Regular readers (of which there are some) will no doubt be aware that I carry out weekly predictions on this website, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually done predictions for what will happen at the end of the season, so now is as good a time as any to run down what I think will happen over the course of the 2017/18 campaign
No team has won back to back Premier League titles since 2009 when Manchester United won what was their third in a row between 2007 and then and to be honest that is not a good omen for Chelsea. One that unfortunately for them is going to do them little favours as I think that streak will continue come next May.
I think the title will certainly end up in Manchester, it is just a question of what colour ribbons will be attached to the trophy. Pep Guardiola has spent big over the course of the summer and that makes Manchester City the bookies favourites to win the title the season.
They will certainly be the team that everyone is gunning for this time around and it will also be the real acid test as to whether or not Guardiola can cut it in the Premier League. After winning the Bundesliga and La Liga at a canter, he has found life in England tougher but with what is “his squad” now in place can he win a title on these shores?
Pushing them close will be Manchester United for the simple fact that Jose Mourinho’s teams are always stronger in his second season (Chelsea 2015/16 being the incredibly rare exception) the only thing that may go against them is the fact they are still lacking a wide player. If though they can get Gareth Bale then all bets are off in my opinion.
Chelsea I think will have to make do with third place this time around. The fact that Nemanja Matic has moved to United could be a major factor in them being overtaken by the Manchester Duo add to the fact they will have European football to contend with and I’m not sure the squad depth is there to compete on both fronts.
The race for 4th
The battle for fourth will be a hotly contested on this season with many people having differing opinions, one of those is over at the website Accumulator Tips but personally I think the outcome will be different although the rest of the transfer window may change the whole complexion of the race.
I’ve been chopping and changing on this one and to be honest a lot will depend on whether Liverpool can salvage what has been a relatively poor transfer window by their own standards and what with Champions League qualification secured last season dare I say expectations.
Firstly whether they can repeat the feat of 4th place will ultimately depend on if they can keep hold of Philippe Coutinho or not. They have already been standing their ground as Barcelona keep coming back with reportedly increased bids but should the Catalan giants come back with something in an excess of £100m then that will seriously test the resolve of the Liverpool board.
If they do end up selling the Brazilian then that will seriously diminish their chances of a top four finish and therefore we could be set for another battle between the two North London outfits in the race to earn the final Champions League position.
Again though this could go down to the wire as although Tottenham have the better first 11 on paper they also have the millstone of playing at Wembley around their neck, this transitional season is undoubtedly going to halt their momentum and it will be interesting to see just how much of an affect this change of grounds will have.
Arsenal however will have the burden of Europa League football to deal with which is uncharted territory for the club. Arsene Wenger can either treat it as a glorified version of the League Cup and keep his players fresh or he could use it as backdoor entry to the Champions League should the race for 4th look lost.
It looks like a decision that may be made later on in the season once Arsenal can assess where they are but I have a feeling that they may just sneak back into Europe’s top club competition especially if they do end up keeping hold of Alexis Sanchez for one last campaign
Out of the three teams that have been promoted – Brighton, Huddersfield, Newcastle. You would say the latter are obviously the most suited to life in the top flight after previous experiences but at the same time they have spent less then promoted counterparts this summer and that will be some cause for concern on Tyneside.
If Mike Ashley can back Rafa Benitez in the transfer market in the next couple of weeks then their chances of staying up will increase, especially if they can land a striker. Goals are the currency that keep you in this division and Newcastle still need to strengthen in that area.
That said though I think they will stay up at the expense of Brighton and Huddersfield who although they will aim to play nice football and probably win many friends in doing so I think that they will find life in the top flight something of a rude awakening.
Which leaves me with the other team that will go down. I reckon it is going to be a club that falls victim to ‘Second Season Syndrome’ and for me that is going to be Burnley. After losing Michael Keane they will have been weakened at the back and they have not really made any real strides in replacing him.
Their home form was the key to them staying up last season especially as conversely their away form was so bad but I can’t see them repeating that on this occasion. Add to the fact that they’ve signed Jon Walters and Jack Cork and there is little reason to be excited at Turf Moor
F.A. Cup Winners – Tottenham, surely with “home” advantage they can break their silverware drought?
League Cup Winnners – Could be anyone really, I guess Liverpool are due a cup foray so I’ll go for them
Champions League Winners – It’s really hard to look past Real Madrid, could the signing of Neymar to PSG finally get them to the pinnacle of European Football? One thing is that they will definitely meet Barcelona at some stage
World Cup Winners – Germany, a competition on European soil. The holders won the Confederations Cup with a reserve team and also won the European Under 21 Championships this Summer. I think it is going to be back to back wins for Joachim Low