These fools are split on Liverpool v City. Leeds and Jesus will fare better than Hasenhuttl and Richarlison. Two have Man Utd in the top four.
As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.
Sarah Winterburn: After we all dismissed Liverpool last season, I am going to go for the populist vote here; I think the system at Liverpool is so engrained that it’s business as usual, while Manchester City will take just a tad too long to adapt to Erling Haaland. Do I believe any of that? That’s for me to know…
Matt Stead: Manchester City.
John Nicholson: It’s obviously going to be either Liverpool or Manchester City. I suspect that Erling Haaland will score a lot of goals but will make City a little worse and a little more predictable team this time around, while Liverpool will be a little bit better. So the Reds it is.
Ian King: I know that the obvious equation is ‘Manchester City + Haaland = profit’, but they’ve ripped out their attacking line in getting rid of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, and it was evident from the Community Shield that this very different type of player may need time to bed in. Liverpool, on the other hand, integrated Luis Diaz in the second half of last season, brought in Darwin Nunez (who is as good a bet as a replacement for Sadio Mane than they were likely to find), and seem to have recovered pretty well from their disappointing end to last season. So, Liverpool, then.
Ian Watson: City. They were the best team in England, then signed one of the world’s best strikers and England’s starting midfielder, just to add some depth.
Will Ford: Manchester City. They’re slightly better than Liverpool.
Dave Tickner: It’s impossible to say anything with certainty for this uniquely difficult season with a World Cup plonked right slap bang in the middle of it. It’s going to make a mess of everything; there’s just no way of predicting anything and only a fool would even attempt it. That said, Manchester City will win the league.
Joe Williams: Liverpool.
Jason Soutar: Man City. Again.
Lewis Oldham: A boring choice but I can’t go against Manchester City. Especially now they have a ‘proper’ striker.
And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.
SW: I have flipped and flopped 17 times even as I write this sentence but I think I have finally settled on Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal. I think. But I have been burned by Arsenal before so I say this with almost zero conviction.
MS: Being: Liverpool in second with the All or Nothing pair of Arsenal and Spurs rounding off a documentarian top four.
JN: Manchester City, Spurs, Manchester United.
IK: Manchester City, Spurs, Arsenal. Chelsea were always going to be running to stand still this summer while both Spurs and Arsenal look stronger than last season. It’s very difficult to split Spurs and Arsenal, but I’ll go with Spurs because with Conte having come in during last season, they’re further down the ‘reinvention’ path than Arsenal, but there doesn’t seem to be much between them going into the new season.
IW: Liverpool will be runners-up, obviously. Right now, I’ll say Spurs third and Arsenal in fourth. But ask me again on September 1. Actually, ask me again in 10 minutes…
WF: Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham. Not sure there will be such a fight for the top four this season. Arsenal don’t have the depth and Manchester United look as though they will still have Cristiano Ronaldo.
DT: Liverpool slip back into the pack a bit. Spurs improve. Manchester United benefit from the bold strategy of employing a proper manager.
JW: Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal.
JS: Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal…
LO: Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. I’m well on board the north London hype train.
Three picks for relegation please.
SW: A really poor Championship season has led to three really poor promoted clubs. Nottingham Forest have done the most to fight what seemed inevitable but I still think it’s not enough; all three will return from whence they came.
MS: Bournemouth, Brentford and Wolves.
JN: As usual, half the league is, contrary to all the propaganda, rather average and is largely cannon fodder for the Big Six. But
Bournemouth, Fulham and Southampton will be the worst of them.
IK: Fulham and Bournemouth, obviously, but beyond that it’s one from about five or six. I’ll stick with my previous prediction of Leicester for the good of consistency, but it might just as easily be Brentford, Leeds, Everton or more. There’s little to choose between the Premier League’s flotsam and jetsam.
IW: Bournemouth, Fulham and, er, Leicester are a worry, aren’t they?
WF: Bournemouth and Fulham will go straight back down, and I reckon Wolves will join them, as any club paying £20.5m for Nathan Collins absolutely deserves to.
DT: Fulham, in accordance with the prophecy. Leeds. And, oh, let’s say… Brentford going full second-season syndrome.
JW: Bournemouth, Fulham, Leeds.
JS: Fulham. Leeds. Bournemouth.
LO: Everton, Fulham and AFC Bournemouth. All of their squads and managers (especially Lampard) are not good enough. Leicester and Southampton won’t be far away either.
