Premier League: who will be top and who’s for the drop?

Clubs have spent the summer wheeler-dealing to freshen up their squads with new star names. But which ones have spent wisely? Who’ll be challenging at the top, and who’ll be battling against the drop. Here are my predictions on how the final league table will look.

Ferguson and Mancini will battle it out for the Premier League title1. Manchester City: The defending champions and the team to beat this year. They have easily the best squad in the league, and that’s before Mancini starts adding some of the best players from Europe.

2. Manchester United: Always there or thereabouts but I think it will be second again for Fergie’s men. They needed Rooney on top form last season just to keep up with City and he can’t carry the team on his own again.

3. Arsenal: Another tough summer for Arsene Wenger and it looks like he’ll lose Dutch superstar Robin Van Persie. After a mad dash on the final day of the transfer window last year, Wenger has got all his business done early this time and the squad will ready to hit the ground running.

4. Chelsea: Roman Abramovich will expect to see Chelsea get closer to the Manchester teams after spending big in the summer. Fernando Torres has huge shoes to fill now Didier Drogba has departed. With the pressure of winning the Champions League now gone, Chelsea will look to regaining the Premier League crown.

5. Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers will bring his brand of passing football to Anfield but it will take time for the players to adapt. In time they will get it right but Liverpool don’t currently have the players to break into the top four.

6. Newcastle: After surprising everyone last season to finish fifth, Pardew will have to get the best out of his squad to repeat the feat. Senegalese duo Demba Ba and Papisse Cisse will be watched closely by opposing defenders and will struggle to grab as many goals again.

7. Tottenham: Andre Villas-Boas has been given a second chance to prove he can manage in the Premier League after failing at Chelsea last season. He has a brilliant squad to work with but most were very loyal to Harry Redknapp and Villas-Boas may struggle to get the players onside.

8. Sunderland: Martin O’Neill has been successful everywhere he has been and will do the same at Sunderland. After lifting the team when he arrived last season, Sunderland finished the campaign poorly. Expect O’Neill to start building a team that will challenge for the European places.

9. Everton: The departure of Jack Rodwell to Man City along with Tim Cahill leaving for the MLS will not faze David Moyes. He is used to losing his best players each summer and will again squeeze every point he can out of his thin squad to finish in the top half.

10. Stoke: Tony Pulis and chairman Peter Coates should run courses for smaller clubs looking to get into and stay in the Premier League. They have done it the right way with steady investment in the squad and solid performances on the pitch. This, their fifth in the Premier League, should be the year they break into the top ten.