While prediction pieces normally are a lot of guess work, this one at least has the benefit of two weeks of games to base the guess work from. What have we learnt so far?
In short, Manchester City and Liverpool are already at the top and will prove hard to catch this year. At the other end of the table West Ham and Arsenal are sitting where a lot of people would like them to be at the end of the year but unfortunately neither will be relegated.
Which teams did the best transfer business (hint, not Tottenham), who is the key signing for each team and how will each team go? Read on as I use a highly scientific method* to determine who finishes where. The teams are listed in order of the current table with current points in brackets.
*Method not scientific at all.
Manchester City (6)
Key Signing: Riyad Mahrez
Manchester City have started this season like the whole of the last one. 8 goals scored, 1 against. It’s hard to see anyone catching them. This season they have been improved by the signing of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester and the return from injury of Ben Mendy. Mendy already looks the goods and I regret not picking him up in my Fantasy Premier League draft. The loss of De Bruyne won’t slow them down much at all, as Sane, Mahrez, Sterling, Silva (x2) etc will keep them ticking along.
Key Signing: Alisson Becker
Let’s face it, Liverpool had lost confidence in their goalie last season (irrespective of whether it was the concussion that caused the howlers). A new goalie was needed and fast. Alisson looks like an improvement on Karius & Mignolet and Liverpool’s defence already looks more solid. However Lovren hasn’t come back from injury yet so don’t discount some woeful defending in future. I would be really worried if one of Salah, Firmino, or Mane were injured as there is no-one of that class to replace them.
Prediction: 2nd (if the front three stay fit)
Key Signing: Jorginho
Jorginho certainly appears to be one of the missing pieces in the Chelsea puzzle. He slots in far more comfortably than Mikel or Bakayoko did. He will also allow Kante to get into more advanced positions – Kante already has one goal (albeit a mis-hit). One remaining problem is the lack of a confident and consistent striker. Morata has had his issues and Giroud cares more about his hair. If Morata can fire, expect Chelsea to be there or there abouts.
Key Signing: Deulofeu
Watford have got off to a flying start this season, and that’s partly due to manager Javi Gracia’s use of Troy Deeney, who is flourishing. Watford struggled in the second half of last season, and I don’t see them sticking with the big teams for too long. A mid-table finish is the best they can hope for, although if Deulofeu gets his machine gun out, expect some upsets.
Key Signing: Well this is awkward.
Spurs made no first team signings. Zero. Which coincidentally matches the numbers of trophies won in the last 10 seasons. However the last three years have been consistent improvement and show promise. It really is time for them to kick on and win something though, otherwise players (and Pochettino) will leave. While no signings is not great, keeping all of the key players in the squad is huge bonus. Alderweireld, Rose, and Dembele all seem like they’re staying. Trippier is coming on in leaps and bounds, Lucas Moura is settling in nicely, and Harry Winks and Erik Lamela are coming back from long term injuries. Llorente is looking far more potent and slightly ameliorates the need for a quality back up striker – although I’d still be worried if Harry Kane gets injured.
Key Signing: Jefferson Lerma
Bournemouth are another team to have made a great start. They have a fairly settled squad under Eddie Howe, however they haven’t made too many signings. Calum Wilson seems to be regaining his form of two years ago and I rate their chances at getting close to a top 10 finish this season. Signing Colombian Jefferson Lerma for a club-record fee is a signal of intent. Don’t expect to see them battling relegation.
Key Signing: Richarlison
Everton have again splashed the cash in the transfer window with some great signings. Richarlison came out in the media today saying he wanted the golden boot. It’s a great attitude and he’s started very well, but he’ll have to avoid the second half slump he had last season. Marco Silva seems to have added a new element to Everton, and the return of Seamus Coleman will undoubtedly help. My one concern is at striker where Cenk Tosun hasn’t truly settled yet.
Key Signing: James Maddison
Leicester have been a bit hit and miss in their first two games. Wolves certainly had the better of them and Leicester did well to take the chances when they came. Their squad is looking a little depleted and the loss of Riyad Mahrez will hurt. Jonny Evans is a good signing, as is attacking midfielder James Maddison. As always, if Jamie Vardy can bang them in they’ll do well. If not, they’ll struggle. I pick them to have a very average season.
Manchester United (3)
Key Signing: Fred
There weren’t too many signings to choose from to be honest. And this is one of the reasons Jose Mourinho is having a whinge. I’m getting a bit sick of him to be honest, I genuinely think it has to be all about him, and if it’s not, he packs a sad to get the attention back. There is certainly a lot of frustration going on at the club and I don’t see him lasting the season. There is uncertainty about Pogba as well and Woodward really needed to sign a CB or two. They could go alright if Pogba stays, and Sanchez and Lukaku fire more consistently, but I see this as a season of upheaval for United. The power in Manchester has well and truly shifted to the blue half.
