clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Looking Ahead: NMA Staff Predictions 2020-21

New, comments

The soothsayers at NMA are ready to share their forecasts for the upcoming EPL season.

All seeing eye - Green Psychic
The psychics (psychos?) at NMA have peered into their crystal balls for predictions on the 2020-21 EPL season. Will their prophecies come true?
The Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

About a week ago we revisited last summer’s Staff Predictions to see how accurately our staff guessed the way the 2019-20 season would play out. There were some home runs and there were some strike-outs, and there were more than a few chuckles.

It’s time once again for us to size up the season that lies ahead. Below are the projections for 2020-21 from each of the fortune-tellers here at NMA.

~

Top Four Clubs 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Champ MCI MCI MCI MCI MCI MCI MCI MUN
Second LIV LIV LIV LIV LIV CHE LIV MCI
Third MUN CHE CHE CHE CHE LIV MUN CHE
Fourth CHE MUN MUN ARS MUN MUN CHE ARS

~

Relegated Clubs 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
18 FUL AVL WBA AVL WBA BHA WBA AVL
19 AVL WBA AVL NEW AVL LUN FUL CPL
20 WBA FUL FUL FUL FUL FUL NEW WBA

~

Golden Boot 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Golden Boot PEA PEA PEA Kane Werner PEA PEA PEA

~

Most Assists

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Most Assists Bruno KDB KDB KDB KDB KDB KDB KDB

~

Golden Gloves 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Golden Gloves Ederson Alisson Ederson Lloris Ederson Ederson Ederson Henderson

~

PFA Player of the Year 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
POTY KDB Bruno KDB Salah KDB KDB Bruno Bruno

~

Most Points: FPL 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Most Points: FPL Werner KDB KDB Salah KDB PEA KDB Bruno

~

Most Points: Fantrax 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Most Points: Fantrax n/a KDB KDB Kane Werner KDB Bruno Bruno

~

Most Surprising Player 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Most Surprising Player Antonio Soucek Pereira Allan Adams Barnes DCL ?

~

Most Disappointing Player 2020-21

 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
 Ali Paul David Prakhar Chris PPQ Stall Jeff
Most Disappointing Player Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo Mount Pogba ASM Pogba

~

Ali

Liverpool have lately displayed their weakness at the back during a counter-attack. That could be crucial in the upcoming season. They looked delicate compared to their rivals this summer.

Jurgen Klopp is pretty much happy with his squad. The addition of one more midfielder — Thiago Alcantara — could be beneficial, but their rivals Manchester City have been busy in the transfer window themselves with the inclusion of Nathan Ake, Ferran Torres and possibly Kalidou Koulibaly who will create a massive impact at the back. That puts Pep Guardiola’s side back in the driving seat to hunt the league title despite having their attention being distracted by the Champions League.

The ammunition that Chelsea have bought in this transfer window has been the most exciting, which is why Frank Lampard and Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to close the gap on the top two clubs of England to win some silverware to call it a successful campaign.

Aston Villa were lucky to escape relegation last term, but all three clubs of Villa, Fulham and West Brom have one unfortunate quality in common: the struggle to hold the ball in order to create a dangerous final-third pass. No goals, not enough points and hence, sliding down the table.

Aubameyang did win the golden boot by sharing it with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane two seasons ago, but this can be his chance to add another. The center of attention and spotlight will be on Arsenal’s captain, and if Mikel Arteta builds the squad around him correctly, the Gabon international should be grabbing goals for fun, as proven before by the elite forward.

The influence that one player can bring to Manchester United is something that shows value and talent. Being the central figure and the key to contributions makes Bruno Fernandes the protagonist at Old Trafford. The Portuguese will have most of the ball, will make key dangerous passes in the final third, and grab assists just for fun.

If Manchester City complete the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly, which they will likely to do before the window closes, their defense will be rock solid and the Senegal international can have a major impact just like Virgil Van Dijk did for Liverpool. This makes life a million times easier for their goal keeper Ederson, who will not have much to do during many games, giving him a good chance of winning the golden gloves again.

Kevin de Bruyne is at the peak of his career at 29, arguably the best midfielder in the world right now. With David Silva gone, the Belgian international will happily take the responsibility to drive his team forward with pace and influence that will help the Citizens succeed in the league and maybe Europe.

