They are here: F365’s season predictions 2018/19

Date published: Wednesday 8th August 2018 5:28

As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.

Sarah Winterburn: As is traditional, I will get this right and say Manchester City. It will be closer, mind.

Daniel Storey: Manchester City again. They might be weaker and other clubs better, but not ‘making up a 19-point gap’ weaker and better.

Matt Stead: Manchester City, but only by about 17 points this time. The slackers.

Ian Watson: Manchester City again – just. They’ll be pushed harder and closer this time. Probably by Liverpool

John Nicholson: I’m going against my own radical traditions and will try to look like I have the first clue about anything by saying Manchester City and not something bonkers such as Wolves. I’d love to say Liverpool, I really would. But City are so much stronger in depth. But it’ll be a lot tighter this year between first and second.

David Tickner: Chelsea’s cycle of banter says it should be them again this time, it might finally actually be Liverpool’s year, and Jose Mourinho whinging his way to the title would be funny in a bleak way. It’ll be Man City again, though, albeit by about a quarter of last season’s margin.

Steven Chicken: I’ve spent far too long really seriously weighing up Liverpool, but ultimately I think Manchester City would really have to screw it up not to retain – so City.

 

And the rest of the top four, in order.

SW: As is traditional, I will say that nobody ever gets this right. And now I will stop that ‘as is traditional’ nonsense and (let’s face it) guess at Liverpool, Arsenal and Man United. Yes, Arsenal.

DS: Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham. Jose Mourinho may have done his best to dampen expectation, but United will still get closest.

MS: Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham. This does indeed confirm my agenda against the other 16 clubs. Especially Bournemouth.

IW: Liverpool, Man Utd, Tottenham.

JN: 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Spurs.

DT: Surely Tottenham can’t pull the bigger boys’ pants down again. Liverpool, United, Chelsea.

SC: Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham. Arsenal are much better-placed to move on from a long-standing manager than most sides in that same position over the years.

 

And who are going down, down deeper and down?

SW: A couple of months ago I was saying my beloved Huddersfield but pre-season has gone well so I am trying to be optimistic. Right…Cardiff, Brighton and Southampton. Though I actually think Burnley but lack the balls. Literally.

DS: Cardiff, because they’re the easiest pick. Huddersfield, because they don’t have enough goals. And Watford, because they are a bit too forgettable this season.

MS: Cardiff, because I just can’t see how they’ll survive. Burnley, because something, something, Europe, something, Joe Hart. Watford, because it’s tradition.

IW: If Rafa goes, so will Newcastle. Otherwise, Cardiff, Brighton and maybe Watford.

JN: Cardiff were a classic greater than the sum of their parts Championship club, that rarely leads to success in the top flight, especially as their four signings are all from the Championship. Southampton because they are managed by Mark Hughes. Bournemouth have shipped out 13 and brought in two. It feels like their project is over.

DT: Wolves and Fulham look very strong for promoted clubs, which leaves Cardiff to join last year’s miracle workers Huddersfield, and Watford to go after for once failing to get the 30 points they need in the first half of the season due to an almost total absence of goalscoring options.

SC: Cardiff, because they’re by far the weakest of the newly-promoted sides. Newcastle, because that is by and large a Championship squad being kept afloat by a Champions league manager. And Bournemouth, just because of a sneaking suspicion they’ve already achieved everything they’re going to at this level.

 

Which club will be a pleasant surprise?

SW: I think I said West Ham last season but I am shrugging off that embarrassment by repeating the claim. I like their manager and their transfer business.

DS: It’s a tough question (Ed: You asked it. We’re literally talking to each other). The obvious shout is Fulham, who will at least be lovely to watch in midfield and have a batsh*t striker.

MS: By finishing fourth despite having absolutely no right to continue to do so, Tottenham. Wolves will keep the pace with the top six until dropping off around November, but a comfortable top-half finish will be pleasant and surprising enough.

IW: Fulham. They’re generally pleasant and they’ve made some smart signings. Jean Michael Seri could be awesome in his stepping stone season, while Alfie Mawson is a very shrewd signing too.

