Premier League
2020-21 Premier League Predictions (Paul Childs/Pool Photo via AP, file) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

2020-21 Premier League Predictions

The English Premier League restarts this weekend, after the shortest off-season in history. Our experts run their eyes over the EPL and put their collective necks on the line.

Let’s start at the top: who wins the league?

Jarrod Prosser: As a dyed in the wool Evertonian this hurts to say, but it’s Liverpool’s title to lose despite their lack of signings. They’re just so far ahead of everybody else.

Serenity Liessmann: Manchester City will take the top. I think Pep Guardiola is going to pull through this season and get the team the win. At the same time, I wouldn’t count Liverpool out.

Gavin Daly: It’s Liverpool’s to lose. I don’t see it being such a runaway this season, though. Chelsea and Man City should be much closer and also don’t rule out Man Utd. Liverpool also can’t afford any injuries to key players like Salah or Mane. They managed to stay healthy last season, but if they don’t, that could play a huge part.

Who claims the other Champions League spots? In order of league finish, please.

JP: Manchester City, Manchester United, and Everton Arsenal. I think it will take too long for all of Chelsea’s new talent to gel under a manager that is still wet behind the ears.

SL: Liverpool second, Chelsea third, and Manchester United fourth. I love Jurgen Klopp, and he’s shown that he is a fantastic manager, and they have a good team under them. I think Chelsea will do well, but with their mix of players they brought in, it’s complicated. Chelsea is my favorite team, so I want them to win, but I think they need a season to sort their new system out. Manchester United is a good team but didn’t make any transfer headlines this season. They’re still trying to get Jadon Sancho.

GD: Man City, Man Utd, and Chelsea. While it could take Chelsea some time to gel, there is just too much talent there for them to not get Champions League Football. If there is to be a dark horse, I won’t bet against Wolves, who seem to get better and better every year.

Who’s going down? Relegation picks, thanks.

JP: West Brom might struggle to score 25 goals this season. They’re screwed. I have no faith in Fulham, though it’ll be nice to see Craven Cottage back in the top flight for a campaign. The other spot comes down to Crystal Palace and West Ham. I think the stability of Woy Hodgson will see Palace through. So it’s West Brom, Fulham, and West Ham, for mine.

SL: I’ll stick with the teams who moved up will be relegated again. Fulham has a chance to survive, though.

GD: Having watched a lot of Championship football last season, I think Fulham and Leeds have the potential to shock a lot of people. If Fulham plays to their strengths, which they didn’t do their last go-round in the Premier League, they can and should stay up. Leeds will be the surprise package. West Brom will most likely go back down, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sheffield United regress massively. I think those two, plus Aston Villa, will be the three relegated at the end of the year.

Which club will flatter to deceive?

JP: West Ham is too easy an answer. I’ll go with Tottenham. Mourinho doesn’t seem to have the magic anymore, and as always, they’re a Harry Kane injury away from a losing streak. There’s a real chance they could be fighting to claim a Europa League place.

SL: I’m going to agree with Jarrod here. I think Tottenham is on the decline.

GD: I agree. Jose isn’t a good manager anymore. His time has past and Tottenham are very much a one-person team. I also think Everton could struggle again (Sorry, Jarrod). They’ve brought in the big-name signings with James Rodriguez, but how many times have we seen these big-name players flop before!?! Veron comes to mind instantly, but I know there are many more. If they don’t hit the ground running, they could be in for a long season.

Which club will be a pleasant surprise?

JP: Do Southampton still count as a surprise, given last season’s late form? Probably not. I’ll go with Newcastle. A perennial madhouse, but they seem to have made some very shrewd signings. Maybe they didn’t need that Saudi cash, after all?

SL: I think Arsenal can be a pleasant surprise. I believe that they’re going to turn it around a bit this season.

GD: Southampton does count as a surprise and will continue to be so. As I mentioned already, I think Leeds will be the surprise package and wouldn’t be surprised if they finish top ten. Also, be wary of Brighton, who will either kick on and finish mid-table or completely implode and survive on the last day.

Golden Boot winner? And how many league goals do they score?

JP: Jamie Vardy has to slow down at some point, doesn’t he? I don’t want to Get Banged, so I’m not going to Chat Shit. Vardy to win it with an even 20 strikes. (Alternative prediction: Bruno Fernandes with 37 goals – 36 of them penalties)

SL: I think I’ll choose Timo Werner to make it fun. We know he was great in Bundesliga, and he brought that with him. He scored in the first three minutes of the friendly. If he’s not top, he’ll be close. I’ll go with 29 goals.

GD: Danny Ings missed out by one goal last season, and if he can stay injury-free, there’s no reason he can’t be there or thereabouts again. However, I think it will be Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang with 23 goals that still won’t be enough to get Arsenal a top-four place due to their horrible defense.

Which signing will have the most impact on their team?

JP: James!!!! Realistically, it’s probably Timo Werner.

SL: Best signing is Timo Werner.

GD: Donny Van de Beek. I genuinely believe he’s the player United have been crying out for since Paul Scholes retired. He can play in several roles, and it doesn’t change the level he plays at. If United gets it right with him Pogba and Bruno in midfield, there won’t be a better one in the Premier League.

And who will flop?

JP: I have this horrible feeling that James might not be able to rediscover the magic, but Gabriel Magalhaes stepping into the heart of a traditionally shambolic Arsenal defense worries me.

SL: I have no clue about the worst signing. But I’ll make a joke about Philippe Coutinho being signed before the deadline and going back to Premier League. But realistically, no idea.

GD: I hope it’s not James Rodriguez! He’s such a talented player; if he shows up, we will all be in for a ton of fun. Can I say Joe Hart for Tottenham, or is the fact he probably won’t even play a game a complete cop-out!?! It’s most likely going to be Matt Doherty or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as Jose works his magic to make decent players crap.

Who takes out the PFA player of the year?

JP: Kevin de Bruyne.

SL: Kevin de Bruyne.

GD: He’s the best player in the league by a mile, so I agree with De Bruyne, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruno gives him a run for his money.

First manager to be ‘removed by mutual consent’?

JP: A bad first month for Villa could see Dean Smith giving his marching orders. It’s more likely that David Moyes doesn’t see in the new year. West Ham is an embarrassment and Moyes will be the fall guy.

SL: For the first manager to be fired this year- I’ll be completely wrong. Usually I’d say Chelsea because they always seem to be first. But I’m going to go with Dean Smith for Aston Villa. They finished 16th, so I’ll assume that if he can’t pull the team together, he’ll get booted.

GD: I’m surprised Moyes is not already gone. Considering how bad West Ham are that’s a real possibility. Also, there’s the chance Daniel Levy realizes the huge mistake he’s made and removes Jose before any more damage is done.

Finally, what will be the biggest controversy this season?

JP: VAR. It’s always VAR, isn’t it.

SL: Biggest controversy will always be VAR, like Jarrod said. VAR still needs to sort out so many inconsistencies.

GD: Parties with Sex Workers, breaking COVID-19 protocol, and crashing cars, yet VAR is still the most controversial? Yeah, OK, it’s VAR.

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