Timo Werner is a proven goal-scorer, but it also takes a bit of time to adjust coming from a new league. The German is exceptional, but his ability to shift from the central striking position towards the wider areas brings team-work into his game. That gives him chances to provide many assists, which makes him a powerful candidate to earn the most FPL points.

Michail Antonio had a phenomenal end to the season for West Ham, looking like a different player post restart. His stats during this period were fantastic, with eight goals and an assists, including 16 shots on target (1st), 28 shots in the box (2nd), 12 big chances (1st), which is impressive. However, he performed under par during the majority of the season, which is why consistency is a question. If he manages to keep his form intact, he can be a surprise for many.

Leeds United have made a major gamble in Rodrigo, the former Bolton striker who scored 59 goals and 41 assists in 220 games for Valencia. Not a bad stat, but the Premier League is another level altogether. Adjusting to the playing style of Marcelo Bielsa will be challenging enough, but to maintain consistency in England, especially in the first season with a heavy price-tag pressure, is even more difficult to cope with.

~

Paul

I’m expecting the two top teams to be battling it out this season. After who they’ve added, Manchester City edges out Liverpool, who will be a very close second. Chelsea will close their gap to finish in 3rd, and Manchester United will secure another top-4 finish, continuing their strong form since the restart.

Aston Villa had a lucky escape last year and look a side lacking goals. Tom Heaton is also out with a long term injury. West Brom had a few players move on and haven’t brought enough in. They’re a real yo-yo club who have been relegated four times previously. Fulham are the lowest ranked of the promoted sides; they play good football but look like they’re vulnerable at the back. Mitrovic is key to their survival.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang should win the Golden Boot this season, assuming he’s still with Arsenal, which is looking likely. Arsenal have added Willian to their ranks, and Pepe has improved since his arrival so they’ll be looking to provide for their talisman.

Kevin De Bruyne registered seven more assists than any other player last season, and Man City look full of goals, so there is no reason to bet against him for most assists.

Liverpool have the most well-established back line, and I’m expecting them to regain their defensive form from the season before last. It’s Alisson for my Golden Glove winner.

Bruno Fernandes has already made an impression on the league since his arrival and will continue into his first full EPL Season. I expect him to take PFA POTY honors.

Kevin De Bruyne is the league’s assist king who is also capable of goals, and should continue penalty duty. He gets my vote for Most Points in both FPL and Fantrax.

Tomas Soucek is a strong box-to-box player whom I feel will surprise many with a few goal returns as he likes to get forward, even though he has a reputation as a defensive midfielder. He was impressive during the Restart for the Hammers.

There is a lot of buzz around Leeds’ new £30Mil singing Rodrigo, and he is certainly a skillful player with attacking talent. But for some reason I feel he will struggle to adapt to the English game once again. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

~

David

Liverpool’s run to the crown in 2019-20 was spectacular, but I don’t see them dominating with the same imperious form in this campaign. They don’t have the ridiculous squad depth that City have, and although their midfielders are industrious hard-workers, they lack the kind of creativity that City’s middies have in spades. Therefore I think the Citizens will reassert themselves this year and return to the league’s throne. I see ‘Pool in second due to the talent of their strike force and the solidity of their goalkeeper and back four. Chelsea will push them though — the additions of Werner, Ziyech, and Havertz have elevated their offense into one of the most fearsome in the league. Their Achilles heel will be defense, especially if a replacement for Kepa cannot be found. United should round out the top four, but an Arsenal side that is improving in leaps and bounds under Mikel Arteta cannot be counted out.

Barring future transfers, West Brom just doesn’t have enough talent to compete at this level. Aston Villa survived by the skin of their teeth last season, and this year I think their luck runs out. And Fulham play an open brand of football that is fun to watch, but it is perhaps not the best recipe for staying up, as we saw last year with the success of Sheffield United and the failure of Norwich.

PEA almost won the Golden Boot last season. I think now that the team around him has improved, it will be his in 2021. Jamie Vardy remains a singular talent, but he will be 34 years old in January, and the effects of age will start to show. And Danny Ings may see some of his production cannibalized by the emergence of Che Adams.

KDB tied the EPL’s all-time assist record last year. The guy who came in second wasn’t even close. Barring injury I don’t see much changing this season.

