The new season is upon us, and fans all across the country have the excitement usually only seen with little children on Christmas Day (including me, I must admit). Amongst this delirium, I’m giving my view on who will end up in the bottom 3, who will finish in the prestigious champions league places, and who will be crowned as champions.
Without further ado, here’s me shuffling the deck and putting out my view on how the end of the season will turn out for all teams.
1st place: Chelsea. I believe Chelsea will retain their crown as Premier League champions due to the fact that their closest competitors have failed to close the gap. Manchester City havent made any world class signings and Arsenal have only signed Petr Cech, Chelsea’s backup keeper last season. Chelsea do still need some help up front as Diego Costa is very injury prone and Loic Remy isn’t the answer. Mourinho has recently signed a new four year deal with the club, that only means that the blues will be around the top three for the next few years. This year promises more silverware for Chelsea.
2nd place: Arsenal. Over the second half of last season and over pre-season, Arsenal took the league by storm, they managed to retain the FA cup and cause noise amongst the top 2. They will run Chelsea close this season for the title but I believe they will just fall short. The form showed over the second half of last season was incredible and I believe they can carry this into the new season. An enforcer is still required in the centre of midfield but if Francis Coquelin can continue his development there won’t be a need to sign someone. Second place would be a great improvement and it would really help motivate them to push for the title in coming seasons.
3rd place: Manchester United. After a busy transfer window to date, Manchester United have significantly improved their squad with a midfield overhaul. They have an outside chance of winning the league this season, but that chance would have been greater if Angel Di Maria had been kept hold of and the David De Gea saga had been resolved. Sergio Romero isn’t the answer in goal, Wayne Rooney needs some help up front and United need to find a replacement for Di Maria, whether it be from young players in the squad or from the transfer market. However, with all the question marks, this season promises a lot for United, who are a much more settled team than at this stage last season.
4th place: Manchester City. Pellegrini sacked in December? The title challenge falling to pieces by November? Champions League football in doubt for the following season? These are all concerns and predictions I have for Manchester City’s upcoming season. They can’t expect Sergio Aguero to do it all for them AGAIN. With Pellegrini at the the helm, City look like an inconsistent team with no tactical philosophy, they look lost in games sometimes. The signings they have made so far don’t make me confident that they can catch up Chelsea, and with United and Arsenal improving from last season, City could find themselves battling for Champions League football.
5th place: Tottenham Hotspur. Same old same old for Spurs, who always seem to find themselves in the dreaded Europa league spot. They’ve always been on the edge of the Champions League spots, but under Pochettino Spurs are on an upward tajectory, and even though I don’t see them cracking into the top 4 this season, I see them doing it very soon. To achieve this goal, they need some help for Harry Kane, as behind him they appear to have no strikers in Pochettino’s plans. They have made some astute signings to shore up the defence, but to get over the final hurdle they need some support for Kane.
6th place: Southampton. There must a feeling of déjà vu down on the South Coast, as yet again they’ve sold 2 of their best players from last season, in Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool and Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United. But once again they have recruited very well, bringing in players like Caulker, Jaunmi, Clasie and Soares. Koeman is a top manager who knows how to get the best out of his players, so Europe could beckon again for the Saints.
7th place: Liverpool. Selling Sterling was forced upon Liverpool by the player himself, and they got a good fee for him, but I feel they haven’t reinvested the money wisely enough to challenge for the Champions League spots. There are too many question marks with this team, with Balotelli’s future up in the air, Benteke’s ability to perform under fire already and the fact that even though there has been heavy investment into the squad, it doesn’t look like it. There seems to be a talent deficiency for what should be a top 5 team, instead Liverpool are lacking a leader on the pitch and are led by a manager who could be sacked by January.
8th place: Everton. This season should be a mini revival for the Toffees, who want to erase last season from their minds. As always, Martinez has had to work under a small budget, but he has made 2 shrewd signings, in Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley. The key for Everton to have a successful campaign is to keep hold of John Stones and get Romelu Lukaku back to his best. Also, without the Europa League to worry about, Everton shouldn’t have their squad stretched as much this year.
9th place: Stoke. Stoke have started to become the English destination for former Barcelona players, with Afellay joining, to accompany Marc Muniesa and Bojan in the side. Joselu and Van Ginkel are smart signings from Hughes, and they should certainly help improve Stokes chances of Europa League football this season. However, N’Zonzi is a huge loss to the Potters, as he was one of the best defensive midfielders of last season. Begovic is no longer in net, but hopefully Jack Butland will take this opportunity with both hands and play to the expectations many football fans have.
10th place: Swansea. Liverpool, Everton, Stoke and Swansea could finish anywhere amongst these 4 places, as I believe all 4 squads are that close. Swansea have gained considerable amounts of talent this transfer window, as they have managed to sign Andre Ayew, Eder and Tabanou. These players give the Swans a stronger squad than what they finished with last season, but we will have to wait and see whether any of these players (and Bafatimbi Gomis) can match Wilfred Bony’s production. A strong squad with a young, talented manager can only spell out good things for Swansea’s future.
