Of course, things have picked up considerably in recent years, Sir Alex Ferguson's 2013 swansong notwithstanding, and 2014/15 is primed to be every bit as exciting as last season.
So... who gets the backing of our usual gang of writers?
Eurosport Roundtable is back for the new season, and once you've checked out what the gang have to say, add your own pick and explanation via the comments section at the bottom.
Alex Chick (Twitter: @alex_eurosport):
Chelsea - They have raided Spain’s elite to add Fabregas, Costa and Filipe Luis as well as welcoming Courtois, Zouma and Van Ginkel back from loan/long-term injury. And we should see more of January arrivals Matic and Salah. And Drogba’s back. You get the picture – this is a squad dripping with quality and boasting exceptional depth. Only the baffling decision not to put Fernando Torres out of his misery casts doubt over their chances, but with Costa, Drogba and false nines extraordinaires Fabregas and Schuerrle, they have plenty of alternatives. What’s more, by spending last season insisting his team wasn’t ready while simultaneously mocking ‘serial loser’ Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho has made this a make or break campaign. And who, with a gun to their head, wouldn’t opt for ‘make’?
Tom Adams (Twitter: @tomEurosport):
Manchester City - Chelsea have strengthened impressively with the additions of Costa, Fabregas and Luis but they have a huge gap to make up on City from last season. Mourinho's embarrassingly negative approach saw Chelsea score no less than 31 goals fewer than City last term and though Fabregas and Costa should make them more fluent and deadly, City are still the superior attacking force. Chelsea did concede 10 fewer than City last season, but Manuel Pellegrini's side have addressed their defence with the imminent recruitment of Elaquim Mangala and have learned from last season's defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea by bringing in an extra defensive midfielder in Fernando to close things up against the better teams. They are still the more complete side.
Sean Fay (Twitter: @Sean_Fay):
Chelsea - Jose Mourinho's men really could have won the title last season if they were just a little more ruthless against the lower teams. Out muscling the better sides was never a problem but now they seem to have polished up their squad in just the right areas. Cesc Fabregas will help unlock the more well drilled defences, Diego Costa gives them a consistent goal machine up front and Didier Drogba offers them a plan B off the bench. Fernando Torres is obviously a busted flush at this stage but the versatile and ever improving Andre Schuerrle could be developed in the centre-forward position to offer cover for Costa. What's more, if it all comes down to one massive game to decide it all, I'd back Mourinho to outwit anybody.
Toby Keel ("Twitter: v. To utter a series of small, tremulous sounds, characteristic of birdsong "):
Manchester City - City should have won the league by 15 points last season; Chelsea, without a proper striker in the side, shouldn't have even been close while Liverpool were the greatest failed sporting fairytale since Tom Watson almost won the Open aged 59 a few years ago. So why did City struggle to put it away? A combination of Jose Mourinho's nous, Liverpool's annus mirabilis and a strange lack of confidence from a City side who were miles ahead of the competition. Yet, incredibly, Mourinho has spent a huge amount on a one-season-wonder in Diego Costa (a man who used to count hitting double figures as a good season) and backed him up with a crocked 36-year-old; while Liverpool have, unfortunately, lost their best player. City, meanwhile, have spent well and will brim with the confidence they lacked 12 months ago. Arsenal and United both look interesting, but they'll both go into the season thinking that finishing second would be great - and that's not the mindset of champions. Bottom line, this time round City really will win it by 15 points.
Liam Happe (Twitter: @liamhappe):
Chelsea – There are a lot of teams who could possibly win the Premier League title this season. Pretty much the entire top five from last year plus a likely-resurgent Man United could all realistically finish in first place, if certain aspects fall their way: Arsenal's injuries and run-in, Liverpool's defending and run-in, so on and so forth. However, only Chelsea and Manchester City, for me, are certain to be involved until the very end. And after his all-too-happily sitting in the background (of the title race at least, certainly not when it comes to press conferences) last year, Jose Mourinho’s very deliberate tweaks to an already-stellar squad reek of confidence and intent. How can a punter not back a third league title for him in England?
