With the Premier League just one day away, our writers make their best effort at making fools of themselves by providing their predictions for the 2020/21 season.
So how wrong did we get it last year? Well, West Ham United were not the surprise package, Sheffield United didn’t go straight back down, Barcelona did not win the Champions League, and not one of us foresaw Liverpool’s title win.
Not great, then. But we’re back for another go to earn back our dignity and your respect. Unlikely, but it’s worth a go.
Premier League predictions for the 2020/21 season:
Player of the Season:
Harry Diamond: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City. It’s hard to look past De Bruyne, regardless of whether City close the gap to or overhaul Liverpool. For me, the best player in the division and by a distance.
Peter Henry: Christian Pulisic, Chelsea. De Bruyne is the obvious choice, but that’s boring, so I’m going to go left field and pick Captain America. He looked unplayable at the back end of last season and will light the league up if he stays fit.
Robbie Walls: Bruno Fernandes, Man United. As a United fan one can only dream.
Sam May: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City. He won the award last season, having finished the season with 13 goals and 20 assists to equal Thierry Henry’s record for assists in a single campaign. Expect him to beat Henry’s record next season and scoop the award once again.
Ste McGovern: Bruno Fernandes, Man United. Arguably the best player in the league after he signed in January, Fernandes will be central to absolutely everything United do in attack this season.
Vishnu Anandraj: Bruno Fernandes, Man United. He’ll be top-scorer since he’s Manchester United’s penalty taker. In all seriousness, Fernandes is the focal point for United’s attack so he will get impressive numbers.
Verdict: Bruno Fernandes.
Best transfer signing:
HD: Timo Werner, Chelsea. Willian on a free transfer looks a great short-term deal for Arsenal, but I’ll go with Werner. If he can replicate his Leipzig form, Chelsea have a steal at that price.
PH: Timo Werner, Chelsea. This is hard considering there is a month left in the transfer window. That being said Werner looks a solid bet.
RW: Mohammed Salisu, Southampton. Bit of a left-field one, but a very smart move from Saints.
SM: Adam Lallana, Brighton. An ex-England international and Champions League and Premier League title winner in the last two seasons, his wealth of experience in the middle of the park will ensure Brighton won’t be battling relegation.
SMcG: Timo Werner, Chelsea. £47 million was a bargain for this guy. Liverpool will regret not snapping him up when they had the chance.
VA: Kai Havertz, Chelsea. Havertz not only has the potential to be the best player in the world, he has the physical and technical attributes to adapt seamlessly to English football.
Verdict: Timo Werner.
Biggest transfer flop:
HD: Nathan Ake, Bournemouth. Tough with a relative lack of big-money signings (Chelsea, aside). I’ll opt for Ake; £40m for a player unlikely to command a first-team place given the presence of Aymeric Laporte.
PH: Thiago Silva, Chelsea. I love him to bits as a player. But I really do worry about him going into a Chelsea side which Frank Lampard sets up to give zero protection to the back four.
RW: James Rodriguez, Everton. Nothing ever works out well for Everton, does it?
SM: Rodrigo, Leeds United. £26m from Valencia to Leeds, he could well turn out to be the new Roberto Soldado and eventually end up back in Spain after a season to forget. Finding the net just four times in 23 appearances in La Liga last season, he could struggle for support upfront.
SMcG: James Rodriguez. I would actually love for this transfer to be a success, especially since Everton did brilliantly to get him on a free, but it just feels like this move could easily go awry.
VA: Fabio Silva, Wolves. Clubs have understandably been risk-averse this window, so with that in mind, signing an unproven 18-year old striker for £35 million makes Silva, in the short-term and from the perspective of value, a flop in waiting.
Verdict: James Rodriguez.
— Everton (@Everton) September 7, 2020
Most improved player:
HD: Che Adams, Southampton. Takumi Minamino has impressed in pre-season for Liverpool, but I’ll go for Adams. His strong form at the end of the previous campaign suggests he’s finally settled and increasing in confidence at Southampton.
PH: Riyad Mahrez, Man City. He is going to go all 2015-16 this season, lads.
RW: Harry Kane, Spurs. After an injury hit 2019/20, I’m expecting him to be lethal this season.