11th place: Crystal Palace. Signing Yohan Cabaye was an excellent piece of business by Pardew, who has taken this Palace side from the brink of relegation to mid table. Patrick Bamford on loan from Chelsea is a signing people should watch out for, as the youngster was a class above in the Championship last season. I regard Wickham as a poor piece of business, but the Eagles shouldn’t have to worry about relegation this season with a solid looking squad headlined by Bolasie, Cabaye and Zaha.
12th place: Bournemouth. The newcomers to the Premier League will definitely cause a bit of a buzz wherever they go. No one really knows what to expect from Bournemouth, who sprung onto the scene last year winning the Championship with Eddie Howe at the helm. He’s a good, talented and young manager who has a pedigree for winning, so he won’t take any loss easily. I feel people will write the Cherries off and underestimate them, which will work in their favour as they defy the odds and have an immensely successful season. I feel their business in the transfer market has been a bit hit and miss, but they have the capability of shocking teams this year.
13th place: West Ham. After Sam Allardyce’s ugly departure from The Hammers and the loss of fan favourite Carlton Cole (😉), they turned to Slaven Bilic. Bilic has a very good reputation around Europe and seems a popular choice with the fans. Good things seem poised for West Ham, who will be moving into the Olympic Stadium next season. They have brought in 2 proven players in Angelo Ogbonna and Dimitri Payet who should strengthen the squad, but the loss of Teddy Sherringham from the coaching staff could be a big loss. I think West Ham will finish slightly below their expectations in this transition year, but they seem in a good position for the future.
14th place: Aston Villa. Sherwood saved Villa from a very embarrassing relegation last season, and he’s looking to continue their surge up the table by installing some stability at the club. He may have lost his talisman in Christian Benteke, but have recruited well with Gestede and Jordan Ayew. The potential singing of Adebayor will also help fill the void, as he hit some of his best form in his career with Sherwood at Spurs. Villa are definitely a team to watch out for this season, but the losses of Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke are huge blows.
15th place: Newcastle United. Newcastle have made some good decisions in ensuring that a repeat of last season doesn’t happen again, with Carver removed as head coach. Steve McClaren has been brought in to replace him, which worries me as he isn’t the manager he once was, getting sacked from Derby at the end of last season. However, they have made some positive additions to the squad, with Mitrovic, Mbemba and Wijnaldum all being brought in for over £35 million. These are talented players and I don’t believe Newcastle will go down but McClaren could be the man holding The Magpies back from greater things.
16th place: Leicester. After a very eventful offseason for all the wrong reasons, Leicester have brought in Claudio Ranieri to replace Nigel Pearson. They have made some low key signings to bolster the squad, with my favourites being the permenant signing of Robert Huth for £3 million, the free transfer of Christian Fuchs and the signing of striker Shinji Okazaki. He is a proven goal scorer in the Bundesliga and will definitely help Leicester fend off relegation this season. But with Esteban Cambiasso having left for Olympiakos, will Leicester be able to find the experience and quality to replace such an iconic figure from last seasons Great Escape?
17th place: West Bromwich Albion. Tony Pulis is a sure thing as manager, he comes with the guarantee that your side will stay up. I expect nothing less from The Baggies, who should expect a season of stability. All teams from 12th-17th will be on around the same points, so they could be placed anywhere within that spectrum. With question marks over Saido Berahino’s future amid interest from Spurs, West Brom could lose their top scorer come August 31st. However they are close to agreeing a £15 million deal for Solomon Rondon to potentially replace Berahino.
18th place: Watford. Watford have had a complete summer overhaul, where 10 new faces have been welcomed to the side. The one thing these new players all have in common is that they are experienced. It is clear Quique Flores wants to add some battle hardened veterans to the team, but we have seen this tactic fail in recent seasons with QPR. Troy Deeney will have to be on top form to help Watford stay up, and so will his attacking partner Matêj Vydra. I feel Watford will put up a good fight, but the teams above them will prove too strong and The Hornets will be sent back down the trap door to the Championship.
19th place: Sunderland. The lack of ambition for a club that have toyed with relegation so much over the past few seasons was clear when they re-appointed 67 year old Dick Advocaat on a 1 year deal to manage the team this season. I think this is the year that Sunderland finally run out of luck and end up in those relegation places. The signings of Jermaine Lens, Adam Matthews and Younes Kaboul are solid acquisitions, but I feel there are still too many problems in the team that need to be dealt with. The midfield is Championship standard (excluding new loan signing Yann M’Villa) and John O’Shea and Wes Brown can no longer be relied on as they carry on into their 30s. Also with Jermain Defoe not likely to last the full season due to his injury problems, I don’t have much faith in Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher to net the goals required to stay up.
20th place: Norwich. In my predictions Norwich have ended up with the wooden spoon. Bottom of the table isn’t a nice place to be but with the squad they have and the players they have brought in, I don’t believe it will be enough to keep them up. I feel they have overpaid for Robbie Brady and the midfield pairing of Graham Dorrans and Yousef Mulumbu hardly screams “ambition”. Cameron Jerome has spent time up in the top flight before and will have to be on his best form for there to be any chance of The Canaries staying up. Alex Neil is a young bright manager who has a good future ahead of him, but this opportunity has come a bit too soon for him.