Premier League predictions: Part 2

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

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Image courtesy of The Mirror

Sports Editors Bethany Crow and George Hamlyn, Associate Editor Chris Bickley and Bailrigg FM’s Head of Sport Tom Pearson have the second half of their (entirely inaccurate) predictions for the upcoming season.

Manchester United

BC – Big personalities, big signings and big, big spending seems to be the best way to sum up United’s pre-season. And a big season will follow. Jose Mourinho should turn fortunes around and it will be a close fought Mancunian battle for the title, but United will miss out. 2nd

George Hamlyn – Mourinho is a vital asset to the Premier League. Off the field, expect fiery confrontations. On the field, expect more exciting football, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and (finally) Paul Pogba brought in to provide the ammunition for Rashford and co. Just like his return to Chelsea, it will take a while to fully implement the Jose-esque approach, therefore United will fall just short. Oh, and they have the self-proclaimed footballing god Zlatan. 3rd

Chris Bickley – The not-so-special one’s chance to redeem himself after capsizing Chelsea’s title defence last season. In come Zlatan and Mkhitaryan, hopefully to put some pizazz into what was a drab and uninspiring team last campaign. Mourinho will be the reason United hop back into the top four. 3rd

Tom Pearson – This is the year that United become the team to fear again. Although they won’t win the league this year, Mourinho will take no nonsense, Zlatan will play a key role and Rooney will get amongst the goals again. Between the three of them, they will bring out the best in the younger players, whilst hopefully improving on their defensive frailties. 3rd

Middlesbrough

BC – Boro will be the standout of the promoted teams. They’ve made some brilliant additions to their squad so far, bringing in plenty of much needed Premier League experience, showing their hunger to succeed in the league they have been absent from for X years. It will be a pleasure to have them back. 13th

GH – A lot of people are tipping Boro as the team most likely to ‘do a Leicester.’ That’s probably because in Victor Valdes, Viktor Fischer and Alvaro Negredo they’ve signed Champions League experienced players. They won’t go anywhere near achieving Leicester’s success, but of all three promoted clubs they’ll find survival the easiest to come by. 14th

CB – Where have they got the money from? Fischer for £3.8 million, Marten de Roon for £12m and Antonio Barragan for an unspecified fee. Not to mention Negredo somehow joining on loan. Aitor Karanka clearly has the desire and hunger to convince these stars, and Boro have the strongest squad by far of the promoted sides. In theory, 2016/17 will be a success on Teeside. 11th

TP – Boro have a much better squad than their newly promoted rivals; with a strong back line in front of one of three experienced keepers, a range of midfielders who can both cover the entire pitch and light it up and strikers who can find the back of the net with ease on their good days. They won’t struggle to stay up. 14th

Southampton

BC Last season Southampton were poached of an excellent manager and a number of key players and somehow they came back bigger and better. This year though, they will feel the loss of Pelle, Wanyama and Mane more and struggle to make the same impact they have done in the past few seasons. 10th

GH – Another exodus of players and another managerial departure, Southampton will have to dust themselves down and go again. In Claude Puel, we’re not sure what to expect, but if Southampton’s recent appointments are anything to judge by then he’ll do well. Nathan Redmond and Pierre Hojberg are two new young gems, but the loss of Wanyama will hit them hard. 12th

CB – I really like Southampton, as despite all the setbacks of recent seasons’ departures, they’ve bounced back in style. That said, the loss of Koeman, Mane and Pelle will hurt them a little too much to challenge at the top. A top half finish is guaranteed though. 9th

TP – The loss of Koeman will hurt Southampton this season. Not to mention the current lack of strikers and the inability to not lose star players to Liverpool. However, with the number of creative midfielders they possess, whoever does appear up top won’t be struggling for service. 10th

Stoke

BC – After the madness of last season I thought about pulling names out of a hat for league finishes and Stoke would have been 1st by those means. That may be a little farfetched, but I see them building on the solid performances of last seasons with their now settled Barca 2nds. 8th

GH – Stoke continue to creep up the league and improve year on year. Arnautovic and Shaqiri are two of the most underrated wingers in the league, and the arrival of Joe Allen will only benefit them sitting alongside Imbula. Should Berahino arrive, Stoke are in for another successful season and should aim to experience cup success. 10th

CB – With all the promise of last season’s crazy signings, 9th was good for Stoke, but hardly overawing. The Potters were scarily inconsistent last year, capable of tearing apart Manchesters City and United, but equally as likely to ship four goals in three consecutive matches (see April 2016). Allen is a sturdy draft in, but Mark Hughes could struggle for consistency again this season. 12th

TP – Stoke have turned from ‘that team I don’t like’ into ‘that team I don’t like but kinda hope will do well.’ Allen is a great signing for them and should complement the likes of the now-tied-down Arnautovic and Shaquiri, which will lead to a good season. 8th

Sunderland

BC – David Moyes is back! It’s a shame though really, as I feel Sunderland could have returned to some form of glory under Big Sam. Moyes just doesn’t seem to fit the bill quite as well, though will most likely assist Sunderland in avoiding relegation in that way that they always seem to. 17th

GH – Being their ninth manager in as many years, Sunderland appear to have finally got it right with the appointment of Moyes. He’s desperate to regain his reputation following his United exploits, and Sunderland are a great club to do it with as they mirror his former club Everton. A few defensive arrivals and a striker, and Sunderland will – for the first time in years – comfortably survive. 13th

