Where your team will finish and why, how many points they’ll achieve and who’ll top your goalscoring charts.
1st- Manchester City
They will become the first team since arch-rivals Manchester United in 2009 to secure three successive Premier League titles.
With a squad so lavishly stacked, a manager [Pep Guardiola] unrivalled in the art of interchanging countless individuals into his unequivocal philosophy and the combination of Guardiola’s ability to keep players unwaveringly motivated, along with recognition from these superb footballers that they couldn’t be in a better place, I’m expecting another ridiculous tally of points from City.
Top goal scorer- Raheem Sterling (24 goals)
2nd- Tottenham Hotspur
Having limped through a wretched obstacle course last season, in the form of a campaign which effectively rolled on from 2017/18 and the World Cup (by virtue of extreme involvement from Spurs players in the latter stages), Mauricio Pochettino’s side have finally had time to refresh, aided even more duly by three exciting transfer additions.
Now entering phase two of the Pochettino era, as well as full season No.1 in the glorious Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Spurs look ready to at least sustain conversation with City this year.
Top goal scorer- Harry Kane (25 goals)
Ending last campaign as Champions of Europe and the runners-up that people will remember, Liverpool’s mentality will be fascinating to assess: That is, will they proceed with the swagger that their continental title attributes them? Or will the disappointment of cashing 97 points in exchange for a runners-up medal harm their capacity to start, from scratch, another lung-busting pursuit of City?
Like Spurs last season, summer tournament participation from some key players and a lack of marquee investment is likely to hinder the potential for significant improvement.
Top goal scorer- Sadio Mané (24 goals)
Unai Emery is a top-class manager and is without doubt the man to reshape what had become a stale regime at the Emirates Stadium.
Crucially, the defence will undoubtedly be better, bolstered by two winners in Kieran Tierney (albeit in Scottish football) and David Luiz, to assist the impressive Sokratis and stalwart Nacho Monreal.
Whilst at the top end, they look one of the Premier League’s most potent outfits, leading me to back them for a return to the Champions League, after what will have been a three-year absence.
Top goal scorer- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (27 goals)
5th- Manchester United
Like Arsenal, gapingly clear defensive deficiencies have been largely addressed. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire look like fine moves, whilst you’d firmly expect David de Gea, off the back of a restful summer (both physically and mentally, the latter in relation to some fierce Spanish national team scrutiny), to rediscover masterful form.
Going forward, United possess a satisfactory cavalry as far as goals are concerned, but there’s still question marks surrounding Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s capacities to meet the lofty demands. Whilst Paul Pogba, last season’s top marksman with thirteen, likely to stay beyond the European transfer deadline (31st August for Spain, France and Germany) will be expected to contribute again from midfield.
Top goal scorer- Marcus Rashford (18 goals)
They’ve lost Eden Hazard, been unable to sign anybody this summer (bar Christian Pulisic’s switch, confirmed in January) and welcome into the hotseat an ultimate club legend [Frank Lampard] with just one year of management experience.
That said, Chelsea’s squad is laden with know-how, crisp with young hungry talent and the club, from staff to supporters, is bursting with positivity.
I do believe that a top-four finish is beyond them this term, particularly due to involvement in this season’s Champions League and no guaranteed beacon in the way of goals, though am convinced that Lampard will be afforded the allusive commodity of time to build on a constrained first campaign.
Top goal scorer- Olivier Giroud (14 goals)
7th- Newcastle United
Troubled, toxic… please insert your description of the summer’s atmosphere on Tyneside.
However, amid Newcastle supporters’ untenable relationship with owner Mike Ashley, footballing mourning of Rafa Benítez’ departure and underwhelmed sentiments towards Steve Bruce’s appointment, it is my honest projection that Newcastle will do very well.
Having lost Salomón Rondón, Brazilian striker Joelinton has arrived from Hoffenheim for a hefty £40m. Described by South American football expert Tim Vickery to be “good with both feet, mobile and [a player with] some physical presence about him”, I’m expecting to see an effective Toon side, steered by a reliable and organised stalwart of English football in Bruce.
Whilst alongside Bruce, there’s a strong local contingent about the place, notably in the form of future England star Sean Longstaff and the returning Andy Carroll; who, if managed correctly, will be a huge asset.
The backline is strong, there’s some class in midfield and the personnel is suitable for a productive, direct approach, utilising pace, dynamism and physical presence.