Similarly, Ederson should retain the Golden Gloves. He won it last year despite Aymeric Laporte’s months’ long absence due to injury. Laporte is now healthy, and City have the additional depth provided by Nathan Aké should disaster strike again.

KDB is the best player in the Prem, and everybody knows it, including his peers. I see them awarding him the 2021 Player of the Year. I also think he’ll score the most points in both of our fantasy platforms, especially now that he’s on PKs (again, providing he stays healthy).

I think Matheus Pereira will be a revelation for EPL fans who are not familiar with his work in the Championship. His touch is exquisite, his ball skills are dazzling, he takes set pieces, and he can create as well as finish. He’s a joy to watch, and I’m looking forward to seeing him showcase his talents on the game’s biggest stage. Here’s a taste of what’s in store for us:

Finally, I think Rodrigo will be the season’s disappointing player. Leeds spent a club-record £27M to bring him in, and much will therefore be expected of him. Fantasy managers and Leeds fans will be eager to see goals from the 29 year-old Spanish forward, but the truth is that he is not a prolific finisher. He has managed double-digit goal hauls in only two of his eleven seasons as a professional. He’ll plus-up Marcelo Bielsa’s side for sure, but his contributions won’t be enough to satisfy those who have pinned high hopes on him.

~

Prakhar

Manchester City lost the league title to Liverpool by 18 points, which is all the motivation they should need really. I am predicting a bounce back from the Citizens this season and a possible tightening at the back with Nathan Ake’s services now available. It has always been their defense which has let them down, but I think with the CB pairing of Laporte and Ake, they could majorly improve at the back. However, Liverpool can’t be discounted easily for obvious reasons, so I can see another close title fight, but Manchester City will have that extra edge over their rivals purely because of squad depth. I can’t really see anyone finishing third ahead of Chelsea after their absolutely astonishing transfer activity. That Chelsea squad is something to fear for the rest of the teams. I think it’s going to be another close one for the 4th spot between United and Arsenal, but the Gunners have looked promising lately under Arteta. If they continue their end of season form, they can clinch that coveted Champions League spot.

Fulham surprised quite a few by defeating Brentford in the play-off final to earn promotion. Their defense is still their biggest weakness, so even if they score plenty of goals at the other end with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line, I can’t see them surviving the drop. For Dean Smith’s side, they barely survived relegation last season largely because of their talisman Jack Grealish. If they are to survive again, some major reinforcements are needed, especially in the CF position. With yet another bid to buy the club failing earlier in the summer, Newcastle United are another team I can see struggling massively this season. Although Bruce has shown the ability to grind out results, I think they won’t have enough for staying up.

Harry Kane hasn’t won the golden boot for two years now, and knowing the performances he demands from himself, he’ll be looking to get back on the top of the goal scoring charts again to prove that he’s still one of the best strikers in Europe. Well, I know predicting Hugo Lloris to win the golden glove is bold, but Tottenham kept eight clean sheets last season with seven of them coming after Mourinho was appointed as the boss. I can see Spurs being rigid at the back and keeping a lot of clean sheets. They also have a favourable set of opening fixtures that include home ties with West Ham, Brighton and Newcastle.

I’ve picked Allan as the surprise player because he has played under Ancelotti before at Napoli and knows what is needed from him. Everton have been strengthening their midfield this season as it has looked so weak after the departure of Idrissa Gueye to PSG, so Allan is going to be instrumental in their fight for a spot higher up the table. Now, in no way am I suggesting that Rodrigo is not a good player, but the way his previous side Valencia played and the way Bielsa’s Leeds play don’t match all that much. It will take him a lot of time to adapt to that high pressing approach, so I can see him struggling to maintain his spot if he finds one from the beginning.

~

Chris

It should be a more suspenseful title race this season, but the top four positions should hold without much in the way of surprises. If Chelsea makes a move for a keeper before the transfer deadline, the Blues may even challenge for the crown.

Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud combined to score 23 goals last season in roughly 3,200 minutes between them, and Werner is an enormous upgrade on the pair. Blessed with plenty of creativity and threat around him, I can see the EPL newcomer delivering 25+ goals, particularly since he should be on PKs with Willian gone and Jorginho not a regular starter.

I expect a battle between Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes for the PFA award and most FPL points, and will give the benefit to KDB to edge Bruno.