JN: If Fulham’s excellent investments pays off they could have the pleasure of aspiring to 7th and being only 12 points behind 6th and that will be once again erroneously offered as proof that anyone can beat anyone in this league, Jeff.

DT: Palace could do nice things, although this answer could go to sh*t literally between submission and publication if Zaha buggers off. Don’t make me look a mug, Wilfried.

SC: Arsenal, per the above. Imagine if Emery can get Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang playing well together. It’ll be pure joy.

 

Top scorer, please?

SW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It’s just what he does.

DS: City’s players will share the goals around again. I’m going to say Harry Kane aren’t I, even though I think Alexis Sanchez is cracking value.

MS: Harry Kane reclaims his crown.

IW: Given he has a better team around him, I can’t see past Mo Salah again.

JN: It’ll have to be someone at City. That means it’s likely to be Gabby Jesus.

DT: Harry Kane to regain the trophy that really matters. But wait until the end of another goalless August to back him, obviously.

SC: He may not have won it last season, but it is still a very silly bugger who doesn’t plump for Harry Kane here.

 

Which new signing will make the most positive difference to their club?

SW: Alisson at Liverpool. The back four/five will relax with an actual keeper.

DS: Random shout: Yves Bissouma. He looks the business and could be the difference between Brighton staying up and going down.

MS: Sokratis will make Arsenal’s defence look like a defence. And be sure to handle this next take with oven gloves: Fabinho will make more of a difference to Liverpool than Naby Keita.

IW: As long as Alisson’s hands are not made of biscuits then Liverpool have made a huge upgrade. I’m talking myself into backing them for the title here…

JN: André Schürrle at Fulham looks to be a great signing. Always liked him at Chelsea and thought he did really well. At 27 he’s pretty much at his peak. Lots of power and pace and there’s nothing defenders hate more than power and pace, Gary.

DT: If we accept that Michel Vorm is only like a new signing, then I’ll have to look elsewhere. The obvious answer is Alisson given the importance of the position and the magnitude of the upgrade. And I like obvious answers.

SC: It has to be Alisson, doesn’t it? Liverpool should be able to play with a lot more confidence with him between the sticks, and a more confident Liverpool is a scary proposition.

 

And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?

SW: So, so many. There seems to have been a glut of biggish-money signings that you wouldn’t recognise in a line-up even if they were wearing their new kit. See: Brighton’s entire summer business. But it would be a cop-out to start naming £10m Brighton signings so instead I am going to go for Fred. I just don’t see over £50m of midfielder.

DS: Everyone seems to think Jorginho will be brilliant, but I’m not so convinced. Perfect for Maurizio Sarri perhaps, but perfect for this Chelsea team?

MS: One of Felipe Anderson or Andriy Yarmolenko will be a bit rubbish. I just can’t decide which.

IW: Felipe Anderson at West Ham doesn’t sit right to me. So obviously he’ll win the Ballon d’Or.

JN: I love the flying pork barrel that is Xherdan Shaqiri as much as anyone and he’s sure to leap into the air like a greased pig and score a couple of overhead kicks when they’re already 3 – 0 up but beyond that I don’t see him being anything other than a perennial bench warmer and infuriatingly talented waste of space.

DT: Whichever poor bastard Spurs end up grabbing for £40m on Thursday.

SC: Jack Wilshere on a free transfer is absolutely worth the gamble for West Ham, but I’ll stick my neck out and say it’s not going to work out.

 

Who will turn out to be a shrewd bargain?

SW: I think Sokratis is an absolute bargain for Arsenal when you look at the sums being touted around for centre-halves.

DS: Other than the aforementioned Bissouma, Everton getting Bernard on a free could offset the £40m they have spent on Richarlison.

MS: As a sucker for a freebie, Max Meyer and Erik Durm already have me at half mast.

IW: I’m not sure you can call £26million a bargain, but I’m fascinated to see what difference Lucas Torreira makes at Arsenal. A real ball-fetching dog, and who doesn’t like dogs? If he doesn’t count, then Jonny Evans is an absolute steal for Leicester at 1/25th of the price being touted for Harry Maguire. .

