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The Short Fuse’s 2019/2020 Premier League predictions

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In which we all get to show off how wrong we can be.

Arsenal v Stade Rennais - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

As the season gets ready to roll, it’s time for those of us here at TSF to participate in the time-honored, not-at-all-hackneyed tradition among bloggers and journalists of predicting what’s going to happen this coming Premier League season. Last year’s predictions were sort of a mixed bag - all but one of us correctly guessed Manchester City would emerge with the title, and the one writer who didn’t chose Liverpool, which was not a bad shout. Nobody got the top four 100% right, but one of us got the relegated teams right, and one other intrepid soul got Arsenal’s finishing position correct.

So, fresh on the heels of that, um, success, we are at it again, prediction-wise. We’ll use the same categories as last year, and maybe throw some bonus categories in the comments. Away we, as they say, go!

PDB:

Arsenal to finish: Fourth
League Champions: Liverpool
Top Four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs, Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle, Norwich City, Sheffield United

I know it seems too easy to pick 66% of the promoted teams as relegation candidates. If Newcastle weren’t such a mess right now, I’d have just picked all three newly promoted teams, but if I’m being honest I think Villa might just have enough to stick around come late May.

As for the rest of the league, I do think Arsenal may have done just enough to sneak back into the top four (as I write this, three days before the transfer deadline), even though there’s really only one open spot left because City and Liverpool are going to be head(s) and shoulder(s) above the rest of the league this season, while Spurs are solidly in the Fourth Place Trophy class that they mocked us for owning for so many seasons.

I think the title race will be close (strong take, I know!), but I think Liverpool might just have enough to wrest the title away from the Pep boys this season.

Aidan Gibson:

Arsenal to finish: Fourth
League Champions: Manchester City
Top Four (in no particular order): Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle, Aston Villa, Sheffield United

Arsenal are going to finish 4th, not because I think they’re a brilliant team, but because Manchester United are managed by a Sir Alex Ferguson tribute act, and Chelsea have gone for a guy who finished 6th in the Championship last season. Despite my numerous critiques of Unai Emery, I do think he’s better than both of those managers, and I don’t think Chelsea, sans Eden Hazard, are going to be very good. Arsenal have an elite attacking unit, and that should be enough, even if Sokratis sets a VAR record.

Manchester City are going to win the league, again. I think Liverpool, an excellent team, are going to regress slightly, and City have gotten a simply unbelievable amount of points over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Newcastle are a bit of a mess, Sheffield United are, well, still largely a Championship side, and Aston Villa are going the Fulham route of just being too weird.

Aaron Lerner

Arsenal to finish: Third
League Champions: Manchester City
Top Four (in no particular order): Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs
Relegated: Norwich, Newcastle, Sheffield United

I picked Arsenal to finish third last season, and it didn’t pan out. So instead of carefully evaluating what went wrong and analyzing the current roster, I’m doubling down baby! I’m all in on the “you score 4, we’ll score 5” mentality the Gunners have apparently adopted. Defense held together by scotch tape and dreams? Who cares. You can’t score if your constantly pulling the ball out of the back of your net, right? Of course that could also go for Arsenal, but I’m going to conveniently breeze past that one.

In all seriousness, my pick is not based on any particular confidence in the Gunners. There isn’t some secret stat or obscure reason I think they’ll come third. I just don’t have much confidence in any team not named Manchester City or Liverpool. Spurs’ defense hinges on the health of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, neither of whom have been able to stay fit the past two seasons. Chelsea are not going to be able to make up for the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. And I will continue to believe that Manchester United are smoke and mirrors until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shows me otherwise.

BONUS PREDICTION: 25+ league goals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang AND 20+ for Alexandre Lacazette

Joe/3k:

Arsenal to finish: Second
League Champions: Manchester City
Top Four (in order!): Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton
Relegated: Sheffield United, Brighton, Bournemouth

I’m buying.

The end of the season left such a bitter aftertaste and deservingly so, but it obscured how close Arsenal were to finishing third. If you gave me the same run-in as last year (Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Brighton and Burnley), I’d take it in a second. That we failed so miserably in those five finals games of the league last year shouldn’t dismiss that we were in position to run those games out for 3rd place.

So I’m buying.

I’m buying on a better set up throughout the campaign in Emery’s second season. I’m buying on a better finish. And I’m buying on much less drama now that we’ve moved on from Gadzidis, Mislintat and Burgess are gone.

Emery starts this season on much more solid footing with Raul Sannlehi and Edu running things more smoothly. If that leads to a strong first third of the season, I think Arsenal could be a huge surprise this year in the league.

Jocelyn Taub:

Arsenal to finish: Fourth
League Champions: Manchester City
Top Four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs
Relegated: Sheffield United, Brighton, Norwich

I think Sheikh Mansour’s side will retain the trophy again and the title race may not be as close as last season. Liverpool lost just one match during the 2018-2019 campaign and still finished second. They have a great squad but they will be hard pressed to have the same amount of success as last season.

