Finally, the Premier League is back. Between the lack of football, hayfever and constantly sweating due to the heat, summer has a lot of negatives. But, all that is behind us now as tonight Liverpool kick-off proceedings against newly-promoted Norwich (I never understand why the reigning Premier League champions aren’t the ones to kick-off the season, but never mind). The past four years I’ve managed to correctly predict the winner of the league, but now it’s time to see how well I do at predicting the whole league. Let me know your predictions, or what you think I’ve got completely wrong below.
20 – Norwich
Sorry, Norwich, I’ve always held a soft spot for you, but I fear this will be a short-lived stay in the top-flight. Teams who focus on attacking instead of defending can be very susceptible against top teams, and they really need the attackers to dig them out of trouble. Is Pukki the man to do that? He scored a boat-load of goals last year, but I’m erring on the side of fear for them.
19 – Brighton & Hove Albion
Surely the seasiders have had enough fun by now? Two solid years of Chris Hughton, two solid years of bargain players performing well on Fantasy Football, but a new manager, a new style and not a lot of new players: I think it’s time we big goodbye to Brighton.
18 – Sheffield United
At least with Norwich you can assume Pukki will get them 15-goals or with Villa Grealish and McGinn will aid with 15-assists; with Sheffield United I can’t see any of that. They’ll be like a Burnley or an old-style-Brighton and rely on clean sheets, but we have too many of those clubs that some of them have to be swatted back down.
17 – Crystal Palace
Your best defender’s gone, your star player is angry and wants out. Sorry, Palace, but it’s going to be a long season for you.
16 – Newcastle United
Honestly, Newcastle could finish anywhere from 10th to 20th. They’ll be praying that Joelington starts the season off all-guns-blazing and that Bruce’s tactics work. But, I can’t help but feel that sacking a world-class manager will not lead them to much glory. They’ll be safe, though.
15 – Aston Villa
The best of the new-boys, I think Villa have done decent work in the transfer window (and I don’t buy the notion that they’ve ‘done a Fulham’), as well as retaining star players such as Jack Grealish. They’re a club which belongs in the Premier League and I don’t think they’ll squander the chance.
14 – Watford
They flattered last year, but I think it was a flash-in-the-pan and they’ll begin a downward spiral that will culminate in a relegation in a couple of years (if not sooner). I can’t see their signings being too exciting and I think 14th is probably the peak of their powers. I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if they were much lower come May.
13 – Burnley
No Europa League football and less expectation on them means they can have a safe, comfortable season being the Burnley we all know-and-hate. Just don’t let Joe Hart play.
12 – Southampton
They haven’t sold anyone to Liverpool this year. The optimist will they Liverpool have learned their lesson; the pessimist will say Southampton haven’t got any players worth taking anymore. I fall into the latter category. But, with Ralph in charge I think they’ll be fine; they just need players like Ings to stay fit for longer than a fortnight.
11 – Bournemouth
I tossed a coin and West Ham won. Bournemouth have a fantastic squad, but as a team they can be so inconsistent I can’t ever think of them truly breaking in to the big-boys’ club at the top end of the table. More good stuff from King, Wilson, Brooks or Fraser, though, and Bournemouth will have a lot of eyes around them next summer.
10 – West Ham United
Top keeper. Brand new expensive striker. Faith of the coin-toss on their side. Top-10 for West Ham in a very comfortable season.
9 – Wolverhampton Wanderers
They haven’t strengthened too much, and when you throw Europa League football and second-season syndrome on that it only makes me think they’ll have a poorer season; but they’re still too good to drop too far down. Solid at the back, decent in midfield and their strikers will get goals: they’ll be fine for a top-10 finish.
8 – Leicester City
They’ve sold Maguire without really replacing him, but I still think Leicester have a decent squad, with the new additions, and a decent manager in Brendan to steer them to another top-10 finish. While I believe Everton could break the top-6, I can’t see it with Leicester, so 8th, to me, is the peak of their ability.
7 – Everton
This year’s winner of the best-of-the-rest league is Everton. With Wolves having Europa League football, Leicester selling Maguire and Everton strengthening their squad (except for centre-back), it has to be their year to finish seventh. Who knows, maybe with a bit of luck they can even challenge the big-boys to a top-6 place.
6 – Chelsea
Liverpool haven’t signed any players this year. Spurs didn’t last year. That’s not the reason why Chelsea have dropped for me. It’s because they’ve sold Hazard, Morata, Luiz and Cahill (even if three of them were bit-part players) and haven’t replaced them (aside from Pulisic). I know there’s a hype for their young players, and Lampard is back in the dugout, but I cannot see this season going that well for them.
5 – Manchester United
As a hater of Man United I often look at their transfers with envy or hatred. They needed defenders, so they spent £125m (£80m on Maguire and £45m on Wan-Bissaka) to fix the issue. However, they’ve lost Herrera and Lukaku and haven’t replaced them, so it seems like their issues are going to be up front now. Say what you want about Lukaku, his numbers were always solid. There’s probably some bias leaving them out of the top-4, but if you break their team down into defenders, midfielders and strikers, none of those categories stand out as fantastic (unlike Arsenal who have a fantastic strike force). At least they’re not sixth.
4 – Arsenal
I was expecting more from Arsenal with regards to their defensive transfers but only Tierney came in. Players from the Scottish league can be hit-or-miss so only time will tell on him, but their attack, which was one of the best in the league last year, has been improved with Pepe. I sense their season will very much echo Liverpool’s of 2013/14: ‘You score three, we’ll score four.’
3 – Tottenham Hotspur
Their place in the top-4 is guaranteed. They’ve finally strengthened their team and they’ve kept star players Kane, Aderweirald and Eriksen on their books. If Kane can stay fit, there’s every chance they’ll finish second. But will they win the league? No chance. They’ll bottle it long before May.
2 – Liverpool
Is there bias in this prediction? Probably. To manage second again requires a clean bill of health throughout the season once again. They proved in pre-season (even if pre-season should never be a method to judge) that without Mane, Salah and Virgil, the whole team feels much weaker. They’ve released a few players (and stupidly sent Harry Wilson out on loan) but haven’t brought in enough for my liking. This is probably as high as I can see Liverpool finishing (although they should comfortably finish in the top-4).
1 – Manchester City
Honestly, I would love to be wrong on this prediction. I’d accept anyone (except for Man United, Spurs, Everton, Chelsea, Leicester) winning the league to put a holt to City’s dominance, but I can’t see it happening this year. Last year they managed to win the league without a regular left-back, without replacement for Fernandinho and without star player Kevin de Bruyne. This year they’ve fixed all those issues. Three in a row.
Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below.