Manchester City - Stick with what you know, and we know that City have the minerals for the task having won it twice in the past three years. They are far from certainties, but have a feeling City might just edge it. I expect Chelsea and Liverpool to again provide a decent challenge. If Daniel Sturridge stays fit, there is no reason why Liverpool can't run City close. Arsenal should get closer to the top two this season. Whether or not they can win it, is a moot point. It is difficult to see Manchester United making the jump that is needed from seventh to first, but the top four should be their first priority. If they can split last season's leading quartet, that would be progress.
Dan Quarrell (Twitter: @Dan_Eurosport):
Chelsea - For all their defensive tendencies, Chelsea came up agonisingly short last season in terms of what they were lacking. It was obvious to everyone, including Jose Mourinho, that a world-class, ruthless striker was the key factor missing, and that issue has been addressed perfectly with the addition of Costa as the lead marksman and the return of Drogba to make a physical impact when required. Nemanja Matic was superb after arriving last season and is set to further blossom into the holding role, while the arrival of Fabregas will provide the class and drive previously absent behind the wonderful group of attacking midfielders Mourinho has at his disposal. Given the perfect blend of signings over the summer, there can be no excuses if he does not lead Chelsea to the title this time.
Reda Maher (Twitter: @Reda_Eurosport):
Manchester United – Their abject campaign under David Moyes could play into United’s hands, as – without European football – they will be able to dedicate themselves to the Premier League, as Liverpool did while narrowly missing out on the title last term. While pre-season is not a reliable barometer for a team’s success in competitive matches, Louis van Gaal appears to have reinstalled the confident, winning mentality that evaporated with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. That – and a bit of guile in midfield – was missing last time out, and with Ander Herrera and a well-rested Juan Mata settling in nicely, Van Gaal could add another domestic title to his bulging cabinent.
Marcus Foley (Twitter: @mmjfoley):
Manchester United - Pre-season form means nothing, it is said. However, in the space of a few weeks, Louis van Gaal appears to have re-affirmed Manchester United’s assumed sense of footballing superiority. It was an aura that David Moyes’ dithering reign completely undermined and that aura should not be underestimated. Furthermore, they do not have the added ‘hindrance’ of a European campaign to contend with. A potential weakness is their lack of depth at centre-back but this should be the season when Chris Smalling and Phil Jones fulfil their potential.
Ben Snowball (Twitter: @BenSnowball):
Manchester City - In Sergio Aguero, they have the league’s deadliest striker; in Yaya Toure, the most dominant midfielder; and in Vincent Kompany, the finest defender. Title charges are built on solid spines and City have the strongest. It’s true that doubts persist over the key trio – Aguero is injury prone, Toure somewhat disillusioned after his birthday to forget and Kompany partial to making a costly error in the biggest games – but if they perform then the title is staying in the blue portion of Manchester.
Joshua Hayward (Twitter: @JoshuaHayward99):
Chelsea – Following one of the more memorable Premier League seasons since its inauguration, it’s hard to predict a more exciting campaign this time around. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Last year was an absolute corker, but this one will be even better. Any one of the top four sides could well go on to lift the Premier League this year, and only a fool would rule out Manchester United with Van Gaal at the helm – despite their shambolic campaign last time out. Man City, as champions, will surely be a force to be reckoned with, but, for me, Chelsea will pip them to the title in the final few weeks. Luis, Fabregas and Costa are the finishing touches on what is already a phenomenal squad, and that is why they will be crowned champions.
Carrie Dunn (Twitter: @carriesparkle):
Chelsea - I’ve been impressed with the sensible adaptation of the squad this pre-season, carefully shunting out those who’ve overstayed their welcome and bringing in people who will add a special quality to the special one’s squad.
Chelsea - 6 votes
Manchester City - 4 votes
Manchester United - 2 votes
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Jose Mourinho
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Didier Drogba
- Sir Alex Ferguson