We are less than a week away from the start of the Premier League season, and here are preseason predictions before first kick-off.
Last year’s champions look just as strong this year. Antonio Conte won a title in his debut season as manager, and has replaced every player lost (or going to be lost) in the transfer market. Nemanja Matic left to play for his former boss, Jose Mourinho, at Manchester United. He replaced him with Tiemoue Bakayoko, from Ligue 1 champs, AS Monaco FC. They also added former Real Madrid striker, Alvaro Morata, who may have to replace Diego Costa. Captain John Terry has finally departed the club, but they prepared with the signing of young German defender, Antonio Rudiger. They’ll have one of the best defenses in the EPL next year (finished 3rd in goals allowed last year). While also seeing Eden Hazard, Morata, and maybe Diego Costa, scoring goals (finished second in goals forced by one goal). I would also look to see Chelsea make more movement in the transfer market before the deadline.
2. Tottenham Hotspur
Arguably the most exciting team in the EPL last year. Tottenham’s young stars flourished, but they still came up short of a title by seven points to Chelsea. Dele Alli scored 18 goals and assisted 7, at 21 years old, he’ll only keep getting better. Harry Kane found the back of net 29 times and assisted 7. The English duo will continue to terrorize defenses. They could lead the league in goals once again. On defense, the team retained their Belgium combo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderwield. They have yet to purchase a player this season, but did lose Kyle Walker to Manchester City. They’ll need to replace him, as Kieran Trippier picked up an injury, and the team looked weak on the right side. They’ll need to make some signings for depth, if they want to make a title run.
3. Manchester City
Manchester City loaded up on fullbacks, as the they needed to. Danilo, Kyle Walker, and Benjamin Mendy will bring young blood to an aging defense. They also signed young goalie Ederson, who will look to take over as the No. 1, if Bravo’s play is inconsistent or unreliable. Rising star, Bernardo Silva will also add some attacking force to the wings. They have splashed some cash this summer, and will continue if need be. City is a true candidate to win the league this year.
4. Manchester United
Jose Mourinho’s first year in charge was mixed. They went a nice run of results mid-season, but at other times Mourinho was sitting in the stands, in disgust over the play on the field. A Champion’s League birth was the only encouraging moment of their year. Their defense was strong, only allowing 29 goals last year. However, problems were on the other end, with a lack of goals (54). They spent a lot for a scorer in Romelu Lukaku, now he has to live up to the hype. The Marcus Rashford hype train should keep on moving. Victor Lindelof will strengthen the defense and Matic will allow Pogba to get free add needed goals or assist them. This is pretty favorable though, for a team that lost their leading scorer from last year (Zlatan Ibrahimovic), and club record scorer (Wayne Rooney). I think the team will play to their hype and not lose easy points to teams on the lower half of the table again, this year.
Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, caved and finally bought a new striker for the team, Alexander Lacazette. He also signed full back, Sead Kolasinac. He has been able to retain all of his starters. There is some noise about Alexis Sanchez leaving, but I think he’ll stay. The team struggled last year, and many were looking for Wenger to be fired from the team, but signed a new one year deal instead. Compared to the other teams above, it is hard to say Arsenal will be a title contender, but a big signing before the deadline can change that. I think the best case scenario for the team is a champions league birth at the moment (Here, they finish just outside of that).
Mohamed Salah was a big signing for club, considering the strong speculation that Philippe Coutinho could sign with Barcelona . Liverpool will play in the Champions League this year, because of last year’s successful season. They’ll need to add depth to keep fresh legs with the added matches they must play. Salah is great start, but the team has been quiet since then. This Premier League season looks to be very competitive (as always), and Liverpool needs to make some moves, if they want to be in the Champion’s League again.
The team lost their main scorer, Romelu Lukaku, but have signed a lot of players to make up for it. Wayne Rooney can flourish with pressure being lifted off his shoulders. Young new arrivals, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Sandro, and Davy Klaassen will look to make the team competitive for a top-5 finish. However, they’ll have to prove their value before rising on this list.
8. West Ham United
After an impressive season two years ago, the team slipped up by finishing 11th. Javier Hernadez and Marko Arnautovic were two huge signings for the club this summer. Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta add veteran experience to the defense. Hard to say that all of this pushes the club back to another high finish, but will keep them on the better half of the table.
9. Leicester City
The club had a massive hangover from their impossible title win two years ago. Hard to blame them, because we’ll never see an underdog run like that in the EPL for a while (if ever again). The club has the players to finish near the top-5, but until proven otherwise, they sit at nine.
10. AFC Bournemouth
The team turned heads last year, with a strong ninth place finish. It wasn’t too long ago that the club was in financial turmoil, and not in the main English League Football. The team has signed some keen players in Jermaine Defoe, Asmir Begovic, and Nathan Ake. I expect them to turn some heads again this year.
I believe this a nice spot to put a team that has made no moves and could be losing their best defender, Virgil Van Dijk.
12. West Brom
Again, another side that has not really made moves to put them any higher than this spot.
13. Crystal Palace
They added a player with potential in Jairo Reidewald to the defense, but that’s about it. I don’t expect much from the side.
14. Stoke City
The team lost some key veterans and playmaker, Marko Arnautovic. They’ll need to make some more additions, if the want to finish mid-table.
15. Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez stuck it out, and took the team out of the 2nd division. They should be able to do enough to stay afloat with the talent they have, the question is how long can they stay in the EPL?
16. Swansea City
A team that struggled last year, and had three different managers throughout the year. With no game changing signings, expect fans to be in store for another nerve wrecking year.
17. Burnley FC
They lost the best player on their team, but did sign some players with experience in staying above relegation.
No major team news for side that almost fell last year, and are a candidate to this year.
19. Huddersfield Town
Have been making some low-key signings, but that doesn’t guarantee success, especially when you’re new to the Premier League.
No major transfer news to speak of for a side that just got promoted. Not a promising start to their season.