Image Credit: Cléria De Souza
The Premier League is back again for another season, the 132nd season of top-flight professional football played in this country. There will be goals, there will be saves, there will be debates about VAR. The season kicks off tomorrow night when the Champions of the Championship in Norwich City travel to Champions of Europe Liverpool. The only thing that’s predictable, is that nothing will be predictable. So here, we have compiled our predictions that will have absolutely no bearing on the final table in May.
Alex Woodward - Leeds fan
1st - Manchester City
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ve gone for City in the last two seasons and I don’t see any reason to change. Manchester City have again made great additions in Rodri and Joao Cancelo and haven’t lost anyone who would be vital to the squad this season (even if the loss of Vincent Kompany will hurt them, it’s not the end of the world). They still have the best manager in the league and the best team in the league which will help propel them to their third straight title, becoming the first team since their neighbours did it in 2008/09.
2nd - Liverpool
Liverpool have a great team, a great likeable manager, a fortress home ground, another Champions League in the cabinet and have not lost anyone of note from last season. Last season’s team should go down in the all-time greats for amassing 97 points from 38 games … and it’s still not going to be enough. Manchester City have only gotten better whilst Liverpool have gone sideways. Even if their team is still one of the best this league has ever seen, they’re up against the best and it’s going to cost them again.
3rd - Tottenham
Manager … sorry, coach Mauricio Pottechino will continue to work wonders with the little he gets, at least they brought a whole four players this summer … and then loaned one of them back, but anyway it’s progress. Tottenham have kept hold of their key playmakers and Pottechino continues to remind me of his mentor Marcelo Bielsa in how he’s able to adapt his players to his needs (hence Juan Foyth at right back). Whilst the Disciple of God is there, Tottenham will be fine, but they’re still a long way off a title.
4th - Arsenal
This was a tough choice, it’s the one that I’m most worried about blowing up in my face. I’ve gone for Arsenal to finish in the top four because whilst their team is arguably not as good on paper as Manchester United. The players want to be there, you can have more confidence in the manager and they’ve finally signed some defensive players. Arsenal’s strategy might still be to score more than the opposition, but there shouldn’t be any off-season distractions, that’s only going to help.
5th - Manchester United
I’m still not sure about placing this team outside of the top four, but there are too many questions, more than I have for Arsenal. Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær really the man to take this team forward? He started very well but has cooled down since. Is Paul Pogba ready to commit? He made no secret of wanting to leave in the summer. Is the depth up front good enough? Say what you want about Lukaku but he scored 15 goals last season and the Red Devils haven’t brought in a replacement. Can Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka revive the defence? Some will say yes to all of these questions, they may be right. If everyone plays up to their potential, they’ll be challenging Spurs for third, but I’m still not sure, and that’s why I can’t place them in the top four.
6th - Everton
Let’s go for the wild card. 6th could see an interesting battle between Everton, Leicester, Chelsea and maybe even Wolves. You could easily argue that Everton have had the best transfer window of any team in the top flight. Moise Kean is an incredible young player who could start scoring immediately and Gomes, Gbamin and Delph will bolster the midfield. I’m still not entirely sure about the defence but it’s always fun to gamble on an interesting choice. Why not Chelsea, I’m still not sure about Lampard after one standard year at Derby and there are worries about their forwards … oh and STOP CRYING FRANK LAMPARD! (I’ll stop now I promise)
18th - Brighton
This will go down to the wire, I have debated Brighton and Newcastle for days now. A better manager with a worse squad, or a worse manager with a better squad. Managers are replaceable, teams aren’t. I’ve therefore, less than confidently picked Brighton. Graham Potter, long term, could easily be a major upgrade on Chris Hughton, I have more faith in the former Swansea man. However, the team just is not as good, what they need is Neal Maupay, the man who should be holding the forward line for Brighton this season, to catch fire, like Murray did last season, that’s not inevitable. Adam Webster, Aaron Mooy and Leandro Tossard are great, but are they great enough for this league? I’m unsure. Again, it comes down to a matter of questions, I have one question about Newcastle, the massive downgrade in the managerial department. I have many more about Brighton and therefore have to uncomfortably put them down for the drop
19th - Norwich
It’s a risk to bet against Farke and Norwich after what happened last season, winning the league with a side that was seemingly weaker than the one that finished 13th the year before. However, Farke doesn’t have a season to get the grips with the league this time, he will have sunk before then. The team, like last year, doesn’t inspire confidence. Last year, I was wrong, this year, I’m not so sure I will be. It all comes down to whether Teemu Pukki can convert his form from last season, if Zimmerman can control the defence again and if Hernandez, Buendia and Patrick Roberts can create which is all a big doubt.
20th - Sheffield United
I like Chris Wilder as a manager, last year in the Championship review, I noted how he had overcome the adversity above him to guide his underdog team to promotion. However, I don’t think he’ll be able to cope at this level. Not because of his talent as a manager, but because of a team with little Premier League experience that doesn’t necessarily command confidence and because of the boardroom drama that’s still going on in and out of court. Wilder has proven he can take underdog teams far, and if he can overcome the boardroom issues again, he might be able to do better than many (including me) expect.
Josh Westwood - Manchester United fan
1st - Manchester City
As a United fan, this season inevitably promises to be a painful one as City and Liverpool will almost certainly be in a two horse race for the title; Gary Neville was right when he said, ‘it’s like having a choice of two blokes to nick your wife’. However, I can’t see beyond Manchester City winning their third consecutive Premier League, albeit being a close margin. They are currently everything that a team going for three on the bounce need to be- ruthless in getting rid of dead wood in the form of
Fabian Delph and an aging Vincent Kompany, and not stagnating even with the embarrassment of riches in their squad already, signing key players in Rodri and potentially Joao Cancelo. Whilst
2nd - Liverpool
Liverpool have removed much dead wood this summer they have failed as of yet to make serious improvements in their squad to bridge the gap between themselves and City; I expect them to fall just short again.
