The World Cup is over, boooooooo…..
But it means we can focus on our league clubs once again BECAUSE THE NEW SEASON IS NEARLY HERE, YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
I am feeling a great sense of déjà vu. And I’ve never been happier about it.
Last season, I predicted the same league and it went…
Yeah. I didn’t do great, but largely, I was only out by one or two on each guess; you can see for yourself here.
This season looks even harder to predict. The new boys look as if they could slot right in, the big boys from last season are looking to from strength to strength, the close-but-no-cigars wanna disrupt the status quo, the mid-tablers are determined to push up and cause upsets, while those who had a season to forget last time out will obviously be driven to turn the car around.
At this point, one new signing could mend the predictions of any of these sides… So let’s keep that in mind.
There are new bosses, new players and new joys to be had, so with us all meeting here at the TOP, this is the 2019/20 Premier League Season.
A long-term number one, a wealth of experience, proven and tested young guns, a Golden Boot winner and a Golden Boot winner to be.
Everything about this squad can be polished and put on display as championship material, but I think Emery and The Gunners need one more season to really push the elite elite to their limits. The dropping of Aaron Ramsey could bite, combined with youngsters such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson still properly settling in, plus, a lack of credible signings, creates a concoction that definitely won’t derail a season, but it does take ’em on the same holiday they’ve been on for years.
Key Player: Alex Iwobi. This dynamo just keeps improving.
TOPredicts: 4th (*sigh*)
The Villains are back. Dean Smith has nurtured a spirited side at Villa Park, and has prepared a squad for the Premier League with similar vigour, bringing in players permanently that he’d loaned in the Championship (Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Anwar El Ghazi) to maintain the flow, while also bringing in English league experience in the likes of Jota, Matt Targett and the excellent Ezri Konsa, plus some power names (Wesley, Björn Engels). Early business combined with a spine of existing key players is what will lead Aston Villa to survive this season, as depth will haunt them the further down the road they go.
Key Player: Jack Grealish. Has to remain the stand-out and natural leader he looked in the Championship.
Another of the same for The Cherries. They do seem to be constantly building towards something, but the teams around them obviously build as well, and this is a team, much like those around them, that requires a game-changing block to turn them into a skyscraper amongst bungalows. Until that happens, reliance on Callum Wilson and Nathan Aké, as well as an emphasis on academy players getting minutes(Jack Simpson, Kyle Taylor, Mark Travers) will be key, not to mention the hope that Ryan Fraser stays put.
Key Player: Nathan Aké. As long as he performs, Bournemouth will be safe.
Mr. Potter… Brighton’s new celebrity… I rate him, I do, and I think he’ll do well at Brighton. But not this season. This season, I reckon they’ll struggle. They burned me good last time out and I’d love to see ’em do it this time as well, but I just don’t see it. For any chance they’ll need to keep hold of Dungeons and Dragons/D&D/Dunk and Duffy, because otherwise, I don’t believe they’ll have enough consistency to survive. And even if they do keep hold, as my old dad used to say, ‘two centre-backs don’t win the Premier League, you’re thinking about oil money’.
Key Player: Lewis Dunk. Captain Fantastic needs to remain the Brighton Rock.
Haven’t Burnley done well in the Premier League? Come on, give ’em a round of applause, come on, stand up, give ’em a hand, what a performance, NOW STOP. IT’S OVER. They’ll have this season and then go the way of the other barnstorming physical sides and fall under the weight of their muscle.
Don’t get me wrong, Burnley have some class players… In defence. The attack is good, but is never seemingly played to their full potential, so I’m calling a lack of goals will toll the final bell for Dyche’s Clarets’ stay in the big house.
Key Player: The Goalkeeper. Needs the world-class season of their life, and all are capable of it.
The Boss is back.
Frank Lampard will bring stability to Chelsea immediately. But that doesn’t mean massive results right off the bat. He will tinker, he will experiment, and he’s got many-a-competition to be doing just that. He’ll be seeking someone to step up and fill the shoes of Eden, while he also looks for replacements for aging members of the squad, not that most of them can’t play at the highest level for another five years or so, cos they definitely can.
