Hawkeye Sidekick has decided to take his crystal ball out from the attic and try to predict the contenders, the inbetweeners and strugglers for this upcoming season. Apologies on the delayed post!
Who will be champions this season?
You cannot put not go with Manchester City. They were the standard bearer for the league last season when all others fell by the wayside. The Jack Grealish transfer provides attacking directness and additional creativity to the ranks. Pep does not believe in the orthodox number nine so more rotation during games will be seen. No genuine weak links. They are the team to beat.
Top four, who will it be?
If we take Manchester City as champions, then we are down three spots. Leicester City will flirt with the top four but the end of the season collapses of recent seasons means that I cannot commit to the Foxes as a top four team. Liverpool provided no big injuries should be well in the title hunt like Chelsea who look a dark horse bet too. Manchester United will flatter to deceive and then get embarrassed with some home results against the relegation threatened team. Those four teams look like locks right now.
Europa League places, who will it be?
Leicester City should be good enough to secure an Europa League place given that they will battle for a top four place. Tottenham Hotspurs potentially will be the other team well placed to secure the other spot. Arsenal may flirt into this battle late but the squad depth concerns massively. Everton should be in the mix but all depends on Benitez’s start with the club.
The title race looks like a four way battle but the relegation battle may be the the more intriguing battle because I can see at least ten clubs embroiled in a relegation battle. Norwich City may have secured Billy Gilmour but I don’t see the reinforcements in the midfield and attacking areas to survive this season. Crystal Palace under Patrick Vieira may be under pressure, so many personnel changes in the squad and a change in style may mean mixed results. Newcastle United or Burnley a toss-up for the third relegation spot.
Surprise of the season
Brentford will surprise many with their passing and pace. They will have some nervy moments but their pace and power up top with Toney and Canos should be enough to secure an EPL place next season. Brighton and Hove Albion possession based football created numerous chances last season and one would hope that Graham Potter has really focused on this aspect of play in the off-season. Top ten place for Brighton this season.
Who gets the sack first?
Watford have a dreadful reputation for dispensing of their managers early and often in the EPL but I am going for other clubs. Aston Villa’s Dean Smith could be under pressure if new signings do not click early post Grealish era. Villa’s second half of last season without Grealish was brutal so Smith for me is on the plank already.
Palace and Patrick Vieira could be a safe bet as well given the turbulence of Palace’s squad, embracing youth and flair for hard to break down and methodological which were hallmarks of Roy Hodgson. Put it like this, we have not seen the last of Roy Hodgson in Croydon!
Irish players to watch
Nathan Collins’ move to Burnley is a step up for the Kildare native. With continued interest from clubs on Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, Collins could be primed for EPL action sooner rather than later. The hope is that Shane Duffy gets a run of games. The attacking final third looks grim for Republic of Ireland players. Adam Idah was subject to Blackburn transfer links. Michael Obafemi looks primed for an exit away from Southampton. Regular game minutes could be a prevailing issue for many Republic of Ireland players at EPL clubs.