Top goal scorer- Joelinton (16 goals)
8th- West Ham United
A fledgling team entering its second campaign under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers have recruited positively, dispensed of the disruptive Marko Arnautovic and are looking increasingly comfortable at the London Stadium.
Goals will be no bother, aided by the arrivals of Sébastien Haller and Albian Ajeti, and creativity is rife in the shape of Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals and long-missed fan favourite Manuel Lanzini.
It’ll be close between them and Newcastle for 7th, though I think, despite Lukasz Fabianski and Issa Diop’s strong performances last season, that their openness will entail a sizeable goals against column.
Top goal scorer- Sébastien Haller (14 goals)
9th- AFC Bournemouth
Always a top-heavy outfit, yet one which, since promotion to the Premier League in 2015, has never become embroiled in a relegation battle, Bournemouth, having kept hold of key players in Callum Wilson and David Brooks, meanwhile strengthening late-on loaning Harry Wilson from Liverpool, should plough along with vitality (true to their stadium’s title) once again.
Top goal scorer- Callum Wilson (17 goals)
10th- Leicester City
The Foxes’ summer had been going swimmingly until star defender Harry Maguire’s switch to Old Trafford. And though £80m embodies a hugely healthy financial windfall, there’s no doubt that the side looks weaker now than it did a week ago.
Brendan Rodgers’ team is youthful, emancipated and full of promise, displaying adequate clarity of direction for the fans to give the project time.
Youri Tielemans (as exemplified in my July article Tielemans: The Ace Fox in Leicester’s Skulk) is a young footballer I love, Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury will progress and I can see Leicester enjoying a rollercoaster campaign that’ll renew optimism for the future at the King Power Stadium.
Top goal scorer- Jamie Vardy (15 goals)
I anticipate what will be a damaging marginal trailing of Bournemouth and Leicester for Toffees boss Marco Silva.
Superficially, Everton’s business has been good within the transfer window just gone. However, I can still point to cavernous defensive shortcomings, aided not by the losses of Kurt Zouma in defence and Idrissa Gueye at the base of the midfield.
They certainly won’t struggle but will fall well short of the club’s coveted top-six challenge. Something the Goodison Park faithful are unlikely to accept with a smile.
Top goal scorer- Richarlison (11 goals)
12th- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Again, will not struggle, but are set to find themselves circumstantially constrained to repeat last season’s league form.
It’s easy to forget that Wolves are embarking on just their second season back in the Premier League, after a terrific 7th-place finish (securing Europa League qualification) and an (in the end heart-breaking) FA Cup semi-final.
Commendably, Nuno Espírito Santo pays upmost respect to each competition his team enters, leading me to project another FA or League Cup run and a strong showing in Europe. The latter meaning, of course, the age-old Thursday-Sunday curse.
Top goal scorer- Raúl Jiménez (14 goals)
From last year’s Europa League-qualifying overachievers to 2017/18’s, Burnley, though knocked out of Europe in late-August, began last season on the backfoot, having embarked on the first of an eventual six European ties in July and set themselves an unsurpassable final league position of 7th in May 2018.
With just three wins to their name by the final days of December, Sean Dyche succeeded in reinstalling Burnley’s renowned solidity, in the wake of Boxing Day’s crushing 5-1 home defeat at the hands of Everton.
Retaining James Tarkowski, a late transfer target of Leicester’s, was a key summer victory, whilst homegrown winger Dwight McNeil, duly creditable for 2019’s upturn in results, should shine again.
Top goal scorer- Jay Rodriguez (9 goals)
A smartly run club with a smartly managed team, Watford will again renew their Premier League stay with no trouble at all.
Like Wolves, the side they dramatically dispatched to reach what was, unfortunately, a procession of an FA Cup Final against Man City, the Hornet’s have a manager in Javi Gracia who seems keen on a cup run, professing, ahead of the big day in May, that “as soon as I [he] arrived in England, I [he] felt how special The FA Cup is”. So another FA or League Cup run would not be a surprise.
Whilst squad-wise, keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucouré, a fine player, and attaining the services of Danny Welbeck (fitness pending) to supplement an already potent attack containing Gerard Deulofeu, still only 25 and someone I believe has it in him to explode Mahrez-like, bodes well for another refreshing season at Vicarage Road.