While many pundits are writing off Arsenal’s top four chances, I believe (yes, it’s the fan in me speaking) that they will return to their rightful place in the top four. Their attack is more potent with the addition of Nicolas Pepe and youngsters like Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock pushing their way in to the first team. The defense is still hanging by a thread, but I am optimistic that this will be addressed (this is being written before the close of the transfer window).

This is the season where Chelsea and Manchester United will both finish outside the top four. There’s been a lot of hype about the appointments of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard. I believe they and their fans will realize being a club legend doesn’t make you a good manager.

Aston Villa is back and I except them to do the best of the three promoted sides. This could be one of the most competitive mid-table campaigns with West Ham, Everton, Leicester and Wolves fielding strong teams.

Speaking of Wolves. Big props must go out to manager Nuno Espirito Santo for guiding his side to the Europa League qualifying rounds. (they are currently competing in the third round). His name alone inspires hope.

Nathan Reynolds:

Arsenal to finish: Third
League Champions: Liverpool
Top Four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs
Relegated: Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Burnley

Given last year’s ending, the top two clubs should have different focuses. Manchester City, while they would welcome another league title, must be primarily concerned with the Champions League. For Liverpool after European glory, fans and Klopp will be driven to deliver the club’s first league title since 1989/90.

The race behind those two should be wide open and given all the changes at each club this summer has a lot of variability in how the top four might actually finish. Arsenal’s goals and Leno’s keeping push them past Spurs for a new St. Totteringham’s Day.

And in reality, Arsenal win the Premier League, right?

Ted Harwood:

Arsenal to finish: Fifth
League Champions: Liverpool
Top Four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs, Manchester United
Relegated: Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Burnley

I’m a pessimist. Arsenal have made pretty strong moves this summer, and United are still a weird mess at the moment, but I just can’t shake it. They have Pogba, darn it! Maybe I’m just being a jerk. Arsenal only needed to get one more point from 16 against bad teams at the end of last season to finish in the top four, so it’s not like a massive gap to make up. But what fun are predictions if we all do the same thing? I hope I’m wrong. I really do. I hope Pepe scores 25 goals and Kieran Tierney looks like the second coming of Ashley Cole. But for now: fifth, just by virtue of being crabby.

Also, Wolverhampton scare the heck out of me. I don’t like their kits and they scare the heck out of me.

Travis King:

Arsenal to finish: Fourth
League Champions: Manchester City
Top Four: Manchester City, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal
Relegated: Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Southampton

I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend last week - you know, one of those face-to-face talks that you do in-person that in today’s world seems rarer than Spurs’ cup winner - and I said that Arsenal will probably finish 3rd or 14th this season; whatever the final outcome it will be memorable, in either direction. I firmly believe that to the case, that it’s much more aligned with the truth than not.

The league is tougher than ever, thanks to the most lucrative, valuable tree in the world: the EPL TV money tree. Highly sought-after, expensive players around the continent have found their way to clubs like West Ham and Newcastle this summer. Clubs that resided just outside the top 4 last year - Wolves, Leicester City, and Everton - have at least maintained if not improved their roster since last season.

The sharp edge situated between success and failure in this the EPL means that clubs who have hovered in the mid-table and managing to escape relegation have had a golden ticket to pick the fruits from this very special tree for multiple seasons in a row. In turn, they can recruit stronger, more talented players and pay them wages not found elsewhere - players that otherwise would be going to bigger clubs in Europe. Arsenal must, then, find a season form they haven’t demonstrated in four years if they aren’t to fall any further down the table than they currently have up to this point since falling out of the top-4. The league is catching up, if not nearly, completely caught up, so Arsenal cannot afford to demonstrate a run of form similar to how they ended last season.

If that ends up being the case, then the Unai Emery era at Arsenal will depart the same way it arrived - with far too many questions and general fan frustration.

Mchrisman:

Arsenal to finish: Third
League Champions: City
Top Four: City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea
Relegated: Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Sheffield United

Well Arsenal’s window has surely taken us all by surprise. We still technically haven’t strengthen at centerback, but damn it, its hard to not be optimistic. With a lot of other changes throughout the top 6, I like Arsenal’s odds to find form that sees them third behind City and Liverpool. We all know Arsenal were sub-par at parts of last season and even poor at times, leading to them finishing fifth, if Arsenal can improve their overall performances by just 5-10% they’ll be enough points picked up to put in back in Champions League.

Arsenal will win the 2020 FA Cup, you read it here first.

UPDATE: Phil (Also Named Late To the Party)

Look, I don’t understand why anyone jumps onto these predictions threads and does anything but swing for the fences. Why is anyone here to predict fourth? Fourth would have been fine and dandy for Leicester City but, y’know what? They’d rather march their way amid the ineptitude of 2016 and make a mockery of everyone who thought they know.

So it was, so it shall be again! Rely not on reality; sieze the glory that is rightfully ours!!

1st Arsenal
2nd-27th WHO CARES
Relegation: A BUNCH OF LOSERS

See you in April, fools!