Which club will be a pleasant surprise?
SW: Kills me to say it but Leeds. Not in the sense that they will finish top half but in the sense that they will stay well clear of relegation and play some quite entertaining football. Nobody will be surprised by Brighton finishing in the top half again, will they?
MS: West Ham qualifying for Europe again seems both pleasant and surprising. They will be the only club separating the Big Six.
JN: I’d like to think Nottingham Forest will be. They’ve spent £85 million so far and brought in nine players which we all know can be a blessing or a curse. But those buys look surprisingly astute, exciting even. So 20th with nine points it is.
IK: Everyone is going to say Forest for this, aren’t they? I think Crystal Palace have done a good job of the potentially tricky replacement of Connor Gallagher with Cheick Doucoure, and like many others I was impressed by Patrick Vieira last season. Palace have space into which they can grow, and I think they may be capable of pushing towards the European places. That’ll be Vieira sacked by the end of October then.
IW: It’s stretching the definition of ‘pleasant’ but there seems to be a perception that Leeds will struggle. They won’t; they’ll be absolutely fine.
WF: I both hope and genuinely believe Crystal Palace will finish in or just off the European places. Probably my favourite team to watch last season and frequently got less than they deserved.
DT: Up to readers to decide if Manchester United not being a hot mess is pleasant or indeed surprising. Don’t think Forest will be quite first-season Sheffield United or Leeds as Big Club Back Where They Belong but confident they will survive with a bit to spare to the delight of all the Proper Premier League Club heads.
JW: Brentford, again. I like the look of their new signings. No second season syndrome for them.
JS: Crystal Palace. Not sure if it will be such a surprise to see them do well – but I reckon they will finish in the top eight.
LO: Leeds United. Phillips and Raphinha will obviously be big misses, but their new signings look really promising. A finish around mid-table is on the cards.
Who will win the Golden Boot?
SW: Harry Kane. Last year will have killed him. And while the media obsess about Haaland v Nunez, he will quietly score 26 goals.
MS: Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus. Not sure which but being freed of those famous Manchester City attacking shackles will benefit both.
JN: Like everyone except Winty, I am hopeless at predictions, so when I say it’ll be Haaland it seems obvious, but will almost certainly be
IK: Even if he takes a while to bed in, Ivan Drago Erling Haaland arrives at the Etihad with 62 league goals in 67 appearances in the Bundesliga, and is certainly capable of getting 25 in the Premier League, though my confidence in this prediction is a little lower than it was before the Community Shield.
IW: City will have to screw up quite spectacularly for it to be anyone other than Erling Haaland.
WF: Mohamed Salah. I refuse to be taken aback by how good he is at football again.
DT: Not saying Erling Haaland – that’s too dull. Thinking outside the box and plumping for a certain Harry Edward Kane in a campaign where he doesn’t give everyone a half-season headstart by being in a huff.
JW: Darwin Nunez. If Liverpool are to win the league, like I’ve predicted, then their new Uruguayan is going to have to cut the mustard.
JS: Harry Kane – he is scoring 30+ or getting 20 goals and 20 assists. If it’s the latter, the Golden Boot winner will be Salah.
LO: Harry Kane. A player reborn under Antonio Conte and will score 30 goals in the league for the second time.
Which new signing will have the greatest positive impact?
SW: Got to say Gabriel Jesus. I think he is exactly the player Arsenal needed to complement the youth behind at Arsenal. They could drive each other on to great heights.
MS: Nayef Aguerd is literally five-sixths of the way to becoming a Premier League legend with a name like that. He, Gabriel Jesus and Diego Carlos are the biggest positional upgrades.
JN: I’m throwing my considerable weight behind lovely Christian Eriksen turning Manchester United’s form around by creating and scoring
IK: The Fruitless Frenkie de Jong Pursuit seems to have masked the fact that Manchester United have signed one of the best creative midfielders to have played in the Premier League in recent years, and it has been surprising to see his arrival at Old Trafford being treated with some degree of ambivalence by United supporters. Christian Eriksen could have them forgetting about the De Jong saga quicker than they realise.
IW: I’ve already gone big on Haaland, so now I’ll curse Gabriel Jesus by suggesting he’ll score plenty for Arsenal.
