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Tony Cottee: Chelsea will be back on top thanks to Carlo Ancelotti

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 October 2010

Tony Cottee names Chelsea as the team to beat in his exclusive team-by-team breakdown ahead of the new Premier League season

The Premier League returns this weekend and I think it's shaping up to be the most exciting season in years.

There are three teams battling for the title, another four fighting for a Champions League spot, a handful bidding for Europe and what looks to be an almighty relegation scrap.

Here's how I see it all shaking out...

ARSENAL

They were lucky to finish in the top four last year and Arsenal face an even tougher season this time. Jack Wilshere is a rare talent, but can he cover the losses of Adebayor and Kolo Toure?

Key man: Cesc Fabregas Prediction: 5th

ASTON VILLA

I'm a big fan or Martin O'Neill and it's great to see a manager committed to buying British players. Stewart Downing and Fabian Delph are good additions, but I think they might have to settle for the Europa League again.

Key man: Ashley Young Prediction: 6th

BIRMINGHAM

I can only see a season of struggle for Birmingham. They've brought in a few players and Joe Hart is a good signing, but £9m striker Christian Benitez is a massive gamble - it could be a year before he adapts to English football.

Key man: Joe Hart Prediction: 18th

BLACKBURN

They've got a fantastic manager in Sam Allardyce and my old team-mate Scott McDonald as No2, but it's difficult to see what they can achieve. They'll be safe in mid-table, but with no money that's all they can hope for.

Key man: Benni McCarthy Prediction: 12th

BOLTON

Gary Megson is another manager who believes in a core of British players and he's done a great job at Bolton. Gary Cahill is one of the best young centre-halves in the Premier League and could earn a World Cup place.

Key man: Kevin Davies Prediction: 13th

BURNLEY

I've got a feeling they can pull it off and escape the drop. They proved in the Carling Cup last year that they can give the top sides a game and I know from experience that Turf Moor can be a very hostile place to play.

Key man: Wade Elliott Prediction: 17th

CHELSEA

The team to catch. The problem last year was Scolari and instability behind the scenes, but Carlo Ancelotti will change all that. The front two of Anelka and Drogba could be electric and a fit Michael Essien is a big boost.

Key man: Michael Essien Prediction: 1st

EVERTON

What a fantastic season. To reach the FA Cup final and finish fifth was a remarkable feat. They might struggle to match it this year, but could do it again if Yakubu and Saha stay fit.

Key man: Yakubu Prediction: 7th

FULHAM

They overachieved last year and it was a great effort to get into Europe, but I don't think they'll stay in the Europa League for long. Their squad is too thin and mid-table looks likely.

Key man: Danny Murphy Prediction: 11th

HULL

A great achievement to stay up, but they need to get someone in to score them 10 league goals a season or they could be in danger again. Experience of last year should be enough though.

Key man: Jimmy Bullard Prediction: 16th

LIVERPOOL

It's do-or-die for Liverpool and Rafa Benitez this year. It's 20 years since they last won the league and in the five years under Benitez, they've only won two trophies - both on penalties. That's not a great record and needs to improve.

Key man: Fernando Torres Prediction: 2nd

MAN CITY

Mark Hughes will be under pressure, but he's done a great job in signing the right kind of players. They went for Kaka too early. This summer they've brought in proven Premier League performers who won't let them down.

Key man: Stephen Ireland Prediction: 4th

MAN UTD

I'm a huge fan of Michael Owen - he'll be a great signing and I desperately hope he finishes as top-scorer. But the fact remains that United have lost two of their best players in Ronaldo and Tevez and Owen can't replace them both.

Key man: Wayne Rooney Prediction: 3rd

PORTSMOUTH

Pompey are in big trouble. They've got a very small squad, players fighting among themselves and a takeover that's dragging on for months - we know how damaging that was at West Ham and it could doom Portsmouth.

Key man: Sol Campbell Prediction: 19th

STOKE

Tony Pulis was my manager of the season in the Advertiser for doing such a fantastic job at Stoke and I can see more of the same from them this year. They'll be strong at home, Beattie and Fuller will score goals and they'll outmuscle teams.

Key man: James Beattie Prediction: 15th

SUNDERLAND

They've certainly given Steve Bruce plenty of money to spend. Darren Bent is sure to score goals and with Frazier Campbell and Kenwyne Jones, they've got a £25m strikeforce that's more than good enough to keep them up.

Key man: Darren Bent Prediction: 10th

TOTTENHAM

I watched them out in China and Harry Redknapp's got a very, very talented squad. They've got big defensive problems at the moment, but Bassong is a good signing and if they can avoid a slow start, they'll be up there challenging.

Key man: Jermain Defoe Prediction: 8th

WEST HAM

It's important to keep things in perspective - we've not spent any money this summer, our rivals have strengthened and it will be tough to beat last season's position. But if we can improve on our cup runs, we can still enjoy a good year.

Key man: Carlton Cole Prediction: 9th

WIGAN

I always think they'll be involved in a relegation scrap, but they always seem to prove me wrong. Roberto Martinez will get them playing football and Jason Scotland will be a real handful for Premier League defences.

Key man: Jason Scotland Prediction: 14th

WOLVES

One of the teams to go down. They've got some talented young players in Kightly, Ebanks-Blake and Jarvis, but they're just too weak defensively.

Key man: Michael Kightly Prediction: 20th


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