As we ever-near the exciting start of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign I want to highlight with you my thoughts on the season ahead and predict the winners and riders from top to bottom.
If you remember last year I predicted that Manchester City would pip Liverpool to the title but expected a little more from Manchester United than what we got and horribly tipped Newcastle and Bournemouth to drop down into the Championship with Cardiff City.
You can see my predictions in full for last season here but now let’s get on with the campaign ahead.
Manchester City and Liverpool did battle head and shoulders above all rivals last season and I see that continuing this season with a rizla paper (others are available) beneath them once again. Perhaps not as high in points and not as tight as the season gone but both teams will no doubt dominate the Premier League title race as both are clearly the best in the country, if not Europe too.
Whilst Liverpool have stayed rather stagnant in the market City have tweaked where necessary and have brought in Rodri from Atletico to anchor the midfield whilst Joao Cancelo from Juventus looks a very shrewd bit of business at full back. With that in mind and Liverpool facing a tough December trip to Qatar to play in the FIFA World Club Cup I see only one winner of the title and Pep Guardiola may become the first Manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to win three Premier League titles back to back to back.
Of the chasing pack doing the most business I’ve been impressed with is Arsenal who have signed the Ivorian speedster Nicolas Pepe from Lille along with Spanish U21 international Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid. Defensively they look stronger than last year with the late summer captures of Kieran Tierney from Celtic and David Luiz from Chelsea and the Gunners could be a dark horse in the title race either as a late runner or one that fades away all be it playing hopefully some attractive stuff. I have Arsenal to pip Spurs to third but both North London clubs to seal Champions League status with Tottenham going steady as ever despite having the odd ‘traditional’ hiccup to lesser opposition.
Whether Maurizio Pochettino will see the season out is another question, I’m hoping he stays and the longer he’s there the better chance Spurs have of finally breaking their recent trophy hoodoo.
Tough to predict are the outcomes of Chelsea and Manchester United this season as both are certainly in a period of change heavily reliant on youth so both may expect some great and some bad results along the way. Chelsea under Frank Lampard should be more solid defensively under a transfer embargo they’ll be looking to the likes of Christian Pulisic who they signed in January to fill the huge void left by Eden Hazard who moved to Real Madrid. Manchester United have the exciting Daniel James from Swansea the solid looking Aaron Wan-Bisakka and a slab of Harry Maguire to strengthen their attack minded squad. It could be a race for fifth place joined by Everton perhaps who have had a terrific summer in the transfer window adding international quality to their squad in Moise Kean, Djibril Sidibe and Fabien Delph amongst others.
Leicester City are another side that could be knocking on Europa’s door with Brendan Rogers playing a style of football that could light up the league. The Foxes have lost Harry Maguire but have enough in depth to cope and in adding Ayoze Perez (Newcastle) and James Justin (Luton) to sealing a permanent deal for Youri Tielemens from Monaco they will no doubt in the right half of the table come May.
Impressive last season were Wolves who have strengthened with centre back Jesus Vallejo from Real Madrid on loan and striker Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan but likely to face some tough looking Thursday night trips in Europe they could struggle to surpass their 2018/19 achievements but might be a good tip for a cup run.
Ahead of Wolves this time around I see West Ham who under Manuel Pellegrini have quietly gone about their business bringing in the likes of Pablo Fornals from Villarreal and Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt.
After tipping them to go down last season in no way will I disrespect Eddie Howe and what he does at AFC Bournemouth by doing the same this time around having seen enough firepower in their squad already to avoid any potential trouble near relegation. A savvy capture of Harry Wilson on loan from Liverpool the tip of their signings for me although I do question some of the others made.
Another club who did a little better than I expected last season were Watford who look good to repeat a similar status this time around having added Craig Dawson and Danny Welbeck to their squad.
Burnley flirted with trouble last season but should have enough upstairs this time around with a comfortable middle pack placing as ever proving hard to beat perhaps not so pleasing on the eye.
Of the promoted clubs I expect Aston Villa to survive but have similar concerns to those that were put on Fulham last season as the majority of the playoff promoted squad looks to have been dismantled with no less than 11 new signings this summer.
Crystal Palace have had a slightly less hectic summer but a lot depends on the outcome of Wilfried Zaha as to where they finish? With him they are comfortably a mid table team, without him they may flirt dangerously close to relegation.
Another side that could flirt or not is Brighton & Hove Albion who under new Manager Graham Potter have a boss that plays attractive football and has signed a player who could be up there as one of the best in the summer window in Neal Maupay from Brentford. The Seagulls will be defensively solid as always so if Maupay can add the firepower it could be enough for survival and ensuring Potter stays in his job.
Also relying on new firepower will be Southampton Manager Ralph Hassenhuttl who in signing Danny Ings from Liverpool and Che Adams from Birmingham could have enough to avoid the drop.
That leaves Newcastle United under Steve Bruce and promoted teams Norwich City and Sheffield United to potentially fail whilst scrapping it out or survival?
Newcastle have brought in Brazilian striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim but you can’t help feeling what is going off at St James’ behind the scenes will eventually take its toll. Norwich whilst dominating the Championship with some fine football last season have some cracking footballers and one to watch in Emiliano Buendia and they may be best equipped to survive only if Teemu Pukki can repeat his goalscoring feats, Sheffield United might just enjoy the ride and whilst like Cardiff I doubt they’ll do themselves any embarrassment at all, I see the squad they have and the signings they’ve made as Championship at best and that’s where they’ll be playing in 12 months time.
Player of the year? Hotly tipped is Bernardo Silva but I tipped Kevin de Bruyne last season before injury and am sure much fitter now he’ll play a huge part in Manchester City’s pending success this campaign. Phil Foden could be an outsider for young player of the year whilst the obvious calls for Sergio Aguero, Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang will no doubt head the goalscoring charts.
First Manager out? Graham Potter? Daniel Farke? Ralph Hassenhuttl? I worry about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer whilst the panic button at Aston Villa could be pressed if Dennis Smith and his much changed squad are in danger come October.
- Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Manchester United
- Leicester City
- West Ham United
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Aston Villa
- Brighton & Hove Albion
- Crystal Palace
- Norwich City
- Sheffield United
- Newcastle United
Odds with Betfair: 4/9 Manchester City 11/4 Liverpool 20/1 Tottenham Hotspur 40/1 Manchester United 50/1 Chelsea 55/1 Arsenal 250/1 Everton, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers 500/1 Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Sheffield United, Southampton, Watford, West Ham United.