Pre-season is over. The transfer window is shut. A new Premier League campaign is upon us.
The 2019/20 season gets underway tonight as Liverpool welcome newly-promoted Norwich City to Anfield. It's a match that could set the tone for what is set to be another intriguing and action-packed ten months.
And ahead of the new campaign, we decided to ask our esteemed writers to lay their cards on the table and predict the champions, the top four, the clubs to go down, and so much more.
If you don't agree with any of their predictions by all mean tweet the writers (their handles are included for ease). So let's begin…
Adam Newson (@AdamNewson)
It's going to be Manchester City. Again. Sadly. They've strengthened their squad –Rodri is the perfect Pep Guardiola midfielder – and possess a fully-fit Kevin De Bruyne, something the Premier League champions lacked for much of last season.
Liverpool were almost faultless last term and still it wasn't enough. Given their lack of investment this summer, it's difficult to Jürgen Klopp's side keeping pace with City. We can but hope, though.
City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur can already plan for Champions League football in 2020/21. Which of the other big six will join them is hard to predict.
Arsenal have the firepower but not the defence, even with David Luiz now at the Gunners. Manchester United have gaping holes they failed to fill this summer. And Frank Lampard's Chelsea™ are an unknown.
But I'm going to back the Gunners to scrape in. Chelsea will be fifth. United will end up sixth having ditched Ole Gunnar Solskjær over Christmas.
I feel that for only the second time in Premier League history, the three sides who came up will go straight back down.
Norwich City opted not to spend big this summer; a noble stance but one which has left them short of Premier League quality. Sheffield United did invest but predominantly on players yet to cut it in the top flight. And Aston Villa's 12 recruits look good on paper, but I fear the reality will be something different.
The last couple of seasons have been largely awful for Southampton but the green shoots of recovery were there last season under Ralph Hasenhüttl. I expect them to push for a top-ten finish under the Austrian this term.
There is still some deadwood to clear at St Mary's but Southampton averaged 1.24 points per game after Hasenhüttl arrived in December. A slight improvement on that – achievable given he's had a full pre-season to work with his players – will move the Saints back to where they belong.
This is all about perspective but I'm going to go with Crystal Palace. The Eagles should be a side competing for the top half in my eyes but I see them being involved in the relegation picture once again this term.
A lot has been made of the fact they've kept Wilfried Zaha. Yet it's clear he doesn't want to be there anymore. If he sulks, or simply fails to perform, the Eagles could have their Premier League wings clipped this season.
I'll back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to claim the award outright this season. Nicolas Pépé will not only create space for the Gabon forward but will also tee up chances aplenty. On the break, Arsenal could be spectacular to watch.
Signing to watch
So he's technically not a new signing, but Christian Pulisic only arrived at Stamford Bridge this summer so I'm going to include him. I have the power to do that.
The American will be tasked with helping to fill the void left by Eden Hazard. No easy task. It would be wrong to expect the American to hit the heights the Belgian managed last term but he's looked sharp in pre-season and a constant threat behind opposition defences.
He will need a little time to adapt, however, he could surprise those who have already written him off as nothing more as a signing to increase Chelsea's brand in the U.S.
I've banged the drum of Mason Mount for over two years, now he is in the Premier League it would be wrong for me not to go with the young Chelsea midfielder.
Mount has everything required to become a star under Lampard. He's a dynamic midfielder, one who can create and score goals in equal measure.
The England Under-21 international also has an incredible work rate and could be key in ensuring the high press the new Blues head coach wants to implement works out.
Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90)
Has to be Manchester City, doesn’t it? If a club spends over £300million on their defence alone in just over four years they have to be considered favourites for every competition they’re involved in.
City have addressed areas of weakness by signing Angelino, Rodri and Joao Cancelo. It’ll be difficult to look beyond them. Another 100-point season could be on the cards.
Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal will join City in the top four. The Reds haven’t added to their squad this summer but have an XI that can challenge the very best. A robust front three coupled with Virgil van Dijk and Alisson means they should have enough to comfortably finish in the top four.
Spurs know what it takes to do the job to secure a place in the Champions League and they’ve added serious reinforcements to their squad this summer.
The final place is up for grabs but Arsenal, after adding quality to their ranks, should have enough to keep Manchester United and Chelsea at arm’s length.
In no particular order, Norwich, Sheffield United and Newcastle United. I just don’t think the three squads have enough quality to survive.
I’m going with Brighton. Graham Potter plays football the right way and he’s been given funds to strengthen his squad this summer.
The Seagulls have clearly reverted back to using data to identify targets and if it clicks they could be a mid-table team with ease. Neal Maupay is one to keep an eye on for fantasy football purposes.
I’m not just saying this because I’m a Liverpool fan but I can see Everton failing to meet expectations.
