It all starts on Friday. Another Premier League season is upon us. This season has the promise to be memorable with six teams with a decent chance to make a run at the title. The money from the outrageous TV contracts has allowed teams to spend wildly like never before on new transfers. This could be the most talent Premier League we will see in a long time.
I took at shot at previewing how the table will look at the end of the year. Keep in mind that my predictions, without a shadow of a doubt, are completely accurate (entirely wrong).
Let’s go ahead and kick this off (pun!) with the bottom of the bunch.
20. Huddersfield Town
I think Huddersfield is a good example of a team that came up too early. This team is not ready for this level and the few players that they picked off of other Championship clubs won’t keep their hopes alive. I really hope that David Wagner will stay for the project long term if/when Huddersfield go down.
There is very little to like about this team. I don’t even want to talk about them, so let’s just leave it at they are bad, really bad.
I think there is going to be another tight battle at the bottom of the table again in 2017 to avoid relegation, but I’m going to go with Watford to be sent down. There is not enough quality in the back line for the Hornets. Also, they are nicknamed the “Hornets”, but their badge is an Elk. They deserve this.
17. Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton have a lot of team spirit, and that may end up saving them in their upcoming season long relegation battle.
16. Swansea City
The Swans did a great job hanging on last season thanks to Paul Clement. Adding Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea should help. If the team loses Gylfi Sigurðsson, don’t see them hanging on. But, it looks like he may stick around Swansea a little longer, and should help Paul Clement keep this side up once again.
It now appears that Virgil van Dijk will be leaving after handing in a transfer request. The hole left in their defense could kill their top 10 aspirations. While this team finished 8th last season, they only had 46 points and were closer to being relegated than they were to 7th.
14. Newcastle United
I think they comfortably survive in their return to the top flight under Rafa Benitez. Aleksandar Mitrovic may kill someone if not.
13. Stoke City
UGGGGGHHHHHHH.....yeah losing Marko Arnautovic will hurt them, but they are still the monster that won’t die.
Eddie Howe deserves all the credit in the world for keeping this team in the Premier League after building them up all the way from League 2. He has probably taken them as far as they can go, but they are an established mid-table side now.
11. Crystal Palace
Palace are the okay-est team in the league. You’ll forgot about them except for when Christian Benteke scores another crazy goal from a corner.
10. West Bromwich Albion
Tony Pulis can turn anyone over 6 feet tall into a threat from set pieces. He knows how to get the job done, as ugly as he may do it.
9. Leicester City
Really like the addition of Kelechi Iheanacho for them. They will still be the same counter-attacking team full of spirit we have seen. Craig Shakespeare righted the ship last season after taking over in January, but anything less than a top half finish will be a disappointing season for him.
8. West Ham United
The Hammers quietly had a really nice transfer window bringing in Marko Arnautovic, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Joe Hart on loan. I think they are going to be much improved, but their new stadium continues to be awful.
After selling Romelu Lukaku, Everton began to buy a lot of players who aren’t quite good enough to play for a top 6 team to try to get into the top 6. They will not get into the top 6, but they should be a very dangerous side to deal with every week.
Mohamed Salah was a great signing for Liverpool, and I’m still very upset that Jurgen Klopp didn’t end up Arsenal’s manager. I do think that they have the weakest squad of the top 6 clubs, and Philippe Coutinho is possibly on the way out. Klopp does better than most at getting everything out of his players, but I think Champions League play will hurt their league form, and they will return back to the Europa League places.
5. Tottenham Hotspur
Playing home matches at Wembley may kill off their home-field advantage, which could be crucial in the race for the top 4. I also don’t like their lack of depth when they will have to deal with the Champions League as well. Kyle Walker is a huge loss to the team. All that and them being shit puts them on the outside looking in.
I think Chelsea made a significant downgrade from Diego Costa to Alvaro Morata, but still this is a really good squad. I think the tensions between the board and Conte will simmer underneath all season and be a distraction for Chelsea. It will hurt their chances to repeat as champions, as too will playing at Wembley. I do think they should be a dangerous team in the Champions League however.
I’m biased of course, but I think Arsenal might have the best squad in the EPL this year with the additions of Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac. The only really area of concern is depth in the midfield. The team will be more dangerous in attack, and solid in defense, with the new three at the back formation. The team also will not have to play in the Champions League unlike their title rivals, and may not take the Europa League all that seriously. Remember that the last two title winners had no European competitions to play in.
I do think this is a team that can and should contend, seriously contend, for the EPL crown. But...too often Arsenal can not find a way to break down teams who park the bus against them. They drop far too many points against weaker sides that they should comfortably beat. 4 or 5 dropped points can lose a team a title.
Having a true world class striker in Lacazette should help Arsenal be more clinical in front of goal, but most of the issue for Arsenal when dealing with defensive sides have been a matter of style rather than of quality of players or finishing. I may be wrong, and Lacazette can be the answer to all of Arsenal’s scoring issues in those type of games, but I have a feeling I’m not.
Still I see the team improving and getting back into the Champions League with plenty of room to spare.
2. Manchester City
Manchester City have plenty of depth, that’s for certain. The team is loaded with attacking talent, and midfielders to choose from. Champions League play shouldn’t hurt their league form that dramatically. Pep Guardiola will also better implement his system in his second season in charge. They are, and should be the favorites to win the title. That being said, I do not trust the defense for City nearly as much as I do United’s. I see them losing in a fantastic season long race to their local rivals.
1. Manchester United
We all know that Manchester United’s issue last season was scoring goals. They took a big step in solving that by buying Lukaku, who is a dramatic upgrade over Zlatan Ibrahimović. Paul Pogba should be much better for United this season, especially with the arrival of Nemanja Matic to help with defensive duties. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will improve as well.
For me, this choice came down to was choosing between optimism — the positive open play of Pep Guardiola — and the cynicism of how Jose Mourinho chooses to play. When it comes to the Premier League lately, cynicism has won out, so I’m going to go with United as the 2017-18 EPL Champions. It’s ok, I hate myself too.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming season? What team do you think could surprise us? Where do you think Arsenal will finish? Let us know in the comments.