Will Manchester City take the title crown again? RealSport’s Premier League predictions
It’s prediction season and RealSport’s football writers have taken their shot at predicting what will happen this coming Premier League season.
Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley
The Premier League is finally here and we at RealSport are very excited for the season ahead.
Last year, Manchester City ran away with the title while West Brom, Stoke, and Swansea fell through the trapdoor.
Who will our writer’s pick to take the crown? Who will they pick to get relegated? Which team will surprise us the most?
Read below, as we take you through our predictions for the season ahead.
Premier League winner
Jon Mackenzie: Manchester City
The Premier League is notoriously hard to retain.
Manchester City are, by almost every metric conceivable, the best team the Premier League has ever seen. Between these two, we’re in for an interesting title challenge as we go into the new season.
Although Liverpool look ominous, the rest of the top six are either going through rebuilds with new managers or are a seemingly cash-strapped Spurs.
Klopp’s Liverpool will cause the most problems but the expected switch to a preferred 3-5-2 with the return of Benjamin Mendy should be enough to keep Guardiola’s men fresh.
Oli Stein: Manchester City
In truth, this doesn’t need much explanation.
Pep Guardiola envisages problems before they even materialise, which negates the issue of clubs now having had a year to devise a method of stopping them. Hence, experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation over the summer.
This tactical versatility and unpredictability, coupled with improved strength in depth from Riyad Mahrez and Benjamin Mendy, will see the Citizens become the first side to retain the Premier League title since their city rivals, Manchester United, in 2009.
Connor Bromley: Manchester City
The current Premier League champions will reign supreme again this season.
Their current challengers have not done enough in the transfer market while Guardiola has kept his team together and made some shrewd additions.
Liverpool are likely to be the closest challengers, but they lack the experience to mount a serious challenge to City’s dominance.
Nestor Watach: Manchester City
It won’t be as emphatic this year and there will be more emphasis on achieving something in the Champions League but Manchester City have by far the best squad and most depth.
Pep Guardiola doesn’t do complacency. His Bayern Munich and Barcelona teams evolved and improved after the first title wins.
Points won’t be as easy to come by, but that applies to their competitors too. Injuries to Ederson or Fernandinho the only thing that could derail them.
Sam France: Manchester City
It was no mistake that City broke so many records last season; this is one of the best teams that English football has seen and they will prove it with a second consecutive title.
It will be closer than last year but City can likely drop 15 points on last season’s total and still emerge as champions. The returning Benjamin Mendy will improve them, as will Riyad Mahrez and a maturing Bernardo Silva – and that should be worrying for the rest of the league.
Jon Mackenzie: Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal
Beyond the top two – who could finish the season well in advance of the points totals of the rest of the top four – it’s hard to plump on two teams to finish in the top four.
As a recent study showed, Manchester United were lucky last season. If they regress to the norm, it’s hard seeing them in the top four.
Despite having made no transfers as of yet, Spurs should still be good value to hold on to the top four. Much is made of investment in the English game but continuity is also an important factor.
The decision between Arsenal and Chelsea is a toss up: both have strong squads that have suffered because of managerial upheaval; both have elite managers coming in to impose new styles.
Of the two, Arsenal probably have the edge – they have a more settled squad and have invested in the areas they needed to, leaving very few weak positions.
Oli Stein: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs
Although there’s no certainty that Liverpool’s new signings will take to Jurgen Klopp’s methods and intense style of play as quickly as many expect, they’re best-placed to challenge the Citizens for the title.
Manchester United, by contrast, have had a relatively poor summer as the Jose Mourinho-inspired cloud of negativity shrouding Old Trafford continues to grow. Nonetheless, they finished second last year and will secure a top four spot once again.
Fourth will be a battle between Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs, though the Lilywhites are settled in terms of personnel — despite the tumult of the transfer window — and will earn a fourth consecutive Champions League finish.
Connor Bromley: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs
Liverpool are arguably the second strongest side in the Premier League now and, therefore, should be a shoo-in for the top four.
Manchester United have had a poor summer so far and do not look like they have improved all that much. That being said, the Red Devils should still be good enough to seal a top-four place.
Spurs have also had a poor summer so far but they should still have enough to keep their Champions League place, though that may depend on how well they settle into their new stadium.
Nestor Watach: Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal
Liverpool should be a certainty given the myriad first-team improvements they have managed to achieve in one calendar year. They now have the sense of a team in ascendency under Jurgen Klopp.
This leaves it extremely competitive with four good teams fighting for the two remaining spots.
Arsenal will finally not be under-coached, Stephan Lichtsteiner will add a winning mentality and Lucas Torreira some much-needed steel.
Tottenham haven’t improved but haven’t lost anyone either and Pochettino will have them overachieving once again.
Sam France: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal
City and Liverpool should be nailed on given their respective squads but the last two are harder to choose.
Manchester United should get there despite the continuing restrictive management of Jose Mourinho — Alexis Sanchez’ resurgence could have a big role to play there — but out of the other big six teams, I fancy Arsenal.
Sarrismo will take a while for Chelsea to get used to and Spurs could face a long hangover with their players coming back from the World Cup to a new home stadium.
