverpool for a few years when he arrived from Atletico Madrid.

  9. Rookie 8 years ago

    I think hazard will take penalties/ freekicks.

    • Mr Fixit 8 years ago

      Rookie, time will tell. Doesn’t always matter as clubs often change if a player misses one.

  10. Scuzzle 8 years ago

    I’ve done Burnley to be bottom of the league at Christmas @ 3.6.
    Chelsea and Man Utd in first two weeks then away to Swansea, Crystal Palace and Leicester should be enough to see a bad start and get the heads down before the international break then Arsenal, Spurs and Stoke await straight afterwards.
    Fairly confident about this.

  11. Alex 8 years ago

    Liverpool to finish top 4 @ 11/10

    This is something I wrote to someone that is close to us all prior to the Racing post pull out. I would add that this bet has seen some more money as a number of bookies have cut their odds. Liverpool have a tough start with Spurs and Manchester City following on from Southampton and so there may be slightly better odds available in a couple of weeks, especially when you consider United’s easy start. Although the article seems LFC v MUFC, I do not necessarily think that Liverpool cannot finish any higher.

    Morning xxxxxx

    Before the Racing Post beat me to it, I believe the above is a value bet in my book. Liverpool were initially as short as 4/6 and I was not prepared to touch it back then. I think United have been over egged while they have lost some key players in defence such as Evra and Vidic. Ferdinand less so but he could have still done a job. I don’t particularly rate Luke Shaw that highly at the moment. He looked exposed up against the quality of Bale and light weight. Bad mistake in letting Evra go this season in my book. A back 5 De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Evans and Shaw (maybe Smalling) is weak and will struggle v the big boys. Yes no Champions league football but an extremely unbalanced squad including up front with the dilemma of Mata/Rooney/Kagawa and how to fit them all in. Midfield is unimpressive (granted not seen their new midfielder much). More upheaval, change of tactics and a weaker squad at present to that of last year. Still open to the most improvement, I just don’t see them finishing above Liverpool.

    Liverpool have “only” lost Suarez their most influential player but also their largest distraction that was not due to play until October so not that much of a loss since they have recouped good money. That money has been invested in players that will hit the ground running when called upon in Lallana (injured), Lovren (will go straight in in my book and to add he will be a colossus) and Lambert. No time needed to adjust. Origi is on loan and there is of course Markovic and Emre Can (who admittedly I have not seen enough of). Markovic is one of the best players out of Serbia (my mate from over there tells me this). I’m also told no Serbian wide player has really made it in the Premier League. You may recall Tosic of united. Defensive reinforcements are in the pipeline as well which is where Liverpool had issues last season. On the whole the squad will have been together a season longer under the stewardship of Rogers who will get more out of them. I expect Sterling to be a key player, who will play as a forward or not far off Sturridge. I also see one more big signing as we have not spent the Suarez money yet. I would love that to be Reus :) I am not fond of more than 4-5 signings per season (see Spurs) but don’t seek it being a problem here as only 1-2 at present are likely to get in the first 11 the rest are for the squad, competition etc and will only be used when ready.

    I’ve already given you my views on the other teams that will challenge, Chelsea for me will win this hands down due to the manager. Arsenal will push again but have such an injury prone team and lack leaders in both defence and midfield. If you stuck Vierra, Adams and Seaman in that team I am certain they would go close to really close to winning the league. They have also lost Sagna I believe. Sanchez will help but I cannot get over their lack of spine. Man City could go either way. A lot will come down to the players desire to retain their crown. I just don’t see that same team spirit that I see at Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

    Finally any teams in the Champions league will fight tooth and nail to stay there with the BT deal kicking in next season. I would rather Liverpool go out at the group stages and secure their place for the following campaign as that will enable them to continue to strengthen.

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