WF: Gabriel Jesus. Sort of contradicting myself here as if he does have such an impact Arsenal will likely get into the top four, but let’s assume Aaron Ramsdale throws a few in and William Saliba doesn’t have quite the messianic influence the Gunners fans are expecting. Jesus obviously will, though.
DT: Zinchenko and Jesus will both be good but I reckon the former will improve Arsenal more than the latter. Alas, Arsenal can only go so far because their manager thinks you can recreate Anfield with some speakers.
JW: Yves Bissouma. The former Brighton midfielder will give Tottenham some much-needed steel in the middle of the park.
JS: Gabriel Jesus. 16+ Premier League goals. Will help Odegaard get 12+ PL assists. He is going to explode for Arsenal.
LO: Gabriel Jesus. Yes, I may be getting carried away after seeing how well he’s done in pre-season. But the Brazilian will thrive as Arsenal’s main man and score 20+ in the Premier League.
And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?
SW: West Ham’s record with strikers is so pathetic that this almost feels like a trick question. Of course they have spent £30m on a dud.
MS: Fabio Vieira has a peripheral and forgettable first season at Arsenal before exploding in 2023/24 as Mikel Arteta deliberately starts to copy the ‘it takes every new signing time to adapt to Guardiola’s methods’ thing.
JN: Given West Ham bought Seb Haller for £40million, made him useless and sold him for £20million, at which point he went to Ajax, scored 47 in 66 and looked brilliant, I can see Gianluca Scamacca, the 6ft 5ins £35m new arrival going the same way.
IK: I have deep reservations over Nottingham Forest’s decision to bring in Jesse Lingard, reservations which I felt were justified by him tweeting almost immediately after the signing about whether he should have ‘Lingard’ or ‘JLingz’ on the back of his shirt. For God’s sake, man, you’re 30 years old. Steve Cooper is a really good coach and Lingard’s previous spell away from Old Trafford at West Ham was very successful, but I can still see how this could explode in everyone’s faces.
IW: For reasons I can neither explain nor fathom, I have a feeling that Kalidou Koulibaly might struggle. Now watch him win the Ballon d’Or.
WF: Not sure he’ll be a flop per se, but I can’t see Richarlison having all that much of an impact at Tottenham, mainly because he won’t play all that much as he’s certainly not as good as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, and will be below Dejan Kulusevski in the reckoning after a few weeks (if he’s not already) after an inevitable training ground bust-up with Antonio Conte.
DT: Balls on the block here, and flop will be too strong a word, but Haaland doesn’t quite feel like a Guardiola player and might be a brilliant minor disruption to a well-oiled machine.
JW: Luis Sinisterra. You can’t argue with his contributions in the Dutch league last season but I’m tipping him to join a long list of Eredivisie to Premier League flops.
JS: Keeping up my weird obsession with random central defenders, I’ll say Diego Carlos. I also think that Taiwo Awoniyi will score two league goals all season.
LO: Richarlison. It might just be me, but I’ve never really rated him. £60m is excessive. He’ll struggle to play regularly ahead of Kane, Son or Kulusevski.
Who will be the biggest bloody bargain?
SW: Christian Eriksen on a free transfer. I don’t have Manchester United in my top four but I do think they will significantly improve and part of that will be giving Eriksen the time and space to play.
MS: Bernd Leno for that price is ludicrous. Boubacar Kamara was also phenomenal business for Aston Villa.
JN: Christian Eriksen cost Manchester United zero fee. You can’t get a better bargain than free (plus wages).
IK: Jesse Marsch has got some work to do to persuade Leeds supporters that there is life after Bielsa, but bringing in Marc Roca from Bayern Munich for £10m is a smart bit of business.
IW: Christian Eriksen was free and he’ll have a bigger role for Man Utd than many anticipate. Especially if Frenkie De Jong doesn’t show up before the end of the month.
WF: All together now…. Yves Bissouma.
DT: Yves Bissouma is extremely Conte and extremely Premier League-proven in a crucial position where few such players exist. Hard to see anywhere that £25m has been better spent by anyone.
JW: Aaron Hickey. Brentford will again benefit from their ‘moneyball’ transfer model with the Scotland international shining for Thomas Frank.
JS: Christian Eriksen.
LO: Nick Pope. Literally a safe pair of hands and a snip at £10m.
Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?
SW: Thiago. After all, he got in the team of the year after about three-and-a-half good games.