Ederson and Alisson should battle it out for the Golden Glove, and I’m picking Ederson on the assumption that the Citizens bring in someone to help at central defense in the remainder of the summer transfer window.

I’m hopeful that Che Adams can be at least an approximation of last season’s Danny Ings, which would be fun since they’re teammates. I don’t see him scoring 22 goals, but maybe 12-15 goals plus 7 or 8 assists would do very nicely for his price.

The 18th place team could be among many possibilities, but I’ll go with a second promoted team to go one-and-done. The Albion defense was only third-best in the Championship, and nobody in their offense managed as many as 11 goals. I also see Aston Villa going down since their defense is so awful, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Tom Heaton could save them. I’m sure I have plenty of company picking Fulham to go one-and-done.

~

PPQ

First Place: Manchester City. They scored 15 more goals than Liverpool last year and gave up only two more. While Liverpool ran away with the league, the numbers suggest that City wasn’t as far behind as the table suggests. A few upgrades, a very deep team, Pep Guardiola, and motivation provided by a tough year will be enough to see Manchester City lift the trophy.

Second Place: Chelsea. They have key upgrades in key places (let’s wait and see if that holds for their keeper). A true scorer, two more play-makers, and a veteran defender were all needed and added. Add them to a youthful team that gained a lot of experience last year, and if some things go right Chelsea have the makings of a team who could challenge this year.

Third Place: Liverpool. They were so good. Can they really keep that up this year? I have my doubts, especially with very little added to bolster a squad that saw very little rotation in key positions last year.

Fourth Place: Manchester United. Bruno Fernandes completely changed the complexion and attitude of the team last year. I believe that holds this year. Their defense still has too many questions to feel like they can make a run to the top spot, but they will be tough this season.

18th: Brighton. BHA had the 4th worst home record last year. They were mid table on the road. They tied for the most ties, and if a few of those go the wrong way, they are in trouble. They still don’t have a true scorer, and while defense was average, I don’t think they have enough to stay up.

19th: Leeds United. Leeds were the best team in the Championship. But the Championship is not the same the EPL. Everything will be tougher this year. This is as much a hunch as anything else.

20th: Fulham. They had to fight hard to claim the last spot in the EPL. They gave up more goals and scored less than either of the other promoted sides. Mitrovic is a goal scorer, but they need much more than that for a successful run in the EPL.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is my choice for the Golden Boot. Last year he was runner up with 22 goals on a team that simply wasn’t very good. Arsenal will be better and in turn the Gunner’s talisman will benefit.

It’s got to be Kevin DeBruyne for most assists. He’s the best player in the league on the most talented team. They will continue to rain goals, and he will continue to provide them.

I think Ederson will repeat as the Golden Glove winner. City’s defense looks to be a little stronger, which gives him the edge.

As long as he stays injury free, Kevin De Bruyne is simply the best player in the league. He should be a lock for Player of the Year.

I see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a lot this year, which is what you need to do in the FPL to end up on top.

Kevin DeBruyne does it all. In Fantrax that matters and adds up, as it did last season. No reason to see that changing.

I think Harvey Barnes takes another major step forward this year. He plays with confidence and I think we see double digit goals and assists this year from the young Leicester winger.

On and off the field, I’m never sure what to expect from Pogba, and in his more holding role he might actually be what United need. But from a fantasy standpoint, this drops his value considerably.

~

Stall

If City sign Koulibaly I think they may win the title back, but as I write they have no partner for Laporte who missed a chunk of last season, and City have questions at fullback. Liverpool have been brilliant for back to back seasons; doing that three in a row is very rare. The top two are still clearly ahead of the pack, but I think the gap closes. Chelsea is building a squad to challenge, as is Man Utd. Maybe just maybe we could have a Bundesliga style race for the title involving a number of sides for at least for a while. I will also predict the battle for 4th place doesn’t go into the final day this season, as these four will pull away from the pack.

The West Brom squad looks really weak while Fulham are over reliant on Mitro. Both sides bounced back up, but I think both could have done with a season more in the Championship rebuilding their squads. For the final spot, I will say it goes to the final day, and right now that spot is wide one. I will go with Newcastle paying the price for not getting the take over done to allow investment in their team.

