The Premier League is upon us once more! The transfer window slammed shut last night in dramatic fashion, and managers, players and fans alike are turning their full attention to this weekends opening games.
But the season is a long slog towards potential glory, with some flying to the end with relative ease, some going through peaks and troughs and some falling face first into the mud, before realising their boot laces are tied together.
Is there anyone who can challenge Manchester City for the title, will their city neighbours make a return to the Champions League and can the likes of Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa remain in the top flight for next season? Read on for The Thing Is’ Premier League table prediction.
1st – Manchester City
It’s hard to look past anyone but Manchester City for the Premier League title. Pep Guardiola has a stellar squad at his disposal, who posted 198 points over the last two seasons as they romped to the title last year. They’ve strengthened well over the summer, fixing potential weaknesses in their squad with the signings of Rodri and Joao Cancelo, whilst retaining their star players. Losing, and not replacing, Vincent Kompany may prove to come back to haunt City as his leadership on and off the pitch was vital but if they play anywhere near like they did last season, the title is theirs.
2nd – Liverpool
Liverpool will be full of confidence after their Champions League success and will feel they can push Man City all the way again this year. Importantly, they have retained all their star performers from last season, who will be hungry for more titles. However, I feel the lack of recruitment may come to haunt them this year and they won’t finish as closely behind City as before. If any of their front three suffer any sort of long term injury, Liverpool look short up top and this may hurt any title push. Jurgen Klopp will have to be smart with his squad rotation and may need to prioritise certain competitions over others.
3rd – Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs had a decent transfer window for once. They’ve strengthened in midfield and have brought in youthful potential in Ryan Sessegnon. Spurs have also retained the services of Christian Eriksen, for now at least, and with their depth in midfield looking particularly enticing, this could be an exciting season for the club. They still lack specialist cover for Harry Kane but Mauricio Pochettino has said he is not adverse to using young and hungry players to fill the void if needs be. I don’t think Spurs will get close to City or Liverpool but they will be the “best of the rest” and should have another decent run in the Champions League.
4th – Arsenal
It has to be said, Arsenal had a cracking transfer window. For a club that reportedly only had £40m to spend, they’ve done some fantastic business. £72m Nicolas Pepe is an exciting attacking proposition whilst David Luiz, for all his gaffes, will bring some defensive solidity to a weak and shaky back-line. The £25m acquisition of Kieran Tierney is an absolute steal and has addressed a problem area for the Gunners that’s persisted for a few seasons now. If Emery can find some balance, and continuity, then Arsenal will find themselves back in the Champions League come next season.
5th – Chelsea
This is where things start to get tricky in terms of predictions. From here down to about 9th or 10th, even 11th, any of the teams involved could finish 5th. Chelsea, despite losing star man Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, have retained much of the same squad, dispensed of the potentially disruptive David Luiz and have continued to build on the work started by Maurizio Sarri over the pre-season period with new manager Frank Lampard. With the introduction of some of their talented youngsters into the first team, it could be an exciting time for the Blues. Then again, it could all go wrong very quickly, but that’s football I guess.
6th – Manchester United
This prediction is an optimistic stab in the dark. As a United fan I would love Solskjaer to do well, but, realistically, 6th is the highest I can see them finishing. And even then, that’s not a given. Despite strengthening the defence with the arrivals of record breaker Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the midfield and front line have been ignored and I feel this will cause United problems throughout the season. Solskjaer clearly believes in the youngsters coming through but he can’t expect them to carry a team to the Champions League, or to carry Paul Pogba when he downs tools in mid-September. It’s going to be a long season!
7th – Leicester City
I feel Leicester can easily finish 5th. They have made some shrew signings, most of all the permanent acquisition of Youri Tielemans. He was brilliant during his loan spell last season and with a pre-season now under his belt, he and James Maddison can run this Leicester team. The loss of Harry Maguire to Man United may be felt, but Brendan Rodgers has enough tactical nous and young centre-back options to make it work. It will be an exciting season for the Foxes, with a cup title being a good possibility.
8th – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves have strengthened well off the back of a superb first season back in the Premier League. Nuno Espirito Santo has brought in some striker cover for Raul Jimenez, something that was sorely needed. The defence has been strengthened, as has the midfield and with the potential of a Europa League campaign looking all the more likely, Wolves fans look like their in for a good campaign. If they can find the right balance, and beat the teams below them, which they struggled to do last season, then Santo’s men could find themselves knocking on the door of the top four.
9th – Everton
The Toffees finished last season strongly, beating both Chelsea and United convincingly, and playing some good attacking football to go with it. However, their recruitment over the summer has been a bit erratic with Marco Silva making it known that he wanted defensive recruits, weirdly culminating in the £40m signing of Alex Iwobi. I think not adding a centre-back to replace Kurt Zouma will hurt Everton, who have enough in the forward department but are lacking slightly in defence, and may cost them a higher spot in the table.
