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Hansen's Premiership Prediction

I think this season we will see the usual suspects dominating the Premiership.

I believe last season's top three teams - Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United - will again provide the top spots, although not necessarily in the same order.

It's a big season for all three.

Arsenal must prove that they have the hunger and desire to build on what they achieved last year.

Continued success is the hard part - Liverpool did it in the seventies and eighties, Man Utd did it in the nineties. Can Arsenal dominate this decade?

All the indications are that they can - they have the strength in depth, a strong defence, flair and imagination and pace throughout the team.

I think they are in with a great shot of retaining the title.

Manchester United showed in the nineties that when they failed to win anything they responded - after the '94/'95 season they came back with the double, and after the '97/'98 they responded with the treble.

When you've had two years without winning anything people say it's all over for you.

And you can bet that Fergie's men will be desperate to set the record straight.

Obviously the signing of Rio Ferdinand has been a massive boost for them.

Their problems were all defensively last season and they've now got the best defender to play in this summer's World Cup.

The other title challenger will be Liverpool.

For the first time in many years, last season Liverpool found themselves in March and April still in with a realistic chance of winning the League and the Champions League.

Although they failed to deliver they came really close and will again be a major force.

Gerard Houllier's team are getting better and better every year, but the time has come for them to deliver the Premiership title.

In the way that I can't see anyone outside those three challenging for the title, I can't see any new teams breaking into the top six.

Chelsea, Leeds and Newcastle will again make up those places.

At the other end of the table, every club will be desperate to avoid the relegation battle.

History tells us that usually the teams coming up are the ones that are most vulnerable.

And I think this season we will see that the gulf between the Premiership and the First Division is bigger than ever.

I think Manchester City will do well, but I expect West Brom and Birmingham to struggle.

The real danger for those two sides is that last season a lot of teams who had been flirting with relegation finished strongly.

Only Sunderland continued to struggle, but I don't believe for a second that they will go down this season.

Worryingly for West Brom and Birmingham, that doesn't leave many other teams.

As I have already hinted, Manchester City could prove to be one of the season's surprise packages, and I expect them to comfortably finish mid-table.

Manager Kevin Keegan has got a great record of bringing teams into the top division and doing well, and he has also bought wisely.

City are great to watch and have got great support at Maine Road - all the ingredients are there for them to have a great season.

Another surprise package might be Blackburn, providing they can keep hold of their best players.

Graeme Souness' team have got goals written all over them, particularly with the addition of Dwight Yorke.

With the Yorke and Andy Cole partnership reunited, plus the likes of Matt Jansen, Damien Duff and David Dunn, Blackburn could have a very successful season.