The Premier League is back! It hasn’t felt that long since it was last on our screens, but it feels good to have regular top-flight football back on our screens.
In anticipation of the new campaign kicking off, with Liverpool and Norwich City getting proceedings underway on Friday night, we have gone about the easiest way to make ourselves look foolish — by making some predictions.
Predicting the future is indeed a fool’s errand, but this is the point of the season where it’s fun to gaze into the crystal ball and imagine what might happen for the season ahead.
Will Man City falter and let Liverpool have a chance of ending their title drought? Will Manchester United finally get back on track? Will someone break up the top six cartel? Who will be the darkhorse and unexpectedly make a charge up the table?
Literally, everything is possible at this point, but that will change very soon once the first whistle is blown and the goals start flowing in. Our writers gave their best predictions for the coming season to see how it will all pan out, including a full league table at the very end.
Premier League predictions for the 2019/20 season:
Player of the Season:
Anthony Kelly: Kevin de Bruyne, Man City. If they can keep him fit, he is a world-class talent who can orchestrate their all conquering style of play.
Ben Guest: Raheem Sterling, Man City. Has been excellent for a few years now, and for some reason I reckon he might just do even better.
Daniel Ward: Sadio Mane, Liverpool. I predicted a big season from him last year and only see him improving on his numbers again. Top talent.
Harry Diamond: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City. For me, the best player in the Premier League and I see no reason why Manchester City won’t make it three in a row.
Peter Henry: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City. Pep will make him captain, he’ll revel in the role and break Thierry Henry’s all-time Premier League assist record
Ste McGovern: Raheem Sterling, Man City. I wouldn’t be surprised if he scored 25-plus goals this season. He’ll edge Mo Salah and teammate Kevin De Bruyne for the top gong.
Vishnu Anandraj: Bernardo Silva, Man City.
Verdict: Kevin De Bruyne.
The best signing:
AK: Moise Kean, Everton. A real coup for the Toffees, Kean looks an excellent player. He is rapid, strong and a handful for any defender.
BG: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Man United. Has looked excellent during pre-season, and fills a hole in a part of the Manchester United defence that has been neglected for years.
DW: Harry Maguire, Man United. Possibly a touch overpriced, but f*ck it, it’s not that important. If he comes in and has the sort of impact Virgil van Dijk had, he’ll make United a much tougher unit at the back.
HD: Dani Ceballos, Arsenal. A great player to watch and a high-quality addition on loan. Could make a difference in a tight top four race.
PH: Sebastian Haller, West Ham. He’ll start like a house on fire, before his form dips in January amid interest from Man United. He’ll sign a new improved contract live on Instagram in February, confess his undying love for being a Hammer, then piss off in the summer.
SM: Tanguy Ndombele, Spurs. This lad is a serious acquisition and I can’t quite believe nobody challenged Tottenham for his signature. United should have snapped him to sort out their midfield.
VA: Rodri, Man City.
Verdict: No consensus whatsoever. Let’s wait and see who’s the most wrong.
Biggest transfer flop:
AK: Joelinton, Newcastle United. A player with undoubted talent, the club’s record signing may take some time to bed in, but the pressure will be on him to score goals.
BG: Joelinton, Newcastle United. The most expensive player in Newcastle’s history, but will he get the service he needs in Steve Bruce’s side to justify his price tag? I’m not so sure
DW: Rodri, Man City. Big pressure on him to try and usurp and improve upon Fernandinho’s performances over the last few seasons. He’ll take time to settle and that could hamper his progress
HD: Lys Mousset, Sheffield United. Just five goals in 71 Bournemouth appearances, albeit the majority as a substitute. £10m is not an insignificant fee for a newly promoted club, but is he really the man to fire Sheffield United to safety?
SM: Joelinton, Newcastle United. Fabulous player, but Steve Bruce won’t have a clue how to best deploy him.
VA: Wesley Moraes, Aston Villa.
Most improved player:
AK: Youri Tielemans, Leicester City. a player who really caught the eye despite the brevity of his loan stint with Leicester City last season.
BG: Ayoze Perez, Leicester City. Showed glimpses of quality at Newcastle, and could benefit from being in a better side with a more forward-thinking manager.
DW: Naby Keita, Liverpool. Again, one of my picks for a big season last time out, but injuries and a settling-in period stunted his progress. Expect huge things from him this time out.
HD: Ross Barkley, Chelsea. Has starred in pre-season, could finally deliver on his early promise given more attacking freedom under Frank Lampard.
PH: Naby Keita, Liverpool. I hate to say it, but I fancy him to rip it up next season and show why Klopp was prepared to wait a year to sign him
SM: Marcus Rashford, Man United. Year-on-year Rashford has made incremental improvements, increasing his output along the way. Now that Romelu Lukaku is gone, he’s the main man. If he doesn’t step up this year, then it’s never going to happen.