10th – Watford
Watford had a great season last year, despite ending it with a drubbing at the hands of Man City in the FA Cup final. They’ve managed to keep hold of star players such as Abdoulaye Doucoure, Roberto Pererya and Gerard Deulofeu. The addition of Ismalia Sarr is exciting and will add some attacking cutting edge and mobility to Watford’s frontline. If they can add some defensive solidity then Javi Gracia and his men could have another fruitful season, with another cup run being entirely possible.
11th – West Ham United
West Ham have made some decent signings, with the arrival of Sebastian Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt looking particularly exciting, but the defensive frailties seem to remain. If Manuel Pellegrini can sort these problems out however, there is no reason why the Hammers can’t finish higher up the table. They have some exciting attacking players, and have added some real quality to their midfield, so if Pellegrini can get them firing they could be an exciting team to watch.
12th – Southampton
I think Southampton have improved dramatically under Ralph Hassenhuttl and with a full pre-season under his belt he will have his Saints side climbing the table. They have made some much needed signings in attack, with the exciting Che Adams joining from Birmingham City and Danny Ings making his loan move permanent. If they can keep the latter fit, then Southampton should have a much easier ride in the league this season. Keeping James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond fit will also be important for the Saints as they look to move away from the relegation battles of the last few seasons.
13th – Bournemouth
Bournemouth have kept hold of Callum Wilson, David Brooks and Nathan Ake which is as good as three new signings in my opinion. Those three were instrumental to their success and vibrant football last season and retaining their services was vital for the Cherries. They’ve added some exciting young players to their squad, and Eddie Howe will look to work his magic as he aims to improve their leaky defence whilst retaining their attacking flair. A cup run may be a possibility, but improving consistency will be the main aim of Howe and his staff.
14th – Burnley
I think the addition of Danny Drinkwater, on loan from Chelsea, will be key for Sean Dyche and Burnley this season. He will add some crucial experience to the Clarets’ midfield whilst his passing ability will add another dimension to their attack. They didn’t have the distraction of a Europa League campaign this summer, which I feel hindered them last season so Dyche’s men will be ready to go when the season starts.
15th – Crystal Palace
So the Zaha transfer saga is over, with the Ivorian remaining at Selhurst Park until at least January. Whether Roy Hodgson can get his star player playing is another thing but it could be a tough season if the former England manager can’t get his team firing. Luckily, there are teams who aren’t as good as the Eagles, especially defensively, and Hodgson has enough experience to guide Palace to safety. If Zaha can get over his irritation at his failed transfer and start scoring, Palace should register enough points to keep them away from the drop.
16th – Aston Villa
Burnley, Palace and Villa could easily swap places but I feel Burnely and Palace’s Premier League experience will be the deciding factor over where they finish this season. Villa have done a Fulham and thrown money after their promotion from the Championship, but unlike the Cottagers, there seems to have been more thought to the players they’ve bought. Dean Smith will need to incorporate his new signings whilst not alienating players from his promotion winning team, but with Jack Grealish back in the Premier League and with a point to prove, Villa should have enough to avoid an immediate drop back down.
17th – Sheffield United
Chris Wilder did an absolutely fantastic job in getting United promoted to the Premier League. Built on a base of defensive solidity, and led by goalscorer and talisman Billy Sharp, the Blades returned to the top division after their relegation in 2007. They’ve made some interesting signings and I think with Wilder’s nous and tactical approach, the Blades will shock many and survive come the end of the season. They’ll be defensively organised, which I think will take them above some other teams and will allow them to get the points they need to survive.
18th – Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton escaped last season, but only just. Luckily for them there were two teams who were much worse than they were, with the last relegation spot that was taken by Cardiff City looking like it might have been filled by the Seagulls. New manager Graham Potter has some work to do, and despite adding some interesting signings, I think Brighton lack the quality in attack to get the goals required to stay in the division. They can’t solely rely on an ageing Glenn Murray. Then again, if any of the teams just above them falter, it could give Potter and his men the chance to escape for a second year in a row.
19th – Norwich City
The Canaries played some brilliant football in the Championship last season and were rewarded with the title and a return to the Premier League. However, a lack of quality signings means they may struggle this season. I think they will pull off some good results against some of the better teams in the league, but over the season, the lack of investment in the squad will show and I think they’ll be heading back down come the end of the season.
20th – Newcastle United
For once, Newcastle have been uncharacteristically busy in the transfer window. They have added some needed reinforcements across the team, although many of these players have not got any Premier League experience. The addition of Steve Bruce as manager is also an interesting one and we will have to wait and see whether it was a smart move or desperate. Chaos still surrounds Newcastle and I feel the Magpies will struggle and Mike Ashley will be left to pay for his mismanagement of the club. It won’t be a comfortable ride for their loyal fans, who’ll be wishing that it’s all just a bad dream.
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