The start of the Premier League season is just a handful of hours away, so what better time to throw in a guest article. Regular contributor Anthony Kendrick has been kind enough to share how he thinks the table will end up come May. Do you agree? If you do or don’t for that matter then please leave your comments below.
Anthony it’s over to you…..
1. Man City
It probably won’t be as plain sailing for the Champions as it was last season, but they are still my picks for the title. The distance they had over the rest of the field was staggering, Vincent Kompany has said in the past that City haven’t been as motivated to defend their title, but that will change with Pep. I can’t see how anyone can pick another side.
My surprise of the season – perhaps I am being slightly over-optimistic, but Unai Emery is an excellent appointment by Arsenal. Their recruitment has been very good, despite not spending huge sums of money. Lichtsteiner adds experience to their defense and Lucas Torreira gives their midfield balance which they have been lacking for several years. Every set of predictions needs a wildcard pick, right?
There has been a significant spend with midfielders Naby Keita and Fabinho coming in, Sorting out their goalkeeping situation was crucial and Alisson will have a similar impact to Ederson at Man City last year. I expect Liverpool to be very competitive this season and to push for the title. However, I’m not banking on Salah repeating his heroics from last season and I don’t think they have enough attacking options. Despite the addition of Shaqiri, a significant injury to one of their front three and there will be struggles. Expect a comfortable top four finish and focus to be on cup competitions.
I have made the mistake the last two seasons in a row of predicting them not to finish in the top four. It would be easy to make the argument that Spurs haven’t strengthened and should have done so. But, they have kept hold of their squad, which is an achievement in itself. Lucas Moura will feature kmore this season.
With a strong top six, two sides will not get into the Champions League. It is hard to call, particularly in Chelsea’s case with Maurizio Sarri at the helm. There were question marks raised over the likes of Willian and Hazard but both have remained, which is a plus for Chelsea. I expect them to be close to the top four but just miss out.
6. Man United
Some have suggested that Jose is playing mind games, but I disagree. It looks like he is having a meltdown. As much as I would love to be proven wrong by this prediction, my thoughts are that it will be a season of struggle. The side on paper looks stronger than anyone bar Manchester City, but the manager is not getting the best out of them, and has no optimism. The media is already against him before a ball has been kicked.
Claude Puel was much criticised when he took charge at Leicester but he has done a decent job. They may have lost Mahrez, but have brought in a similar player in Ghezzal. Keeping hold of Harry Maguire is a big plus and other signings including Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans and the talented James Maddison improve their side. Expecting them to be closer to the top six, but I can’t see them quite breaking in this year.
Similarly to Leicester, expecting them to get close to the top six but not quite crack it. Marco Silva is a well respected manager and certainly has some pull for players. It had been a decent summer window, but to sign Bernard, Mina and Gomes at the death made it an excellent window. Much has also been made of the signing of Richarlison for £50m, which is a huge fee – but in my book is a gamble worth taking. Moving on from Jagielka and Williams at the back will be key. I suspect Everton will have a strong season, and even get a few surprise results against the top sides.
9. West Ham
West Ham have had a very good summer of business, despite some debate over Pellegrini I think he is an excellent appointment. At times last season Arnautovic was a lone wolf in attack but Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson have come in and they will improve this season.
Significant investment has been put into this team, following their superb Championship winning season, which was not without controversy. They have followed this up by confirming signings of Willy Boly and Diego Jota but also bringing in experience from Patricio and Moutinho, as well as the pacey Adama Traore. I expect Wolves to fearless this season, and playing attacking against any of the top sides.
Some very good signings have been made, including the loans of Andre Schurrle and Luciano Vietto toi add attacking options. Mitrovic joins following a successful loan spell and the highly rated Jean Michael Seri should be a hit in the Premier League. The squad is certainly competitive and I expect Fulham to pull away from the relegation zone early on.
Whether Sean Dyche decides to take the Europa League seriously or not will define their season in terms of predicting a Premier League position. For my money, Burnley should focus on this and attempt to reach the latter stages of the tournament. With a few days to go in the transfer window it didn’t look like there would be any signings of significance. But Joe Hart, Matej Vydra and Ben Gibson are all decent additions to the squad, adding crucial depth. Expect Burnley’s priorities to be elsewhere.
13. Crystal Palace
The bottom section of the Premier League is very difficult to predict, with very little separating the sides. Roy Hodgson has done an excellent job at turning them into a counter attacking team which utilises the talents of Zaha. There has been little news around them but a couple of shrewd free transfers in Guaita and Max Meyer are good additions. Expecting Palace to be comfortable this season.
A net loss was made during the transfer window, with a few shrewd signings coming in. Fabian Schar is an experienced centre back, but strikers Muto and Rondon are gambles. Rafael Benitez is crucial to any success Newcastle may have and keeping him is key. Expect significant investment in the January transfer window if their Premier League status is of concern.
The departure of Richarlison has put a cloud over Watford, but he will not be as big a miss to them as many believe. Ben Foster comes in, as well as Gerard Deulofeu who may finally find his potential. Javi Gracia is a bit of an unknown manager, not having enough time last season to suggest either way whether he will sink or swim. I think Watford will survive despite many doubters.
Jefferson Lerma has serious potential, with great physicality which should serve him well in the Premier League. Very little has changed around the club otherwise, with no significant departures. If Eddie Howe continues to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League the question will be of how long he stays, but this season I expect them to survive.
Predicting Huddersfield to survive by the skin of their teeth. Loan deals for Terence Kongolo, Florent Hadergjonaj and Jonas Lossl have been made permanent following success last season. Wagner has set up a great side and to survive for a second season would be a fantastic story.
Mark Hughes coming in does not fill me with confidence, despite picking up a crucial win against Swansea in their penultimate game to keep them in the Premier League. I don’t see much ambition with their players coming in, Danny Ings is a risky player to pin their hopes on and Dusan Tadic will be a big miss. I expect Southampton to go down.
A significant turnaround of players has happened over the summer but I am not sure that they will retain their Premier League status. There was a reliance on Glenn Murray last season and to expect him to have another similar season is a bridge too far. Percy Tau and Florin Andone are not at the required quality for the Premier League.
Some decent signings have come in from the Championship, along with Harry Arter in on loan. Neil Warnock achieved a miracle to get Cardiff into the Premier League and I don’t think that he can follow it up with another miracle to keep them there, with their side lacking quality.