VA: Harry Winks, Spurs.
Verdict: Naby Keita.
AK: Phil Foden. If Pep thinks he’s the most talented player he’s ever seen, then we could all be in for a showreel season from Foden at Manchester City.
BG: Mason Mount, Chelsea. Has already gained Frank Lampard’s trust at Derby, and could be set to take advantage of Chelsea’s transfer ban and make an impact at Stamford Bridge
DW: Moise Kean, Everton. Looks a real talent and a goal scorer. Everton need one and he could be the man to get them challenging for a top six spot.
HD: Mason Greenwood, Man United. At just 17 the striker has impressed in preseason. Will Solskjaer give him his chance?
PH: Mason Greenwood, Man United. His ability to strike a dead ball off either foot gives me the horn.
SM: Max Aarons, Norwich City. The Canaries will no doubt struggle this season, but Max Aarons has all the makings of being a top player. Another in the long line of prodigious full-backs in English football right now.
VA: Youri Tielemans, Leicester City.
Verdict: Mason Greenwood.
Biggest fall from grace:
AK: Wolves could well “do a Burnley” this season as they balance European football with their domestic commitments.
BG: Crystal Palace. With Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Wilfried Zaha possibly unsettled after not getting his move, they’ll struggle.
DW: Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace. After not getting his move, then it could be a long season for Roy Hodgson and his team, because he seems to be a player who will throw the toys out of the pram and refuse to play.
HD: Phil Jagielka, Sheffield United. Hasn’t played much football in the past year and is turning 37 this month, could he be exposed in the Blade’s unique defensive style?
PH: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool. I reckon he’s been playing above himself for a long time now and his ever growing greediness will start to get on everybody’s nerves.
SM: Chelsea. The Blues are purposely tanking this season while the transfer ban is in place, so it’s a no-brainer they’re going to slide down the table a bit. They have a rookie top flight manager at the helm and they just sold one of their best defenders.
VA: Divock Origi, Liverpool.
AK: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Man United. Tottenham have got the quality to comfortably finish in the top four again, while Manchester United will just shade Chelsea overall, if Ole can get his big guns firing.
BG: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal.
DW: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Man United.
HD: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal.
PH: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs.
SM: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal. I think there’s about five teams that could finish anywhere between fourth and eighth and the margins between them are so fine. Arsenal’s deadline day business has them shading an imbalanced United for me though.
VA: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Man United. The first three are me being logical, the last one is just a combination of guessing and hope. Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United are all unknown entities, so choosing between them is difficult. I’m hoping it’s United … hoping.
Verdict: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Man United.
Most likely to break up the Top Six:
AK: Leicester City just edge Everton here. If they can plug the Harry Maguire shaped hole in the back four, their squad is neatly balanced with quality all of the pitch.
BG: Everton. Some excellent signings this summer, but it’s just a matter of how well some of them settle, Moise Kean in particular.
DW: Leicester City or Everton. Big ask though.
PH: Wolves. But the truth is I don’t think anybody will. A lot of people fancy Leicester, but they’ve lost their best defender and Brendan Rodgers’ teams can’t defend for toffee, so no chance for me. Everton’s own fans expectations will hold them back.
SM: Leicester City. Losing Harry Maguire might put it just out of reach, but Wolves missed a trick by not spending big this summer.
VA: Watford. By keeping Abdoulaye Doucoure, Watford could challenge the top six with Wolves’ Europa League campaign, Leicester City’s potential defensive woes under Rodgers without Harry Maguire, and Everton and West Ham still having significant squad issues and showing inconsistency last year.
Verdict: Leicester City
AK: Sheffield United, Norwich City, Brighton. The Seagulls were lucky last season but Graham Potter may be left with too much to do too soon.
BG: Norwich City, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace.
DW: Sheffield United, Newcastle United and Norwich City.
HD: Sheffield United, Norwich City, Brighton.
PH: Newcastle United, Burnley and Sheffield United.
SM: Norwich City, Aston Villa, Sheffield United. I’ve taken the coward’s way out and I’m sending the three promoted teams back down. I think everyone is overrating Villa’s chances, they’ve spent a lot but not spent it well in my opinion.
VA: Aston Villa, Brighton, Newcastle United. With Rafa Benitez, Salomon Rondon, and Ayoze Perez gone, it’s difficult to see how Newcastle will stay up. Aston Villa have so many new players that, despite the good coaching of Dean Smith, they may not find a way to fit together in time. Graham Potter is an excellent coach, but his team will have to undergo a massive change in style that could leave them exposed at the back.
Verdict: Newcastle United, Norwich City, Sheffield United.
