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Premier League Review and Predictions after Gameweek 1

Posted on September 15, 2020

It only seems like yesterday the 2019/2020 season finished.  Game Week 1 has concluded and defending champions Liverpool got off to a winning start … just.  Leeds gave them a good run for their money in their first top-flight game since 2004.  Their last top-flight game was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.  They might just be the surprise package of the season under the leadership of the tactical genius, Marcelo Bielsa.

Chelsea have splashed the cash this summer and also got off to a good start, beating Brighton 3-1.  They will surely be challenging for the title this season.  The league has strengthened immensely and we predict there could be 10 teams vying for a top 4 finish.

Here we review each team, taking into account their first game of the season.  Following their 3-0 victory against Fulham, Arsenal for the time being hold top spot.

Arsenal – Is Mikel Arteta Arsenal’s version of Pep Guardiola?

The Gooners will be looking to improve on a very disappointing 2019-2020 season.  They finished the season well winning the FA Cup, beating Manchester City in the final.  They have also got off to a great start this season by beating Liverpool to win the FA Community Shield, and beating Fulham 3-0 on the opening day of the season to gain 1st place in week 1 – albeit on goal difference.

Is Mikel Arteta Arsenal’s very own version of Guardiola?  Only time will tell but he has undoubtedly made a big impact since joining.  He plays with a fluid and entertaining system, similar to the man he spent as understudy to at Manchester City for over 3 years.  He has worked on tightening up Arsenal’s defence and is in the process of tieing Aubemeyang to a long term deal.  The burning question from some of the outspoken Gooner fans will be whether he has the money at his disposal to improve the team and compete with the top 4 teams

Player to look out for – Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang

Our Prediction – 5th

Aston Villa – Can they perform another miracle?

A poor first season back in the Premier League last time out but they will be relieved to still be in the league this season.  They lacked experience last season and will be keen to keep their best players.  Jack Grealish has just signed a five-year contract which will be a massive boost for the club.  They will be looking to invest in shrewd signings via the recruitment of a new Sporting Director, Johal Lange.  He has a reputation for finding quality players with potential, but great value.

Their first game of the season was due to be against Manchester City but it was postponed due to City’s extended run in Europe in August.  Perhaps a let-off for the Villa!

Player to look out for – Jack Grealish

Our Prediction – 15th

Brighton – Will they make it into the Top 10?

The Seagulls play an attractive style of football although as we all know, this doesn’t always guarantee results.  This was the case last season, finishing a solitary point above the relegation zone.  The addition and experience of Adam Lallana will provide a welcome boost, and a few goals to the Brighton midfield.  Owner Tony Bloom has promised the fans they will become a Top 10 team.  This surely must be a long term ambition, although they are moving slowly in the right direction and will look to improve on last season’s position.

Player to look out for – Adam Lallana

Our Prediction – 16th

Burnley – Have they reacher their potential?

Burnley have had two top-10 finishes in the last three seasons, so have been showing some consistency.  Sean Dyche has got the best out of his squad and the question must be asked, can he get any more out of them?  He has worked with very little budget and he must be frustrated with the lack of investment available to him.  Burnley finished well last season and lost only twice since January.

Nick Pope was one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League last season and earned Burnley countless points.  The Clarets will be hoping he can do it again this season.  Their first game of the season was scheduled to be against Manchester United but was postponed due to Man United’s European commitments last season.  Having beaten United 2-0 at Old Trafford last season, Burnley will be confident of beating them again.

Player to look out for – Nick Pope

Our Prediction – 14th

Chelsea – Are they ready for a title challenge?

Chelsea have ignored the financial constraints imposed by COVID.  They are financed by a Russian Oligarch so are perhaps immune to the financial impact of COVID, as most other clubs are.  They have invested heavily in some major acquisitions this summer, bringing in an incredible array of attacking talent into the team.  Timo Werner will be sure to be banging in the goals this season.  Factor in the new attacking creativity brought in by Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz, and you have a match made in heaven.

Although they have the most expensive goalkeeper in the world he was at times their weak link last season.  If he plays to his potential he will ensure Chelsea will be fighting for the title.  This will be a real test for Frank Lampard having spent over £250 million.  On paper at least, it looks like he has invested wisely.

Player to look out for – Timo Werner

Our Prediction – 3rd

Crystal Palace – Will they score more than 2 in a game?

Despite having an array of attacking talent, the Eagles struggled to score last season.  They only scored 31 goals over the course of the season, and didn’t score more than two in a game.  Roy Hodgson must get more out of his attacking trio of Zaha, Benteke and Ayew this season.  Hodgson is sometimes criticised for his negative approach to games and is happier with a point, rather than going all out to get the win.

Benteke needs to play like a £27 million forward and Zaha needs to start banging the goals in again.  They will miss the electric atmosphere at Selhurst Park this year.  Saying that, they got off to a winning start their by beating Southampton on the opening day of the season.

Player to look out for – Wilfred Zaha

Our Prediction – 13th

Everton – Will Ancelloti finally provide some consistency?

