It's finally here! The 28th edition of the Premier League, ready and willing to appoint a champion. The English top tier has seen - since 1992 - six different winners, with the latest, Manchester City, on course to make it three in a row. It would be the first time in a decade a team has accomplished the feat.
We're ready to get reacquainted with Norwich City, Sheffield United, and Aston Villa rising up from the Championship, while there have been new managerial appointments at Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.
The Sportsman contributors cast their beady eyes over all 20 teams and sniff out the main stories with their beaky noses to offer up their predictions as to how this Premier League season will end up.
The following categories:
- Manager of the Year
- The Sack Race
- Golden Boot
- Bombs & Belters
Harry Sidebotham - Manchester City
Manchester City endured a few minor slip ups last season despite winning the Premier League title. Pep Guardiola will be striving for perfection and I think City will fend off stiff competition from Liverpool.
Jack Kitson - Manchester City
Pep Guardiola will hit the Premier League title hat-trick, a feat that only Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved (twice). Liverpool will push Man City all the way, and while it would be refreshing to see a new club grab the spoils, Man City are simply stupendous.
Jack Porter - Manchester City
Just look at their transfer business. Needed a Fernandinho replacement, got a Fernandinho replacement. Plus the Citizens have got KDB back. What else needs tweaking (apart from maybe a world-class left-back)? Liverpool won’t go as close this year.
Kieran Spratt - Manchester City
I think it’s going to be another hotly-contested race between Man City and Liverpool at the top this season and I’m going to say Pep’s men will edge it again. Just.
Simon Lillicrap - Manchester City
Shock as the best team in the country with the best manager in the world and the most money win the Premier League for the third time in a row.
Harry - Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal
Liverpool will fall short once again to reigning champions Manchester City. I suspect Spurs will finish third; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did place ahead of Jürgen Klopp’s side this season. I’m expecting a big campaign from both Aubameyang and Lacazette and I reckon the Gunners will finish fourth despite their defensive issues.
Jack - Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea
Pretty similar to last season. Man City will edge it again, hotly followed by Liverpool, then Spurs, and finally Chelsea, with Frank Lampard becoming the first English manager to finish in the top-4 since uncle Harry Redknapp in 2012. I simply can’t see Man Utd or Arsenal breaking into the mix.
JP - Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Chelsea
The Manchester United project has yet to really get off the ground and a few years off the pace with some of their rivals. Fans flocking to Old Trafford should be content to see the exordium of a new exciting chapter done differently than their splash-the-cash rivals; a predominantly young British side with dyed-in-the-wool academy products given their chance at playing attack-minded football.
Tottenham Hotspur have bought brilliantly, and it’ll be extremely interesting to see how Frank Lampard coerces Chelsea with one-hand behind his back. The Blues legend might even made them slightly likeable if the onus is on youth.
Kieran - Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal
I expect Liverpool and Spurs will probably join the Citizens in the top four this season but picking another side to join them is a tough ask between Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Unai Emery’s men will make the cut this time around, with the addition of Nicolas Pépé particularly eye-catching.
Simon - Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United
Liverpool will come second again but will not achieve 97 points, Tottenham have improved and in their new stadium will close the gap on the top two while I’m plumping for Manchester United to squeak into fourth place - JUST ahead of Chelsea, who will do well under Frank Lampard.
Harry - Burnley, Newcastle United, Sheffield United
I think Brighton will do well under Graham Potter which leaves me to believe that Burnley will face the drop this season.
Newcastle look like a club that are heading in the wrong direction. Rafa Benítez was key to their survival in the Premier League last season and I personally think Steve Bruce is a step down. Ayoze Pérez and Salomón Rondón were involved in 32 of the Magpies’ 42 league goals last season and I don’t see new signings Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton making up for the loss of the duo.
Sheffield United don’t possess enough quality to maintain their Premier League status and think they will slump back down.
Jack - Brighton & Hove Albion, Sheffield United, Aston Villa
You could pick ten different clubs and you wouldn’t be surprised if any went down. It’s so open. I’m a big fan of Graham Potter but I think Brighton will once again struggle this year, and come the end of the campaign they will be joined by Sheffield United and Aston Villa in the Championship.
JP - Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Sheffield United
Aston Villa are back where they belong and have made movements to stay. Brighton have an eclectic bunch of players who Chris Hughton just couldn’t smoothly mould; it may also be too much to ask for his successor Graham Potter. Palace will capitulate, having not reinforced, ending their seven-year-stint in the top tier. And it’s a punt on one promoted side going straight back down, with at least one doing in 23 of the last 26 years; let’s have Sheffield United.
Kieran - Norwich City, Norwich City, Norwich City
As an Ipswich fan, it hurts to say that the Canaries looked pretty scintillating last season in the Championship but also as an Ipswich fan, I obviously hope they go down. I don’t even care about the rest of the fight for relegation. My predictions are Norwich, Norwich and Norwich.
Simon - Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace
I just can’t see Steve Bruce at Newcastle working out and Rafa was working miracles with a poor squad.
I love Chris Wilder but the Sheffield United squad just doesn’t look strong enough here and they relied on their defence to get promoted, something that will be severely tested in the top flight. Meanwhile, my surprise pick is Crystal Palace, who, if they lose Wilfried Zaha, could be in real trouble.
