The 2017/18 Premier League season kicks off on Friday as Arsenal host Leicester City and our team of writers have put their necks on the line and made their predictions for the new campaign.
Champions, relegation, best signing, top four, flop, golden boot and first manager to be sacked are all topics for prophecy.
Check them out below and don’t forget to join our Sport360 Fantasy Football League with the chance to win some excellent prizes.
Two years running they’ve been the nearly men but this is the year it will come together. Mauricio Pochettino has built a fine squad which undoubtedly plays the best and most effective football in the league. Much depends on their ability to win at Wembley but they’ve not needed to buy because they are already built to win the league.
Along with Tottenham, Antonio Conte’s side have a settled squad and first XI plus a defined playing style with the best defence in the country. Unless Alvaro Morata is a catastrophic flop and/or the Champions League campaign causes too many injuries, the Blues are a known quantity who remain the strongest in the land.
Given their last few league campaigns, it feels unnatural to tip United to be champions, especially on the back of a sixth place finish. Looking at it objectively though, they’re the team with the least question marks and Mourinho tends to be spot on in his second seasons.
Chelsea surged to the title without having mid-week commitments in 2016/17, but last season’s top six now all have Europe to plan for. No team is better equipped with both the quality and depth to fight on both fronts after a huge summer splurge – though central defence remains a concern.
Their attack is utterly frightening, while Pep Guardiola’s pedigree means he will get it right second time around. Watch Gabriel Jesus blossom and emerge as one of the Premier League’s finest players.
Pep Guardiola was given a reality check on how difficult the Premier League can be last season, and having addressed his defence by splashing the cash, while also having an array of match-winners, it’s hard to look past Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho has bought well and has a big tall brutal squad at his disposal, similar to his Chelsea squad of 2014/15 including Nemanja Matic. It won’t be pretty, United will bludgeon teams into submission with a win at all costs mentality, but they will win – maybe by a little, maybe by a lot.
It’s hard to see Pep getting it as wrong as he did last season. This season will prove once and for all whether he’s a great manager or whether he’s just had great sides and inferior opponents.
The time has come for the Red Devils to lift their first Premier League crown since 2013. After all, Jose Mourinho has never failed to win the domestic title in his second season at all of his previous clubs.
After missing out on a major trophy last season, Pep Guardiola simply cannot afford failure. There can be no excuses and no near-misses. Having targeted specific players to strengthen his side and suit their playing style, City have all the attributes to be top dogs.
Swansea and Burnley were both lucky to survive last season and haven’t done enough in the summer to suggest they will drastically improve. Chris Hughton has an outstanding record as a Championship manager but that’s not translated into the Premier League and Brighton will suffer as a result.
One promoted team will almost certainly go down – the odds and statistics are too far against them and whereas Huddersfield have been aggressive in the market and added quality, Brighton look low on goals. Stoke are in freefall, were poor last season, have lost some key players and made few improvements. Burnley will need to replicate their home form of last year without their best defender.
Huddersfield finished fifth last season and were the only team in the top 11 to have a negative goal difference (-2). They made it through the playoffs and splashed the cash but the influx of new players may do more harm than good. Meanwhile, Tom Heaton will have to be even more impressive if Burnley are to survive this season and Brighton have a horrific run-in that could seal their fate.
Huddersfield’s rise is a wonderful story, and will prove tougher than expected, but this is a season too soon for David Wagner’s project. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s departure will likely relegate Swansea. Burnley have only signed scraps over the summer and they are unlikely to repeat last season’s imperious home record.
Brighton have not added sufficient quality to their squad, something Huddersfield Town can’t be accused of. Burnley have a horror start to the season which they may not recover from, while Southampton’s weak attack has not been strengthened.
The two promoted sides have been busy in the transfer window but will find life tough in the top-flight. For Swansea, Paul Clement did a fantastic job of keeping the Swans up last term but with star Gilfi Sigurdsson expected to leave, wins will be hard to come by.
Marco Silva and Watford are not a good match. He will try to introduce a more attractive playing style which the Hornets simply don’t have the players to execute. Burnley are a boring team playing boring, safety first football. As nice a fairytale as Huddersfield Town is they don’t have the squad, or the smarts, to make it in the big league.
How the Hornets survived last season, I’ll never know. Troy Deeney can’t carry them forever. One of the the new boys will be gone and I think Brighton are the weakest. West Brom were in free-fall after February and Tony Pulis’ pragmatism is wearing thin with the fans.
