My predictions for the 2018/19 Premier League season!
Well a new Premier League season is upon us, beginning this evening with Manchester United against Leicester City at Old Trafford. Everybody is gearing up for a whole new campaign and everybody wants to predict outcomes before the season has even begun and we at CSF are no different! So without further ado, here are some of mine.
Champions and top 4: Every year for me at least, this begins to get more difficult but this year, I think I may have it...
• Manchester City. • Liverpool. • Arsenal. • Chelsea.
I honestly feel that Pep Guardiola is going to be the first manager and City the first team, to successfully defend their Premier League title since United in 09. I don't quite think they'll do it with the magnitude they did last season, but they'll definitely retain in my opinion.
I said back in 2015, Jürgen Klopp would take 2-3 seasons to really stamp his mark on Premiership Football and the last couple of seasons he's had them in the UCL slots. This season I feel with a much better man between the sticks and the midfield shored up with the additions of Fabinho and Keïta he could take them a step or two further. I don't quite think they'll manage to win the league, their defence although getting a full season of VvD now still needed a little more kick but I can definitely see them maintaining course.
The Emery era is now at hand and Arsenal have an entire new outlook hanging over them. The spine has been readjusted with a brand new keeper in Bernd Leno, Sokratis at CB and the Uruguayan Lion, Lucas Torreira in defensive midfield, alongside Lichtsteiner backing up (and some even say replacing) Bellerín and the outstanding youngster Mattéo Guendouzi also helping out the midfield. Couple that with an entire season of Aubameyang and Lacazette playing together and Mesut Özil truly at the 10 and I feel the Arsenal have got a massive chance of getting back into the UCL spot and not just barely, either.
The coveted fourth spot wasn't an easy one to pick I'll have to be honest with you and it could have gone either direction in a three-way between United, Spurs and Chelsea. I've gone with the latter because I genuinely feel, as usual, this will be the season that ruins Mourinho up in Manchester, especially after comments he previously made about his own squad and then the being unable to sort out the defence (although I'm pretty sure he had a goals for issue that took prominence last year anyway?). With all the noise around Alexis being unhappy already as well I can see their first three games being pivotal, as for Spurs I think how Levy and Pochettino played this window has been nothing short of ignorant, what with the financial drop they're going through and with them being the only club to sign zero players in a transfer window in the Premier League era. They may still have Alderweireld, Rose and Dembélé (for now) but should one or all go abroad, I can see them struggling.
Chelsea, like Arsenal, have gone through a managerial change bringing in Maurizio Sarri from Napoli. And whilst he doesn't have one trophy let alone a title in his twenty-eight years of coaching, his style of management is new and fresh for the Premier League. Ontop of that add the transfers of Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao and Midfielders Jorginho and Kovacic as well as keeping Hazard and Willian, I feel the London side may just beat the other two, to fourth.
Relegation fodder: I feel this one is a little harsh especially before a ball has been kicked and I mean no disrespect to any of these teams, but the three I feel will drop down to the EFL next season.
• Bournemouth. • Cardiff. • Huddersfield.
I don't have any real reasons behind these three save for my own opinion. I feel that Huddersfield got lucky to remain in the league in their first season, surviving by four points and two goals in favour essentially and I believe that the deck is stacked against clubs like them and Cardiff this year with Bournemouth just falling short of the wayside. Having said that from mid-table to bottom will have a huge battle royale on their hands.
Team to watch: There are three "mid-to-lower-top" teams who've done well in the market to strengthen their squads this season but I do feel that the one to watch, will be...
They're the first team to have been promoted and spend over £100m in their first promotional transfer window and I don't feel they've spent for the sake of it either. The signing of Midfielder, Jean-Michaël Seri from Nice was a real coup for Fulham and I think they made a point of filling the squad in around him also.
