Why Part 1? Because it is only the middle of August and although the action starts on Saturday with Manchester United taking on Swansea the transfer window doesn’t close until 31 August. Some sides like Chelsea look relatively settled while others are still likely to see a number of comings and goings over the next couple of weeks. Any predictions made at this stage without the caveat that there could still be significant change would be folly.

Champions: Arsenal

Some would say that my prediction for the title is itself folly. But Arsenal has shown steady improvement over the last couple of years. They had become infamous for their February and March slowdowns and while they still suffered a dip last year there were plenty of signs that Arsenal were back amongst the elite and ready to challenge for the title. In Alexis Sanchez they have acquired a standout winger who has the ability to score outstanding and important goals. Behind him Arsenal have one of the best central midfield combinations in club football. Aaron Ramsey was the star performer last season and with a fitter and hungrier Jack Wilkshere next to him Arsenal have a duo that will be the envy of many others. What Manchester United would give for a central combination of similar quality!

Wooden Spoon: Burnley

At the other end of the table tipping teams for relegation is particularly difficult this season. How will last season’s Championship form carry over? Which new signings will make a difference? And will off-field politics and dramas influence on-field performances? The answer to the last question is most certainly yes, but at which clubs and how. Burnley however looks to have the weakest team on paper and after a surprising season in the Championship last year will struggle to adapt to the big time.

Golden Boot: Daniel Sturridge – Liverpool

The race for the golden boot looks wide open. Sergio Aguero would be the favourite but his recent injury problems make him a risky bet. Many expect Robin van Persie to excel but I think he will be outshone by fellow strike partner and recently appointed Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney. If Romelu Lukaka can add consistency to his undoubted talent then he could be in the mix. But for me the two favourites are Diego Costa and Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool may adopt a slightly more cautious approach this season but Sturridge is the star man now Suarez has moved on and he and will get plenty of opportunities. The biggest question mark over Costa is whether he can replicate his form for Athletico Madrid in the more physical Premier League. His World Cup was a disaster and if he starts slowly then many opposition supporters will be quick to label him the next Fernando Torres.

What follows is a brief look at each team, their signings, significant departures, key player and a prediction. Post your winners and losers and full final standings in the comments to be in the running for this blogs first ever readers prize.


In: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), David Ospina (Nice), Calum Chambers (Southampton)

Main Outs: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona)

Key playerAlexis Sanchez: Never quite got going at Barcelona but immensely talented. Great with the ball at his feet and he loves to run at defenders. Will be expected to both score and create goals.

Verdict: A well balanced squad with great depth, especially in the midfield. Sanchez, Walcott, Ozil and Ramsey will be expected to relieve some of the goal scoring burden that is placed in Olivier Giroud. If they can avoid injuries to key players then the title awaits.

Last season: 4th Prediction: 1st

Aston Villa:

In: Tom Leggett (Southampton), Isaac Nehemie (Southampton), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Joe Cole (West Ham), Kieran Richardson (Fulham), Aly Cissokho (Valencia)

Main Outs: Marc Albrighton (Leicester City), Nathan Delfouneso Released

Key player – Cristian Benteke: The obvious candidate but out injured at the moment. A bustling striker with plenty of raw potential but in a squad that looks to be light on he could be starved of opportunities.

Verdict: By the time Benteke is back from injury Aston Villa are likely to have it all to do. As a club they seem lost, manager Paul Lambert’s reputation has plummeted and Roy Kean (new assistant manager) is hardly known for his stabilising influence. Anything is possible but self-implosion seems the most likely.

Last season: 15th Prediction: 18th


In: Michael Kightly (Stoke City), Matt Gilks (Unattached), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers), Matt Taylor (West Ham United), Steven Reid (West Bromwich Albion), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough)

Main Outs: Chris Baird (West Bromwich Albion)

Key player – Danny Ings: Ings scored 21 goals in the Championship last season. Can he have the same sort of impact in the Premier League.

Verdict: Look the most likely of the promoted teams to struggle and anything but a return to the Championship would be both a surprise and a massive achievement.

Last season: Promoted    Prediction: 20th


In: Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray but now out injured anyway!)

Main Outs: Ashley Cole (Roma), Samuel Eto’o Released, Frank Lampard (New York City), Demba Ba (Besiktas), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

Key player – Eden Hazard: One commentator noted that Roman Abramovich’s millions were Chelsea’s most important asset and while that may be true on the field their most important player this season will be Hazard and Chelsea will need the wing wizards’ goals and creativity. By the end of the season he could be the EPL’s MVP.

Verdict: Roman has backed Mourinho in the transfer market and in return he will expect the title. They’ll run Arsenal close but ultimately will fall just short.

