It’s been a fantastic summer of sport, which included one of the most memorable tournaments in living history. Although Portugal lifted the Euro 2016 trophy, football was the real winner. Somehow the Premier League is just days away and with the transfer market still buzzing with speculation, it’s time for some classic predictions. So here is my preview of the season ahead, starting with the teams from A-M.
Key Signing – Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Main Man – Alexi Sanchez
Surprise Star – Alex Iwobi
The Gunners looked like they were heading for a finish below their North London rivals for the first time since 1995. However, the traditional “St Totteringham’s Day” was celebrated on the final day of the season with Spurs collapsing once again. Wenger has signed a fantastic playmaker in Xhaka although not in an area of the pitch Arsenal are lacking. Fans are desperate for a striker and even with the return of Welbeck there may still be cause for concern. Iwobi will prove a precocious talent this year.
Prediction – 4th
Key Signing – Jordan Ibe (Liverpool)
Main Man – Callum Wilson
Surprise Star – Benik Afobe
The Cherries had a fantastic first season in the top flight. In Eddie Howe they have the best young manager in English football and are lucky to hang on to him for another year. The England job will come eventually for him but there are plenty of years before that. The owner, Maxim Denim, has flexed his financial muscles this summer, securing Ibe and Cook even if for inflated prices. Second season syndrome is a worry but they should be safe.
Prediction – 16th
Key Signing – Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic)
Main Man – Andre Gray
Surprise Star – Tendayi Darikwa
The Clarets have once again yo-yoed back into the big time. Sean Dyche is another fantastic young manager who Burnley did well to keep hold of. They have been worryingly quiet in the transfer window and will need significant reinforcements before the window slams shut. Andre Gray is a lethal threat up front, top-scoring in the Championship last year, and fans will hope he can reproduce this in the Premier League.
Prediction – 19th
Key Signing – N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
Main Man – Eden Hazard
Surprise Star – Ruben Loftus-Cheek
The news that “The Special One” had moved to arch-rivals United has been received surprisingly well by Chelsea fans, perhaps softened by the acquisition of the world-class Conte. He is exactly what is needed to get the Blues back to their best. It will be interesting to see how the Italian lines his team up but Hazard and Costa have looked terrific in pre-season. I reckon they’re back to their best. Definite title challengers.
Prediction – 3rd
Key Signing – Andros Townsend (Newcastle United)
Main Man – Yohan Cabaye
Surprise Star – Lee Chung-Yong
Pardiola started the season so well, but come the spring, it all started to unravel. At one point there was the real threat of being drawn into the relegation battle. However, the Eagles survived and go into the season off the back of a much-needed clear-out (17 players have left). Despite paying some outrageous fees for Townsend and Tomkins they are solid signings. A return to London might be what is required for Townsend to kick-start his career.
Prediction – 12th
Key Signing – Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa)
Main Man – Romelu Lukaku
Surprise Star – Shani Tarashaj
Martinez has left Goodison after a conflicted stint and been replaced by the impressive Koeman. The Dutchman made an interesting decision to leave high-flying Saints for Merseyside but he obviously sees this as a step up. Another team that has been worryingly quiet in the transfer market. The team has a young and promising spine but must hold onto their talent and hope they do not follow Stones out the door.
Prediction – 11th
Key Signing -Will Mannion (AFC Wimbledon)
Main Man – Michael Dawson
Surprise Star – Shaun Maloney
Not the ideal preparation for the Tigers. Manager, Steve Bruce, joined the merry go-round, leaving his post in July with Mike Phelan being appointed caretaker manager. Hull have also been non-existent in the window and brought a solitary player into the club. Staying in the Premier League is tough enough let alone without a manager and any investment into the playing staff. The club is only heading one direction, back where they came from.
Prediction – 20th
Key Signing – Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow)
Main Man – Jamie Vardy
Surprise Star – Ben Chilwell
The reigning champions. One of the most amazing stories in sport ever. Now it is time to start again and defend their title. They have recruited well, Musa will provide some support for Vardy and fits well into their system. The Nigerian’s pace and finishing will cause many defences problems. More importantly, they have managed to hold onto all their star performers apart from Kante (who has been replaced by the dependable Nampalys Mendy). Who knows how their season will go, especially with Champions League distractions.
Prediction – 8th
Key Signing – Sadio Mane (Southampton)
Main Man – Philippe Coutinho
Surprise Star – Divock Origi
Klopp, as expected, lit up the Premier League with his passion and enthusiasm after joining in October, even if his team’s performances did not. There are no excuses for the German this time round, with a pre-season under his belt he must have his gegenpressing drilled into his players. The Reds have been very shrewd in the transfer market with the signings of Mane, Motip and Wijnaldum. A respectable campaign lies ahead.
Prediction – 6th
Key Signing – John Stones (Everton)
Main Man – Sergio Aguero
Surprise Star – Leroy Sane
Another summer of paying wildly inflated prices for players in Manchester. They have bought some superb players in Stones, Gundogan, Nolito and Sane, possessing the best squad in the league. However, there is still a reliance on an ageing spine. Kompany is crucial, especially in the nurturing of Stones, and must stay fit. Without the Belgian captain the Sky Blues look lost. How Guardiola is going to play all these incredible footballers I have no idea.
Prediction – 1st
So, the first half is predicted. This is how it looks so far…
Disagree? Feel free to comment, rate and like.
Tune in tomorrow for the final 10 teams and see who is going to be heading down to the Championship.