Premier League predictions: Part 1

Chris, George, Bethany and Tom are try their hand at nailing down what could be a scintillating season

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Image courtesy of The Mirror

After a season like that, I don’t really think we should dare attempt to predict what will happen come May 2017. Last year, we all thought Leicester were goners, and that Chelsea would sweep to another league title. We were wrong, but at least it means this year we can only do better, right? Sports Editors Bethany Crow and George Hamlyn, Associate Editor Chris Bickley and Bailrigg FM’s Head of Sport Tom Pearson put that theory to the test.

Arsenal

Bethany Crow – After another ‘typical Arsenal’ season saw them scrape a second place finish, I can see Arsenal continuing to be a delight to watch, but not much else. They just don’t seem to be responding to the shake ups that other big hitters are making. 6th

George Hamlyn – With title rivals notably strengthening, it’s the same old story at the Emirates. They’ve been linked with a host of players, however ended up with yet another centre midfielder and a few unknown youngsters. The fact that Jamie Vardy rejected them sums up the state of Arsenal at the minute. 6th

Chris Bickley – You just can’t help but feel that last year really should’ve been Arsene’s swansong. Arsenal could’ve won the league, giving Wenger a reason to end on a high. After another frustrating transfer window (so far), it’s unlikely that Arsenal have the potency to cling onto the top four. 5th

Tom Pearson – Aside from all the clichés about Arsenal and fourth, I think they’re lacking the quality and longevity to win the title. Plus, they’re still missing a top class striker and unless this changes drastically, I can’t imagine Granit Xhaka winning it for them. Ex-Bolton’s Rob Holding however… 4th

Bournemouth

BC – I like Bournemouth, and certainly hope and expect that they will continue with similar style and substance as they did last season. Holding on to Eddie Howe will prove to be a challenge for them, and whilst I can’t see them ‘doing a Leicester’, they will certainly build on their success of last season. 16th

GH – After a great season last season, I expect to see more of the same from the Cherries this year. They boast young talent such as Jordan Ibe, Lewis Cook and Benik Afobe, plus the return of Callum Wilson. A new centre half wouldn’t go amiss, however I expect a strong season with Howe’s stock continuing to rise. 11th

CB – Last year had an unnecessary flirtation with relegation for the Cherries, hampered by Wilson’s early injury. With him back and leading the line with new signing Lys Mousset, goals shouldn’t be a problem. They should have enough depth for a fretless season. 13th

TP – Last year, two out of our three writers predicted relegation. But after a surprising season in that sense, they’ve proven that they’re made of more. But with the big money going onto Ibe, I don’t expect many more coming in to force them further up the table. 15th

Burnley

BC – Sean Dyche is clearly very good at getting Burnley promoted, and although John Flanagan will be a welcome addition, I’m not entirely convinced that they will help Burnley secure a long-term Premier League relationship. Expect a short-term one to develop from this season. 17th

GH – The Premier League experience gained two years ago by Dyche will allow Burnley to approach this season differently. Keeping Sam Vokes fit will be key, as he and Andre Gray forged a free-scoring partnership in the Championship last season. Flanagan from Liverpool looks a shrewd loan signing, so I feel Burnley will survive. Just. 17th

CB – Whilst fellow promoted club Middlesbrough have flashed the cash, Burnley have seemingly kept with the same squad that earned them this prize. However the same was said in 2009 and 2014, and both times they suffered an almost inevitable relegation. Third time lucky? Probably not. 19th

TP – I can see Burnley continuing their trend of bouncing around between the top two divisions again this year. If Grey scores like he did last year, they could have a good start but then I wouldn’t imagine he will stay past January. Also I can see their defence making a great second career as a sieve. 18th

Chelsea

BC – I have every faith that Antonio Conte will get the best out of the existing strong squad and continue to add to the already lengthy list of great signings. Undoubtedly, they’ll make the title challenge all the more exciting in a keen bid to make the bitter memories of last season fade away. 3rd

GH – After last season’s shambles, Chelsea have turned to Conte to restore success, who has experienced success wherever he’s been. He’s already brought in Michy Batshuayi to partner Diego Costa, and N’Golo Kante to run the show as he did for Leicester. With no European football and a tactically capable manager, I’m tipping Conte to regain the title for the Blues. 1st

CB – Another new manager at one of the big sides, Conte has his work cut out for him at Stamford Bridge after last season’s disaster. But for his first job outside of Italy, he does still have the likes of Eden Hazard and Costa to rely on. Batshuayi is an interesting signing, and was prolific last season at Marseille. Expect a strong return to form. 2nd

TP – With Conte bringing in big signings (Batshuayi and Kante) and more sure to follow, Chelsea will have a much better season. With a strong squad only being made stronger, he will bring the players together under him and with that, they’ll bring a good title challenge. 2nd

Crystal Palace

BC – Palace have such promise, and after their dismal performance in the league last season it would be not at all surprising to see them build and improve this time around. All they need now is some quality up front to cement a higher finish.  12th

GH – Alan Pardew has made some good signings to make up for the fact that Palace massively underperformed towards the end of last season. I don’t expect them to struggle, nor do I expect them to set the world alight, because despite boasting wingers like Bolasie, Zaha and Andros Townsend to create chances, they’ve got no one to finish them. 16th

CB – Pardew’s time is up; we all witnessed the downfall the Eagles suffered in in 2016. The gaffer won’t be at team by the end of the season, so expect a scrap for safety, which the London club will achieve courtesy of their squad. Cabaye and new keeper Mandanda could be the stars, and Townsend can be good when he wants to. They’ll start slow, but be safe by April. 16th