Having snapped up a defence of Goalkeepers Fabri and Sergio Rico from Beşiktaş and Sevilla respectively, Alfie Mawson, Joe Bryan (hijacked from Aston Villa), Calum Chambers on loan from Arsenal, Tim Fosu-Mensah on loan from United and Maxim Le Marchand from Nice as well as DM, André Zambo Anguissa from Marseille, André Schürrle from Borussia Dortmund and CF's Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle and Luciano Vietto from Atlético Madrid, Slaviša Jokanović seems to have gotten himself an entirely new squad. IF he can get them gelling instantly, I definitely believe Fulham will be a team to watch this season and see them finishing within the top ten, if not a Europa League spot.
Player(s) to watch: This is a tough one because there is an absolute ton of new recruits to the league who are well worth a gander and won't all fit on my list. There are a couple of midfielders who I would definitely keep an eye on this season though, in the forms of Jorginho (Chelsea), Naby Keïta (Liverpool), Lucas Torreria (Arsenal) and Jean-Michaël Seri (Fulham). All four have their individual talents and skills and all bring something to the tables of their respective clubs and it's definitely going to be something, watching how they cope with the physicality of the Premier League.
Another player I would suggest keeping an eye on this season is Everton's Bernard. He's short yet practical and speedy, he has a lot about him in such a small frame and I believe Marco Silva can get the best out of him. I also don't believe that his size will impact his Premier League stint either, like Santi Cazorla before him I feel he'll be able to handle it.
Golden Boot: I believe a full season in the Premier League is going to benefit this man and honestly feel he'll get the Golden Boot this season.
Aubameyang has never gone a season scoring less than twenty (20) goals in the last four years, including scoring over thirty eight (38) in the last two seasons before arriving in England (39 in 15/16 and 40 in 16/17). Even last year whilst moving clubs midway through the season he managed thirty one (31) goals in thirty eight (38) appearances which included ten (10) in fourteen (14) with Arsenal. I sincerely believe that with a full season under Emery and at Arsenal, PEA will be the winner of the Golden Boot this season.
POTY: Generally I would probably say that the winner of the Golden Boot should also be the Premier League POTY, but of course that's not how it works and with an influx of newcomers to the league and improved players from last year it'll be a toughie; but I have gone with...
Kevin de Bruyne.
KdB has, much like Thierry Henry with the Balon d'Or, never won a POTY award (okay not quite like that but still!) And I feel now is his time. His numbers on paper, combined with his performances on the pitch are always a cause for concern for Midfielders and Defenders alike and I believe he should probably have had this award at least a year ago.
YPOTY: Much like the Player of the year, young Player of the year is always a tough one to judge especially before the year has kicked on... But I've gone with.
This one was quite difficult because there are several youngsters preparing to play first team Football in the Premier League this year as well as Leroy Sané still having unfinished business, but Sessegnon gets the nod from me. He was the first player outside of the top tier to make it onto the PFA POTY shortlist and with that in mind along with the fact he turned down a few offers to stay with Fulham, things could really kick on for him this season.
(Honorary mention goes to Arsenal's Reiss Nelson, who I feel will really make an impact this year!)
Backed and sacked: The Manager of the year and first to be sacked in the season are usually easy
to figure out around Christmas, but not so much now in August, but I'll give it a go. Firstly my Manager of the year may have a hint of bias to it, but I've gone with...
Backed - Unai Emery.
Why? It's not because he manages The Arsenal (well maybe a bit) but anyone who walks in after Arsène Wenger's twenty-two year reign and can get the club back into the upper echelons of European Football deserves the accolade in my opinion and I firmly believe, as mentioned above, that Emery will do just that in his debut season in England.
Sacked - Neil Warnock.
I've gone with Warnock simply because I believe as good as he has done, getting Cardiff into the Premier League, the other teams around him are going to be too strong for him to stay afloat this particular season. He for me is a "Championship Manager" and I just don't think he'll have enough to keep Cardiff safe.
Well those are my predictions and views for the upcoming season! Feel free to share your own with me and the rest of the guys at CloudSports Football!