Top goal scorer- Gerard Deulofeu (13 goals)
15th- Brighton & Hove Albion
Another club with a robust sense of direction, Brighton are foundationally secure both on and off the pitch: Off it in regard to the bonny AMEX Stadium, savvy owner Tony Bloom, reputed technical director Dan Ashworth (recruited from the England setup) and nomadic head coach Graham Potter; whilst on it in relation to former boss Chris Hughton’s solid footballing implementations, notably centre-halves Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, in front of Aussie stopper Mathew Ryan.
Pascal Groß has impressed since arriving in English football, whilst Aaron Mooy, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard could be inspired acquisitions. Variables pointing towards a relatively worry-free campaign for the Seagulls.
Top goal scorer- Neal Maupay (14 goals)
16th- Aston Villa
Poked for much of the summer with comparisons to Fulham’s transfer activity a year ago, after their promotion (also, like Villa’s) via the play-offs, everybody is intrigued to see how Dean Smith’s team get on.
Having spent over £100m on no fewer than twelve players, nine of whom are untested in the Premier League, Smith leads his boyhood club back into the top-flight with an arsenal of reinforcements behind him.
As with many promotions, loan players played a massive role last term for Villa, who’ve been able to reobtain Tyrone Mings, Anwar El Ghazi and Kortney Hause. Though not Tammy Abraham or Axel Tuanzebe, who return to Chelsea and Man United respectively.
New striker Wesley is a relatively unknown quantity up top, however goals should materialise sufficiently across midfield and attack to ensure survival.
Top goal scorer- Wesley (13 goals)
17th- Crystal Palace
Presuming Wilfried Zaha does stay beyond the European transfer deadline, so much, in regard to Palace’s success this season, will depend on whether or not their talisman’s focus will be affected by a summer’s worth of uncertainty surrounding his future. And, indeed, dependent on no January transfer for the Ivorian.
Palace are often a wildcard, registering a large quantity of goals from alternative sources: namely penalties (won by Zaha, converted by Luka Milivojevic), left-back Patrick van Aanholt and ridiculously spectacular wonderstrikes (none more so than Andros Townsend’s stunning volley against Man City).
Bosses don’t come more seasoned this campaign than 72-year-old Croydon-born Roy Hodgson, whilst almost everybody in the Eagles’ squad looks capable of scoring. They’ll just have enough.
Top goal scorer- Wilfried Zaha (14 goals)
The Saints certainly got a bounce from Ralph Hasenhüttl’s appointment last December, though by no means danced to safety.
This campaign, they’ll be looking to finally extract some consistency from the ever-promising Nathan Redmond and will harbour high hopes for 22-goal Championship man Che Adams. Always an encouraging outfit on paper, Southampton have underachieved for two seasons now, leading me to fear for them should they have a rocky start.
Hasenhüttl, in spite of some positive results, was unable to wholesomely transform them into his full throttle approach, and I’m not convinced they’ve reinforced the squad enough to aid the process.
Top goal scorer- Che Adams (8 goals)
19th- Sheffield United
A similar proposition to that of Cardiff City last season, yet with slightly more about them in my view, Sheffield United have recruited sparingly and predominantly from the league they’ve recently vacated.
Managed, like Villa, by a boyhood fan [Chris Wilder], United (led from the Championship as runners-up by a Yorkshireman, again like Cardiff) will be a fascinating watch, and a side most away from the blue half of Sheffield will wish all the best.
Wilder’s 5-3-2 system is to give the Blades the greatest possible chance of survival, allowing for a firm base (commanded by returning hero Phil Jagielka, see On the Move Like Jaga: Sheff Utd re-sign Jagielka), ample width and a combination of energy and presence (respectively) up front with Callum Robinson and Oliver McBurnie.
Top goal scorer- Oliver McBurnie (7 goals)
20th- Norwich City
Harsh considering they won the Championship, but Norwich just wreak of a club setting up to yo-yo: in that, relegation followed by promotion the season after this would not shock me.
They won’t disgrace themselves, but it’s just unrealistic to envisage near enough the same squad repeating last year’s freescoring exploits. An incredible 93 league goals were bagged by the champions in 2018/19, but, this time around, even 40 will be a massive challenge.
At the other end, it was far from an unflappable Canaries defence in the title winning campaign, and I anticipate a steep learning curve of a first Premier League season for highly touted young full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis.
Top goal scorer- Teemu Pukki (9 goals)