Club most likely to spring a surprise in the table:
AK: Aston Villa could break free of the shackles of a relegation dogfight. They have invested aggressively and upgraded all over the park this summer. Dean Smith is a bright manager too, who has serious pedigree in defying the odds.
BG: Southampton. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival saw some improved performances last season, and with a full pre-season behind him, they should be further away from the bottom than last time.
HD: West Ham United.
PH: Chelsea. Not so much a surprise package in the traditional sense, but I fancy Frank Lampard to do really well at Chelsea. N’Golo Kante will be back in his best position and Lampard will get the young guns firing. I reckon they’ll pick up a domestic cup and finish top four.
SM: West Ham United. I’m not expecting any of the so-called smaller clubs to make a huge leap this year, and the Hammers still have a midfield two of Mark Noble and Declan Rice, but Manuel Pellegrini has a way of making teams overstocked in attack work.
VA: Southampton. Ralph Hasenhuttl is an excellent coach, they have made a number of smart moves in the market, and could surprise with a mid-table or even a top-half finish.
Manager of the Season:
AK: Pep Guardiola, Man City. Boring shout, but if he wins the league for a third successive year then that is some achievement by anyone’s standards.
BG: Pep Guardiola, Man City.
DW: Brendan Rodgers, Leicester City.
HD: Pep Guardiola, Man City.
PH: Pep Guardiola, Man City. Three in a row.
SM: Brendan Rodgers, Leicester City. If the Foxes break up the top six, then Rodgers will get it.
VA: Pep Guardiola, Man City. No Pardew. No Allardyce. Guess it’ll be that bald guy obsessed with grey cardigans again. Oh well.
Verdict: Pep Guardiola.
First manager sacked:
AK: Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace. The 71-year-old is still desperately trying to assemble a squad and looks short of quality after a poor transfer window. Much will depend on whether Wilfried Zaha will perform, but with Palace’s bold plans for stadium regeneration, any hint of a threat to their Premier League status will be snuffed out.
BG: Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace. As it stands, he’s got an ageing team on his hands.
DW: Steve Bruce, Newcastle United.
HD: Graham Potter, Brighton.
PH: Marco Silva, Everton. I think the fans want it all a bit to quickly and Silva himself has weaknesses as a coach. Losing Idrissa Gana Gueye will leave a massive hole in their midfield and they’ll start poorly.
SM: Javi Gracia, Watford. The Hornets are long overdue a sacking.
VA: Marco Silva, Everton. His streak of short tenures at clubs doesn’t bode well for his longevity at Everton, especially if they are as inconsistent as last year.
Verdict: Roy Hodgson or Marco Silva.
Will VAR be a success?
AK: No. Still in its infancy and has, so far, only caused more controversy. It could also be a bit of a mood killer with delays and confusion still an issue to sort.
BG: Partially! The decisions should be more accurate, but it won’t come without its controversies.
DW: Yes. It has to be really, because it’s here to stay.
PH: Yes and no. It will mostly improve things but there will inevitably be teething issues. I’m just looking forward to hearing all the people who moaned about us not using technology, now moaning constantly about technology.
SM: Yes, purely for box office reasons. It’s going to cause a lot of meltdowns and be very entertaining.
VA: Yes. Refereeing is always subjective, but there are situations where it is black and white and others where there are ambiguities. I don’t see how VAR won’t help in either of those situations. It could disrupt the flow of a game, but it terms of VAR helping refereeing, I believe it will be a success.
Verdict: Yes, but with a massive pinch of salt.
Champions League winner:
AK: Juventus look to have built an impressive team, with the aid of some pretty shrewd work with free transfers. They have depth and quality all over the park, only question is likely to be whether they can handle the pressure of being favourites.
PH: Real Madrid.
SM: Man City. I still think they are the best team in Europe, so on that basis I can’t not pick them.
VA: Barcelona. Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann are excellent additions. They also have that short guy with the beard… I heard he’s not bad.
Average League Position:
- Man City: 1.0
- Liverpool: 2.0
- Spurs: 3.14
- Man United: 4.57
- Arsenal: 4.85
- Chelsea: 5.7
- Leicester City: 8.14
- Wolves: 8.71
- Everton: 8.85
- West Ham: 9.57
- Watford: 10.7
- Southampton: 11.8
- Bournemouth: 13.2
- Aston Villa: 14.4
- Crystal Palace: 15.2
- Burnley: 15.4
- Brighton: 17.42
- Newcastle United: 17.42
- Norwich City: 18.0
- Sheffield United: 19.4
Note: As Newcastle and Brighton were predicted by our writers to finish in the same position, the tiebreaker for the last relegation spot was the number of people who picked which club to go down. The Magpies ‘won’ 3-2.