Last season: 3rd    Prediction: 2nd

Crystal Palace:

In: Chris Kettings (Blackpool), Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff), Brede Hangeland (Fulham)

Main Outs: Jose Campana (Sampdoria)

Key player – Yannick Bolasie: Mile Jedinak is the driving force in the middle but Palace need to score more goals to progress up the table and Bolasie is a player that can both create and score from the wing.

Verdict: Exceeded expectations last season and will be optimistic of avoiding any second year blues this time around. Will continue to grow as a side and can sneak a top half finish.

Last season: 11th Prediction: 10th


In: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Brendan Galloway (MK Dons)

Main Outs: No stand out departures.

Key player – Romelu Lukaku: A beast of a striker and it’s a surprise that Chelsea let him go. A traditional target man but with great skill. On his day can be unplayable, just needs to add consistency.

Verdict: Key signings were at the club last season on loan but are now permanent. Roberto Martinez has had a year with the players and will hope for improvement this season. As a side they keep on exceeding expectation but this year looks harder.

Last season: 5th Prediction: 7th


In: Jake Livermore (Tottenham Hotspur), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United)

Main Outs: Nobody of note.

Key player – Tom Huddlestone: Played a key role after arriving from Tottenham last season and once again will look to dictate play from the middle of the park.

Verdict: Were better than 16th last season and while some are predicting the drop this time around I think they will continue to improve. Steve Bruce will continue to enhance his reputation with a solid showing in the league while balancing Europa League action.

Last season: 16th Prediction: 12th

Leicester City:

In: Jack Barmby (Manchester United), Matthew Upson (Brighton and Hove Albion), Ben Hamer (Charlton Athletic), Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa), Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Main Outs: No significant losses.

Key player – No standout. They are a pretty even, well balanced team. Kasper Schmeichel will be key to their survival hopes but only because he is likely to be busy.

Verdict: After an incredibly tough start to the season (don’t be surprised if they are bottom after five games) Leicester will start to show everyone why they were the dominant force in the Championship last season.

Last season: Promoted Prediction: 16th


In: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen), Lazar Markovic (Benfica), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Divock Origi (Lille), Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla)

Main Outs: Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Iago Aspas (Sevilla on loan), Divock Origi (Lille on loan), Pepe Reina (Bayern Munich)

Key player – Dejan Lovren: Sturridge will be expected to provide the goals and Steven Gerrard may be the heartbeat of the team, but the reason they lost the title last year was because they leaked goals. If that is stop Lovren will be the key.

Verdict: How much of an impact will the loss of Suarez have and can they have more success than Tottenham did last season after the departure of their key player? I see this as a season when Liverpool will look to build on last season’s success. Anywhere between third and fifth wouldn’t surprise but their band of exciting young talent, led by Sterling and Coutinho, will carry them to Champions League football again.

Last season: 2nd Prediction: 3rd

Manchester City:

In: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Fernando (Porto), Willy Caballero (Malaga), Frank Lampard (New York City), Bruno Zuculini (Racing Club), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto)

Main Outs: Joleon Lescott (West Brom), Gareth Barry (Everton), Jack Rodwell (Sunderland)

Key player – Yaya Toure: Without him City may not have even broken their League drought. The most complete and destructive midfielder in England, and maybe even the best in his position in the world. Can decide games on his own. But how are his motivation levels?

Verdict: Haven’t been able to spend the money they would have liked due to fair play punishments. Still an expensively assembled side but Aguero’s ongoing injury problems are a concern. Last year they were bailed out of trouble on multiple occasions by Toure and this year they will find the going tougher. The title will be the target but they will fall well short.

Last season: 1st Prediction: 5th

Manchester United:

In: Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Vanja Milinkovic (Vojovdina), watch this space because there will be more signings

Main Outs: Federico Macheda (Cardiff City), Rio Ferdinand (QPR), Ryan Giggs Retired, Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan), Patrice Evra (Juventus), and there should be more here as well.

Key player – Wayne Rooney: A great pre-season but after (another) disappointing World Cup has a lot to prove. Juan Mata is another in this category. Together they could form a lethal combination.

Verdict: Last year was a disaster and predictions on this season are difficult as plenty of transfer activity is still likely. They look shaky at the back and in the middle. New manager Louis Van Gaal brings experience, presence and a change in tactics and formation. United will need to adapt quickly and to score plenty of goals because they still look suspect at the back. They might be talking about winning the league but that is a step too far.

