Fox Sports’ Voice of Football and Manchester City diehard Simon Hill gives us the lowdown on what to expect as the 2013/14 campaign kicks-off. 

Have you been suffering EPL withdrawal?

Absolutely –  well football withdrawal. I think it’s a long A-League off-season as well, particularly when you get to this time of year and the European seasons start to kick off. You get very twitchy. I can’t wait to see some football on TV. It’s always nice to have a break at the end of the season but after four or five weeks you start to go, okay enough.

What are you looking forward to most from this EPL season?

I think a bit more of an interesting contest. By common consent last year was, unless you were a United fan, a pretty dull season.  They virtually won it with six or seven weeks ago. With Mourinho now back at Chelsea you imagine they’re going to challenge a bit closer, as well as City and United. It would be nice to see one of the other teams give it a good go as well, an Arsenal or a Spurs or a Liverpool. But I have to say I still think they’re a little way off from doing that.

Your Fox Sports colleague Adam Peacock fancies Spurs for the title.

He’s picked Spurs to win the championship? You’re joking.

You heard it here first. Your tip?

I’m actually going for Chelsea. I don’t like to back my own team, not publicly at least. I just think Chelsea under Mourinho – he knows how to win the title. He plays the mind games brilliantly. We’ve already seen with David Moyes he’s starting to get a bit crotchety with the fixture list and he’s had a difficult off-season not being able to bring in too many players. Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City) is an unknown quantity. I think City will challenge but I just think Chelsea have probably got the all-round best balance.

Interesting, and who’s going to be playing Barnsley in the Championship next season?

I would say Hull City. Normally the promoted teams tend to struggle. I’d probably say Palace are going to have a season of struggle as well but they’ve brought in (Marouane) Chamakh which is an interesting signing. He’s obviously got a fair bit to prove but, if he can find some goals that might just save them.

First manager to get the chop?

I think it will probably be one of either Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland) or Alan Pardew (Newcastle). Di Canio I think can go either way. He brought in a lot of players so he needs to have a good season otherwise that’s going to end in tears I think.

After an eight-year trophy drought will the Gunners finally pick up some silverware?

I don’t know. It’s a good question. All the press in the UK at the moment is how Wenger’s not spent any money again. One free transfer signing (Yaya Sanogo). He’s let 18 players go, they’ve got lots of injuries and yet they beat us in a friendly last week, 3-1 in Finland. You just don’t know with Arsenal. What I would say is this, the longer this trophy drought goes on the more the pressure is going to build on him. This off-season he actually had the money to spend but he’s not done it – again. It’s almost like obstinance, like I refuse to spend the money. It’s bizarre. I don’t get it.

At least Manchester City have splashed the cash. Which new recruit impresses you the most?

Two in particular. I like what I’ve heard of Jesus Navas and he’ll give us a bit of width which is what we’ve been lacking really. Edin Dzeko’s played a lot in pre-season, he’s scored a few goals as well, so you’d imagine (Pellegrini’s) looking for wide players to give the sort of service that Dzeko likes. I’m hearing big things about Fernandinho as well. With him and Yaya Toure at the base of midfield, gee it’s not a bad base to build your side on is it? They’ve spent a lot of money so they better be good.

What is it like supporting a team that’s gone from perennial underdogs to EPL high rollers?

I’ve certainly put in enough hard yards early on in my life to enjoy this bit of success. In all honesty, putting my hard hat on, I don’t like the fact that we’ve bought success. The problem is I just don’t think there’s an alternative these days.  What other choice do middle of the road clubs like City or Villa or Newcastle have? When you look at the Champions League money that Arsenal, United and Chelsea acquire year in and year out, it makes the chasm bigger every season. So without a sugar daddy how do you compete? A few years ago we used to develop players like Shaun Wright-Phillips only for clubs like Chelsea to come and buy them off us. You can’t have it both ways. My solution, and I’ve said this before, that instead of trying to penalise aspirational clubs, I’d like (Michel) Platini to actually redistribute Champions League millions in a fairer way. I think that would set a good example but I mean that’s pie in the sky, it’s not going to happen.

Palace’s Mile Jedinak will be in the EPL this season and Schwarzer’s back-up at Chelsea. But apart from  Villa’s Chris Herd and a few youngsters, Aussies are thin on the ground.

And we still don’t know what’s happening with Herd. Is he going to play for Australia or is going to play for Scotland or is he just not bothered? That’s a real mystery for me. You look at players like Robbie Kruse, I know he’s playing in the Bundesliga at the moment, but will he use that as a stepping stone to eventually get to the Premier League? I don’t know. And is it vital that these players actually play in the Premier League? I know it’s nice for us because we can watch them every week but the Bundesliga to me is just as good a competition. There are two critical factors: it has to be a good standard and most importantly they have to play. I’m not the only one who’s a bit fearful of the number of games Schwarzy’s going to play this season. He could probably get away with it for one year in the build-up to the World Cup but some of the others around the various leagues need to start playing, really.

Who is your pick of the Aussies who could make it in the EPL?

I’d say Kruse. Robbie’s the shining light at the moment. He’s really taken his career ahead in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. I’d say he’d be the next guy who’d probably be, at some stage, looking to make the leap to the Premier League but it’s a completely different type of football and a different type of pressure as Brett Holman found out. It’s a bit disappointing Brett’s gone to the Middle East I have to say. I don’t want to smash him but it’s disappointing after one season. It is one thing going back to Holland or Germany but to go to the Middle East at 28? Come on Brett.

If you could stick a microphone in anyone’s face whose would it be?

I would say Mourinho. He’s always good value. I remember seeing him interviewed after the Champions League semi that Real Madrid lost. I was in England at the time and ITV ran out of time with their program which was so frustrating because the reporter, Ned Boulting, actually pushed him on the Chelsea gig and he virtually told him he was going, which was great television. Then they had to cut it short because they were out of time. But I think as a media man, yeah, he’s a dream – he always gives you something.

Okay it’s almost upon us. The opening weekend – the game not to miss is?

Well, being a City fan it would be City against Newcastle. Other than that I don’t know.  Liverpool-Stoke is interesting in its own way. With the hullabaloo over Luis Suarez it’s really interesting to see how that’s going to play out. That’s been really the story of the off-season, the players that want to go but are unable to: (Wayne) Rooney, (Gareth) Bale and Suarez – those are three very interesting subplots right there. 

And finally, can you finish this sentence? Watching the EPL is better than...

…watching the Australian cricket team. That should get me a lot of hate mail.

FOX SPORTS delivers all 380 matches in the 2013/14 season from this weekend and it all begins tonight, when fans can watch every match live in the opening round kicking off when Liverpool clash with Stoke City at 9.30pm AEST on FOX SPORTS 1HD & FOX SPORTS 1.