Expect a season of comparative mediocrity for The Blues, however, this time, tinged with hope. Frankie will set the wheels in motion for The New Blue, he just needs time.
Key Player: Christian Pulisic. I’m calling it. He’ll score on his debut, and, with Lampard’s focus on youth, a world class young ‘un will be front and centre.
I predicted doom and gloom for The Eagles last season, but I should have known that wise old Roy would steer them to not only safety, but a decent finish. This season, I don’t see ’em hitting the heights of last time out, but they’ll be safe. A seemingly unexplosive squad can surprise, but unless they bring in some fresh blood, they’ll be worked out sharpish. Oh, and KEEP WILF ZAHA.
Key Player: WILF ZAHA. Duh. If not, then… Paddy van Aanholt.
Marco Silva has his detractors, but while he ain’t flashy, he gets the bang. And this season he’s trimmed a few pounds, getting rid of the spare tire, and he’s banged on muscle, with Fabian Delph and André Gomes coming in. With a couple of bangers sticking about as well (Gylfi, Richarlison, Digne), Everton will threaten, but ultimately won’t be able to break the walls of the top six down.
The more I look at this squad, the more I reckon it should be right up there, but I just can’t put their style up any higher.
Key Player: Gylfi Sigurðsson. Good for a goal, golden for assists.
Here we go, balls out, big shout. This team has had so much time to gel, and it seems like the settled into Brendan’s way swift as oot. In comes the exceptional Youri Tielemans, the experienced Ayoze Pérez and the… Excitable James Justin, just another youth to join The Foxes’ elite ranks. If Harry Maguire is to leave, I do think they’ll need a replacement, but I don’t think they’ll be damaged by his departure all that much.
I’m laying it down.
Key Player: James Maddison. Capable of leading this team to glory.
Nearly went all the way last time out, and I reckon it’ll be same again for the Champions League winners. I don’t reckon they’ll push ’em as close this time, but they’ll keep it interesting. The dominance wavers at times and they’ll need to focus on seeing games to bed and closing games down, but once again, they won’t do much wrong. It’s just that some geezer over the road will always do even less wrong.
There ain’t much to say here, I just don’t see anyone toppling the citizens that reside in top spot.
Key Player: Virgil van Dijk. Shored up that defence and is paramount on that half of the pitch.
This is a gosh darn dynasty.
A unit, a branch, a family, an empire; a feckin dynasty. Nobody can touch these lads, and that is because while other star teams often feel like teams of star individuals, this squad is knit, it’s the opposite of self-serving, they just fully understand the help me-assist you-help you-assist me style, and there seemingly isn’t one player who doesn’t know their place under Emperor Pep.
Key Player: Raheem Sterling. Dynamicism personified. Can create from nothing.
Yes, he leads the way in the odds to be the first sacked manager, but Ole is building something here, and they gotta give him a chance. He’s just starting to really take charge, to mold the squad in his image, and with two fresh faces coming in as well as the anti-football Ander Herrera on his way out (good riddance), Ole can craft the red half of Manchester back to how it used to be. He just needs time. Time, because this season, much like Chelsea’s, will be one of experimentation. If they don’t experiment, yes, they could get 4th, but then they’ll be stuck trying to restart the engine for years to come. Start now, risk a season, and reap the rewards later.
Key Player: David de Gea. When in form, he can save over fifteen points a season.
Oh, my. ’Twas not an easy call to make for The Toon, but while Steve Bruce is one of the most stable managers of all time, this team is heading into a nose-dive. There’s something off about them, like they play their sports direct from the top, but there’s an instability in this team, a self-destruct button that has been hit with the departure of Rafa.
The squad needs work, and without it, Newcastle will plummet, but I’ve no doubt Bruce will work on that and with the players he’s got to push them, but I don’t think it will be enough. Along with fog, expect misery, frustration and relegation on The Tyne.
Key Player: Sean Longstaff. Youngster could be the hope and spark to drive ’em to success.