Last season: 7th Prediction: 4th (assuming at least two more big name signings)


In: Ayoze Perez (Tenerife), Jack Colback (Sunderland), Siem de Jong (Ajax), Remy Cabella (Montpellier), Emmanuel Riviere (Monaco), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk), Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest), Karl Darlow (Nottingham Forest)

Main Outs: Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal)

Key player – Cheick Tiote: A midfielder enforcer who rarely sherks a tackle. Provides the platform which allows the more attack minded players to create.

Verdict: Never recovered from the loss of Cabaye mid-season last season. Can any of the new recruits fill the void? They’ll take a while to find their groove but have strengthened wisely and should be more consistent than last season.

Last season: 10th Prediction: 9th

Queens Park Rangers:

In: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Steven Caulker (Cardiff City), Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City)

Main Outs: The doors just kept spinning as plenty left.

Key player – Steven Caulker: A great signing and his partnership with Rio Ferdinand will go a long way to determining their final position in the league. One who could break into the England squad with a strong year.

Verdict: Came through the Championship play-off with a last gasp winner against Derby County. The last three seasons read promoted, relegated, promoted. With Harry Redknapp at the helm they can buck the trend but it won’t be smooth sailing.

Last season: Promoted Prediction: 17th


In: Dusan Tadic (FC Twente), Graziano Pelle (Feyenoord), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Fraser Forster (Celtic)

Main Outs: Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Calum Chambers (Arsenal)

Key player – Jay Rodriguez: One of the few outstanding players of last year to have remained with the club. Will find he gets fewer chances without the support this year but will thrive as the main man and will keep Southampton clear of danger.

Verdict: It has been a tough summer for Southampton. Many of last year’s stars have been courted and signed by bigger clubs. Now they need to rebuild and develop their young talent, something which they have shown to be more than capable of doing. Won’t be as good as last year but still enough about them to finish in the middle of the table.

Last season: 8th Prediction: 13th

Stoke City:

In: Phil Bardsley (Sunderland), Steve Sidwell (Fulham), Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover), Dionatan Teixeira (Banska Bystrica), Bojan Krkic (Barcelona)

Main Outs: Matthew Etherington Released, Michael Kightly (Burnley)

Key player – Bojan Krkic: Had huge expectations but hasn’t quite lived up to them. Now gets the chance in a different league at a team where he will be the main man.

Verdict: Great at home last season but terrible away. Even with the addition of Krkic scoring goals still looks to be a worry. Should finish mid table and could even push for a top half finish if the Britannia Stadium remains the fortress it was.

Last season: 9th Prediction: 14th


In: Jordi Gomez (Wigan Athletic), Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion), Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City), Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City)

Main Outs: Many released and let go but nobody to worry manager, Gus Poyet

Key player – Jack Rodwell: Adam Johnson proved his worth last season after a tough period at Manchester City and Rodwell will follow suit. A dominant midfielder whose career stalled but will prove a great signing and will be in the England squad by the end of the year.

Verdict: Escaped when it seemed impossible last year. Won’t start as slowly this year and should have a much easier, if less exhilarating, ride.

Last Season: 14th Prediction: 11th


In: Lukasz Fabianski (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Stephen Kingsley (Falkirk), Marvin Emnes (Middlesbrough), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Tottenham Hotspur), Jefferson Montero (Morelia)

Main Outs: Michu (Napoli), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Michel Vorm (Tottenham Hotspur)

Key player – Wilfried Bony: 16 goals last season says it all. Swansea’s concern is that he won’t actually be representing them come the start of September as rumours of a transfer just won’t go away. If he leaves then there will be even more pressure on the returning Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Verdict: Didn’t kick on last season as was expected and it ended up being a disappointing season for the Welsh club. They should be better prepared this time around and Sigurdsson adds a touch of class and creativity in the middle. The best outside the “big seven” if they can keep Bony and with a new signing or two they could hope for even better.

Last season: 12th Prediction: 8th (if Bony stays)

Tottenham Hotspur:

In: Ben Davies (Swansea City), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon)

Main Outs: Jake Livermore (Hull City), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City)

Key player – Erik Lamela: Exceptionally talented but a poor first season after a big money move. Less pressure now and will hopefully have developed an improved understanding with Christian Erkikssen (the obvious candidate for this slot).

Verdict: So much talent but will they ever deliver? They are both a managers dream and a supporters nightmare. Individually talented but poor as a collective. New boss Mauricio Pochettino certainly has his hands full.

Last season: 6th Prediction: 6th

West Bromwich Albion:

In: Craig Gardner (Sunderland), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Chris Baird (Burnley), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg)

Main Outs: Billy Jones (Sunderland), Nicolas Anelka Released,

Key player – Chris Brunt: Their main attacking weapon and chief creator.