Crystal Palace (3)
Key Signing: Max Meyer
Palace are another team that I like the look of so far. They have a settled squad and have made some quality additions including that of German midfielder Max Meyer. They have the talent up front and Selhurst Park is always tough to travel to. If Christian Benteke can rediscover some consistent form to take some weight of Zaha’s shoulders, then I expect them to be top 10.
Brighton and Hove Albion (3)
Key Signing: Jahanbakhsh (I’m glad this isn’t a podcast)
Brighton have made a massive 16 signings over the off-season, the envy of all Spurs fans everywhere. However not too many of them will improve the starting XI except for maybe attacking midfielder Jahanbakhsh from Iran. While I always have a soft spot for Brighton (the scene where Japan beat South Africa at Rugby World Cup 2015), I think they may struggle this season, especially with their over-reliance on Gross and Murray. I’m picking a tough year for the seagulls.
Key Signing: Danny Ings
Southampton have made a couple of good signings with defender Vestergaard and Danny Ings returning to the South Coast. Southampton released Ings as a school boy and he will have a point to prove – already he has had the most shots inside the box this season. However they battled last year, and I don’t think the squad has been improved enough to change their situation. It’s a very small squad and a couple of injuries will really hurt.
Prediction: 18th and relegated
Key Signing: Salomon Rondon
I had the misfortune of watching Cardiff v Newcastle last week and Newcastle haven’t changed at all from last season. They will be wildly inconsistent with flashes of absolute brilliance through Shelvey, new signing Kenedy (on loan from Chelsea) and Perez. They have always lacked a consistent goal scorer and they will be hoping that new signing Salomon Rondon can fill that hole. I don’t expect he will. More of the same from Newcastle this year.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (1)
Key Signing: Every Portuguese player except Ronaldo
Wolves have made some really good signings and I like the way they’ve started the season. Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio are both seasoned campaigners and Raul Jimenez looks like an accomplished striker who can score the goals that newly promoted teams often struggle with. If they have a suspect area it’s the defence and despite the fact I like the look of them, I see them flirting with relegation for most of the season.
Key Signing: Matej Vydra
Go on, who thought I was going to say Joe Hart? Vydra is the kind of player who works well just in behind a target man (of which Burnley have plenty – Wood, Barnes, Vokes), and should be just what Burnley are missing up front. Of course we all want to see Chris Wood banging in the goals and if they can do so they will be right up there again. Their Europa League dream is hanging in tatters after a 3-1 defeat to Olympiakos this morning, and I don’t think they’ll have as strong a season as last year, especially with Joe Hart in goal (sorry Joe).
Key Signing: Harry Arter or Victor Camarasa
Both Arter and Camarasa missed Cardiff’s opening game and it was significant how much these two (along with Joe Ralls) bossed the midfield in the second game against Newcastle. They looked slightly more than a route one team and created chances on the ground. However don’t expect Cardiff to change the gameplan much – its long balls and set pieces all the way. Avoid watching if you want entertaining matches. They haven’t really improved their squad too much (my mate who plays Championship Football Manager recognises most of them – which is a bad sign) and I’m picking them to finish last.
Key Signing: Sokratis
It’s a new era at Arsenal with Unai Emery replacing Arsene Wenger. And nothing has really changed. Sokratis has been signed to quote philosophy shore up the defence, but it still looks mentally brittle. They have had a tough start to the season with Manchester City and Chelsea first up. Aubameyang and/or Lacazette firing is really what they need, with Mesut “E.T.” Ozil being more consistent. If this all happens, they’ll be pushing top four. However I’m picking a difficult first year for Emery.
Key Signing: Aleksander Mitrovic
Fulham have done some quality transfer business, bringing in many players with proven premier league experience such as Andre Shurrle, Calum Chambers, Alfie Mawson, and Mitrovic. They’ve also managed to keep Ryan Sessegnon. Manchester United fans will be watching Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s performances with interests, with the youngster highly rated. Do they have enough quality to stay up? I would like to think so, but it will be tough. Mitrovic will need to keep banging them in like he did in the Championship.
West Ham (0)
Key Signing: Felipe Anderson
West Ham backed Manuel Pellegrini in the transfer market with several big name signings, including Anderson, Lucas Perez, and Andriy Yarmolenko. Not too many upgrades in defence though, and Winston Reid is out for a significant chunk of the season. Consistency is always an issue, as is keeping their fans on-side (not the most supportive lot, they should just accept the fact that they’re the 6th best team in London) Marko Arnautovic was on fire during pre-season and I feel he will be crucial to the Hammers having a successful season. Early results will be crucial to get the fans onside and so far they haven’t done that.
Key Signing: Diakhaby
Huddersfield have had a rough start to the season, and unfortunately I can only see this continuing. They haven’t strengthened the team a lot and I believe they will struggle more than last season. New signing Diakhaby from Monaco scored or assisted every hour of football he played – if he can fire then they may have a chance, but I’m picking the Terriers to go down.