Aubameyang’s partnership with Tierney grew after lockdown. He has pens in his locker and a side built to extend leads rather than defend them. I think Arteta’s influence will see a better Arsenal this season, but not one that keeps many more clean sheets, leaving them chasing goals in games. Auba may get Thursday evenings off for a while making him less affected by rotation.

Should he stay fully fit, KDB is on a different level. I see him claiming most assists for a consecutive season.

City are already the most dominant side in possession. If they sign Koulibaly I see Ederson take the Golden Gloves in back to back seasons.

He dragged his United side into the top four last season. I think he will do so again, and his fellow pros will give him the nod for Player of the Year.

KDB now appears to have pens in his locker, so his goal output should increase even more. If he stays fit, I don’t see how he won’t be the highest scoring asset in FPL. If KDB doesn’t stay fit, then it could be Auba.

In Fantrax I think it’s Bruno. Three points for every shot on target, plus he takes corners, free kicks, and pens. An all-action player, the Fantrax scoring metrics really suit him.

Dominic Calvert Lewin’s 13 goals in a poor Everton side surprised me last season. I think he will blossom further under Carlo’s system with the arrival of James Rodriguez and the crosses of Digne. I think he hits more goals this season, while also increasing his assist numbers. An old fashioned No. 9, he may offer Southgate something different from the bench next summer. Few have him at 7m in FPL to start the season, but I think he will surprise people once again.

Many of us have ASM in our game-week one FPL squads. He certainly improved last season and it’s not really with him I foresee the problem. It’s the lack of quality around him at this point. With no real center forward to feed off, he can expect the opposition to focus their defensive plan on stopping supply to him, tightly marking and if needed double-teaming him in possession. He will still have his days; as we saw there is an explosive player in there, but if the Magpies do not invest, I can see them being rare and the player being removed from FPL squads earlier than some are planning.

~

Jeff

Manchester United finished very strong during project restart, as did Manchester City, but City ran out of gas in the Champions League, so I think OGS’s men have a chance to pip their derby rivals for the title. ‘Pool on the other hand look as if they went on vacation as soon as they reached the title finish line. Since we’ve seen several recent champions fall off the year following a title, and after watching the Reds lose the Community Shield match, I’m not even calling ‘Pool to finish in the top four. Other sides are hungrier and adding more talent.

After that, I am anxious about the transfer window that extends for the rest of this month. I think there’s another block-buster trade to come before (or on!) deadline day. I’ve read rumors of rumors about Lionel Messi and/or Gareth Bale coming to the Premier League. Can you imagine if they got on the phone with each other and decided to both join the same team just for fun (and silverware)? So I have picked last season’s surprise (Bruno) to lead the way in points etc, and I pick “someone yet to arrive” to be this season’s surprise.

I also know that De Gea’s form looked tired at times, and Henderson was recalled to United after his hero year at Sheffield last season, so I’m speculating that Henderson playing a full season for a top-4 club could take the Golden Gloves... if he becomes the #1 soon enough. Big if filling big shoes, but predictions would be boring without trying to see a twist or two right?

~

JOIN THE NMA FANTRAX MINI-LEAGUES

[If new, please register at Fantrax and then...]

NMA-17 Fantrax League

NMA-17 allows you to expand your roster to as many as 17 players. Each week, your best 3 forwards, best 4 middies, best 3 defenders and best keeper that week will add to your cumulative season earnings.

Join Fantrax EPL’s NMA-17 and start shopping NOW!

~

NMA-11 Fantrax League

NMA-11 limits you to exactly 11 players, no subs. However, you may choose from a range of allowed formations.

Join Fantrax EPL’s NMA-11 and start shopping NOW!

~

JOIN THE NMA FPL MINI-LEAGUE LEAGUE

The Never Manage Alone “BTB” (“Beat the Bloggers”) league has been automatically renewed, so if you were a member last season, there should be no need for you to do anything (except buying your initial roster of course).

If you are new to the league, first set up your account and pick a squad. You can do so by visiting the Official FPL site and registering. Then you can join by clicking on “Leagues” and then “Private Leagues.”

League Name: Never Manage Alone “BTB”

League Code: btojt9

~

What do you think of our forecasts? Have we divined the tea leaves correctly, or have our prophecies missed the mark? Let us know what you think in the Comments, and then share your predictions for the 2020-21 campaign!

~