Verdict: Have almost signed a new eleven and the manager wants more. Were a team full of potential a year ago but since then they have encountered a number of problems. Only just avoided relegation last year but the turmoil looks set to carry over and off-field dramas could be their downfall.

Last season: 17th Prediction: 19th

West Ham:

In: Mauro Zarate (Velez Sarsfield), Cheikhou Kouyate (Anderlecht), Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich Town), Diego Poyet (Charlton Athletic), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal)

Main Outs: Joe Cole (Aston Villa)

Key player – Andy Carroll/Kevin Nolan: Its difficult to get a handle on Andy Carroll. Hugely talented but weighed down by expectation at Liverpool and now injured, again. It would be great to see hm see him turn into the player he threatened to be. Kevin Nolan is the opposite, hugely consistent and has made the most of his potential.

Verdict: Pre-season results suggest they’ll be relegated, but that’s hardly a form line worth following. Likely to survive but its not a squad that oozes excitement.

Last season: 13th Prediction: 15th


  1. […] 3. Football – English Premier League Round 1 – Check out my full preview of the season ahead here. Statistically speaking there are on average more nil-all draws in the opening round of the season […]


  2. GMS says:

    Thanks for the concise preview, nice one.

    As always there is plenty for debate and I don’t know who half of the players listed are but nonetheless I consider myself well enough informed to take a shot at the final standings:

    1. Chelsea
    2. Man City
    3. Liverpool
    4. Arsenal
    5. Man Utd
    6. Tottenham
    7. Everton
    8. Stoke
    9. Newcastle
    10. Sunderland
    11. Southampton
    12. Swansea
    13. Leicester
    14. Aston Villa
    15. West Bromwich Albion
    16. Queens Park Rangers
    17. Hull
    18. Crystal Palace
    19. West Ham
    20. Burnley


  3. Julian S says:

    How are you feeling after round one with those predictions! Man U still need a new midfield and I am not sure the reported 100m for Di Maria is worth it, I also do not understand why Wellbeck is on the chopping block. With benefit of round-one hindsight I concede I only deserve 37/38 of the prize but my lack of footballing knowledge outside football manager makes up for that:

    1. Disappointingly Man City – the squad didn’t get to add much over the summer which I think will be a good thing for cohesiveness and unfortunately they have enough European experience to battle on both fronts.
    2. Arsenal – despite having a great midfield on paper there remains no enforcer. I expect injuries to get the better of them again and this to be another trophyless season.
    3. Chelsea – Costa may have done well in his first game but I don’t see him challenging the likes of Aguero or Sturridge, Chelsea to falter in the League and bury themselves in Champions league reaching the final.
    4. Man United – things cannot change overnight, I expect them to finish strongly after a poor start.
    5. Liverpool – too many battles on too many fronts to get the better of them. Great first team but as the season wears on being in Champions League will be a downfall.
    6. Swansea – driven by Sigurdsson and even if Bony does depart I think Swansea will be the over-performers.
    7. Tottenham – such a promising squad but they remain without a key focal point up front.
    8. Stoke – not sure why I think they will do well but I just do!
    9. Newcastle – outplayed by City in the first game as they should be I think they will create lots of chances to help a new front line settle in and establish themselves mid-table.
    10. Everton – constant performers in the past I think there will be a big gap between the top 10 and bottom 10 this year
    11. Hull – Best of the rest
    12. Crystal Palace – a stoic defence last year has stayed together. I think plenty of clean sheets against lesser clubs and snatch and grab wins.
    13. West Ham – haven’t got a lot going for them but consistency and being underrated will work in their favour.
    14. Aston Villa – Benteke irritates me!
    15. Leicester – a great season in the Championship last year showed you don’t need a team of stars to do well. A tight nit group to always bounce back and enjoy playing in the big-time.
    16. QPR – lucky to come up and will fight tooth and nail. With Rednapp at the helm I think they will manage to stay up.
    17. Southampton – decimated by Liverpool in the transfer market after a good season last year I can’t see the new team coming together, especially if they lose Schneiderlin
    18. Sunderland – saved last year but a stunning fight-back and finally a few goals from Connor Wickham I think he will again fail to perform, not helped by a lack of delivery, and expect them to loose on the final day to seal their fate
    19. West Brom – unlucky on the first day but it shows their lack of a defence against one of the weakest attacks in the league.
    20. Burnley – Burnley who! I can’t remember the name a player in their starting 11 having just looked at their squad?


  4. sportussion says:

    I like that you have a reason for all (well most). And it looks as though the head has over-ruled the heart! Round 1 certainly didn’t go as I predicted but there is a long way to go.


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