The Toffees have added quality to their squad this summer and are, on paper at least, good enough to challenge for a top-six place. However, they lack balance and this will be a problem.
They also have to bed in quite a few players meaning a transitional period can be expected and performances could suffer. That combination could see them eventually settle for a top ten finish but not a serious push for European football.
Mohamed Salah. Looked ridiculously sharp against Manchester City in the Community Shield and the incentive is there for him to show the world he’s a three-season wonder.
Signing to watch
Tanguy Ndombele. Spurs have lacked something in midfield since Mousa Dembele left and last season they had to drop Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli into deeper roles to give them something a little different.
Ndombele does everything Dembele did and then some. He transforms Tottenham’s middle third and gives them a balance they went without for six months during the latter half of the 2018/19 campaign.
Mason Mount gets the nod. Frank Lampard trusts him and Chelsea are looking to give youth an opportunity this season. It’s the perfect storm for him to really impress. A set-piece expert, he could become the creative hub for the Blues.
Tom Bodell (@TBBodell)
As much as I would like Liverpool to win it because spending £75million on a centre-back and £60million on a goalkeeper is small change compared to what Manchester City do, it will be Pep Guardiola’s mob who win it again.
A true underdog story when you consider they signed Scott Carson this summer. Scott Carson.
I like to think of the top four as 3+1 because after Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs it will be a real bun fight to see who nicks that all-important fourth Champions League spot.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea will all feel it’s there for the taking but two are going to be disappointed. I suspect that will be United – who have simply not done enough this summer – and Chelsea, who have a fan in charge.
Tough one this and I’ve gone back on predictions made with friends already. These are public, though, so they count and I’ve settled on Sheffield United, Norwich City and Brighton.
Originally I had pegged the Blades as being safe but I don’t mind saying I’d done so on the basis of their volume of signings.
In reality, they have staked a lot on three strikers who are unproven at this level. Albeit Lys Mousset is proven… to be bad. Oli McBurnie and Callum Robinson have done their best work in the Championship.
Norwich City have boldly opted against signing many players at all and that, for me, usually spells trouble. Finally, I like Brighton’s appointment of Graham Potter and I’m sure they’ll be a more interesting watch. But I can’t see them scoring enough.
I think Leicester City have been tipped to the point they’ll no longer be a surprise, while Wolves did so well last year people will expect them to flourish once more. After that it’s hard to see, so I’m going for Newcastle.
I like their business and people seem to think they’ll be wretched – I really don’t think that’ll be the case. They won’t bother the top half, but they won’t go down.
Time is going to catch up with Bournemouth. I like the signings of Jack Stacey and Lloyd Kelly but you just know it will be Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels at full-back by September.
Dominic Solanke was a howling signing in January and will continue his goal drought this year.
They’re media darlings and staying up in a 10,000-seater stadium is impressive, they just haven’t kicked on and 2019/20 could be a big year of regression.
Sergio Agüero. City will win the league and Harry Kane will, of course, miss some of the season with injury.
The Argentine is woefully under-appreciated in this country but even Pep has come round to the idea of him.
He’s knocked in at least 20 Premier League goals in six of his eight season in England and for five successive years. He is a machine.
Signing to watch
I think Moise Kean at Everton could prove to be a real steal. He has it all in my book and after shining for Juventus in the spring of last season they might regret sacrificing him to go after more established players. At £27million, the Toffees have got a bargain.
One of these answers has to be biased towards Watford so here goes: Domingos Quina.
He had a little run in the side around Christmas and the New Year last term and was excellent, scoring a majestic goal in the home win over Cardiff City.
Now over a lengthy injury problem he will get a good go in the side under Javi Gracia and offers something different to the other central midfielders; he can take men on, wriggle out of tight gaps and link the play.
Incredibly, he turned up at Watford’s training HQ on deadline day in August 2018 asking if the club wanted to sign him as West Ham wanted him out. We snapped his arm off!
Will Evans (@WillGEvans1)
I’m anticipating another thrilling title race, but it’s hard to look beyond Manchester City when picking a winner.
The Citizens have strengthened by bringing in the likes of Cancelo and Rodri, while Liverpool’s squad is largely unchanged.
That stability could work in the Reds’ favour but I’m expecting City to just have the edge.
With Manchester City and Liverpool head and shoulders above everyone else, the question is who will fill the two remaining Champions League spots.
Under Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham seem well placed to retain their place in the top four, and Arsenal have done enough clever business to suggest they could find their way back into Europe’s elite competition.
Chelsea and Manchester United’s lack of proven managers may be the key reason why they miss out.
Aston Villa are the only one of the promoted sides who I can see surviving comfortably.
Norwich City and Sheffield United have lived within their means this summer, but unfortunately they don’t look to have squads of Premier League quality.
I think that Crystal Palace and Newcastle United will both struggle, with the Magpies ultimately suffering a third relegation on Ashley’s watch.