TP – Palace have made some good signings, keeping hold of Cabaye and also bringing in Townsend and Mandanda. If they bring in a decent striker, I can see them doing pretty well this season, but maybe more in the cup. 12th

Everton

BC – Ronald Koeman’s great, of course. But Everton will feel the loss of Stones and most likely pale in to a similar insignificance as they did last season. As became customary under Martinez, I think a decent cup run is what Everton can, and will, hope for. 11th

GH – Backed by billionaire owners, Everton believe Koeman is the man to make the Toffees the cat amongst the top four pigeons. In typical Koeman fashion they will improve defensively, and arguably even more without John Stones. This will be a transitional season, as I don’t expect them to seriously challenge for Europe just yet. 9th

CB – Time to erase the Martinez memories, and appreciate the fact that Everton somehow still have an impressive young squad for Koeman to play with. Lukaku, Barkley and Deulofeu are capable of wreaking havoc on defences, and the astute Koeman will manipulate this. The experienced Ashley Williams will also help tighten up what was Everton’s downfall last year. 7th

TP – I initially had the Toffees down for a good season, but after looking at other teams, and considering the loss of Stones, they fall down in my estimations. Mid-table obscurity awaits. (Can I get extra points though if Chris mentions that they have signed a Coventry player?) [Ed – no, but I appreciate the thought] 9th

Hull City

BC – It’s sad to say, but without the guidance of Steve Bruce, Hull will surely end up straight back in the Championship. However they won’t go down without a battle. 19th

GH – 13 fit first team players and no manager going into the start of the season. What a way to end the feel good factor following last season’s play-off heroics. We’ll never quite know what happened with Bruce’s departure, but Hull must move on and prepare for a difficult return to the top-flight, which will only end one way. 20th

CB – After rumours of Bruce becoming the England boss, the Tigers have an almost vertical hill to climb as it resulted in him leaving the KC Stadium. In addition to no noteworthy new signings, and fan discontent at the owners’ constant demand for a rebrand, this season will probably be too tumultuous to bear for fans. 20th

TP – For Hull to stay up, they will need to have one or two of the league’s surprise players. But this is a long shot and Hull are going to struggle. Maybe not quite as badly as Villa last year, but relegation beckons. 20th

Leicester City

BC – Leicester will struggle to build on their winning ways last year. With key players already moving on to bigger (though arguably not better) things, they will seriously struggle. The firm beating they took from PSG is most likely indicative of how the Champions League will fare for them, with the extra games being far from a welcome addition. 9th

GH – The Foxes will have a strong season, but will miss out on the top four. Nampalys Mendy replaces Kante, and Ahmed Musa will partner Vardy, and these look good. They will give the Champions League a right go too, and maybe cause a few upsets (if you can call them that), however the fixture list congestion will ultimately cost. 8th

CB – No, they won’t do it again, and for three reasons. The workhorse Kante has left to idle on the bench at Chelsea. The Foxes have Champions League football to contend with. The likes of Chelsea, United and Liverpool will be back on form. Sorry, but it’s true. 8th

TP – Forget last season, it was a wonderful time for all – but Gary Lineker’s flashy underwear isn’t going to propel the Foxes to a second title. The loss of Kante and potentially Mahrez, in addition to the extra Champions League fixtures they have will leave them struggling to replicate the form of their maiden league title. 11th

Liverpool

BC – If Jurgen Klopp had been at the helm all of last season, Liverpool would have made a solid title challenge. Their unlucky Europa League miss will only fuel the desire for this more, though unless a defensive shake-up comes along in the coming weeks, their attempts will most likely be in vain. 4th

GH – Perhaps the hardest team to predict, due to the abundance of attacking talent available at Anfield, including the arrivals of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, plus the return to fitness of Danny Ings. Similarly, if Daniel Sturridge stays fit then Liverpool can outscore anyone on their day. However in recent seasons Liverpool’s defence has been as leaky as a broken tap. 7th

CB – This will be Klopp’s first full season in charge, and it could be a surprisingly pleasant one for Liverpool fans. If Sturridge, Firmino and Coutinho stay fit, there’s no reason why they can’t replicate 2013/14’s scintillating striking force. Not to mention new signings Mane, Wijnaldum and fresh face Marko Grujic; this should be an exciting year for the Kop. 4th

TP – With Klopp having missed out on a trophy last season, he will be looking to really make his mark in the Premier League this time around. His Liverpool side is looking good going forward, but he needs to solidify things at the back before they can become a title challenging force. I expect good things from them this year in cup competitions, coupled with a strong league campaign. 5th

Manchester City

BC – The arrival of Pep Guardiola is an exciting thing, and my balanced and impartial view will be nothing short of stunned if City do not finish as champions this season. There’s already been eight new signings which is surely going to add some much needed pace and consistent fitness. 1st

GH – In Guardiola, City have one of the best managers in the world and will no doubt be serious title contenders. This season could be too soon for Guardiola to work his magic fully, but expect Man City to become the best side on the planet in the next few years. 2nd

CB – The final Guardiola-shaped piece has slotted into place, finally completing Manchester City’s owners’ jigsaw. Pep – in theory – is the man to guide City to another title with his attractive style of play. Although it pains me to say it, it’ll work. Aguero, Silva and co. will flourish, and we could easily witness one of the best Premier League sides in history. 1st

TP – With the arrival of Guardiola, Manchester City should now stop dropping the points that have lost them the title in recent years, and the quality they hold is matched only by Chelsea. Provided Aguero stays fit (as is every year), him and City’s plethora of sterling [Ed – sigh] midfielders should claim the top prize. 1st

Part two of our predictions will come tomorrow.