It’s not always cut and dried, but how the Premier Season plays out and how fantasy ends up usually tend to be fairly intertwined. So let’s get our thinking caps on and predict what’s going to happen this season!
Staff Picks: 2019-20 Predictions
|Golden Boot||H. Kane||H. Kane||H. Kane||D. Origi||H. Kane|
|Assist Leader||K. de Bruyne||K. de Bruyne||K. de Bruyne||G. Sigurdsson||K. de Bruyne|
|Most Clean Sheets||Alisson||Alisson||Ederson||Alisson||Ederson|
|PFA Player of Season||M. Salah||R. Sterling||K. de Bruyne||A. Robertson||H. Kane|
|Most Points (Official)||M. Salah||M. Salah||M. Salah||M. Salah||M. Salah|
|Most Points (Fantrax)||M. Salah||M. Salah||M. Salah||C. Pulisic||H. Kane|
|Surprise Player||D. Henderson||M. Kean||E. Buendia||D. Origi||L. Trossard|
|Disappointing Player||S. Mane||Joelinton||R. Lukaku||Rodri||J. King|
Even though a non-Big Six team has a legitimate chance of grabbing the fourth spot, I’m not that bold. Instead, I’ll give a slight edge to Arsenal. The Gunners would have been better served strengthening their defense, but they can probably win just enough 3-2 and 4-3 thrillers to finish ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United. I’m just hoping that Spurs don’t implode by jettisoning Christian Eriksen with no replacement; especially that he doesn’t go to help the Red Devils!
We should have a fun race at both ends of the table, with a big glut of candidates for relegation. Newcastle scored only 42 goals last season. Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon combined for over half of them (23), and those two are gone, along with Rafa Benitez who was holding the patchwork all together. The Magpies’ only hope for survival will probably come down to a desperate splurge in January, but even that may not be enough.
I can see Brighton finally losing the effort to stay up; Chris Hughton knew the formula, and tinkering with that by replacing him and opening up a weak offense may backfire. Otherwise, I’ll peg Villa to be Fulham redux, but Norwich, Sheffield United, and Southampton will surely at least flirt with an exit, if not worse. As for the Blades, I’m picking Dean Anderson to finish in the top five in fantasy at the keeper position which would be great value at his low price.
I believe despite possibly focusing more on the Champions League this season that Manchester City will win a third Premier League title in a row. Liverpool have failed to strengthen, so I expect less of a battle than the one point win last time out. Tottenham and United will edge out Arsenal and Chelsea for the top four spots. Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Maguire will push those teams ahead of the other two London clubs.
Gabriel Jesus will get more game time this year which will prevent Aguero from scoring the goals required to gilt his boot, while the Liverpool boys will split their goals, thus leaving Harry Kane to battle Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the Golden Boot. Raheem Sterling will be POTY, continuing his upward trend. Moise Kean is the striker Everton need, get familiar with him.
Finally I think Sheffield United will finish bottom and head straight back down with Norwich. I did not know whom to choose to finish 18th, but I’ll go with Newcastle because I don’t believe in Steve Bruce.
The Citizens won the league last season despite the fact that their most creative player (and arguably the league’s best player) missed half their games. City will win again this year, joining Manchester United as the only club to three-peat. And it’s not terribly brave to predict that Liverpool will again finish in second, with Tottenham third.
The toughest call to make is who will finish fourth, although I am confident it will be one of the EPL’s Big Six. Chelsea are a team of youngsters led by Frank Lampard, a legendary player but very green manager. Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will bolster Manchester United’s chances. But Lukaku is gone and the Paolo Dybala transfer fell through, leaving them a bit threadbare for depth up front. And they’ll need to one way or another solve the problem of an unsettled Paul Pogba.
Arsenal have added Nicolas Pepe to an already-formidable front line, and although center-back stalwart and club captain Laurent Koscielny threw a tantrum and left for Bordeaux, Unai Emery picked up David Luiz and Kieran Tierney to bolster a defense that last year conceded more goals than Newcastle. Throw in the addition of Dani Ceballos in midfield, and I’ll pick Arsenal for fourth place. (Note: before Arsenal’s late transfers I chose Chelsea for 4th. The chart above couldn’t be updated prior to publication and still reflects my original choice. Of course, I’ll now reserve the right to say I was correct if either of them finish 4th!)
I think I’d enjoy drinking pints with Steve Bruce, but his record in England’s top-flight isn’t exactly scintillating. Now he’ll inherit an environment at Newcastle that is decidedly toxic, and there has been an exodus of first-team regulars without sufficient incoming transfers to balance the losses. Ayoze Pérez, Salomón Rondón, Joselu, Kenedy, and Mohamed Diamé are all gone, leaving Fabian Schär (4), Matt Ritchie (2), and Ciaran Clark (3) as the only remaining players who scored more than one goal last season. Even if Bruce can maintain the well-organized defense that Rafa Benítez built, new boy Joelinton won’t be enough to make up for the huge loss of offensive firepower (which really wasn’t all that impressive even before last year’s forwards headed for the exits).
Daniel Farke’s managerial philosophy will make Norwich fun to watch, but it will also open up his defense to be ravaged by EPL offenses. They’ll go down, but we’ll enjoy the ride. Sheffield United needed to bolster their roster in order to have a shot at surviving their return to the Prem, but the names they’ve brought in over the summer simply won’t get the job done. There’s just not enough talent in the squad to keep the Blades up.
City won the league last season despite injuries to KDB, Silva, Kompany, Mendy and Kun. Jesus went off the boil and Mahrez didn’t settle. Pool had VvD, Salah, Robertson and Mane fit for almost the whole season. I assume the reds won’t be as lucky this year and that will be the difference.
As for my pick of Leandro Trossard as a good surprise, Graham Potter’s approach should suit him, and he’s the heart of the side’s pre-season play regardless of position. If he does fly, then he will be a transfer target come next summer.
Newcastle lost Perez/Rondon in one go and replaced them with two players lacking Premier League experience. The tough opening fixtures could leave them chasing the pack. Finally, losing Rafa Benitez is a bigger blow than they realize. They will need that huge vocal home support more than ever this season, but I see them finishing 20th.
I’m an American, so I didn’t grow up immersed in English football. I did not encounter the Premier League until 1999 when it was the only thing on TV in the pubs I frequented while working a software contract.
Thus, even now there’s still much I don’t get (or only understand in hindsight). I still know far more about beer than the sport, hence my teams named “AleHouse WAGs”, which should tell you both the source and the value of my so-called “predictions”. My excuse is that they tasted so good coming out of the bottle :)
Bonus: This will be the year that the Newcastle club is finally sold to a new owner! (And I think that will bouy the club enough to stay up).
What do you think of our predictions for the upcoming season? Please go ahead and share your thoughts — and your own predictions — in the comments!