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Premier League Predictions 2017-18

Now in my 4th year, here are my Premier League predictions for the season.

For those who are interested, here are my 2016-17 predictions which I made at the start of last season: https://aaronporter.wordpress.com/sport/

1 – Manchester City

Pep has significantly strengthened their squad over the summer, and on paper I feel they have the greatest strength and depth. Whether they can gel quickly enough to sustain a challenge remains to be seen, but they are my tips.

2 – Manchester United

Like their city rivals, United have made smart acquisitions this season. Bluntly given the talent in this team it would be unforgiveable not to be close to the title. United have a terrific starting XI, but I feel City have greater depth which may give them the edge. Lukaku and Matic are wonderful signings and will help United to a better finish than last year.

3 – Chelsea

Although they looked head and shoulders above everyone else for most of last season, Stamford Bridge doesn’t seem to be a happy place right now. And Conte looks particularly agitated. Losing Matic, and forcing Costa to leave are seriously questionable decisions. Unless Chelsea can replace them before the window closes, I suspect they will fail to match last season. Worse if they start poorly, Conte could even face the same fate as the 2016, 2015 & 2014 league title winners by losing their job in the following season.

4 – Arsenal

In my opinion, rumours of Arsenal’s demise are somewhat exaggerated. Last season in the league was sub-standard, but the raw ingredients are there and in Wenger they do have an excellent manager. If Sanchez can rediscover his sparkling best, I can see the Gunners back in the rightful spot (ie. 4th!)

5 – Liverpool

On their day, Liverpool can beat anyone and Klopp is assembling a strong team. Salah can take them to another level, and I have the feeling Solanke could surprise with important goals too. Defensively they are still a little suspect too, so I’m expecting some great wins but also inevitable defeats to teams their supporters feel they should win.

6 – Tottenham Hotspur

I worry that a lack of summer signings (at the time of writing), the move to Wembley and Champions League commitments could transpire to derail Spurs progress somewhat. On the plus side, this is a team of young players who seem to take huge strides forward each season. Kane is crucial, and I worry about their reliance on him.

7 – Everton

Koeman is a good tactician, and although they have lost their best player (Lukaku), the Toffees haven’t been shy in their recruitment. Just 12 months ago, the suggestion that Everton would have been frankly ludicrous. But I expect them to still be “the best of the rest”.

8 – Stoke City

The Potters have been able to string together excellent form in 6 month bursts, can Sparky produce the magic for a full season? Darren Fletcher will bring some bite and experience in the middle, and Zouma at the back can bring some added stability.

9 – Leicester City

What a few years it’s been for the Foxes. The Ranieri revolution may be ancient history, but will never be forgotten by their eternally grateful fans. Iheanacho is a terrific acquisition up front, and his goals (together with Vardy) should see them into the top half.

10 – West Ham United

West Ham were up and down last year, but they have a strong first team and in Hart, Hernandez, Arnautovic and Zabeleta they have picked up 4 players who are tried and tested in this league.

11 – West Bromwich Albion

With TP at the helm, mid table safety is almost guaranteed. Defensively they will surely be sound, and whilst I still remain to be convinced by their options upfront they will squeeze enough hard fought 1-0 wins to be comfortable members of the mid table pack.

12 – Southampton

Another season, another new manager. Eventually this strategy (like Watford) will surely backfire, but they have a good squad which should ensure they aren’t dragged any lower. Pre season has been mixed, and Pellegrino will need to adapt quickly to the Premier League to avoid them slipping into a relegation dogfight.

13 – Bournemouth

The rise of Bournemouth has been irresistible under Eddie Howe. Although they have spent big again this summer (on fees and wages), we’ll have to wait and see whether they can repeat their terrific 9th place finish from last campaign. I suspect the Howe magic may begin to fade, but a solid mid table finish.

14 – Crystal Palace

Frank de Boer was football royalty as a player, and his spell as Ajax manager was sensational. He inherits a strong squad who have performed in 6 month intervals.  His mission is to develop a more progressive style under a 3-4-3 formation, improve the Eagles home form and begin to blood more youngsters. It’s a tall order, and there will  be bumps along the way, but this squad should have a little breathing space from a relegation fight, and after last season that will be welcome.

