New football season

Full-time Fletch... on the new Premier League season

By Darren Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Full-time Fletch... on the new Premier League season

Related tags: Champions league, Premier league, Uefa champions league

The return of the Premier League promises much, including the potential for the so-called smaller teams to make strides in catching the 'top four'.

The Premier League is back this weekend, and looking ahead to the coming season, there are probably six teams who can be considered genuine title contenders, and a further two more in the hunt for a Champions League place.

Big games on BT Sport

Manchester City v Sunderland (13 August, 5.30pm)

Leicester City v Arsenal (20 August, 5.30pm)

Clubs further down the league are now able to buy quality players with the money available from the new television deal.

It used to be the private domain of the so-called top four teams, but now you have smaller teams looking to sign high-class players because they see a chance of breaking into the Champions League places. What Leicester did last year has given other clubs belief that – if they go about things in the right way – they can compete and have success. It will make the Premier League so much better for everybody.

Fletch's Premier League predictions

Last season I tipped Man Utd for the league and am doing so again. I think the two Manchester clubs will be really strong and push each other all the way.

1. Man Utd

2. Man City

3. Spurs

4. Chelsea

Relegation: Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull

For a few years now, top players have been moving to other European leagues but over the course of this summer we have seen a shift with players now wanting to come to England. Yes, there’s a lot of money involved, but it will be refreshing for supporters to see and it will boost the quality on the pitch.

On last season’s champions Leicester, they have signed some good players with pace and skill and have strengthened their squad for a crack at the Champions League. I still think Jamie Vardy will score goals and players like Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater will perform.

But losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea means they have lost the heartbeat of their team. That type of player is so rare to find. The whole team defended so well last year and kept so many clean sheets. Can they be that good again? For me it’s hard to see.

The added stresses and strains of playing in the Champions League will make things much tougher and the best they can realistically hope for is competing for a Europa League place and maybe a cup run. If they do that, it’s still a fantastic achievement.

Related topics: Sport

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