All three south coast clubs – Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth and Southampton – could exceed expectations in the Premier League this season, but I’m especially hopeful when it comes to the Saints.
Hasenhüttl completely rejuvenated a struggling side when he was appointed in 2018/19, and I can see them challenging for a top-half finish in the coming campaign.
Despite acquiring Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire for eye-watering fees I’m still not convinced by Manchester United.
I expect to see them just about cling onto a Europa League spot, but I can envisage the chasing pack of Leicester City, Wolves and Everton being a lot closer to the Red Devils than they were last season.
It’s hard to decide between Salah and Aubameyang when it comes to predicting the 2019/20 Golden Boot winner.
My instinct is that the signing of Nicolas Pépé will mean that the Gunners will share the goals around more this season, so I’m picking Salah.
Signing to watch
Brighton will surely be more attacking under Graham Potter than they were with the cautious Chris Hughton in charge.
New signing Leandro Trossard looks like an excellent addition and will potentially be the lynchpin of the Seagulls’ play in the final third. I can see him replicating his form for Genk in England’s top flight.
Mark Travers burst onto the scene at the end of last season, with a man-of-the-match display on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur.
Bournemouth’s other goalkeeping options are far from convincing, so this may well be the season that the 20-year-old makes the number one shirt at Dean Court his own.
Charlie Brooke (@CBrooke_23)
If you’d asked me at the start of the transfer window, I would have been tempted by Liverpool. But it’s now difficult to look past Manchester City.
Their strength in depth was already astonishing, and they’ve added Rodri and Cancelo into the mix, the competition for places is next level.
I can easily see them reaching a similar points tally this season, whereas it’ll be difficult for Liverpool to match what was a sublime campaign last time out. An injury to any of Klopp’s front three and carnage could ensue.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal in that order.
City and – without wanting to jinx it – Liverpool go without saying. Spurs have finally lost their transfer virginity and signed a phenomenal talent in Ndombele and are just a seriously well-oiled machine under Poch. Lo Celso will end up being the perfect replacement for Eriksen and Sessegnon is one for the future.
Arsenal have trolled the football world by spending £105million despite only having a £45million budget. Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pépé are supreme talents, while David Luiz and Kieran Tierney are uncharacteristically shrewd pick ups for the Gunners.
Ole and Frank may be at the wheel, but I can see both United and Chelsea struggling to make the top four and who knows, even the top six…
While it seems the easy option, I just don’t see Sheffield United and Norwich having enough quality or depth to compete. Ravel Morrison is a fascinating signing for the Blades though, although I can’t see that one ending particularly well.
Then, I think Burnley’s spell in the big time is up. They’re not the intimidating force they were two seasons ago, and leaked goals for fun last season. I’m not sure even the marquee signing of Danny Drinkwater will change my mind. Also, no Crouchie, no party.
West Ham always flirt with the prospect of ‘overachieving’ but never end up coming good.
They’ve got a very interesting squad though and look particularly powerful in attack. Pablo Fornals and Sébastien Haller could make significant impacts in their debut seasons, plus Felipe Anderson already has a year under his belt.
Add Yarmolenko and Lanzini into the mix and they have some serious talent going forward. I think, along with Leicester and perhaps Everton, they’ve got an outside chance of pushing the top six.
Wolves did exceptionally well last season, particularly against the top clubs, and have made a couple of clever signings in Patrick Cutrone and Jesus Vallejo.
That said, I think the well known pitfalls that come with competing in the Europa League will take its toll on Nuno’s side and I see them being overtaken by, certainly Leicester, and perhaps even West Ham.
He’s been simmering away nicely over the last couple of seasons, but I think this year Aubameyang will reach boiling point.
Arsenal are going to be fun to watch and with the likes of Pépé, Lacazette, Özil, Ceballos plus two great attacking full-backs in Bellerin and Tierney, Auba will enjoy plenty of service and should bang in the goals.
Signing to watch
I’d have to go for Ceballos, he’s an absolute baller. While he may not guarantee goals and assists, he’ll make Arsenal tick, and do so in style, with a Spanish swagger that we all love to see.
He’ll also bang in a couple of sublime free-kicks at some point. Arsenal – despite not really having a choice – will seriously regret not managing to include an option to buy in their loan deal for the Real Madrid man.
Special mention to Sebastien Haller, who looks like a seriously proficient all-round centre forward.
I’m looking forward to seeing Watford’s new all action winger Ismaila Sarr, but I’ll go for Phil Foden. The City youngster has been underused in recent seasons and all the noises suggest this could be his real breakthrough year.
Guardiola recently called him the ‘most talented player I’ve ever seen’, so hopefully he’ll give the young man more game time.
A productive season at City could even secure him a place in England’s Euro 2020 squad, which would be pleasing to see, considering his vastly unique skill set. It’s coming home.