CB – Big Sam’s moved on to the poisoned chalice of the England job, but Moyes should be a more than capable replacement, having transformed Everton from a relegation-threatened side into European challengers. The concern is the squad, as only Defoe and Borini are recognised strikers. But with more input, Moyes can turn the Black Cats to safety. 15th

TP – Sunderland are looking very light on players at the time of writing. After such a narrow escape last year combined with the loss of Big Sam to international managerment, it’s looking likely that Sunderland can expect a difficult start to the season, and it will continue in that vein from there. 19th

Swansea

BC – Swansea make me feel very, very sad. It feels like only yesterday they were riding high with Garry Monk. The mass exodus of players they are currently experiencing will make it impossible for them to bounce back. They will be the Villa of 2015-16. 20th

GH – The Swans have flirted with relegation for the last few years and their time as a Premier League club may be up. Although Francesco Guidolin worked last season, long term success is unachievable. The loss of Andre Ayew will be huge, as Fernando Llorente just isn’t good enough to cut it. 18th

CB – Thankfully, manager Guidolin has stayed after he dragged the Swans from a potential relegation battle last year. But after Ashley Williams and Ayew’s shock departures, all that’s really left is Sigurdsson. New signing Baston looks the part having scored for fun in Spain, but whether he clicks in England is another matter. 14th

TP – Swansea seemed to have done just enough in the last few years to avoid the serious end of the relegation battle and this season will be more of the same. If, however, the other relegation candidates pull their act together at the right time, it could all go to Potts for Swansea. 16th

Tottenham

BC – Spurs will surely be attempting to make another title challenge. Their squad is young and exciting, however, I always find them lacking in a certain desire. There are too many other teams that simply want it a little bit more. 5th

GH – The only team to finish third in a two horse race. Pochettino has gone about addressing the problem areas, with Wanyama coming in to provide midfield competition, and Vincent Janssen taking some of the goal scoring burden off of Harry Kane. As youngsters Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Erics Dier and Lamela continue to develop, Spurs will make the top four. 4th

CB – If Arsenal could’ve won the league last year, Spurs should’ve. And now with a lot of clubs set to recover from last year’s dismal campaigns, Spurs may struggle to challenge for the title. New signing Janssen hit an astonishing 27 goals for Ajax last year, but it’s a different question whether he’ll link with Harry Kane successfully. It’ll be tight up top, that’s the only guarantee. 6th

TP – I have Spurs down for 6th, but this isn’t because their squad is lacking, or even down to their fantastic ability to bottle everything. I just think the rest of the teams above will be determined to outperform them. Having said that, I’d like to see them challenge for the title again this year, even if it means I’m wrong here! 6th

Watford

BC – Though they have made some solid signings, I’m not sure if Isaac Success will live up to his name for the Hornets. They’ll put up a good relegation battle, but their final match of the season is unlikely to go the same way that QPR’s did when they played Manchester City at the season closer… 18th

GH – Perhaps the strangest sacking of all time saw Quique Flores dismissed last season. Although Walter Mazzari comes with a big reputation, it may be difficult due to another turnover of players and an out of form Ighalo. Whether new signing Isaac will bring them Success remains to be seen. It will not be as comfortable as last season. 16th

CB – Last year was a surprising success, only shadowed by Leicester’s triumph. However manager Flores has bizarrely left, and replaced by former Inter Milan boss Mazzarri. This is his first English job, so he may struggle at the start, and Watford did suffer from wild form swings last year. If Ighalo and Deeney don’t replicate last season’s form, expect trouble at Vicarage Road. 17th

TP – Watford have based their summer transfer strategy around what they hope this season will be, with the signing of Success. But unfortunately there are too many teams that have the quality to finish above them. In the league, Watford won’t be able to classify this season as a success, but another cup run is more probable. 13th

West Brom

BC – I kind of have a soft spot for West Brom, and I think that Tony Pulis is really, really good. But their squad is certainly lacking, and I don’t think they are ever going to set the league alight. That said they’ll avoid relegation relatively comfortably, but definitely in the lower half of the table. 15th

GH – Pulis does not know the meaning of the word relegation. However, with no notable arrivals, and the potential loss of Berahino, it may be time that Pulis buys a dictionary and looks up the word. There’s only so long you can survive with a 38 year-old centre-half and route one football. 19th

CB – They are the kings of mediocrity, fading into obscurity and emerging in May at the lower reaches of the table. The squad is no better than it was last year, and is probably one of the weakest on paper. Pulis will be the only reason they stay up, but that’s doubtful. 18th

TP – West Brom have good squad depth, but are lacking in quality. I think this will count in the long run, because when they inevitably find themselves deep in a relegation battle, their squad will come through and at that end of the table, it doesn’t matter how you stay up. Just that you do. 17th

West Ham

BC – Last but definitely not least, West Ham clearly came into their own last season, and this time will be trying to build on that. Although I think it’s going to be the same as with Spurs, coming down to the fact that there are too many other teams I can’t see doing worse. 7th

GH – A new ground and a new era for West Ham. A lack of goals has been addressed with ex-Swan Ayew, and when former African Footballer of the Year Sofiane Feghouli arrives on a free transfer you know you are going places. I, and more importantly Slaven Bilic, expect a serious top four push. 5th

CB – Fans of the Hammers need to settle down, and not expect another repeat of last year’s over-achievements. Dmitri Payet will be their star player once again, but they still lack a clinical striker, which will prevent them from challenging for Europe like last season. 10th

TP – The Hammers had a fantastic season last year (being the team to make a betting man the most profit in the whole league) but narrowly missed out on a Europa League group stage place. I can see this happening again this year, but again, only due to the number of ‘big four’ teams in the six positions above them. 7th