So, a new season is upon us quicker than you could say “Gary Lineker in his underpants”. How will your team get on? Here’s your
definitive probable guide to this season’s Premier League…
- Manchester United
My choice for the title is Mourinho’s new men. Much has been made of United’s transfer dealings, and the arrivals of Pogba, Zlatan and Mkhitaryan stand them in much better attacking stead than under LVG. Mourinho is a winner, he’ll have them whipped into shape and fighting for the title extremely quickly. Conte and Guardiola have harder tasks to get the title.
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
2. Manchester City
City’s biggest signing of the transfer window is Guardiola, a man who’d turn any other team in any other league into the best almost immediately, but this is the Premier League. If Pep has them playing exquisite tiki taka well enough by November then Mourinho should watch out. Aguero should be top-scorer under Pep’s tactics and that should be enough to make them United’s closest challengers.
Key Player: Sergio Aguero
The big question for me is ‘why haven’t Chelsea bought a defender yet?’. They were woeful at the back at times last season but yet they’ve not spent a penny on their defence as the new season rolls into town. Even more bizarre when you consider that new boss Conte loves 3-5-2. Their saving grace for me is the lack of European football; this should leave no excuses for a title challenge. N’Golo Kante is, for me, signing of the summer, he’ll win you 15-20 points a season alone.
Key Player: Eden Hazard
Much like Chelsea a world-class centre-half is still needed, something that should’ve been targeted before injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel. Olivier Giroud is often a scapegoat for Arsenal’s shortcomings, but the need for, at the very least, someone to actually challenge him is far too obvious to any onlooker. Granit Xhaka is a good piece of business and someone who should flourish in the Prem. Currently not title challengers on balance, but with 2-3 more signings they could threaten higher.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez
Liverpool are probably the hardest team to predict. Every year their fans are filled with optimism about what they could achieve, this season is no different. Klopp should have found his feet by now, and Mane is a top signing. They’ve addressed the problem with Mignolet, only for Karius to get crocked, so they’ll be in for an interesting start. They should push on this season, but I’m sticking my neck on the line placing them above Spurs.
Key Player: Phillipe Coutinho
Mauricio Pochettino should be nothing but delighted right now. At time of writing Spurs have lost none of last season’s key players and picked up too very handy footballers in Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen. The only concerns are a potential hangover from their collapse after the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ and how the squad will deal with the added pressure of the Champion’s League. I’m predicting a big season for Erik Lamela and a strong attitude could see them into 5th.
Key Player: Christian Eriksen
7. West Ham
West Ham have done arguably the best transfer business, and more should be expected with the Olympic Stadium move. They’re probably still one step away from moving to the next level of the league table. Another solid season.
Key Player: Dimitri Payet
Leicester fans can’t (and won’t) expect the same highs as last season’s title winning campaign. If they keep Mahrez they’ll have a good platform to build on. With Kante the only major name out the door at the King Power they should claim a top-half place.
Key Player: Jamie Vardy
Ronald Koeman has taken quite a risk, in taking this job and leaving Southampton, but a man willing to gamble like that could be exactly what Everton need. Have to keep hold of Lukaku or they’re stuck in a worrying rut.
Key Player: Romelu Lukaku
Stoke are a team on the up. A team on the up who realistically won’t go anywhere further up the table. They’ve no hope of keeping up with the mega-money above them in the table, but they’re now far too good to go down. Stuck in mid-table forever?
Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Losing Koeman, and Mane, is a big blow for the Saints and they’ll struggle to live up to last season’s highs. As previously mentioned their former gaffer could live to regret it. Puel seems a safe, but uninspired choice as manager. Hojberg is a good signing. Probably looking down rather than up this time around.
Key Player: Shane Long
Moyes has probably found himself the perfect Everton-esque job and he should serve them well. They’ll just be hoping to be safe well before their usual end of season great escape would finish. They should manage that. Should make a couple more additions by the end of the window too.
Key Player: Jan Kirchhoff
My surprise package, they’ve signed plenty of players, but they’ve bought well and their manager is superb. They’ll easily out perform the other two promoted sides, and they look in much better shape to take on the rest of the Premier League’s bottom half.
Key Player: Daniel Ayala
Losing Ashley Williams is a huge loss, and one that could easily send Swansea into turmoil. They’re a club going backwards and they’ve got to be careful not to fall out of the top-flight. New owners could help. They should have enough to keep them up and they’ll be praying Fernando Llorente produces his form of old.
Key Player: Gylfi Sigurddson
15. Crystal Palace
My outside bet for relegation. Poor Alan Pardew mustn’t know what he’s doing wrong, luckily for Palace their emphatic start to last season saved them from their second-half plummet. If that form carries over they’ll be gone. With Pardew you never know. Easily stronger than the bottom 4 and should be aiming to finish higher than this.
Key Player: Yannick Bolasie
16. West Brom
Baggies fans will probably be hoping their opposition haven’t been looking at their woeful pre-season results. Chinese investment is yet to surface any fruitful transfer dealings. Pulis’ record is good, but their squad looks woefully weak this year. Relegation battle ahead.
Key Player: Saido Berahino
Eddie Howe is a superb young manager and he did exceptionally well to keep them in this division. They’ve signed some young players which shows their willingness to build for the future and will stand them in good stead if they do drop down. It’ll be close, but they’re youthful confidence should pay off.
Key Player: Callum Wilson
Once Ighalo and Deeney’s goals had dried up toward the end of last season their struggles were clear for all to see. Why they’ve let Quique Sanchez Flores go is beyond me and Walter Mazzarri is likely to have a long season ahead.
Key Players: Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo
Every time Burnley get promoted they seem to be preparing for the following season back in the Championship. Signing players from Charlton is hardy going to inspire the fans. They’re too small a club to cope straight away, if they can manage to keep their heads above water they have to be more ambitious next time around.
Key Player: Andre Gray
Doomed. No hope. Give up now. I’m yet to read one of these prediction type pieces that doesn’t place Hull rock bottom. At time of writing they have no chance. The only surprise is that more haven’t jumped ship. They need to turn things around at the club very quickly or you worry this could be a record-breaking season… for all the wrong reasons.
Key Player: Abel Hernandez