The Sportsman's Updated Predictions: Liverpool Or Man City? Can Man Utd Snatch Fourth? Mo Salah For Another Golden Boot?
There are now only 10 waves of Premier League fixtures remaining until the curtains are closed on another top-flight season.
As we venture into the “business end” of the campaign there’s still all to play for in the race for Premier League glory, with only a point separating Liverpool and Man City at the summit.
Behind the duo, four teams are battling it out for a top-four finish, while down at the other end of the table Huddersfield and Fulham look doomed, whereas Cardiff, Southampton, and Brighton are just three of the other cluster of teams desperately scrapping it out for survival.
There’s plenty still to play for in the bid to bag the Golden Boot with Sergio Aguero, current holder Mo Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the returning Harry Kane, and even Sadio Mane in contention to win the coveted gong. Plus the top gaffer award is also up for grabs.
So, with the above in mind, a selection of The Sportsman's band of writers have given their updated predictions for what promises to be an enthralling finale.
Simon Lillicrap - Man City
Sticking to my guns here. City will catch Liverpool to take the title.
Sean Raymond - Man City
Liverpool are putting up a remarkable fight and must be given massive credit for even getting close to the Citizens but Man City have been there and done it and will surely be too strong.
Jack Porter - Man City
Overall, the best team in England and arguably the greatest in Europe at this present moment, if City don’t win it this season they’ll look back at that woeful festive period that produced back-to-back defeats, to Crystal Palace and Leicester City with teeth gritted. Sheikh Mansour’s billion-pound project and the sheer mind-boggling amount they’re paying Pep Guardiola doesn’t afford one-season wins. Liverpool have done extremely well this season: like Jurgen Klopp said, fans should be able to enjoy the rollercoaster at least.
Chris Knight - Man City
Experience will be crucial. Manchester City have been there and done it, whereas it is difficult to find too many winners’ medals among the Liverpool squad.
Jack Kitson - Man City
In contrast to last season it’s been an absorbing title race, however the outcome will be the same with City edging it just, potentially on goal difference.
Harris Simpson (Representing The Sportsman’s Social Team) - Man City
It’s been the most exciting title race in years, and while Liverpool deserve credit for their tremendous form so far, I feel as though City’s quality and superior squad depth will eventually see them over the line. Klopp's demands look to have caught up with his squad, and the perennial runner up will again fall short once more.
1. Man City
3. Man Utd
Just Man Utd taking the place of Chelsea in these predictions for me. Didn't think United's replacement manager would be as good as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and didn't think Maurizio Sarri would struggle as he has.
1. Man City
With Man City expected to pip Liverpool to the title that only leaves two spaces in the top four and I have a feeling it will be filled by the two north London rivals. Spurs are faltering but will have enough to hold on to 3rd place and it could be that Arsenal spring a surprise and nick the last Champions League space. The Gunners have by far the best run-in and with Aubameyang and Lacazette up front they have enough fire power to nab that golden 4th spot.
4. Man Utd
It’s got to be a fairytale finish for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, dragging Manchester United kicking and screaming into Champions League qualification. After a draw against Liverpool, when the Red Devils were the better side, as well as recent excellent away performances in the FA Cup to Arsenal and Chelsea, Man United should be brimming with confidence to get a result when Manchester City and Chelsea arrive at Old Trafford.
No St.Totteringham’s Day this year, but Arsenal fans should be happy the Lilywhites have been responsible for their own downfall, Spurs staggeringly under-qualified to win the Premier League.
1. Man City
4. Man Utd
On paper at least, Arsenal appear to have the easiest run-in but the fact six of their remaining ten games are away from home is a major concern. A return of five wins and no clean sheet from 13 away games ensures I’ll be backing Manchester United to maintain their momentum to the end of the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
1. Man City
4. Man Utd
Tottenham have hit an untimely blip, thus rupturing their chances of Premier League glory. However, I’m backing Mauricio Pochettino’s men to recover and scoop 3rd spot, followed by a rejuvenated Man Utd in 4th. Arsenal and Chelsea to miss out.
1: Man City
3: Man Utd
It’s going to be a really tight battle for the remaining two Champions League spots, one which could easily run up to the final days of the season, and I’m going with a rejuvenated United and Pochettino’s Spurs to pip the rest.
Arsenal lack the required quality to oust the others, while Chelsea look likely to implode at any moment.
Spurs’ recent wobbles won’t see them crash out the top 4, but they have allowed United to smell blood, and with Solskjaer at the wheel, it will be no surprise if they nudge past them into 3rd
18. Brighton & Hove Albion
Huds and Fulham are down in my opinion whilst Brighton may come as a surprise to a few people. Southampton will worm their way out of it whilst Cardiff, under Neil Warnock, will battle on like beavers away from the relegation zone.
