Michael’s Premier League Team-By-Team Season Preview 2019/2011 min read
1. Manchester City
City will miss the presence around the dressing room of skipper Vincent Kompany this season, but they remain the team to beat although they picked up a meagre 98 points last season compared to their century in the previous campaign!
Kevin de Bruyne missed long periods through injury last season and his return to full fitness allied to the acquisition of club record signing, Spanish holding midfielder, Rodri makes the City midfield better than ever. It is a big season for John Stones who has the opportunity to cement his place at the heart of the defence alongside Aymeric Laporte. That said I wouldn’t rule out Guardiola making a move between now and the end of the window for another central defender.
Champions League winners Liverpool look set to again be the main challengers to City as they continue their search for a, hitherto, elusive PL title. The Reds played their part in a magnificent title race last season and they are sure to have their supporters as they bid to go one better, but I just favour City in what looks a virtual match between these two great sides.
Another side who have broken their transfer window this season with 22-year-old midfielder Tanguy Ndombele arriving in north London for £54m from Lyon. Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier struggled for form and fitness last season and the young Frenchman will bring pace and power to Mauricio Pochettino’s engine room.
At the time of writing it does look as if both Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen will stay at the club this season although both players are out of contract next summer.
Despite their current transfer embargo Chelsea can finish the campaign in the final Champions League spot under new boss Frank Lampard. The Blues do have new £64m signing American international Christian Pulisic in their squad but begin life without Eden Hazard.
Lampard looks likely to give his young guns Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount the opportunity to show they are ready for the fight ahead and it will be interesting to see the Blues starting XI for their opening game at Old Trafford.
5. Manchester United
United will be desperate to add at least a couple of new big-name signings to their squad between now and the end of the transfer window with Harry Maguire looking more and more likely to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United revolution by Thursday week.
Romelu Lukaku is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, but the club will want to sign another striker if – as seems increasingly likely – the Belgian international gets his move to Italy. A season of consolidation at Old Trafford.
It looks as if Arsenal are going to make a club-record signing of £72m for Lille winger Nicholas Pepe, but they don’t appear to have addressed their central defensive problems although they also look likely to bring in left back Kieran Tierney from Celtic.
The Gunners will remain a match for anyone at the Emirates, and I’m looking forward to seeing Spanish Under 21 international Dani Ceballos, but they are likely to continue to struggle on the road.
7. West Ham United
I feel Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham will be the best of the rest in the Premier League this season. Another side to break their transfer record this summer – £45m striker Sebastien Haller – although I feel young Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals – £24m signing from Villareal – might make the difference. I will be disappointed if they don’t improve significantly on their 10th placed finish last term.
8. Leicester City
I am sure Brendan Rodgers will have a replacement lined up for Harry Maguire if the England international makes his widely-reported move to Manchester United. Rodgers has splashed £70m on striker Ayoze Perez from Newcastle and midfielder Youri Tielemans – who had such a successful period at the King Power on loan last season – but I feel they will need a quality central defender if Maguire is transferred.
Midfielder Idrissa Gueye will be a big loss for Everton and manager Marco Silva will be desperate for a number of new signings between now and the end of the window. The Blues have reported to have made a substantial bid for Wilfried Zaha, but you get the impression the Palace forward would prefer to stay in the capital. It is hard to say Everton are better equipped to make a run at the top six this season than last although this is a big week for Director of Football Marcel Brands and his recruitment policy.
Wolves will, hopefully, go a long way in the Europa League this season and I feel they will do well to emulate last term’s 7th placed finish. That said I expect another top half finish for the Molineux outfit.
Last season’s beaten FA Cup Finalists finished comfortably in mid-table in 2018/19 and I expect them to occupy the same place in the table this term. Javi Gracia has not been as busy as I am sure he would have wished this summer, but the Hornets are expected to add to their squad between now and the end of the window.
I was disappointed with Burnley last season and feel they will improve on their 15th placed finish last term. Manager Sean Dyche has added Jay Rodriquez and Erik Peters to his squad but more importantly they have not lost any of their players. I am slightly surprised that they have not had more attention for exciting young winger Dwight McNeil who I feel could have a big future in the game.
I have been very impressed with the job Ralph Hasenhuttl has done at St Mary’s and I feel they could surprise a few people this season. Striker Che Adams has impressed preseason since his move from Birmingham City and young winger Moussa Djenepo will get a few people off their seats on the south coast.
If Hasenhuttl can add another defender to his squad before the end of the window, then there certainly won’t be any relegation fears for the Saints this season.
14. Aston Villa
Dean Smith has certainly splashed the cash this summer, but he has also been able to keep hold of John McGinn and Jack Grealish and I feel this will be a transitional season for Villa as all the new signings will need time to bed into life in the Premier League.
15. Newcastle United
Newcastle flexed their muscles in the transfer window by signing Brazilian Joelinton from Hoffenheim last week and the hope is that manager Steve Bruce will be given more resources in the final week of the transfer window.
It has been another difficult summer at St James’ Park but breaking their transfer record does make a statement to their supporters and I hope there are more quality arrivals to follow.
I have heard good reports about new Brighton boss Graham Potter and I feel the Seagulls will maintain their PL status although they are likely to continue to struggle for goals this term.
17. Crystal Palace
I worry for Roy Hodgson’s Palace side who were better on the road last season than they were at Selhurst Park. Palace could not turn down the £50m they were offered for Aaron Wan-Bissaka earlier in the summer, but I would be surprised if they sold Wilfried Zaha especially with Arsenal – the players preferred choice – seemingly out of the running after their acquisition of Nicholas Pepe.
This is Bournemouth’s fifth successive season in the PL, but I feel they may struggle this term and I feel it will be a long hard winter for the Cherries who finished 14th last term. Eddie Howe bought midfielder Phillip Billing from Huddersfield for £15m earlier in the week and has added a couple of young full backs to his squad, but it might not be enough for the club to maintain their elite status this season.
19. Sheffield United
This will be Sheffield United’s fourth PL season and I feel they will give it a real go in the top-flight this term. Chris Wilder has made several new signings this summer with the return of keeper Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United the pick. Bramall Lane is sure to be rocking on Matchdays, but I just feel they will struggle to score enough goals to survive in the Premier League.
20. Norwich City
Daniel Farke has largely placed his faith in the Canaries’ side who won last season’s Championship, but there is a huge gulf in class between the two leagues and I feel Norwich’s Premier League stay will be fleeting.
The Canaries will get the new season up and running at Anfield on Friday week in what promises to be a baptism of fire for the German although his side did put five past Luton Town in an impressive preseason win at Kenilworth Road recently.
Michael’s antepost predictions 2019/20:
Manchester City to win the Premier League
West Ham to finish top without the top 6 Each Way (1/5th odds)
Kevin de Bruyne PFA Player of the Year
Sergio Aguero top goalscorer