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2013 CSL predictions – Evergrande to make it three-in-a-row

This year at we have decided to man up and simply predict the exact placings each team will finish in rather than use the vague banding system of last season – prepare to laugh heartily at us in eight months time. ‘s Bcheng, Cameron, Steve Crooks and GZ Biffo get together to offer their verdicts on the season ahead.

Steve Crooks: It’s hard to see anyone stopping Evergrande’s march to a third straight title — Lippi will have had time to adjust to Chinese football and his initial tinkering, with only the possibility of Guangzhou’s ACL distractions providing the beefed-up Aerbin with an opportunity. While Jiangsu Sainty may struggle to compete on three fronts, their stability and organization will see them at the business end of the table again, with Guoan unable to close the gap due to suffering from a lack of transfer market ambition.

A six-point penalty is significant in a relatively short league season, but I can see this inspiring a siege mentality which will be enough for both the punished clubs to escape relegation — I’m tipping Shenxin to struggle to improve on last year’s form, while surely Qingdao can’t put together another logic-defying survival run for a third straight year.

Shanghai East Asia will be the stronger of the promoted clubs for me, and should comfortably win the inter-city mini-league ahead of an ailing Shenhua.

1 – Guangzhou Evergrande
2- Dalian Aerbin
3 – Jiangsu Sainty
4 – Guizhou Renhe
5 – Guangzhou R&F
6 – Beijing Guo’an
7 – Shandong Luneng
8 – Hangzhou Greentown
9 – Shanghai East Asia
10 – Changchun Yatai
11 – Liaoning Whowin
12 – Wuhan Zall
13 – Tianjin Teda
14 – Shanghai Shenhua
15 – Qingdao Jonoon
16 – Shanghai Shenxin

 GZ Biffo: As far as top of the table predictions go, I’d largely agree with Steve above.  I doubt Guangzhou will fail to clinch a third title, but if anyone can stop them it’s likely to be Aerbin.  I would have said I expected Jiangsu to drop a few positions now that they’re missing Dănălache, but their performance in the Super Cup has made me re-evaluate that – Salihi looks handy enough and they looked very strong in defense.

Down the other end, I think Qingdao will succeed in avoiding the drop at the expense of two Shanghai teams – East Asia look to me like the future of Shanghai football.

1 – Guangzhou Evergrande
2- Dalian Aerbin
3 – Jiangsu Sainty
4 – Guangzhou R&F
5 – Shandong Luneng
6 – Guizhou Renhe
7 – Beijing Guo’an
8 – Wuhan Zall
9 – Hangzhou Greentown
10 – Changchun Yatai
11 – Shanghai East Asia
12 – Liaoning Whowin
13 – Tianjin Teda
14 – Qingdao Jonoon
15 – Shanghai Shenhua
16 – Shanghai Shenxin

Bcheng: Yes, there will be a new CSL champion in 2013, Dalian Aerbin’s big spending will pay off. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking as I can easily see Evergrande winning their third in a row, but I think the pressure is going to get to them. I think I have Shandong ranked higher than most, but I’m confident that Antic can bring them back to prominence. Guoan, Guizhou, and R&F are all sides that are going to fall just short of the ACL, they got better in the offseason but didn’t do enough to seriously compete over the course of 30 matches. At the bottom of the table, it will be an exciting three-way battle between Liaoning, Shanghai Shenxin, and Shanghai Shenhua, but Shenhua’s match fixing punishment will be too much to keep them up, as they go down with Qingdao. I’m also going with the prediction that David Beckham joins East Asia (or at least one of the Shanghai clubs) this summer, while Aerbin will sign Park Ji-sung or Lee Yong-Pyo when the window reopens.

1 – Dalian Aerbin
2 – Guangzhou Evergrande
3 – Shandong Luneng
4 – Beijing Guoan
5 – Guizhou Renhe
6 – Guangzhou R&F
7 – Jiangsu Sainty
8 – Wuhan Zall
9 – Changchun Yatai
10 – Shanghai East Asia
11 – Hangzhou Greentown
12 – Tianjin Teda
13 – Liaoning
14 – Shanghai Shenxin
15 – Shanghai Shenhua
16 – Qingdao Jonoon

 Cameron Wilson: I think its going to be very tight this year not just at the top but throughout the league. Last year there was only 15 points between 4th place and 15th and we could be looking at an even smaller gap this year. I can’t see Evergrande not winning the league, Aerbin will push them the same way Sainty did this year. If Evergrande get hit by injuries, Aerbin will be in with a shout of the championship.

I think Sainty had an exceptional year last year and won’t quite repeat it but they will make the ACL again I think. At the bottom, I think Shenhua will just about do it, Shenxin aren’t a bad side but I think they won’t be so lucky this year. Qingdao, well, everyone predicts them to go down each year but they always find a way to stay up, this year I think they will finally end their long run in the top division. Basically though, it’s just going to be so close these predictions could easily end up completely correct if one were able to add or subtract three points to each teams final tally.

1 – Guangzhou Evergrande
2 – Dalian Aerbin
3 – Jiangsu Sainty
4 – Guangzhou R&F
5 – Guizhou Renhe
6 – Beijing Guoan
7 – Shandong Luneng
8 – Hangzhou Greentown
9 – Liaoning
10 – Shanghai East Asia
11 – Wuhan Zall
12 – Changchun Yatai
13 – Shanghai Shenhua
14 – Tianjin Teda
15 –  Shanghai Shenxin
16 – Qingdao Jonoon

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade...

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