15 – Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez has brought some much needed stability to Tyneside, and although they only just won the Championship last year promotion never really felt in doubt. Their transfer business has been relatively modest, compared to other PL teams, but they should have enough quality to retain their top flight status.

16 – Burnley

Sean Dyche continues to over-perform as Burnley boss with little fanfare. Losing Michael Keane is a blow, and replacements so far (Jon Walters, Charlie Taylor & Jack Cork) aren’t exactly exciting. Exciting isn’t the Dyche way, but I think (and hope) they have just enough to survive for another year.

17 – Swansea City

Last season Paul Clement dug Swansea out of trouble when they looked dead and buried. Sigurdsson has been a crucial player for them since his return, and as we head to the season start his future remains unclear. My prediction assumes he leaves and without a replacement on the cards another relegation fight could be on the cards. Survival on the last day.

18 – Watford

The managerial merry-go-round doesn’t seem to stop at Vicarage Road. This time Marco Silva starts the campaign in charge. He was widely regarded for his late attempt to save Hull last season, but it ended in failure. The story of the last couple of seasons has been a steady start, followed by an alarming drop. I fear this could be the year when the PL music stops for the Hornets.

19 – Huddersfield Town

A year ago, the suggestion that Huddersfield would be a Premier League team would have seemed faintly absurd. Key players they had on loan last season have been signed permanently, notably Aaron Mooy, but their summer signings have largely been to bring the Championship best with them. The quality of their squad may not quite hit the heights of some other teams, but last season they confounded all expectations their fans will hope they can once again to beat the drop.

20 – Brighton & Hove Albion

It’s taken 34 years for Brighton to return to the top flight, and it’s certainly been a long and winding path to return. Although Hughton is a manager with Premier League experience, the squad is relatively inexperienced at this level. Glenn Murray can be relied upon to score goals, and whilst he’s prolific in The Championship his record in the PL is less impressive (11 goals, 52 apps). I suspect like their last season in the top flight (1983), Brighton will finish bottom of the pile and return to the second flight.

Other predictions:

Top scorer – Romelu Lukaku

Manager of the season – Pep Guardiola

First manager to be sacked – Marco Silva

 

Premier League Predictions 16-17

(originally posted on August 13th 2016)

It’s that time of the year, to pin my colours to the mast and predict 1-20 for the new Premier League season.

Arguably, this is the hardest season to predict for decades with by my count 7 teams standing a credible chance of winning, and 10 teams who could go down.

1 – Chelsea

Another new start for Chelsea. They still have a quality squad, finished the season strongly and the absence of European football could see them crowned 16-17 Champions. Success will likely depend on the durability of John Terry, and goals from Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi.

2 – Manchester City

Probably the strongest squad on paper, but unconvinced that even with £47m Stones that defensive frailties have been addressed. But the world’s best coach, and a quality squad should see them challenge for the title right down to the wire. The Manchester derby

3 – Manchester United

Four huge summer signings should start to change the fortunes for Manchester United. Mourinho will no doubt bring his usual grit and organisation to the team, but this is still a team in transition and imagine it make take the team a little while to gel.

4 – Tottenham Hotspur

An outstanding season last campaign, which fell away at the final furlong. So Spurs. I fear they will struggle to repeat the feat of last year, but this is a young team which is still improving. So far only Wanyama and Janssen have been added which gives them stability. But 4th would still represent a good season, particularly if the next prediction is correct…

5 – Arsenal

This might finally be the year when Arsenal fall shout of Champions League qualification. Arsene is, and has been a great coach. But his stubbornness in the transfer market is baffling. Surely a world class centre back and centre forward away from challenging for the title, football has a horrible way of sending managers out without a bang. In the last year of his contract, this would be stain on a pretty remarkable 20 years for Msr Wenger.

6 – Leicester City

Last season was incredible, and Ranieri is right in many ways to say that to retain the title would be an even bigger surprise than winning it for the first time. Kante has been replaced with Mendy, so the formula will be much the same as last year. But can the magic be repeated? European nights at the King Power will surely be memorable.

7 – Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has brought a new lease of life into Anfield, and a new style of play. They are a team moving in the right direction, but whether they can leapfrog the teams above them remain to be seen. There has been a huge overhaul of the squad, and surely it will take time to gel.