Arsenal have a good squad and could adapt to Unai Emery’s style quickly. A relatively fast start could be enough to see them back into the Champions League spots.
Jon Mackenzie: Watford, Huddersfield and Cardiff City
Cardiff are an easy shoo-in for relegation. So likely are they to go down that their transfer activity has looked more like a planned promotion push in the 2019/20 season.
Beyond this, the Premier League looks very competitive for the final two slots.
With David Wagner working miracles at Huddersfield last season, it seems unfair to put them down. However, last season there were categorically worse sides than them in the league. This season feels different. Eventually, the lack of resources will catch up with them.
Other than this, Watford look to be the weakest team in the division. Javi Gracia was far from convincing last season and the club have seen more quality leaving than arriving over the summer.
Oli Stein: Watford, Southampton and Cardiff City
Cardiff won an unlikely promotion to the Premier League but, unlike Huddersfield — who arrived in the top-flight amid similar circumstances in 2016/17 under the impressive David Wagner — Neil Warnock is the best at getting teams up but not keeping them there. They don’t look a Premier League side and are expected to finish bottom.
Southampton survived by three points last year and struggled immensely both at the back and in front of goal. Jannik Vestergaard can fill the Virgil van Dijk hole, but they still haven’t added a goalscorer and Mark Hughes is arguably the worst manager in the league.
Watford’s successful policy of chopping and changing personnel hasn’t come to the fore this summer, with Javi Gracia leading them into the new season. He was close to the sack last year and I think he’ll take them down this time as the Hornets make their last sting.
Connor Bromley: Watford, Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City
Watford have relied on strong starts to get them to safety in each season they have been in the Premier League but I suspect that they may run out of that early luck this campaign.
Huddersfield Town stayed up magnificently last season but they look the most likely side to suffer from second-season syndrome. Their squad still does not look like a Premier League one.
Cardiff City came up quite surprisingly last season but they already have a squad that looks severely out of its depth. Can Warnock keep them up? Probably not.
Nestor Watach: Southampton, Huddersfield and Cardiff City
Cardiff will look to surprise people and play to their strengths but their no-nonsense traditional approach will look hopelessly outdated in a league with so many sophisticated tacticians.
Huddersfield will struggle because they can no longer ride the momentum that was so crucial last season and there will be more quality in the bottom half of the table this time around.
Mark Hughes will find it difficult to get Southampton clicking. Angus Gunn will be a good signing but they are still sorely lacking in firepower.
Sam France: Brighton, Huddersfield and Cardiff
Last season saw several teams under-perform at the wrong end of the table: I don’t see there being so many poor sides again this time around.
These three sides look the weakest on paper with Brighton and Huddersfield seeming to get through most of last season in large part due to their team spirit. I’m not sure that will last for another year.
A look at each of these squads throws up few obvious match winners at this level — they will have to punch above their weight to ensure another season of top-flight football.
Jon Mackenzie: Brighton
Don’t expect Brighton to set the world alight this season but also don’t expect them to go down. In fact, the best case scenario for them will probably be finishing in 15th place again.
Having come up into the Premier League last season, Chris Hughton’s men were well organised and beat their relegation rivals to assure their place in this season’s competition.
Over the summer though, they have thought carefully about how to approach the season, bringing in some quietly impressive signings from smaller markets around Europe.
With a mixture of youth and experience brought into the side, don’t be surprised for Brighton to continue being solid in a very competitive league.
Oli Stein: Fulham
I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Fulham’s business this summer.
Slavisa Jokanovic may have played the most attractive football in the Championship but he didn’t let that blind him to the problems that existed in the squad.
Goals were added in Aleksandar Mitrovic, Callum Chambers and Alfie Mawson bring Premier League experience to defence, as does Andre Schurrle on the flank.
Jean Michael Seri, though, is the most impressive capture of the lot and will be essential in transferring Jokanovic’s style of play to the Premier League.
Connor Bromley: Fulham
Lots of people are tipping Wolves to be the promoted side that takes the league by storm but I think it will be the playoff winners Fulham.
They have invested shrewdly this summer and already look like a Premier League side on paper. A top-half finish could well be in their sights.
Nestor Watach: Everton
It’s hard to see them deviating from the spot of seventh place they appear to have reserved for themselves but that’s only because of the quality in the top six rather than a damning indictment on them.
They’ve shown the requisite ambition in the transfer market to allow Marco Silva to build a solid team, playing a 4-2-3-1 that is a massive upgrade on his Hull and Watford teams.
In fact, Everton under Silva could closely resemble Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk whose manager, Paulo Fonseca, uses the same system.
Bernard and Richarlison will work well, and Mina would be superb at the back if they can get him. Fans will have something to cheer again and the biggest teams should fear going to Goodison: as they should have done last season.
Sam France: Everton
It seems a little odd to be picking the Toffees as a surprise package given their reputation as a team that should always be around the European places but I think Marco Silva has put together a very exciting looking squad.
Given their underachievement last season, other sides may well underestimate them but this is Silva’s big chance at proving he can mix it with the best. They’ll be among the best of the rest this season.
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