This is a season of change one too many for the Saints as they haven’t sufficiently strengthened, severely lack firepower and have the distraction of the Virgil van Dijk saga hanging over them. The Newcastle board may pay a heavy price for not backing boss Rafael Benitez in the window. David Wagner’s Huddersfield will cover more ground than most in the top flight but it’s a lost cause as they lack the quality needed at both ends of the pitch.
Swansea were fortunate to get out of trouble last time around and should be prepare for another desperate fight. The expected sale of Gylfi Sigurdsson, inspirational and instrumental to their great escape, will be a decisive blow. Would be a great fairytale if Town could survive, and while the Terriers may win hearts with their efforts, their lack of depth and experience could hurt them. The same goes for Brighton. Strong in the Championship, but could find the top-flight a level too far.
Chelsea’s loss is Liverpool’s gain, the 19-year-old has been phenomenal in pre-season and is the type of mobile target man the Reds have been crying out for.
Everything about the Egyptian implies he’s perfect for Klopp’s fast-paced counter-attacking approach and, as pre-season has shown, should dove-tail perfectly with Sadio Mane. Will probably finish as Liverpool’s top scorer.
Jermain Defoe scored 15 goals in a struggling Sunderland side last season. At Bournemouth, he’s bound to get better service and I expect him to enjoy a similarly prolific campaign. Despite being 34 and costing a fortune in wages, he should be an absolute bargain on a free transfer.
It has hardly been a summer for bargain signings and Matic will not set jaws dropping at Old Trafford. However, it is about what he can do for the players around him. If Paul Pogba, and to a lesser extent Ander Herrera, can be set free by the Serb’s anchoring presence in midfield, Chelsea will be forever ruing the day they let a key player go to a title rival.
He cost a princely, record-breaking sum, but Mendy significantly improves a problem area for City. His combined tally of eight assists in Ligue 1 and Champions League last term points to his quality.
His potential is there to see having scored 15 Serie A goals and 11 assists with Roma last term. He arrives with a big price tag but will cause problems for the Premier League defenders with his pace and eye in front of goal.
Many are already deriding the signing of the former Man Utd and Real Madrid star, but at the age of 29 Chicharito still has a few good years left in him, and at the bargain basement price of £16million it’s not a bad buy at all in this era of insanely over-inflated prices.
Bagged 33 goals in the last two seasons in an awful Sunderland side. Imagine what he could do in a half decent one. Great signing, especially on a free.
In what has been a summer full of overpriced talent, the Toffees’ £7million capture of the ex-Barcelona man was a real steal. Still only 22, he has a point to prove and has pace to burn. His strong work-rate should make him a real handful.
Getting anyone for free these days is impressive, but a top-class defender even more. Versatile and valiant, the former Schalke star could be a coup.
Philippe Coutinho, Mane (13)
Mohamed Salah (Roma, £39m), Andy Roberston (Hull City, £8m), Dominic Solanke (Chelsea, tribunal fee)
Kevin Stewart (Hull City, £8m), Lucas Leiva (Lazio, £5m), Andre Wisdom (Derby, £4.5m)
Salah adds an injection of speed and quality to an already-rapid attack, while Liverpool were electric in the opening half of the campaign.
Injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana have compounded failures to land Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita. Defence still looks markedly weaker than direct competitors.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has impressed during pre-season and the injury to Nathaniel Clyne means the right-back slot should be his to lose.
Salah clicks with Mane and Coutinho rejects Barcelona’s overtures, providing the requisite quality to challenge for both Premier League and Champions League glory.
Klopp’s men thrill much more than they dismay, but failures in the transfer market mean they come up just short in the task of sweeping up trophies.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, £25m), Harry Maguire (Hull City, £17m), Vicente Iborra (Sevilla, £15m), Eldin Jakupovic (Hull City, £2.3m)
Ron-Robert Zieler (Stuttgart, £3.5m)
The miracle makers have real momentum behind them again after Shakespeare’s rescue act, while the addition of Iheanacho adds genuine excitement.
If Roma finally land Riyad Mahrez, can this creative deficit be filled? Their ageing title-winning defence also creeked badly last term.
Wilfred Ndidi lifted the entire club when he was brought in during January, adding both quality and bite in centre midfield. Has potential to transform into one of the division’s midfield masters.
A spine strengthened by the additions of Maguire, Iborra and Iheanacho lifts the club back into contention for Europe.
The feel-good factor returns to King Power Stadium as Shakespeare’s men exorcise last term’s relegation demons and challenge Everton outside the top six.