Where will your side finish in 2012-13? With the season just one week away, our pundits have put our heads together to give you a comprehensive set of predictions.
Opinions and analysis on all 20 Premier League clubs are given here by 12 of our writers and pundits here at HITC Sport. On the basis of the predictions from our 'daring dozen' we have calculated how the table will look come next May.
How does it work? All the predictions are totalled together, the team with the lowest score will finish 1st, and the highest will finish 20th. Here are the predictions for your club.
Verdict - Sunderland will finish in: 10th
Highest prediction: 9th, Lowest prediction: 14th.
Dan Coombs: 11th; There were high hopes for Sunderland going into this summer, but they are yet to make a major statement of intent in the transfer market. Martin O'Neill will continue to get the best out of the players available, but a top half finish may be just beyond them. A proven goalscorer will be needed if they are to make the jump to qualify for Europe.
Vic Daniels: 13th; Not even Martin O'Neill's magic will result on a top half finish
Mathew Nash: 10th; Star Player – Seb Larsson. Top Scorer – Stephane Sessegnon or a new signing. Peaks and troughs for Sunderland next season, with inactivity in the transfer market likely to stall there early progress. However, the Martin O’Neill factor is paramount to any success and in many ways he is there key player. On the pitch mind, Seb Larsson should continue on from last season and be a potent threat from dead ball situations while James McLean will also continue his progression. Will face a big challenge from QPR however.
Tomo Taka: 10th; A good manager who will organise them well, Martin O’Neil has succeeded wherever he has gone and in his first full season, should take Sunderland into the top-half. Sunderland look assured defensively with Wes Brown, John O’Shea and new arrival Cuellar but they only have 3 strikers and not one is likely to score too many goals. Sunderland need a striker but a lack of significant improvements will not see them finish any higher. Sessegnon will be their best player. The winger scored 7 goals and made 11 assists last season in the league. The new season will be his 3rd season in the Premier League and Sunderland fans should see further improvement particularly as at 28, Sessegnon will be coming into his prime. The biggest challenge will ultimately be scoring enough goals. Their top scorer last season was loanee Nicklas Bendtner who only managed 8 goals. A solid defence compensates for their lack of attacking potency but a new striker will be essential if they are to finish any higher.
Jake Lane: 13th; Martin O’Neil’s men will finish thirteenth – the same as last season. They will not improve on this, simply because they will miss Nicklas Bendtner up front, Stephane Sessegnon and Seb Larsson will have too much to do between them and Lee Cattermole is a loose cannon.
Nigel Owen: 14th; Sunderland would have been hoping to improve on their 10th place in 2010-11 last season, but it wasn't to be, and the poor form in the first half of the season saw Steve Bruce depart and Martin O'Neill take up the reins. I'm more sceptical than most about O'Neill's abilities. He makes a team of below average players, play better as a team, but I don't believe he can perform the same trick with good players, and hence, while Sunderland will never be easy to beat, and will always be capable of an upset or two, they are destined for a lower middle finish. Sebastian Larsson on his day will cause the best teams problems, and scored 6 goals in the first half of last season, but couldn't keep up that rate in the second half. A small improvement in that strike rate, and the strengthening of the back line due to the incoming Carlos Cuellar, will see Sunderland in a similar finishing position to last season.
Surya Solanki: 9th; If Martin O’Neill is able to continue with his phenomenal managerial skills, which I expect he will, Sunderland should be able to finish in the top half of the table. They look stable on all fronts and the return of Fraizer Campbell will add the much-needed attacking prowess and impetus to the team.
Paul Moore: 13th; Martin O'Neil is a great Manager but needs investment. Despite having three ex Manchester United players I think they will struggle. In serious need of a goal scorer.
John Aggrey: 9th; They will be ninth because I’ve always believed this man, Martin O’Neil is a great manger. Having watched him from his days in Scotland to those turbulent Villa days at the end, I don’t really see him finish in the bottom half but I see no better for the Black Cats at position 9. I'm hoping Sunderland capture their form they had at the start of O’Neil’s reign, need I say more, position 9 is not hard to get. Their Star man should be Sessegnon for me. Had a brilliant season last year and hoping he keeps his greatest attributes that attracts every football eye to this Sunderland midfielder, his ten goal tally in just 48 games should just get better and better this season. Biggest Challenge should be the late season losses that saw them sink down the table at the close end of the season.
Naveenan Thanendra: 9th; Having had a rather quiet transfer window thus far, Martin O’Neill seems to be looking to improving the club from within. As a great man motivator, he should be able to help the club continue its progress and the squad at his disposal is more than sufficient to finish mid-table. The addition of Carlos Cuellar adds more depth to their back line but it is up front that will require an addition. Sessegnon will be pulling the strings for this side, but without a decent striker his efforts will be futile. O’Neill has identified this issue and there have been rumblings of a move for Steven Fletcher, but this needs to be confirmed before the end of the window if Sunderland want to push on further up the league.
Keval Shah: 13th; QPR have an abundance of strikers that should see them safe this season. With the distracting presence of Joey Barton no longer around the squad, Hughes can focus on building a side worthy of their premier league status. I anticipate Adel Taarabt to play a more pivotal role for rangers after a difficult first season in the Premier League, and expect him to link up well with new boy Park Ji-Sung. Tony Fernandes does not seem afraid to put his hand in his pocket, so expect a few more signings before the end of the transfer window.
Khiam Barry: 13th; Martin O’Neill has stated that he need to bring in players to strengthen his team. However, with the likes of experienced players such O’Shea, Brown and Larsson, they have enough to steer clear of the relegation battle.
Connor Jipps: 10th; The appointment of Martin O'Neill revived a Sunderland squad struggling for ideas and inspiration last season and the Irishman will look to kick on this season by picking up a better points tally come the end of the season. In midfield is where Sunderland are particularly strong with McLean and Larsson capable of producing moments of magic on either wing and the central pairing of Cattermole and Colback solid, if not a bit temperamental in Cattermole's case. Carlos Cuellar has teamed up with his former Villa manager and if he can regain the form shown in his early Villa career he will prove a real coup. Steven Fletcher looks like he will become Sunderland's second summer signing for £12 million and will help to relieve the goal scoring pressure on Sessegnon and young Conor Wickham. O'Neill has a habit of getting the best out of his players on a regular basis, so don't be surprised if we see Sunderland finishing in the top half of the standings come May.
Full predicted table: (1) Manchester City, (2) Manchester United, (3) Chelsea, (4) Arsenal, (5) Tottenham, (6) Liverpool, (7) Newcastle, (8) Everton, (9) Fulham, (10) Sunderland, (11) Aston Villa, (12) Stoke, (13) QPR, (14) Swansea, (15) West Ham, (16) West Brom, (17) Norwich, (18) Reading, (19) Wigan, (20) Southampton.
Where do you believe X will finish next season?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald