Premier League Preview

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Arsenal

Arsenal will begin the new season in difficult circumstances with several Euro 2016 stars returning late for the new season and others participating at the Rio Olympics, with Liverpool (h), Leicester (a) and Watford (a) being their first 3 games. Arsenal have been ‘active’ in the transfer market as Wenger claims, but the proof is in the pudding and the signings may need to come in quick if Arsenal stand a chance of challenging in a very competitive Premier League season. This said, I believe Xhaka and Holding will prove to be great acquisitions for Arsenal for many years to come, and Xhaka could be the player Arsenal have needed in that area for many years.

Prediction: Top 4 – 4th

Bournemouth

My worries for Bournemouth is that they’ll suffer a second season syndrome, their players lack of quality may be found out and they won’t have the same fight they had before. I hope this isn’t the case as I have a lot of respect for the club and or Eddie Howe as well, but I do feel that they’ll struggle. Jordan Ibe is a great signing for them, but I am surprised they let Matt Richie go, so I’m not sure if they’ve necessarily strengthened. If Afobe can find some scoring form and they work hard and defend well, they’ll be absolutely fine. Callum Wilson’s fitness will be a big factor in their season.

Prediction: Regelation

Burnley

This time, I think they’ll be ok. I’m a huge fan of Sean Dyche and his teams work incredibly hard. Andre Gray will be their star man and they will be the surprise package of this season. They’re going back up with some distant Premier League experience and they have a real fighting spirit. I’m expecting a top 15 finish for them, and I think they’ll cost some big clubs some big points this season.

Prediction: 14th – 17th

Chelsea

Perhaps their biggest signing will prove to be Antonio Conte, who showed Europe what he’s capable of doing with an organised set of players with Italy at Euro 2016. Chelsea are famously a defensive team, so this should be a match made in heaven. My biggest concerns for Chelsea actually involve individuals. If Kante can adapt and perform as he did for Leicester, and Hazard can discover his best alongside Diego Costa again, then Chelsea will be an undoubted force next season. In fact, I’m backing them to gel the fastest under their new manager in comparison to the Manchester clubs, and that’s what makes them my Champions.

Prediction: Champions – 1st

Crystal Palace

For a few seasons now, Pardew has proven to have a very solid and paced squad that compete week in week out with the big boys and I think with the acquisition of Andros Townsend they’ll go again and be that little bit better. Despite falling out of form massively in the second half of the season, they performed brilliantly at the start and I think their form will be a bit more up and down this year. However I do think losing Bolasie would be a huge blow to them – but I expect them to come through it.

Prediction: 10th – 14th

Everton

Of all the new managerial appointments, this is the one I think will make the most difference. Ronald Koeman is organised, he’s passionate and he’s not scared to take on big clubs as he did with Southampton. He registered some big wins and Everton will get that tough, winning mentality once again under him. He adapts to his opposition, and that’s what wins you games these days. Again, I feel he’s just going to miss out on a Champions League place as he’ll spend this first season working out which players fit his style and which can’t. At Southampton he had to rebuild quickly which I believed benefited him when settling into the club, whereas at Everton he’s getting used to a very settled squad, and he’ll have to adapt more than he perhaps did at Southampton. Last point – Idrissa Gueye will be brilliant.

Prediction: Top 7

Hull City

I seriously worry about them without Steve Bruce. However, they have a really good squad, and it’s certainly more of Premier League squad than Burnley and Middlesbrough’s. With Mike Phelan taking over, who watched the great Sir Alex Ferguson as he coached by his side, he may have a few tricks up his sleeve. Unfortunately, they say great assistant managers don’t always make great managers and this may be the same again. I think they lack a bit of an identity going into this season, and Bruce was giving them one. Watford suffered from the same managerial issues before last season and ended up doing brilliantly – so who knows what to expect!

Prediction: Relegation

Leicester City

Weeeell… I don’t even know?! On the one hand, I still don’t particularly rate their squad player for player. Is Vardy a one season wonder? I honestly think they’re a class act and they’re going to succeed again, perhaps not as champions though. Losing Kante, and the introduction of Champions League football into their schedule is going to put serious pressure on a squad that had no issues with injuries all of last season. They’ve recruited well over the summer, but I think they’ll be found out this season. However, a top 10 finish I still believe is a good achievement with the competition these days, and they’re going to be a tough team to beat once again – big question though – can they keep winning? I expect a few more draws this year.

Prediction: Top 10

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has said this is his team now, and that there are no excuses. Let’s see if he sticks to it if they begin to struggle, but they are going into the new season on the back of a 4-0 win over a strong Barcelona and they’re signings are definitely top class considering the money spent on players these days. They’ve got a good squad, they’ve got a humble manager who puts success down to hard work and I think if they gel and their creative players find their rhythm, then they’ll be a real force. Unfortunately Liverpool are the worst of the ‘big clubs’ when it comes to dropping points against ‘easier’ opposition, and this is why I think they’ll just miss out on the top 4.

Prediction: Top 6

Manchester City

Pep was said to have had a massive rebuilding job but it certainly hasn’t been what many might have expected. City players are having to adapt to a manager many describe as a control freak, but one who certainly delivers results. The signings are typically ‘Pep’ players with Sane likely to play the Messi-Robben role, and Gundogan to play the Kroos-Thiago-Xavi role. Whilst these players aren’t of the same calibre, Pep likes a certain structure and only certain players can give him what he needs. City will be impressive going forward, no doubt, but will they have enough all round to win the Premier League? For me they’ll struggle defensively, but I expect them to still have a good season and Pep to take them leaps forwards from last season.

Prediction: Top 4 – 3rd

Manchester United

Again, a new manager in Jose Mourinho means a lot of change and readjustment for Man Utd, but with only a few new additions the process shouldn’t be too difficult. Mourinho is typically one to improve a team early on but they always need a season to really find their feet. I think the same will happen this season, hence I’m predicting them to finish2nd. Jose needs to find the best out of some of their fringe players and work out who’s actually got the quality for the club.

Prediction: Top 4 – 2nd

Middlesbrough

I think they’ll do ok. Their manager has been with them for a while now and they’ve got quality in their squad, mainly through Gaston Ramirez and Alvaro Negredo who have Premier League experience. I think they’ll be a solid team who’ll win some and lose some. I don’t know an awful lot about them, but I’ve got a sneaky feeling they’ll have something about them this season.

Prediction: 15th – 17th (just stay up)

Southampton

I know very little of their new manager nor do I have many thoughts on how they’ll do this season. Losing Mane is big for them, but they turn up every year and they seem to get better and better. Their youngsters always do a job and I’m hoping they’ll do well this season. Big player like Shane Long, Jose Fonte and Jordie Clasie are still there, so I’m hoping they’ll do ok and get themselves a respectable position.

Prediction: 11th – 13th

Stoke City

Same again for Stoke! They always turn up and they always perform. They’ve got a great set of attacking options and I’m convinced that Gianelli Imbula can be the ‘Kante’ equivalent of this season. Their investment always takes them forward and their style gets better and better every year. Mark Hughes has put a bad past truly to bed as he continues to build Stoke. His biggest problem this season? Everton and Chelsea will improve a lot this season, and I think it’ll be at the expense of Stoke in the top 10.

Prediction: 11th – 13th

Sunderland

I think this will be the club where David Moyes finds his feet again. He’s an intelligent manager who needs to go back to his routes – encouraging his players to work hard and attack and defend with purpose. They have a decent squad and as per, Defoe will get the goals they need to stay safe of danger. They’ll do ok, but they lack the class to play good football that takes you from being a ‘safe’ team to being a top 10 team in the league.

Prediction: 14th – 17th

Swansea

Not sure what to say here. I think the’ll do ok and that’ll be that. They’re an organised unit with good players. Ashley Williams is in my opinion a top defender so losing him could be a big blow, though Sigurdsson is always a threat for oppositions. Llorente is an interesting signing who would do ok for them. If I were the manager – I’d seriously look into bringing Wilfred Bony back to the club. It worked for them before and it’ll work again I think. Swansea, make it happen!

Prediction: 13th-17th

Tottenham Hotspur

Undoubtedly a brilliant, young, exciting team. But how will the Euro’s affect the mentality of their players? I believe great players can perform in any environment, and unfortunately Tottenham’s players have proven to be too young to be classified as ‘great’ yet. But they play good football and Pochetino is a positive manager. I think, like Liverpool, they’ll just miss out on Champions League football. I think their squad is a bit thin and they were lucky their best players stayed injury free all season. I hope they prove me wrong cos I like them as a squad, but we’ll see.

Prediction: Top 6 (only a couple points off the top 3 however)

Watford

Unfortunately I think they’re going down… I can’t believe they let Quique Sanches Flores go. They’ll regret that and I think Troy Deeney knows it, having expressed his disappointment in the decision on the final day of the season. They’ve got talented individuals but their squad doesn’t inspire anyone too much, and their new manager, Walter Mazzarri, has a big job if they want to replicate last season’s success.

Prediction: Relegation

West Brom

Same old story for Tony Pulis I reckon. They haven’t made any particularly inspiring signings, and they’ll be boring but brave as always. They’re an incredibly organised group of players and they have some very good players, who arguably deserve to be at better clubs. When watching the rise of Stoke and Crystal Palace since Pulis left them, I just can’t help but think that maybe West Brom are better without him. I have to respect what he achieves though and how he keeps teams safe, making them a strong Premier League outfit. Good luck to them and the fans, because I think it could be a bit of a boring season once again for them.

Prediction: 15th – 17th

West Ham

This is a hugely exciting season for the Hammers! They have a beautiful new stadium, some classy new signings and an intelligent, humble manager who’s taking them higher and higher as his time goes on. However, I think their bubbles may just burst a bit this season. I’m not questioning their talent, but I am worried about their ability to balance domestic and European football and I don’t think their first XI is as strong as other’s in the league. I don’t think they’ll make the top 10, and it could be a long season for the Hammers, despite all this early excitement.

Prediction: 11th – 14th

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