Another Premier League season of drama, intrigue and craziness is on the horizon. And while it's going to be fun and dramatic, it certainly won't be predictable. There are so many different combinations of the 20 teams you could create for many different reasons, and the table is often incredibly fungible. Opinions on each of the Premier League's 20 could change dramatically as the transfer window closes (and is a time to make far better predictions anyway), but in the interest of fairness I will be posted my current predictions as things stand right now and updated predictions once the transfer dust settles. We're going from places 20 to 1 here, in order to build up some of the drama.
20. Hull City: This pick seems relatively straightforward and easy. They've made no first team signings, have no manager, and their squad wasn't nearly Premier League quality to begin with. Good luck to the Tigers, as Assem Allam would want me to call them.
19. Burnley: While their accomplishments are something for a club from a town of 80,000, they don't have the funds or the players to compete with even the lesser teams of the Premier League, who can spend a fair bit more than they can. They've made additions that are more akin to a decent Championship club as opposed to a team trying to stave off relegation. That could change, but this has the feel of another club destined to go right back down.
18. Swansea City: Their story has been quite astonishing, especially considering where they were. But they've been plucked fairly dry, and the investment in the squad isn't there to replace what they've lost, and they've lost quite a lot. Spending 15.5 million pounds on Borja Baston is a start, though it might not necessarily be the right one. Unless the new ownership starts spending markedly more, and in more places, then the Swans might well be staring at relegation.
17. Bournemouth: Second season syndrome is a major concern for the Cherries, who have spent quite a bit of money but there are questions as to whether they've spent it wisely. Their defense is not very good, and it hasn't improved dramatically this summer. If a couple of bounces go wrong for them, they could be down.
16. Sunderland: David Moyes, like Tony Pulis, never gets relegated as a manager. But the constant turnover in the Stadium of Light dugout is never a good sign. The squad is a bit thin, but hasn't really been weakened this summer either. Moyes will be backed with some funds, and if he makes the right buys, the Black Cats might not need another great escape.
15. West Bromwich Albion: Most Premier League fans have wanted to see this club go down for years, but with Tony Pulis at the helm, they're likely not going to. He grinds out points when he needs to, and his team does what's required to stay in the division. Yes it means ugly football, but it means Premier League money flows into their coffers. With new ownership, maybe Pulis will have even more cash to spend.
14. Crystal Palace: Many have tipped the Eagles for relegation, and with Alan Pardew's track record that's not entirely surprising. But I'm not so sure. There's enough in that squad to at least keep them up, and Pardew could still easily be sacked and they could hire a better manager. Regardless of that, they'll find a way to scrape together enough points to stay up.
13. Middlesbrough: A welcome return to the Top Flight, Middlesbrough has a fascinating manager in Aitor Karanka and a fascinating squad to boot. He's added Premier League experience and quality while not disassembling the core of the side that got the club up. He's a combustible man though, so watch for drama.
12. Watford: Walter Mazzari is a fantastic manager that got short shrift at Napoli and Inter, and now finds himself at Watford. While you may criticize their technical side and how they move players in and out, their is little doubt that they can find quality in hidden gems. Mazzari's tactical flexibility, as well as good group of forwards should propel the Hornets up the table.
11. Southampton: This is not the club that has been a consistent top half side for the past few years under Pochettino and Koeman. This is a club that has been stripped nearly bare again by the vultures from everywhere domestically and abroad. Yet they always find a way, and Claude Puel is a manager that can develop youth and get the best out of what he's given. Saints won't be great, and the Europa League will hurt them, but they'll easily avoid relegation.
10. Stoke City: Mark Hughes has spent lavishly on fascinating players, but this seems to be Stoke's ceiling. They're very good in most areas (aside from striker), and very good can only get a team so far in today's Premier League. It might be time to ask questions about the ceiling for this Stoke squad, and whether they've hit it.
9. Leicester City: Last season's darlings have only lost one of their big three from last season, though N'Golo Kante is a massive lost. They've replaced him, and improved the squad in most areas. So why are they ninth? Well, last season's aligning of the cosmos won't happen again, as the Premier League's big boys will not be as bad as they have been, and Leicester's own obligations will change. They are a solid top half side, but repeating last year's exploits are basically impossible.
8. Everton: With Ronald Koeman, Everton will instantly be better than they had been recently under Roberto Martinez. But at the moment, their squad hasn't improved that much. The natural bump from being coached by a better manager will certainly get quite a lot out of this squad, but they're a work in progress.
7. West Ham United: Their move to the Olympic Stadium has coincided with spending big on some interesting players, including young Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri and winger Gokhan Tore. Their squad has a fascinating dynamic in it thanks to players like Dmitri Payet and others, but whether they can crack the Sky Six is another question. Likely Europa League obligations aren't going to help their cause much.
6. Liverpool: They will be better as a whole with more time learning Jurgen Klopp's methods and a better reshaping of the squad dynamic, but they're still a work in progress. No European football will definitely help them improve, but early injury issues as well as plenty of bloat still present across the squad means that they're not quite ready to reach for their heights from three years ago. They're an item for the future, but not the present.
5. Spurs: They haven't lost anyone of significance to this squad, they've improved in it two critical areas and there's added motivation after what happened at the end of last season. So why are they here? Depth isn't amazing, and there's a likely chance of regression for Harry Kane, Dele Alli and others even though they are still high quality players. They are a team that could easily be undone by one major injury, which is concerning. They're still really good, but their competition is too.
4. Arsenal: Right where they always end up. Signing Granit Xhaka addresses a major issue, but that's all they've done so far this summer. No high quality striker looks to be coming in, which is becoming the new not signing a defensive midfielder for the club, and their injury issues are also noticeable and could adversely affect the start of their season. Until something dramatic changes, either via transfers or change in manager, Arsenal will finish where they always do and with the same narratives they always do.
3. Chelsea: Not much has changed with a squad that finished 10th and shouldn't have been anywhere close to that, which is mildly surprising. But when one considers how horrible so many great players were, it makes sense to tweak, not transform. N'Golo Kante and Michi Batshuayi will make the squad much better, but the addition of Antonio Conte in the dugout will make an already stout Chelsea even more stout. Could they do with more trims and tweaks? Of course. But the lack of European football will focus the squad for a good run this year, though they're not quite title contenders.
2. Manchester United: So much money spent, so much more Mourinho, so much more intrigue at Old Trafford. Gone are the Sir Alex Ferguson days, in come the Galaticos in Manchester. They've added so much quality, though they paid a pretty penny to do it. While they still have issues, United are a genuine title contender for the first time since Sir Alex last lead them to one in 2013. They could easily win it, though Mourinho's welcome at any club doesn't last long.
1. Manchester City: Pep Guardiola with anyone squad is terrifying, even with one that is still broken in many places. But the emphasis on buying youth, especially players like Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones will make this squad better both in the short and long term. If Pep can fix the central midfield, and also get the most out of some of the older members of this squad, City will waltz to the title. And it's amazing to think they're not even the finished article yet.
So there are my predictions, as of now, for the new Premier League season. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am.
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