Huddersfield and Fulham have been pathetic this season and are as good as gone which leaves the remaining teams trying to avoid that third trap door to the Championship. Cardiff have exceeded expectations in general but they are running out of steam and they just won't score enough goals to stay in the top flight.
18. Brighton & Hove Albion
The first two are given; I’ve been particularly gutted about Fulham who I tipped to do well under Slavisa Jokanovic but their quality and inexperience to compete in the top tier became apparent.
Poor recruitment in both transfer windows failed to rectify their main weaknesses, and the Tinkerman Claudio Ranieri has failed to inject any spunk into the Cottagers.
Plucky Huddersfield did well to stay up last season, which supporters should think they’ve been fortunate to have.
Shear inconsistency will drag Brighton into the murky marshes and back down to the Championship after two seasons in the top tier. It will be a sad farewell to Gully, the Brighton mascot, as Chris Hughton’s side descends into the depths.
Huddersfield and Fulham are doomed, leaving one more spot. Brighton are dropping like a stone but I fancy they will get enough points on home soil to just about be safe. Cardiff lack the squad depth to cope and successive home defeats at the hands of Watford and Everton – which were both horribly one-sided - are a major concern.
I shockingly included Watford in my original predictions, but they have turned around and slapped me in the face. I also previously backed Huddersfield for the dreaded drop which looks nailed on, and Cardiff, who I still think will join Fulham in the second-tier next term.
Huddersfield and Fulham are lost causes, while Cardiff and Southampton continue to hover perilously over the remaining spot.
Under Hasenhüttl, Southampton have shown signs of life, and they should have just enough to consign Neil Warnock back to The Championship
Simon Lillicrap - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Work to do but I'll stick to my guns here as well. Just two goals away from Sergio Aguero.
Sean Raymond - Mo Salah
Mo Salah is not at his brilliant best at the moment but he is still the key player going forward for Liverpool and it is hard to imagine that he won't add a number of goals to his tally between now and the end of the campaign. A close fight is expected by the Egyptian will take the golden boot for a second time.
Jack Porter - Sergio Aguero
Simply one of the best strikers the Premier League has ever seen. Since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011, the Argentine has only failed to be in the top four top league goalscorers once, in 2012/13. However, despite that incredible consistency that has left most other contenders in his wake, he’s only topped the list once to collect the Golden Boot.
Chris Knight - Sergio Aguero
Much will depend on his fitness and whether Pep Guardiola rotates his forwards, but Sergio Aguero is the form horse with eight goals in his last five league games and is probably just about the right favourite for the Golden Boot award.
Jack Kitson - Sergio Aguero
Opted for the goal machine back in the hazy days of August, and so far he’s thrived, bagging more goals than any other player to date (18), including three stunning hat-tricks.
Harris Simpson - Sergio Aguero
Aguero looks unstoppable at the minute, and with City closing in on the league title, it would be crazy to back against the Argentinian firing them to glory.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Simon Lillicrap - Pep Guardiola
A potential treble on the line. If Pep wins the league he scoops the award.
Sean Raymond - Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola was my prediction at the start of the season and there is no reason to change my mind now. Still in the hunt to win four trophies, the Spaniard is the best in the world and provided City get the better of Liverpool in the title race, the former Barca man will lift the top manager gong.
Jack Porter - Jurgen Klopp
Basically the equivalent of sharing out the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars (sacrilege!) but expect the gurning German to win this specific popularity contest, particularly as Pep picked up the prize previously. Shout out to Nuno Santo who has excelled at Wolves, and war dog Neil Warnock who will deserve all the plaudits should he keep Cardiff up.
Chris Knight - Nuno Espirito Santo
It is rare for the award to go to anyone other than the title-winning manager – Tony Pulis was the last when he was at Stoke in 2014 – so Pep Guardiola will probably win it. The correct choice should be Nuno Espirito Santo though as he has done wonderfully well with Wolves during their first season back in the top-flight and he has built a squad that looks capable of pushing on. A joy to watch this term.
Jack Kitson - Pep Guardiola
Would be silly to switch my pre-season pick now considering that Pep is in the mix for an unprecedented quadruple. I think City may come unstuck in the Champions League, but a domestic treble looks increasingly likely, something that no club or manager has ever achieved before.
Harris Simpson - Mauricio Pochettino
Although his side's campaign looks likely to once again end trophy-less, Mauricio Pochettino has once more shown his managerial prowess. Unable to bring anyone in over the summer, Pochettino has kept Spurs punching well above their weight, and there is a reason why the worlds premier clubs continue to keep close tabs on his future.