SM: Danny Ings, Southampton. He could well net a lot more than his whopping 22 goals last season and ensure Southampton finish in mid-table.
SMcG: Christian Pulisic, Chelsea. This is the year he makes The Leap.
VA: Che Adams, Southampton. Based on his post-lockdown form and Ralph Hassenhüttel’s track record with young players, Adams could make a significant improvement on his four-goal tally from 2019/20.
Verdict: Che Adams.
The awareness 👀
The swerve 💫
The audacity 🤩
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 5, 2020
Biggest fall from grace:
HD: Sheffield United. Chris Wilder’s side performed miracles last year but I’m expecting a dip this time around. Their form after the restart was mostly poor and I think they may struggle without the presence of a reliable goalscorer.
PH: Dean Henderson, Man United. David De Gea will suffer his own fall, the media pressure will increase for England’s future number one to take over, before he also falls spectacularly and reveals himself to be Joe Hart in disguise.
RW: Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool. More of a hope than anything realistic, but you never know.
SM: Man City. They were 18 points behind Liverpool last season. David Silva has left, Sergio Aguero is injury prone and Nathan Aké has arrived from a Bournemouth side who shipped 65 goals last campaign.
SMcG: Frank Lampard. The Chelsea manager might well be found out this season.
VA: Fred, Man United. Paul Pogba’s return from injury and Donny Van de Beek’s arrival will surely demote Fred from regular starter to sporadic bench player.
Verdict: No consensus.
HD: Ben White, Brighton. Those at Leeds believe last season’s loanee will be a contender for the England’s Euro 2021 squad with a full season of Premier League football behind him. It’s just a shame for the newly-promoted side that those minutes will come in the colours of Brighton.
PH: Fabio Silva, Wolves. Okay, so I’ll admit I’d never heard of him until the other day, but I’ve just watched him on YouTube and am now convinced he’ll score more goals for Portugal than Cristiano Ronaldo.
RW: Daniel Podence, Wolves. Needs more game time, but it could be a big year for the Portuguese winger.
SM: Curtis Jones, Liverpool. Improved incredibly under Jürgen Klopp, announcing his arrival with a wonder goal in the FA Cup against Everton. Handed the number 17 shirt, he will have a big role to play in Liverpool’s title defence and start more than the six he did last season. Klopp knows talent.
SMcG: Rhian Brewster, Liverpool. Technically he already had his breakout campaign at Swansea City in the Championship last season, but if he gets his rumoured move away from Anfield then he could have a whopper time of it.
VA: Eberechi Eze, Crystal Palace. Eze was one of the most creative and skillful players in the Championship last season and he can shine alongside Wilfried Zaha.
Verdict: No consensus.
HD: Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man United.
PH: Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United.
RW: Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs. Call me crazy, but it might not be all sunshine and roses for Chelsea this year.
SM: Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal.
SMcG: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United. I don’t think any club has done the kind of business required to break up last year’s top four.
VA: Liverpool, Manchester City, Man United, Chelsea. The subversive effect of the All or Nothing documentary is tempting me to go for a Spurs top four finish, but I think Manchester United and Chelsea will have enough quality to retain their Champions League spots.
Verdict: Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Chelsea.
Most likely to break up the ‘Big Six’:
PH: Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo sets them up brilliantly, they have no European football this season, they continue to make astute signings and most importantly look like keeping their best players.
RW: Wolves. If they can keep Raul Jiménez and Adama Traore then they will only improve on last year.
SM: Wolves. They proved a difficult outfit to beat since their Premier League return. They make it very hard to be broken down, but also have that threat going forward.
SMcG: Leicester City. Same prediction as last year, as they very much have the fifth best squad in the league. But they’ll need better luck with injuries.
VA: Wolves. A boring call, but with no European football this season Wolves can focus solely on the league and should be better off for it.
HD: Fulham, Aston Villa, West Brom.
PH: Fulham, West Brom, Brighton.
RW: Aston Villa, Burnley, West Ham. Villa can’t score, Burnley have no money, West Ham have David Moyes. Simple. (And no, I don’t just hate claret and blue.)
SM: Burnley, West Brom, Fulham.
SMcG: Newcastle, Aston Villa, West Brom. Clutching at any and all straws that Fulham won’t go down, but if they are to stay up then these are the three teams who will finish below them.
