It’s prediction time! If you haven’t yet seen the sleek Premier League 16-17 guide from SBNation (affectionately referred to us as “the mothership”), it’s worth checking out. In what they’ve pegged “Incorrect Predictions,” they call for City to take the title on the strength of a torrid goal-scoring season from Sergio Aguero. They make an “Arsenal will finish 4th” joke, but then also note that Arsenal did add Granit Xhaka to what was “probably . . . the best team in the league” last year.
The question we put before the Wednesday Roundtable was who would finish in the Top SIX rather than the Top Four, an indication as to how stupidly close the Premier League horse race could be. (We also pick the bottom three, because as long as there’s relegation, why not ponder who will exit the league and wander through the Championship Gulag?)
I'm really bad at ranking things in order, but I believe that the top six will consist of Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and the Manchesters. I believe that Manchester United will be at the low end of the top six and that Arsenal, as currently constituted, will be in the top three. Signing a defender and a Giroud complement would make me believe more that Arsenal can win the championship, though.
Who gets relegated? West Brom, Bournemouth, Burnley.
I haven't the foggiest notion how things will shake out. I do feel pretty strongly that Leicester won't repeat, especially if Chelsea or another team gets Riyad Mahrez. Beyond that, it's hard to say. I don't think United's purchases have vaulted them to the top, but they are impressive signings and make them a scary prospect. I think Granit Xhaka helps us a lot. City are always dangerous, but is their defense much better? I refuse to take Tottenham seriously until they don't fall on their faces on the last day. So, although I hate predictions, here are mine, just for fun: 1) Arsenal 2) City 3) Tottenham 4) United 5) Liverpool 6) West Ham. Relegated: Burnley, Bournemouth, and by some miracle and warping of spacetime, also Tottenham.
I think this year, things revert back to normal Premier League proceedings. Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham should form the top 6. Who tops the table still, in large part, relies on what business is done the next few weeks, but I feel comfortable with those top 6. Leicester City will be 9th. That is my prediction.
Relegated: Hull City, Burnley, and Swansea.
Back to the usual with the big names returning to the top. Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, United in that order. If Arsenal nabs Mustafi and maybe one more wide attacker I'd consider them a league contender, but Conte's pragmatic and bruising approach coupled with Pep's resources puts those two a level above Wenger's crew. Spots 4-6 might as well be a tossup and an exercise in who manages their workload best, I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of those sides bombed out of a cup competition to focus on the league. Leicester to completely drop off and finish on the fringes of the Europa League.
Relegation: Burnley, Hull City, West Brom.
Part of the intrigue this season is how wide open things are. I'm amazed that anybody can predict anything about this season with confidence on its own, LET ALONE the fact that Leceister are your trophy-holders...That being said, let me predict everything about this season with confidence.
1.) Arsenal: Why the hell not?
2.) Sp*rs: Why yes, I would enjoy winning the league just ahead of them.
3.) Chelsea: In the managerial war that will play out this year, I'm more worried about Conte than anyone.
4.) Liverpool: They could be the wildest team this year in terms of inconsistent performances.
5.) Man City: See above. Apply here too.
6.) Everton: Assuming they hold on to Lukaku.
18.) Hull City
I’m with Wenger in that I’d love to see the transfer window close before the start of the season, just to make this process a lot easier. It makes me cry into a Pogba jersey (a France one, please) to say this, but I think first-year chip-on-shoulder Mourinho + last good year of Zlatan + Mkhitaryan + Pogba + De Gea is enough for United to win the league, dragging Fellaini and Mata and that sad backline with them. City feels like second, then Arsenal third (because I’m not picking them out of the Top Four until they actually finish out of it), Liverpool 4th, with Chelsea and Spurs fighting for 5th and 6th.
That, of course, is as the teams are currently constituted. If Arsenal does land Mustafi plus the promised mystery additional offensive player, maybe this is finally the year that Arsenal puts it all together. I’d love a Premier League trophy mic drop for Wenger’s final season (which it very well could be). (Memo to James: You’ll love London in winter. Trust me.)
Relegation-bound: Hull, Burnley, and Sunderland (who will swap out with an incoming Newcastle to keep the Tyne and Wear Derby on hold). West Brom will maddeningly finish 17th.