Everton has been poor and inconsistent over the last 2-3 seasons.  They have spent a considerable amount of money on big players, many of whom haven’t played to their price tag.  Some would argue they paid over the odds for certain players.  They play well one week, only to play a stinker the next.  Ancelotti was brought in as manager at the middle of last season. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares having a pre-season to instil his style of play.  His experience will surely have a positive impact on the blue half of Merseyside.

An excellent performance on the opening day and 3-points away to Spurs will give the team some much-needed confidence.  It remains to be seen if the same players will have a stinker next week when they play newly promoted West Brom.

Player to look out for – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Our Prediction – 10th

Fulham – Will they stay up this time around?

Newly promoted Fulham came up via the play-offs.  The last time they got promoted in 2018 they spent £100 million and still managed to get relegated.  This time around they have more of a settled squad and have a number of key players they can count on.  Former player and now manager, Scott Parker will be looking to add to his squad, in particular, to add some creativity in midfield.

The step up from the Championship is a big one and questions must be asked whether they are ready for the challenge.  They lost 3-0 to Arsenal on the opening day and have a tough fixture against fellow-promoted side Leeds coming up.  Following Leed’s performance against Liverpool, they must be favourites to win that game.  Fulham are one of the early favourites to be relegated.

Player to look out for – Aleksandar Mitrovic

Our Prediction – 19th

Leeds – Can Bielsa weave his magic in the Premier League?

It’s great to see one of the power-houses of English football back in the top-flight.  Love them or hate them, they will be a great addition to the Premier League.  Leeds had an excellent season in the Championship, winning the league by some distance in the end.  They did it playing attractive and at times, breathtaking football.  Bielsa is Pep Guardiola’s mentor, so you can clearly envisage the potential of a Bielsa team in the Premier League.  He hasn’t managed a top-flight time since 2015, Leeds haven’t played in the top flight since 2004, so we’ll see.

They couldn’t have asked for a harder opening fixture, away to Champions Liverpool.  They did themselves proud and showed the quality they possess.  Despite falling behind three times, they came back to equalise three times.  It was only a late Mo Salah hatrick penalty that beat them.  If they can continue to play their intense pressing and attacking style football, they will stay up.  If they can defend better they will finish in the top half of the table.  They will hope their new shrewd signings settle in quickly.  We predict Leeds could very well be the surprise team of the year.

Player to look out for – Rodrigo

Our Prediction – 9th

Liverpool – Can they improve upon perfection?

Liverpool played an almost perfect season last time out, destroying most teams that got in their way.  Nobody thought they could improve upon 97 points they amassed in 2018/2019.  They did just that, registering a hugely impressive 99 points.  They were by far the best team in the league and nobody got near them.  Man City managed to thrash them towards the end of the season, but it could be argued Liverpool were sporting celebration hangovers, having already won the league by then.

Whilst other teams have invested heavily, Liverpool as yet have been cautious in the transfer market in light of the COVID pandemic.  One could argue, why would you tinker with a winning formula.  If they can continue their winning ways plus avoid injuries to their key players, it’s difficult to see any other team beating them.  That said, Man City will be hungry to get revenge and Chelsea will be keen to beat them next week.  A 4-3 victory, plus a late goal against Leeds on the opening day of the season is a good sign for Liverpool.  Those late goals win titles.

Player to look out for – Mo Salah

Our Prediction – Champions

Manchester City – Can they take the Premier League title off Liverpool?

If City had managed to secure the transfer of Messi, it would have helped elevate them to another level, such is the influence he can have on a team.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  City still have a formidable squad at their disposal and one with quality in depth.  They are in an unfamiliar position of playing catch up this season, such was the dominance of Liverpool last time out.  Much-strengthed Chelsea will be motivated to take the 2nd spot off City, at the very least.

Guardiola’s main aim is to secure an elusive Champions League with City.  They do have the strength in depth to fight on all fronts and with the firepower they have, you can see them doing this.  Footballer of the Year, Kevin de Bruyne, will be a massive influence, as will Raheem Stirling and the young Ben Foden.  New signing Nathan Ake will help prop up the rearguard, which was vulnerable at times last season.  Silva and Sane will however be missed.

Player to look out for – Kevin de Bruyne

Our Prediction – Runners-Up

Manchester United – Are they ready yet for a title fight?

Manchester United haven’t won the league since 2012/13, which by their standards is unthinkable.  The big question for United fans is are they a match yet to their biggest rivals, City and Liverpool.  United fans will also be dreaming of a big signing like Sancho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed the team’s fortunes around last year, earning United a place in this season’s Champions League.  He claims he needs two or three more quality players to mount a challenge.  Ole brought in playmaker Bruno Fernandes last year.  Fernandes was integral in their final push for a Champions League place.  He has also brought in the Dutch wonderkid Donny Van de Beek, which was a major coup.  Can he get the best out of the enigma that is Pogba?  He also has a naturally gifted attack, in particular Martial, at his disposal.