MS: Heung-min Son.
IK: Could be anyone (from Liverpool or Manchester City), couldn’t it? With that in mind, I’ll go for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
IW: Jack Grealish has had a year under Pep’s wing and a summer blow-out. This could be his season. Though he’ll have to beat Kevin De Bruyne in the ballot.
WF: It’s definitely better to be right when no-one else picks the same player. No-one will get props for your Kevin De Bruynes or Mohamed Salahs. So I’m going for Riyad Mahrez, because he got 24 goals and nine assists in all competitions last season, will likely be playing even more given Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling have both left, but mainly because of the potential to be hailed a genius by the hundreds of thousands of people who read these predictions.
DT: Kane, maybe. We have no previous data to fall back on, but surely being a mid-season World Cup-winning captain skews votes in his favour.
JW: Luis Diaz. The Colombian showed flashes of brilliance during his first six months in the Premier League but expect him to add more goals and assists to his game this term.
JS: Harry Kane.
LO: Kevin De Bruyne. He’s bloody good.
First manager to leave their Premier League job?
SW: Brendan Rodgers. That is not a happy camp and he could walk before he is sacked if he gets a sniff of a job elsewhere.
MS: Bruno Lage walking as a direct result of Wolves’ weird aversion to signing actual forwards shouldn’t be ruled out. And Marco Silva is not the guy to stop Fulham insisting on having three managers in every Premier League season.
JN: It’s a race between Jesse Marsch and Ralph Hasenhuttl, both of whom almost ran out of steam last season and have little capital in the metaphorical bank. Let’s say it’ll be Ralph.
IK: I do find myself wondering for how much longer Southampton’s owners are prepared to put up with losing 9-0 once a season (note: this has been exaggerated for comedic effect), so I’ll go for Ralph Hassenhuttl, though Frank Lampard’s Everton could easily revert to mere ‘Everton’ again, should they have a bad start.
IW: I fear for Ralph Hasenhuttl. Lost many Southampton fans at the end of last season and Saints have a stinker of a start.
WF: Steven Gerrard – the ‘we’re playing for Steven Gerrard’ motivational factor was already wearing pretty thin at the end of last season, and I’m not convinced he knows what he’s doing.
DT: At least it’s an interesting challenge with this being a non-Watford year. Will be amazed if Jesse Marsch is still in position at the end of the season but Leeds are heavily invested so he won’t be first out. Sneaky feeling for Moyes not lasting the season either, but with the World Cup perhaps affording strugglers slightly longer than normal how about Brendan Rodgers? Feels like a relationship that has run its course.
JW: Scott Parker. It would’ve been incredible if he’d failed to get Bournemouth promoted last season, considering the squad he had, and I’m not yet convinced he’s a top-level manager.
JS: Thomas Tuchel. I’ve got a bad feeling about his tricky Blues this season.
LO: Ralph Hasenhuttl. Southampton only won one of their final 12 league games last season. A bad start and he’ll be gone.
Pick the Champions League winner.
SW: Manchester City. I will just keep saying this until it comes true.
MS: PSG. I will just keep saying this until it comes true. While laughing when it doesn’t.
JN: I keep saying Manchester City to make sure it isn’t. So, Manchester City.
IK: The likelihood of a PSG vs Manchester City Oil Final reduces incrementally towards one with each passing season, but if last campaign taught us anything, it was surely that you can never really discount Real Madrid.
IW: I seem to say it at the start of every season but it has to be City’s time some time, doesn’t it? It’s coming.
WF: Barcelona, because knockout football is silly.
DT: Spurs. Not really. Liverpool, throwing everything at it with the league out of reach by the World Cup break and spearheaded by the non-knackered Mo Salah.
JW: Manchester City because it simply has to happen at some point.
JS: Rangers with Alfredo Morelos scoring 17 goals. In the final.
LO: Man City. Finally.
In five words, tell us what you are most excited about this season.
SW: Big Six within 15 points.
MS: Winty doing the December rota.
JN: Lower league Scottish football. WSL.
IK: Son and Kane, together again.
IW: United with a proper coach.
WF: Not watching Romelu Lukaku Bolingoli.
DT: Antonio Conte’s inevitable resignation meltdown.
JW: Gabriel Jesus outscoring Erling Haaland.
JS: Arsenal not terminating contracts anymore.
LO: Rotherham staying in the Championship.