The age old pre-season question:
Who will win the league?
Once again Chelsea will be the ones expected to top the table, but for the first time in a long while, it doesn’t look 100% certain to happen.
Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over them in the Community shield may have seemed meaningless to most, but if we analyse it closer, it highlighted some of Chelsea’s rare flaws.
To begin with, Oxlade-Chamberlain tore Azpilicueta apart at times on the right hand side of the pitch and this led to the only goal of the game. It may have seemed like the Gunners’ defence was particularly strong on that day, but the fact that Chelsea played Remy alone up front in the first half, and Falcao in the second, gave them an easier time. Very few chances were created and it will worry Mourinho greatly, although he won’t show it.
The other main rivals for the title are Manchester City, who have strengthened their squad slightly with the signing of Raheem Sterling and Manchester United, who have spent big time on the likes of Schweinsteiger, Depay and Schneiderlin, although they may take time to gel as a team initially.
Chelsea’s year once again, with Arsenal following closely behind in second, City finishing in third and United in fourth.
So who will be at the other end of the table?
Always a tough one to call at the beginning of the season this, as you never know which way its going to go.
Most cynics would predict Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich City to go straight back down to The Championship, but in recent seasons, it hasn’t been that straightforward.
Take last season for example, when it looked as though Leicester were well and truly doomed when they were 11 points from safety, but fast forward to the end of the season and they managed to finish in 14th place.
My point is, give the newcomers a chance before judging them.
Watford have strengthened their squad immensely, with the impressive signings of the likes of former West Ham star Valon Behrami (who has played in 3 world cups for Switzerland) and experienced Premier league Midfielder Etienne Capoue (signed from Spurs).
Experience can be key to survival.
That is why Norwich went out and signed Graham Dorrans and Yussouf Mulumbu (both formerly of West Brom) and Bournemouth snapped up the veteran Sylvain Distin (who has over 400 appearances in England’s top flight – the most of any foreign outfield player ever in the Premier League).
As for the other teams that might struggle, I’m going to predict that the likes of Sunderland, Aston Villa and Leicester will be fighting to stay up, as they haven’t signed many experienced players between them.
Sunderland, Leicester and Norwich to go back down, but it may be even closer than ever before.
Who will finish the season as top scorer?
If last season is anything to go by, then we will be looking towards the likes of Diego Costa (Chelsea), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) and Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) to fire in the goals for their clubs again. A number of factors could be the key to success/failure here though.
Costa and Aguero, both struggled with injuries for much of last season, and if the same happens again in 2015/16, it could damage their final goal tally. As for Sanchez and Kane, they have to prove that they are not just one season wonders!
Of course, there are always the outsiders though!
Keep an eye out for the likes of Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea City), Graziano Pelle (Southampton) amongst many others.
Sergio Aguero will scoop the Golden boot award.
New signings are always an exciting thing to keep an eye on. Ayew, Depay, Wijnaldum, Cabaye, Cech; the list goes on.
Will they be as magnificent in their debut season as Alexis Sanchez was for Arsenal? or as flop-tastically poor as PSG’s new “star” Angel Di Maria was at Manchester United last season?. Time will tell.
In my opinion, although he may not be mentioned much by the press or fans alike, new Southampton midfielder Jordy Clasie, will live up to his fitting surname and be a class player for them. I also believe that Yohan Cabaye will have a similar effect at Crystal Palace, becoming a leader within their team.
Pete Cech will be vital for Arsenal as he’ll provide them with something that they haven’t seen since the days of David Seaman, a reliable and world class Goalkeeper. Andre Ayew is a huge step in the right direction for Swansea as it shows how much the club has grown, to be able to bring in a player of his experience and prestige. Giorginio Wijnaldum will pull the strings in midfield for Newcastle and Christian Benteke will bang in the goals for Liverpool, providing that he stays injury free.
As for Memphis Depay, he’ll start week in week out for United under his Dutch compatriot, Mr Van Gaal, and if he shows any glimpses of his past performances in the Eredivisie, he’ll have a breakthrough season at Old Trafford.
There is the small mention of a certain Raheem Sterling too, but I’m sure we’ve all heard enough about him for one summer!
Depay all the way.
Highly rated and quite rightly so, once he gets into the swing of things, hell be very hard to stop.
