Preseason football is winding down and the summer transfer window is heating up. That can only mean thing: the Premier League season is right around the corner.
Last year Leicester shocked the world by managing to overcome astronomical odds and finishing top of the Premier League. The Foxes’ success came at the expense of some the elite teams in England, and now all those teams will have something to prove this season. With new players, new managers and new ambitions, this upcoming season should be as interesting as ever.
While I don’t expect any teams like Sunderland to make a shock title run, this year’s table could prove to be particularly difficult to predict. Allow me to enter into some hot water and begin the great guessing game.
Here is my predicted table for the 2016/17 Premier League season.
The Relegation Zone
No big signings, turmoil throughout the club and not nearly enough talent to stay up. Hull will unfortunately go right back to where they came from.
Fell off sharply at the end of last season. They’ve brought in some defensive reinforcements and Isaac Success into the midfield, but they are still not a very strong side. Oidon Ighalo was largely invisible for the last half of the season, and Troy Deeney won’t be enough to save Watford in their second campaign in the Premier League.
Is this the year the Black Cats finally drop to the Championship? Sam Allardyce worked wonders to save Sunderland last season and has promptly left the side to take over the England managerial role. Yes, Big Sam left David Moyes with some great new signings, but the “Chosen One” won’t be able to organize his side nearly as well. Also Jermain Defoe isn’t getting any younger, and Fabio Borini won’t be the one to pick up the slack.
Just Scraping By
May be a bold prediction here, but I believe Sean Dyche gets it right this time around. Gray and Vokes are capable scorers, Gudmundsson will provide creativity in the midfield and Michael Keane and Jon Flanagan will hold down the defense. Burnley barely survives.
16) West Brom
Boring Tony Pulis will lead boring West Brom to safety in yet another boring campaign. They won’t concede many goals, but they won’t be scoring many either.
15) Swansea City
With Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew having one foot out the door, the Swans are in for a tough season. While they do have capable replacements for those two, they just simply won’t be as good of a side. Gylfi Sigurdsson will do what he can, but ultimately Swansea City won’t be very impressive.
Playing It Safe
The promoted team that is best equipped for Premier League action is, without a doubt, Middlesbrough. They have PL veterans Negredo and Gaston Ramirez, exciting prospects in Victor Fischer and Jordan Rhodes and a backline that is certain to frustrate its opponents. Middlesbrough won’t make many waves, but they will finish comfortably this season.
After a surprisingly strong first campaign in the Premier League, Bournemouth has made it clear that their only intentions are to keep improving. The Cherries have brought in Jordan Ibe and Nathan Ake, both of whom are exciting young players. Not only have they made some shrewd signings, but Callum Wilson and Max Gradel will also be fully fit for this upcoming season.
12) Crystal Palace
Crystal palace got off to a great start in the 2015/16, but somehow managed to fall all the way down to 15th place by the end of the season. New signings Mandanda, Tomkins and Townsend will all be helpful for the upcoming campaign, but they still lack a high-quality striker (*cough Benteke *cough).
11) Stoke City
Signing Joe Allen just screams mid-table team. That’s exactly where Stoke will end up. No more, no less.
On the Brink Teams
Another year, another mass exodus from Saint Mary’s Park. Southampton has lost a lot of talent this summer window, but that’s nothing the Saints haven’t dealt with before. Between a reliable defense and a selection of capable forwards, Southampton should do all right.
If we’re going to be realistic, Leicester is a mid-table team. Losing Kante hurts, but it’s not the end of the world to swap him out for Mendy. Vardy and Mahrez (if he stays) will be good, but don’t expect the same returns from last year. However, what concerns me most about Leicester is that they don’t have the squad depth of a typical Champions League side, and their defense has been extremely shaky throughout the preseason.
8) West Ham
West Ham have undeniable talent, but for me, it just won’t be enough this season. The Hammers are still a striker and a few defensive signings away from being a legitimate top four contender.
Full disclosure, I’m a huge Everton fan. I do still believe, however, that it is fair to say that Everton is in for a big season. New manager Ronald Koeman is excellent at organizing a defense, and the signing of Idrissa Gueye will only make that task easier. Up front, Koeman has already started to get the best out of the midfield trio composed of Barkley, Deulofeu and Mirallas. Holding onto Lukaku remains a question mark for the Toffees, but should they bring in a viable replacement then my prediction won’t change.
I imagine this is the section that will anger the most people, so I’ve decided that I won’t tread carefully at all and put my neck on the line. Quite frankly, Arsenal doesn’t impress me. They need another central defender and they need a striker who isn’t named Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott. And no, being linked to all the best strikers with flashy price-tags isn’t good enough. It’ll be a frustrating season, and I’d bet Wenger gets sacked by the end of it.
Finishing just outside of a Champions League spot will be Chelsea. This simply came down to me believing that the remaining sides in the league have slightly more talent. While Kante is a great signing and Hazard should be back to his best, there are still too many questions regarding their defense and forwards. Personally I’d love to see a Batshuayi and Traore strike partnership, but that will still take time to perfect.
One way or another, Klopp is going to get it done this season. He’s added great depth to his defense and midfield, as well as add Saido Mane to his audacious front line. Klopp also has Sturridge, who is one of the best strikers around when he’s fit, but that never appears to be very often. Luckily for Liverpool, Divock Origi looks more than capable of leading the line for the Reds in place of the injury-prone Sturridge. Origi has been superb in Liverpool’s preseason tour, and he was doing great before suffering a season ending injury towards the end of last season.
Tottenham doesn’t seem to be getting much love this preseason, but I think that might play right into their hand. The Spurs have held onto all their key players and have made sensible signings. Wanyama will prove to be hugely important for midfield rotation and Janssen will provide some much needed reinforcement for Harry Kane. With Lamela picking up his form, Tottenham have all the pieces to put together another excellent season.
2) Manchester United
I’ll keep this one simple. Mourinho is in the process of building his team. The manager will bring defensive stability, as well as some additional fire power. However, Mourinho almost always takes a year to set up his team perfectly, so for that reason they aren’t ready to win the title just yet.
1) Manchester City
Come May, Pep Guardiola will be sitting atop the Premier League with his Manchester City squad. While City has some issues at the back, if Vincent Kompany can stay healthy then those issues will be greatly diminished. Other than that, City has a stacked team. Gundogan, Toure and Fernandinho are all great box-to-box midfielders. De Bruyne, Silva, Sane and Nolito all terrorize their opposition’s defense. And finally, City possess the best player in the league in striker Sergio Aguero. At the end of the day, Manchester City just have too good of an attack to stop, and Pep Guardiola is the perfect man to guide them.
That’s all for my predictions. Agree? Disagree? Comment and let me know!