Manager of the Year
Harry - Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
As boring as it sounds I’ve gone for Pep Guardiola. Five of the last five winners of the Premier League Manager of the Year have won the title itself and I believe Manchester City will take the throne once again for a third consecutive year.
Jack - Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)
Can anyone stop Pep Guardiola winning it again? Yes they can, but it will take a man with character: Step forward Brendan Rodgers. He may not be able to replicate the miraculous achievements of a certain Claudio Ranieri, but the current Foxes boss has a decent shout of orchestrating an assault on the top-6 this season, and if so he should take all the managerial plaudits.
JP - Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur)
Wins it before moving to Man Utd.
Kieran - Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Tony Pulis was the last non-title winning manager to win the Manager of the Season gong back in the 2013/14 season. So given my choice for champions this season, I’ll back Pep Guardiola to make three wins in a row.
Simon - Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)
Brendan is back. His Leicester side look ready to challenge for the top six and if he can break into that group, with Arsenal looking weak, he deserves this award.
The Sack Race (1st manager to go)
Harry - Steve Bruce (Newcastle United)
The poor lad isn’t lasting long in the Toon.
Jack - Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)
There’s no obvious favourite that springs to mind. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is the surprise early frontrunner but I can’t see that one happening. I expect Steve Bruce will weather out the storm, and the fellow newbies will all be given time. Roy Hodgson (8/1) may have enjoyed a very credible tenure at Crystal Palace, so far, however his side face each of last season’s top ten in their opening 13 matches, meaning he could find himself under-fire early doors.
JP - Roy Hogdson (Crystal Palace)
Hodgson’s squad is bleeding and that’s a tough run of opening fixtures. The septuagenarian will probably pop up later in the season.
Kieran - Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Maybe controversial, but I don’t believe Lampard is the man to return Chelsea to the top, not yet anyway. If results awry early on, I wouldn’t back against Abramovich dealing out some swift justice, even if it is to a club legend.
Simon - Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)
In line with the Palace struggling theme, Hodgson will not be given too much time to turn things around if they are losing at the beginning of the season. Nice guy but I feel his time will come to leave Selhurst Park.
Harry - Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
If Harry Kane can stay fit this season then he will be in the mix for a third Premier League Golden Boot. The Englishman still bagged 17 goals last season despite missing 10 games.
Jack - Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
It’s easy to say the likes of Harry Kane, Mo Salah, and Sergio Aguero, however I’m going for the latter’s Man City teammate Raheem Sterling who has bagged 35 goals in his last two Premier League campaigns. Expect goals galore next term. Raúl Jiménez enjoyed a superb debut campaign with Wolves, bagging 13 goals and seven assists, and at 40/1 he represents a tasty each-way bet. Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham is an 80/1 shot, which represents an absolute steal if he ends up becoming first choice.
JP - Richarlison (Everton)
Going for a curve-ball and avoiding the obvious choices of Kane, Agüero, Salah et al. A breakthrough season at Everton awaits for the Brazilian under the sophomore stewardship of Silva. The Toffees haven’t, however, had a Golden Boot winner in the Premier League era.
Kieran - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
I think the race for top-scorer will be more of the same, with Kane, Salah, Aguero and Aubameyang fighting for top spot.
Aubameyang with Nicholas Pepe’s service is appealing to me, so I’ll go with Auba.
Simon - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Since Rodgers came in as Leicester manager, Jamie Vardy hit form. Nine goals in ten games under the Northern Irishman prove he has what it takes to win this award. It will be tough to beat the top forwards but he provides value. Shoutout to Sébastien Haller who should do well for West Ham.
Harry - Arsenal
The Gunners' defence. I shall say no more.
Jack - Unai Emery & Arsenal
I think Unai Emery and Arsenal could be in trouble next season. The Spaniard’s only been allowed to spend £6m in transfer funds so far, and if he’s unable to significantly bolster his defence then the Gunners could be in danger of slipping to their worst Premier League finish since 1994/95 when they came 12th - which is the last time the club finished outside of the top-six.
JP - Mohamed Salah
Steve Bruce actually doing a decent job and getting a mid-table finish with Newcastle United, and no-one really knowing how to feel about it.
So I’m plumping for Mohamed Salah to be relatively ‘meh’.
Kieran - Video Assistant Refereeing
VAR. Get in the f*cking sea.
Simon - VAR
VAR is going to be awful isn’t it? Arsenal also may have a nightmare and drop out of the top six.
Harry - Aston Villa
I fancy Aston Villa as a surprise package despite being one of the favourites to go down, I like the foundations of their squad.
Jack - Frank Lampard
What an appointment this could prove to be. The young Englishman has a number of exciting players at his disposal and, providing he’s given time, I think he’ll shine in his debut season at his beloved Chelsea. FA Cup win, top-4 finish, and maybe a cheeky Champions League run.
JP - Youri Tielemans / Daniel James
Youri Tielemans will have an exceptional full season after being bought on a permanent basis by Leicester City. This won’t be a big surprise.
Instead, for all the criticism that has been levelled at the club - in part undeniably to make headlines - Daniel James actually not being that half-bad at Manchester United. £15million bargain.
Kieran - Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic has looked pretty silky in pre-season for Chelsea and I’m expecting the 20-year-old to be one of the stand-out signings this year.
Simon - Top Six Dominance Broken
Wolves and Leicester are going to have phenomenal seasons and if West Ham click they also could surprise a few. The top six finally be split up this season and it looks as if it could be a much more competitive division this time around!