Player to look out for – Bruno Fernandes

Our Prediction – 4th

Newcastle United – Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Newcastle fans have been through it in recent years, but this summer must-have hurt more than most.  The Geordies got within one signature to a whole new era at St James Park.  The cash-rich Saudi’s walked away from the takeover deal following political pressure and the issue of broadcasting rights in Saudi Arabia.  Their current owner Mike Ashley doesn’t seem interested and there are a number of questions over the leadership of first-team manager, Steve Bruce.

The acquisition of goal machine Callum Wilson is a breath of fresh air.  The ex-Bournemouth striker scored on his debut in the encouraging 2-0 win against West Ham.  Ryan Fraser, also from Bournemouth, is an exciting addition and will provide a number of assists.  Survival will be the main objective.  This may be achieved by grinding out every point available, albeit by defensive displays, rather than the attacking and flair football the fans dream of.

Player to look out for – Callum Wilson

Our Prediction – 17th

Sheffield United – Can they match last season’s top-half finish

Sheffield United’s first season back in the Premier League was a huge success.  They were often outmatched talent-wise, but their tactics and expert coaching saw them beat some of the big boys.  This was achieved by some quick and lethal counter-attacking football.  Expectation levels are high, whereas this time last season they were favourites for relegation.

They have a solid defence, in particular with centre back John Egan.  Most of their goals came from midfield last season so they’ll be expecting more from the front men this term.  They got off to a poor start, losing 2-0 to Wolves.  Wolves will one of their closest competitors this season who will be aiming for a Top 6 finish.

Player to look out for – John Egan

Our Prediction – 11th

Southampton – Can they continue their good form from the second half of last season?

The Saints finished last season strongly, so they’ll be hoping to carry that into the new season.  It took a slight set back, losing their first game 1-0 to Crystal Palace. Ralph Hasenhuttl will be hoping to take his team a step further this season.  He has won plaudits for his style of play and has the quality in the team to deliver.  James Ward-Prowse is an engine in midfield and can both score and create goals.  Danny Ings will benefit from this, just so long as he stays injury-free.

The 9-0 battering they took off Leicester last season will hopefully be a distant memory.  The team’s focus now is on recruiting talent once again, rather than being a feeder club for the likes of Liverpool.

Player to look out for – James Ward-Prowse

Our Prediction – 12th

Tottenham Hotspur – Which way will Mourinho take them?

Mourinho inherited a dishevelled squad.  This was surprising considering their excellent run to the Champions League final the season before.  Although the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ did help improve Spurs fortunes, the question remains whether they are a match made in heaven.  Will he implode like he did at Chelsea and Manchester United?

There is no doubting they have world-class players such as Harry Kane.  They also have quality across the park in Son Heung Min and Dele Ali.  They have recruited well in Matt Doherty who will offer solid defensive performances plus clock up a few assists.  Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is also an astute buy.  Spurs will be hit hard by the restrictions imposed by COVID, more than most with their new stadium laying empty.

Player to look out for – Harry Kane

Our Prediction – 7th

West Brom – Can they stay up?

The last time they were promoted they went straight back down.  The burning question this season will be ‘Can they stay up?’  They are unfortunately one of the hot favourites to go straight back down.  Slaven Bilic will need to get the most out of his team, and also hope for more investment from the board.  They do have concerns across the pitch.  They don’t have a steady defence which was rotated heavily last season.  None of Robson-Kanu, Charlie Austin and Kenneth Zahore has offered enough to lay claim to the main striker role.

It will be a tough season for the Baggies and they will be praying for a miracle to stay up.  The 3-0 defeat to Leicester on the opening day would not have helped confidence.

Player to look out for – Kenneth Zohore

Our Prediction – 20th

West Ham – Can David Moyes turn the Hammer’s fortunes around?

Moyes has got a tough challenge working with a team that was built by four different managers.  This could go some way to explain the team’s inconsistencies over the last few seasons.  The ex-Everton man is unpopular with certain pockets of the West Ham faithful, but you could argue he is the right man, all things considered.  Who else of his calibre would have taken the role?

A 2-0 defeat at home to Newcastle will be hard to bear for the Hammers, and not the start they desired.  They do have some quality, in particular Declan Rice.  He will be the heart of the midfield and will offer a number of assists and also bag a few goals.  Mid-table is a realistic aim for this season.

Player to look out for – Declan Rice

Our Prediction – 18th

Wolves – Can they take on the Top 4?

Nuno Espirito Santo is one of the best managers in the Premier League and an incredible asset for Wolves.  Each season, he is improving on the last.  He has an exceptionally talented and hungry Wolves team.  They are winning matches and playing some excellent football along the way.  Nuno’s coaching and tactics not only get the best out of the team, it also helps take them to another level.

Nuno has talent across the pitch.  Skipper Conor Coady is a great influence and pivotal to the team’s success.  He is surrounded by talent such as Adam Traore and Ruben Neves.  They got off to a great start beating Sheffield United, a team they were battling for a European place last season.  It’ll be interesting to see how many points they can take off the traditional Top-4.  They will all be wary of playing this exciting young Wolves team.

Player to look out for – Ruben Neves

Our Prediction – 6th