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Wednesday, 02 January 2013

Will 2013 be a great year for United, Arsenal, Spurs or Chelsea?

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It's time to ring in the New. Jools Holland and company have welcomed in 2013 (but how many of the acts have you heard of?) but what does the coming year have in store?
Sir Alex Ferguson looks set for a prosperous 2013, with another Premier League title on the horizon. The Red Devil celebrated his 71st birthday on New Year's Eve. Few would bet against Fergie downing a few more glasses of red wine in five months' time. Manchester United are seven points clear of second place Manchester City. City showed their staying power last term, overturning an eight point deficit in the final furlong, but the spring failure will surely heighten United's resolve. You just can't envisage another Old Trafford collapse.
Roberto Mancini's biggest concern appears to be a resurgent Chelsea. The boys from the Bridge are third and seven points adrift with two games in hand. Rafa will never be flavour of the month, but the Blues look set for another crack at the Champions League. The same criteria applies to the defending champions. Can Mancini finally conquer his European demons in the autumn of 2013? Sadly the question may never be answered. You wouldn't bet against Jose Mourinho striding through the Eastlands entrance before the passports are stamped.
The usual suspects will contest the remaining Champions League place. Arsenal and Tottenham continue to delight and frustrate in equal measure. On their day the North London duo are unplayable. Sublime performances are always around the corner. But like a Walt Disney cartoon you know a banana skin will upset the apple cart. But has anyone played better football then Everton? Time and again David Moyes's side turn in turbo driven displays. The Toffees rarely disappoint the armchair fan. While Marouanne Fellaini grabs the headlines, you can't ignore the massive contributions of Baines, Osman and Pienaar. The rearguard isn't too shabby either. The central defensive duo of Phil Jagielka and Slyvain Distin are second to none.
Everton may be beaten to fourth, but few would begrudge Moyes's boys lifting the FA Cup. A lot depends on the draw. No-one would relish a  trip to Goodison. Tony Pulis's Stoke City are another dark horse for the cup. Stoke look certainties for a top half finish. The Potters' faithful would love to add silverware to their impressive CV. You can never discount Liverpool from going one better then last season, but the 2012 finalists are still plagued by inconsistency. Brenden Rodgers has a long term plan to bring back the glory days, but he will not want a repeat of the horror show against Aston Villa.
Villa have their sights set on the Capital One Cup. On paper the Villans should edge out Bradford City in this month's semi-final, but that was before the nightmare of Christmas 2012. Phil Parkinson and company must be fancying their chances. It is hard to look beyond Chelsea pocketing the first trophy of the season. Although Swansea City will give them a hell of a game. Like Everton, the Swans deserve a trip to Wembley. Their football would grace the arch.
The relegation issue seems clear cut. Two of the slots are unlikely to be vacated. QPR and Reading seem doomed to the drop. Harry Redknapp is facing Mission Impossible at Loftus Road. Will the transfer window offer salvation? Prepare for countless interviews through Harry's car window, but how does H sell Rangers to potential transfer targets? Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch have been linked to the Hoops. Crouch is featuring for European chasing Stoke while Lamps is back in the fold across West London. Relegation battle anyone?
Reading were always going to find the going tough. The Royals have come a long way in a short time, but this is a bridge too far. On currant form Villa would be the best bet to join them. With due respect to QPR and Reading,  Paul Lambert's boys demotion would be the biggest disaster. Aston Villa are one of the great names of British football. The kids may come good, but surely Lambert needs to recruit a few wise heads.
Their Midlands thunder has been stolen by West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies must be the team of the season. Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles on a European tour? Boing, Boing!
Calling all football fans: What are your hopes and fears for your team in 2013? Do you have enough in your squad to put a run of wins together? Can you keep hold of your star player or add quality to your squad? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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Antony Melvin



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