VA: Aston Villa, Fulham, West Brom. It’s unknown whether Villa’s post-lockdown defensive form can be maintained for a full season, while West Brom and Fulham probably don’t have enough quality to finish above three other teams in the division.
Verdict: Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham.
The club most likely to spring a surprise in the table:
HD: Southampton. I’m expecting Southampton to kick on under Ralph Hasenhuttl this season. The early season relegation scare of last term will be replaced with a push for the top ten.
PH: Southampton. Maybe not a surprise because of how they finished last season, but I fancy Saints to flirt with the top six before ultimately dropping off like all good surprise teams do.
RW: Southampton. After an excellent end to the season, they can only get better.
SM: Arsenal. A new-look team with solidarity, if they believe and their attacking players perform to their highest standards, expect them to get top four.
SMcG: Leeds United. One of the best coached teams in the country managed by one of the best in the game, they’ll do alright this season.
VA: Sheffield United. Most people see Sheffield United dropping off from last season, but their approach is unique enough to continue to pose teams problems and they may be fighting for a Europa League spot again this season.
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 5, 2020
Manager of the Season:
HD: Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool.
PH: Ralph Hasenhüttl, Southampton. You see part of the reason the Saints will drop off is because big Ralph will have guided them to Carabao Cup glory.
RW: Scott Parker, Fulham. Keeping the Cottagers in the top flight would be a massive achievement. I think they’ll do it.
SM: Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool. They will retain the title.
SMcG: Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United. In the battle of narratives, Bielsa will overcome Frank Lampard.
VA: Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool. Alan Pardew isn’t a Premier League manager at present, so Klopp will probably win the award if Liverpool defend their title.
Verdict: Jürgen Klopp.
🗣 "We're a different kind of club"
🔴 #LFC manager Jurgen Klopp defends the club's caution in the transfer market compared to title rivals "owned by countries and oligarchs".
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) September 9, 2020
First manager to get the sack:
HD: Slaven Bilic, West Brom.
PH: David Moyes, West Ham United.
RW: Frank Lampard, Chelsea. The club have spent so much money that if it doesn’t go well quickly, Frank could face the sack.
SM: Frank Lampard, Chelsea. The Blues spent over £220m and still need a new goalkeeper and defence. Ben Chilwell is good, but Thiago Silva has no Premier League experience and is 35! Roman Abramovich will run out of patience if they are not in the top four by Christmas.
SMcG: David Moyes, West Ham United. The Hammers are already off to a great start thanks to the chaotic Grady Diangana situation, so expect it to worsen from here.
VA: Slaven Bilic. Since Watford aren’t in the Premier League, West Brom will likely be the first team to sack their coach if they find themselves in the relegation zone for a prolonged period.
Verdict: A three-way tie between Bilic, Lampard and Moyes.
Champions League winner:
HD: Bayern Munich. Tough to look past an utterly dominant Bayern in Europe last season, bolstered further by the signing of Leroy Sane. Expect a challenge from a Premier League side, though.
PH: Bayern Munich. Boring, but Bayern look head and shoulders above everyone else.
RW: Juventus. Andrea Pirlo to lead Juve to glory in his first season. Ronaldo the main man as always.
SM: Liverpool. It will be very difficult to beat a resolute Bayern Munich, but over two games anything can happen as we have seen with Klopp’s side stunning Barcelona.
VA: Atletico Madrid. They have a world-class coach and a style of play that matches up well against other favourites such as Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG, and Bayern Munich.
Verdict: Bayern or Liverpool.
Predicted final league table (average position):
=1. Liverpool (1.6)
=1. Man City (1.6)
3. Man Utd (3.3)
4. Chelsea (3.6)
=5. Spurs (5.8)
=5. Arsenal (5.8)
7. Wolves (7.0)
8. Leicester (8.1)
=9. Southampton (9.6)
=9. Everton (9.6)
11. Sheffield United (10.8)
12. Leeds United (13.0)
=13. Burnley (14.5)
=13. Newcastle United (14.5)
15. Brighton (14.8)
16. Crystal Palace (15.1)
17. West Ham (15.8)
18. Aston Villa (17.5)
19. Fulham (18.1)
20. West Brom (19.1)
Where there was a tie, we gave the nod to the team which finished higher in the table in 2019/20.
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