Who will be the leagues’ best Goalkeeper?
For the sake of this article, lets say that David De Gea has gone to Real Madrid, because its looking more and more likely each day! (If I’m proved wrong and he stays at United, then I shall be updating this article.)
So with David out of the way (and all the other 19 goalkeepers of the league celebrating his deportation) who will take the Golden glove award?
Looking at last season again, we’d have to say that Joe Hart (Manchester City), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea) and Fraser Forster (Southampton) were statistically the top three goalies in the Premier League, followed closely by the ever present Chelsea shot stopper Thibaut Courtois.
But now that (presumably) Mr De Gea is soaking up the sun back in his beloved homeland of Spain, its time for you to step up between the sticks, Sergio Romero. He couldn’t have even dared to dream of it when he initially signed for United, but now he is their number one! In all fairness and realness though, he is a great Goalkeeper who should do well for the club, is well travelled, having played in France, Italy, Holland and his native, Argentina, as well as playing in the world cup final for his country in 2014.
Pete Cech (as mentioned above) will break the hearts of the thousands of blues he left behind in West London, to move across to the North of the Capital and if his pre season is anything to go by, he’ll have a stunning season. 3 trophies won in 3 games there already (albeit meaningless trophies, but whatever) and only 1 goal conceded. Good Goalkeeper? Cech ✅.
Watch out for the Goalkeepers playing for the clubs that are fighting for survival though, as they’re often the ones that are kept busy.
Heurelho Gomes (Watford), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth), John Ruddy (Norwich), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) and Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland) will need to be on their toes at all times.
Cech-mate! (Ok, I’ll stop with the puns now!) But Petr will be a key factor for Arsenal’s title push this season.
Breakthrough player of the year:
These are the players that you have never seen before (and may never see again in some cases; see Jermaine Pennant, Arsenal 03-04) that breakthrough the youth systems and get a shot at first team football.
Last season we saw the likes of Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) have consistent first team game time for their clubs.
This season, there are a few more to look out for, keep an eye on CapitalOne Cup matches in particular, as you will often see the stars of the future having their chance to shine in the earlier rounds of that competition.
Arsenal have the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Gideon Zelalem, Dan Crowley and Alex Iwobi as wonder kids on their books, while Chelsea have Dominic Solanke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Izzy Brown, Liverpool have Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo, Manchester United have James Wilson, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett, Manchester City have Enes Ünal and highly rated Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.
Very tough to call as its hard to tell who will get the most game time.
However as a devision has to be made, Zelalem and Iwobi are the two that I’m predicting to shine, as Professor Wenger is the most likeliest of managers to give his youngsters playing time.
Well, there you have it, my predictions for the season ahead, I will however predict that the following are also highly likely to happen during the course of the season (I will personally be giving myself a golden star for everyone that turns out to be correct):
Arsene Wenger scraps with Jose Mourinho.
Wenger gets asked in which position he’ll play Walcott at least three times.
Louis Van Gaal changes his formation three games in a row.
Rooney complains about playing in midfield.
Jose Mourinho plays mind games with at least three managers.
Garry Monk wears his gillet on a game to game basis.
Tim Sherwood gets the sack.
Thierry Henry and Robert Pires watching an Arsenal match at the Emirates.
Andy Carroll gets injured.
Arsene Wenger complains about something.
Jack Wilshere acts inappropriately on or off the field.
Referees do something completely reckless.
Robbie Savage and Garth Brooks say something stupid on football focus.
Aguero scores a hat-trick.
Sherwood returns to unsuccessfully manage another club.
Pardew makes Cabaye the captain of Crystal Palace.
Crouch scores a header.
United talk about signing Ronaldo back but its all b******s as he ends up staying at Madrid.
Brendan Rodgers says that his team “showed great character”.
Newcastle fans abandon a game in protest of something (most likely Mike Ashley).
The newly promoted teams managers use the phrase “the demands of The Premier League are much tougher than the Championship” as an excuse for if their team is struggling.
Liverpool don’t actually win the league, in contrast to what your reds supporting mates initially told you during pre-season.
Tottenham qualify for the Champions League (just).
Raheem Sterling sits frustratingly on the City bench, waiting for a game.