Although it doesn’t feel like it, its been three months since the Premier League was on our television screens, and while our longing for competitive football was somewhat taken care of by an outstanding FIFA World Cup, we now welcome the return of top flight English football.
Pep Guardiola’s men dominated the League last season, picking up the most wins (32), most points (100), most goals scored (106) and the best defensive record in the league! The Cityzens went into the transfer market with a rather simple mandate: make the best better.
Will City continue to dominate England? Or will others find a path to glory? Here are our predictions for the upcoming Premier League campaign:
Premier League winner:
Of course Man City must be favourites going into this campaign, but we also know difficult it is to retain the Premier League title. City may not have flaunted cash in the market, but Riyad Mahrez is a massive acquisition – especially if he can find the form that guided Leicester to their maiden title. Benjamin Mendy is fit and comes back into the fray, so indeed his return I’m sure will feel like a new signing.
Guardiola has put together an extremely talented squad of players, but I suppose the most exciting thing is the fact that the average age of his ‘big players’ is just 25.
The only side that matched City in terms of attack was Liverpool, however the Reds trailed City by 22 goals and let in 11 more. Jurgen Klopp’s outfit have been busy this summer, bringing in Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri to bolster their midfield along with Alisson for a world record goalkeeper fee of 56 million quid.
Not forgetting (arguably most importantly), they have managed to keep hold of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane! Will this be enough to bridge the gap? I think so.
With the best attack in the league, a powerful midfield, finally a fairly solid defence and a classy keeper, I think it is indeed ‘their year’
Liverpool to win the league @ 4/1
Although the bookmakers seem to think otherwise, the two north London teams look a fantastic value bet to finish in those all important Champions League positions. Unai Emery has come into Arsenal and although they won’t be as open and ‘free’ under their new manager, one should expect goals. Arsenal will likely stay compact, hitting teams on the break with their pace and direct attacking style – expect a big season from Aubameyang and Lacazette, both of whom went a little under the radar last season.
Tottenham are another who seems to have been content holding onto their stars as opposed to making a fuss in the market. Pocchettino will know how important that was for Spurs, and with a young team, stability and consistency is everything.
And if you’re wondering whether I’ve made an error and possibly forgotten Manchester United play in this league, to cut a long story short, Mourinho has never had success in his third season at any club and there is nothing that shows signs of this ending at Old Trafford. Yes Fred and Diogo Dalot were brought in but there are still problem areas that need the managers attention.
There is nobody in United’s defence that I would have confidence in at the moment and with only one out and out striker in Romelu Lukaku, a dip in form for the Belgian would be disastrous. All of this coupled with speculation that Paul Pogba wants out, Mourinho is looking more and more like the sour Prego that got fired before Christmas at Chelsea, and not to mention the alleged strained relationship between himself and Ed Woodward, I am bracing myself for the worst.
Therefore my top 4 is:
- Manchester City
With the value bet being Arsenal @ 2/1
Golden Boot winner:
Although Harry Kane will be the punters pick, I’m going to go for a bit of an outsider in Arsenal’s Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Harry Kane will come into the season off the back of tremendous world cup and be filled with confidence and Mo Salah will also be right up there (who I back, by the way, to repeat his performances of last season).
But Aubameyang was a little under-rated last season, in my opinion. It is relatively rare to find a player come into the Premier League for the first time and feel right at home; he showed snippets of what he’s capable of with respect to speed and ability and if he’s able to recreate that I think he’ll have a big chance.
Aubameyang @ 6/1
Brighton was able to defy their critics last season and retain their place in the Premier League. However, ‘second season syndrome’ could very well rear its ugly head at the Apex Stadium.
The seagulls won only one of their last nine league matches at the end of last season, they have now failed to win none of their pre-season games (and although I don’t really read to much into preseason) which could result in them coming into the new campaign dangerously low on confidence.
Things could get uncomfortable quickly with their first three games against Watford (A), Man United (H) and Liverpool (A). The challenge for Chris Hughton is that teams now know exactly what Brighton brings to the table – we saw that towards the end of last season.
They have paid a club record fee bringing in Alireza Jahanbakhsh but he is largely an unknown quantity. The young winger is presumably being brought in to attempt to solve the goal scoring issues; Brighton found the back of the net just 34 times in 38 outings.
Unless this pays off, I think Brighton is on their way back to the Championship.
Brighton to get relegated @ 2/1