JN: Ben Gibson at £15 million isn’t super cheap but is a great fit for Burnley, will ensure that they don’t plummet down the league this year and should see the Boro man get an England call-up by lovely Boro-biased Gareth.

DT: Fulham have done well, but Palace getting Max Meyer on a free is just absolutely lovely stuff.

SC: Sorry if this is cheating but getting Andre Schurrle on loan is potentially an enormous coup for newly-promoted Fulham.

 

Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?

SW: Whoever scores a barrel-load of goals in February/March. And I think World Cup fatigue may be a factor, so I am going for Sergio Aguero. At last.

DS: It’s De Bruyne’s time, to atone for last season. Though I can also see David Silva getting it as a goodbye thank you.

MS: Kevin de Bruyne will ensure that justice is served.

IW: De Bruyne or Salah, depending who wins the title. Probably De Bruyne.

JN: Bobby Firmino. The power behind the Salah throne, he’ll lead Liverpool’s drive for the title.

DT: Kevin De Bruyne is still the best player in the league and starts the season with credit in the bank from last season’s near miss.

SC: Since I’ve picked City to win the title and he only narrowly missed out on the award this year, let’s go with Kevin De Bruyne.

 

First manager to leave their Premier League job?

SW: Probably Claude Puel, just because nobody can quite believe he is still there. Who will be brave enough to say Jose?

DS: Neil Warnock. If Cardiff are struggling then Warnock has never pretended to have a second gear. That could do for him.

MS: Mark Hughes. Southampton have a dangerous start in that it is not the most difficult, but they face sides with similar expectations and could struggle to build momentum. Their first five opponents are Burnley, Everton, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Brighton, followed by Liverpool, Wolves and Chelsea. The pressure on the derby against Bournemouth in October could be too much by that point.

IW:As it stands, probably Rafa. Alternatively, Javi Gracia because Watford are due a new one.

JN: It has to be a toss up between Mark Hughes and Jose Mourinho. I’ll go with Jose. He’s obviously sick of the whole thing and everyone is sick of him but that could be said of Hughes too.

DT: Someone will probably go before Jose huffs off in November. Having tipped Watford for the drop, I’ll double down and say Javi Gracia. They just aren’t going to score any goals, are they?

SC: Rafael Benitez. He’s put up with a lot over the years but seems to be at the end of his rope with it all now.

 

Pick the Champions League winner for the European football fans.

SW: Juventus. Because Ronaldo.

DS: I don’t know why, but have a hunch that the Paris Saint-Germain project could come to fruition this season. Kylian Mbappe is maturing, and Neymar has a point to prove.

MS: Barcelona. Dunno why.

IW: Real Madrid will let someone else have a go this year. Maybe City to beat PSG.

JN: I want it to be Juventus but suspect it will be Manchester City.

DT: The Champions League is Ronaldo’s playground so let’s say Juventus.

SC: Juventus have been runners-up twice in the last four years and now have a lucky charm in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo. If not now then when?

 

And finally, what are you most looking forward to about this coming season?

SW: An Arsene Wenger-less Arsenal side. It is truly fascinating to see where this story goes after the main protagonist has been (figuratively) killed off.

DS: This is an answer that makes me a parody, but it will be brilliant to watch the fight of England’s young players to get first-team minutes and how they get on when they get them.

MS: Jose Mourinho sacrificing Ed Woodward on an altar in the middle of the Old Trafford pitch after Phil Jones scores a hat-trick of own goals in a 3-2 defeat to Fulham in December.

IW: As the goalkeeping nerd among us, it’ll be fascinating (for me) to see how things play out now the merry-go-round has stopped. It would be amusing if Courtois is crap for Real. And if Alisson’s hands are actually made of biscuits…

JN: Watching Lowland League Scottish football while eating a Scotch pie and drinking whisky on a cold day. As regards the PL, as I’m not sure there is even one really good defence out in the league, I’m looking forward to lots and lots of delicious nettings of goals.

DT: Tottenham’s cheese room.

SC: I’m really excited to see what Fulham and Wolves can do. Ambitious clubs doing well can only be good for the league as a whole longer-term, and we might actually get to see a proper mid-table again, rather than just the top seven and then 13 sides drearily fighting relegation.


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