8 – West Ham United

Had it not been for the Leicester fairytale, Slaven Bilic would surely have been manager of the season (in a tight contest with Pochettino). 9 new signings have bolstered the squad, but not obviously the first XI. Their biggest signing was keeping hold of Payet, who will be one of the most feared players this campaign.

9 – Stoke City

Mark Hughes has taken Stoke to a new level, surpassing the feat of the solid if uninspiring Tony Pulis team. Other than Joe Allen, it’s been a fairly quiet summer, although they have publicly stated their interest in Saido Berahino. Defensively solid, and competitive in midfield, their front line is the weakest link in an otherwise good Stoke team.

10 – Everton

Everton have left their transfer business late in the summer, only opening the cheque book once John Stones had been sold. Koeman was clearly an astute manager, efficient and impressive at Southampton. Toffees fans will hope he can replicate this at Goodison. Perhaps the most important acquisition might be Steve Walsh (as Director of Football) from Leicester, but we may not see the returns on this in the first transfer window.

11 – Southampton

Southampton have continued to surpass expectations, managing to overcome the loss of key players (and successive managers). Claude Puel is an unknown quantity in England, but his credentials at Monaco, Lyon and most latterly Nice has been impressive.

12 – Crystal Palace

At the start of 2016, the Eagles were 5th in the league and Alan Pardew was the nailed on replacement to Roy Hodgson. But a terrible run of league form in 2016 has caused concern among Palace fans, and whilst Townsend and Mandanda are sound acquisitions beginning the season with a forward line of Connor Wickham and Frazier Campbell doesn’t scream goals. If Benteke (as rumoured) can be signed, 12th would be plausible. Otherwise I fear 40 points might not come until toward the end of the season.

13 – Swansea City

Swansea finished the season well, and now a busy summer of incoming and outgoing transfers. Now an established team in the Premier League, Swans will be hoping they can glide into the top half, but I fear they may fall just short.

14 – Bournemouth

The rise and rise under Eddie Howe has been incredible. Last season was particularly impressive as they survived with games to spare, and were without some of their most influential players for much of the season. Second season blues has caught many clubs over the years, but I think the Cherries could better their finish from last campaign. With Arsene Wenger set to retire at the end of the season, another solid finish could see Howe linked with a big move.

15 – West Bromwich Albion

With Tony Pulis at the helm, there shouldn’t be a problem with relegation, but they might not hit 40 points until May. So far they have only signed Matt Phillips, but TP has said he wants another 5 players at least. Will the new Chinese investment arrive in time for Pulis to get the players in he wants?

16 – Watford

The forward line of Deeney and Ighalo last year was incredible, as was the tactical approach from Flores. Much will fall on the shoulders of the forward line once again, but like Crystal Palace their league form in 2016 was not great. Another team with a new manager (Walter Mazzarri), we wait to see how they will set out their stall.

17 – Middlesbrough

Defensively Aitor Karanka organised a formidable team in The Championship last season, and that was the bedrock of their promotion success. Much will depend on goals from Negredo, and if they can continue to be tight at the back I think they might do enough to survive.

18 – Sunderland

Sam Allardyce pulled off a great late season recover for the Black Cats, when they looked down and out. David Moyes did a terrific job at Everton, but it simply hasn’t come off for him then. Summer signings don’t inspire confidence, and I fear this might be the season their luck finally runs out.

19 – Burnley

Burnley won plaudits for their determined approach 2 seasons ago. Dyche managed to get the team straight back to the top flight, but summer signings have been limited so the team will be much the same as the promotion winning team from last season. However I fear they may be a little short in quality and depth. But last season, I predicted Leicester City would finish 19th.

20 – Hull City

The only surprise would be if Hull City don’t finish bottom. The money which had been pumped in under the Alam chairmanship appears to be drying up, and what was already an uphill climb would seem insurmountable. Just 1 signing (from AFC Wimbledon) they are arguably weaker than last season. I expect to see them fall back into The Championship.

Other predictions:

Top scorer – Sergio Ageuro

Manager of the season – Antonio Conte

First manager to be sacked – David Moyes

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