3rd - Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs seemed to find an extra gear after finally moving into their new stadium towards the end oflast season. They also seem to the finally reaping the rewards of Lucas Moura, who after a mediocre start to life with Spurs seemed to find his scoring boots as last season drew to a close. If Spurs can keep their front line of Son, Kane and Lucas fit, whilst holding on to Christian Eriksen and keeping an excellent defensive partnership of Vertonghen and Alderweireld together, they look the most likely
for 3 rd place. They have also made a brilliant strengthening of the midfield in Ndombele, who may turn out to be a bargain at £63 million
4th - Manchester United
After the abysmal end to last season, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer will be under pressure from the off. Despite this, United have made brilliant additions to the back line in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, the latter of which has the potential to create a formidable partnership with Victor Lindelöf who was the best of a bad bunch for United last season. However, United still have frailties in midfield, and the lack of a proper defensive midfielder to replace Matic is palpable, with United having no player to rival Fernandinho, Fabinho, Ndombele or Kanté. In addition, it remains to be seen whether Pogba will move up a gear and be as consistently good as the brief flashes of brilliance have shown he is capable of, of whether, with one eye on Madrid, he will falter and fall back into old ways. I predict a turbulent season for United but with them having enough to qualify for the UCL.
5th - Chelsea
Chelsea have been underrated for the coming season, with a midfield of Kanté, Jorginho and, when fit, Loftus-Cheek being able to compete with the best on their day. However, the loss of Hazard, who carried Chelsea almost single-handedly to a 4th place finish last season is undeniably massive. There are also big question marks about the ability of Frank Lampard, unproven in the premier league and with only 1 season of management under his belt, in which he didn’t set the world ablaze. Still, Chelsea have undeniable quality in key positions at GK and in their midfield and the return of RLC and Callum Hudson-Odoi should boost them just ahead of Arsenal.
6th - Arsenal
Unai Emery’s side seem to have made a very good signing in Nicolas Pépé, with the former Lille man’s impressive 23 goals and 11 assists last season added firepower to Arsenal’s attack. Arsenal’s front three of Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pépé will cause problems for any Premier League side, however, Arsenal’s problems were never going forward. They still have the worst back four among the current top 6 and are not as robust in midfield as the teams around them; this defensive fragility
will see them finish outside the top four. However, they should still have enough to finish 6th , although they may be run close by Leicester, Wolves and Everton.
18th - Sheffield United
Chris Wilder has had a brilliant last season with the Blades, although it’s always a massive leap going into the Premier League. Despite the signing of Oliver McBurnie who had 24 goals in all competitions last season, the rest of their squad will find it difficult stepping up into the top flight. They seem a very similar set up to Cardiff with Neil Warnock last season and the same fate as them this season seems inevitable.
19th - Norwich:
Norwich were brilliant to watch last season, playing an open, ball-on-the-floor style of play that whilst good to watch and effective at a championship level may not prove as effective in the top flight, when they will not dominate possession as they have done- it will be a struggle for them to adapt their style of football to this, and the lack of firepower up front compared with the teams likely to be around them will probably be the factor to seal their return to the championship.
20th - Brighton and Hove Albion
It was always risky for Brighton to sack Chris Hughton and I think it will come back to bite them, with them needing to adapt to the inexperienced Graham Potter and his style of play. They have Glen Murray; however he is 35 now and they don’t seem to be getting the goals from anywhere else. Unless there is a surprise signing before the transfer window shuts, it doesn’t look good for their Premier League hopes.
Abraham Reeve - Watford fan
1st - Liverpool
The best argument for the quality of the Premier League that we have, partially because they are still only second in the land. How legitimate that one point margin will prove this season is as big a question as any, and we can expect another installment in the highest quality rivalry the game has ever seen. Fast, direct and resolute, expect them to siege the league like they sieged Man City in the second half on Sunday.
2nd - Tottenham
There’s always a lot of cynicism surrounding Spurs, but I am one of the few (or maybe silent majority) who believes that they over-achieved last season, to keep pace despite being down to the bare bones in central midfield without Moussa Dembele. They are the best placed of the top six to push on this season. A marquee and targeted signing, the rejuvenation of their best players (many of whom were fatigued from the world cup last time out) and the indefinable boost of a new stadium places them primed for place.
3rd - Manchester City
How hungry can you get ? Surely not three courses kind of hungry… They swept Watford aside with unnecessary brutality at Wembley, but expect the waltzing to wane as the gulf narrows and the remainder of the league recall previous woes. They are undoubtedly formidable, but they haven’t added another dimension in a while, and what once worked will still work, it just won’t waltz the league.
4th - Manchester United
A real mixed bag here. Potentially the second best back five in the league on paper, and quite possibly the best kept not-so-secret-secrets in football in Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial, there is such cause for optimism here that could so quickly sour with a couple of key injuries. All depends if they get off on the right foot.
5th - Arsenal
Marauding, masterful, mesmerising are all words that describe Arsenal’s front three, with antonyms that could encapsulate their back five. A team of two halves of which the gulf has only widened this summer. Expect another entertaining ride, that ends on the up this time.
6th - Chelsea
United 2.0 in that there is scope for almost any eventuality, or no end of toxicity, coupled with well kept secrets everywhere. Fresh or at least forgotten faces mirror Frank Lampard’s youthful exuberance and energy, but so underqualified are those who they will rely on. Batshuyai and Pulisic will have a barnstorming season but inexperience will cost them. It pains me to say so, but they could even be usurped by Everton if not Leicester.
Brighton will definitely be relegated. I think Norwich and Sheffield United will be relegated too.