Another new boy, another success story. Norwich have looked the most stable they ever have coming up to the big league, and their signings have reflected that. Not going all out with flashy names, they have gathered youth players and Premier League-proven players along with a couple of big reputations, all of whom seem as if they’ll slide in dashingly to Farke’s side.
The one thing that lets this side down is top level experience, with very few on the roster having had it, and that will dent their hopes of a top-ten push, but this nurtured, dangerous and precise squad can expect survival for their efforts.
Key Player: Jamal Lewis. The pacey wing-back shows poise beyond his years.
Keeping hold of major players and bringing back the b-b-bangin’ Dean Henderson in between the sticks means that the Yorkshire side have kept their spine and their heart, and with Wilder as the brain, they have all they need to survive and run. With Freeman, Jagielka and Morrison coming in, they have some impressive depth, along with Lys Mousset (a player from OUTSIDE the British Isles, SHOCK SHOCK, HORROR HORROR).
Sheffield United will shock some this season even if, at times, they seem hapless.
Key Player: Jack O’Connell. A subtle strength at the back.
The squad is sizable and full of potential stars, but Herr Hasenhüttl needs to get them to shine. Charlie Austin, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Ings, Shane Long, Nathan Redmond, Jack Stephens, Jannik Vestergaard and James Ward-Prowse along with new-boy Che Adams would make a powerful (yet hefty in attack) side. If they get motoring, they’ll be difficult to stop. But they have to get motoring without their usual sputters.
Key Player: Nathan Redmond. Has started cooking with gas under Ralph.
Almost the antithesis to The Saints, Spurs have an incredibly tight squad, that Pochettino seems unable to add to (apart from the sizable transfer of Ndombele), leaving troubles up front and in defence. Youth seems to be the answer, and prospects such as Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga could plug gaps in case of injury, but expect Spurs to once again breathe fire and only burn themselves (out) in the battle for the title.
Key Player: Harry Kane. Keep him fit, he scores goals. As inevitable as Dolph Lundgren’s stunning mug having an open casket at his funeral.
Not a whole lot of change to a strong squad that’s still gelling is a bright move from Javi Gracia, who can begin to integrate youth in preparation for the future as the core of the squad is the type who will still deliver in the circumstances. With this, expect a similar, middle of the road league season for The Hornets.
Key Player: Gerard Deulofeu. Will be the difference maker.
West Ham have done what West Ham do. They sign a few players of undeniable quality and integrate them into the team, and then they never really seem to rise up the table. Well, rinse and repeat for 19/20. In come Fornals and Haller, joining an undoubtedly talented side, but still they will endure the West Ham Flop, getting hard in the middle, but pushing rope when they first kick off and when they’re trying for a big finish.
Key Player: Mark Noble. Mr. West Ham needs to remain a constant to gel this side.
Wolves will not suffer from second-season syndrome, so well done there. However, they will fall victim to other teams around them strengthening their barracks while NOT having to put up with the albeit delightful distraction of the Europa League. Wolves will survive comfortably and I’m sure churn out a more-than-decent cup run or two, but they won’t match their finish from last season. They’ll come dead close, mind.
Also, I reckon Wolves could be built for the Europa League, expect them to do well.
Key Player: Conor Coady. A British bulldog in the middle.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
The battle lines have been drawn. The gauntlet has been thrown down.
1. Manchester City
3. Tottenham Hotspur
5. Leicester City
7. Manchester United
10. West Ham
14. Crystal Palace
15. Sheffield United
16. Norwich City
17. Aston Villa
20. Newcastle United
All three promoted teams staying up? Burnley finally going down? Leicester in the top five? Surely not, well SURELY SO. I predict it and so it will be.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me all about it.
But watch, enjoy and allow yourself to be entertained by these lads (hopefully) giving everything.
I vow to do better than last season and improve on my score of -56, so I will see you here in nine months or so with a crown and a smile.
Cheers for reading, if you’re gonna get off, get off at the TOP.
Keep it streets ahead,