Premier League 2015-16: Preseason predictions

Premier League 2015-16: Preseason predictions

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Another year of Premier League action and excitement is around the corner, so which teams will be fighting for the title, and which will be clawing at survival?

It’s that time again, where football fans around the globe rejoice. The Premier League returns for its 24th season, pitting the strongest teams in England against one another in a titanic battle at both ends of the table. At the top, the heavyweights with their limitless check books and wealth of talent within their squads will contest the richest prizes of European football and the coveted Premier League trophy. This exclusive “top four” has been notoriously difficult to break into, but don’t put it past a shock contender sneaking into the big time.

Then, the beauty of the Premier League is the heated battle at the bottom of the table, as those less fortunate scrap and claw to avoid the dreaded drop of relegation. With the English top flight the richest league in the world, with billion pound television deals and a worldwide audience, it is of paramount importance for teams to survive and maintain their place in the division for as long as possible. Whether it is promoted sides or established teams in a bad patch of form, everybody wants to play at the highest level, and will do everything in their power to stay among the best.

In a league that is famed for such unpredictable results and potentially massive consequences placed on every win or loss, it is incredibly difficult to forecast the path any team will follow throughout the campaign. However, that doesn’t prevent football fans from around the country to discuss and debate the where their teams will finish among their many rivals. In that spirit of friendly discourse, here are my predictions for which position each club will end up claiming when the season rounds off in May.

1st – Chelsea (Last Season – 1st)


The current Premier League Champions set the benchmark, and they are the team to beat from top to bottom. They have a manager that has proven one of the finest in the league’s history in Jose Mourinho, who has a track record of finding to get the desired result in any circumstances. Whilst they might not have spent the money of teams surrounding them, the Blues took the crown at such a canter last year that is up to the other squads to show they can overcome their dominant standard. The rest of the teams are full of intangibles – Chelsea are already the complete package.

That isn’t to say they cannot improve, but as is evidenced by having six players in the PFA Team of the Year 2015, they have world class players that are experienced as a unit. Eden Hazard is their key to unlocking defences, capable of providing a dazzling run, a killer through ball, or finishing a move itself with a neat finish. Cesc Fabregas and Willian are also capable of creating glorious opportunities, which last year were rounded off nicely by Diego Costa. Whilst the signing of last season’s Manchester United flop Falcao is a gamble, if Mourinho can get him playing to his pinnacle, defenders will crumble at his presence.

Going forward they are strong, and defensively, Chelsea are as mean as it comes. With Stamford Bridge a near impenetrable fortress at times, their back line of John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta can break even the strongest striker in the Premier League. Even if a player does break through their iron wall, Thibaut Courtois in between the sticks means they face another equally difficult challenge to score past the champions.

2nd – Arsenal (Last Season – 3rd)

Arsenal-v-AnderlechtArsenal might be an odd choice to some for a 2nd place finish, considering that many have always considered them the likely team to drop out to facilitate another joining the top four. However, in recent years they have been steadily improving, with marquee signings such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez adding a wow factor that they were previously lacking. With that quality of player that can make things happen on the pitch at a moments notice, Arsene Wenger now has the majority of a formula to lead a charge on the Premier League title.

The Gunners have maintained a quality side throughout the enduring Frenchman’s tenure at the club, fixing their spot in the top four for years and years. Their once young stars have matured into enviable talent across Europe, with Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott ready to emerge as leaders in the team. Of course, injuries have disrupted Arsenal’s consistency in recent years, so they will require a change in fortunes in this regard to effectively maintain a title push. But their midfield strength and depth is their key asset to overcome most injury concerns, with Santi Cazorla in particular likely to play a pivotal role in any success the club has this season.

The signing of Petr Cech from deadly rivals Chelsea is a masterstroke, and adding that stable, world class goalkeeper that the team has been lacking since the departure of Jens Lehmann in 2008. The Czech is a proven asset in goal and will add numerous points towards the Gunners cause this campaign. However, if they are to be regarded as the complete threat to challenge the supremacy of their London foes, they will need to procure the services of a guaranteed 20+ goal a season striker. Olivier Giroud is undoubtedly a fine player, but some exceptional competition would show Arsenal meant real business this year.

3rd – Manchester United (Last Season – 4th)

Manchester-United-v-Queens-Park-Rangers-Premier-LeagueThe Red Devils bought their way back into the Champions League last season, and have gone by that mantra once more in the pursuit of the Premier League title. Louis Van Gaal has already spent close to £100 million improving his squad further this transfer window, and seems intent on adding more before it closes in September. But, as it stands right now, the Manchester United squad looks incredible on paper, but it is relying on numerous players to adapt to the English style better than flops Falcao and Angel Di Maria managed last season.

The acquisitions of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay add both bulk and creativity to the United midfield that has been lacking the previous two seasons, if they can live up to the expectations of their valuations. The signing of Depay especially seems very exciting for the club, as his experience despite his tender age of 21 means he can unlock defences and score goals immediately, rather than simply be one for the future. With Juan Mata improving his stance within the team in both goals and assists, Manchester United will frighten a lot of teams with their midfield strength this year.
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United will also be able to rely upon the goals of Wayne Rooney, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on his form in a particular year. Sometimes their captain can add 30 goals, sometimes only 13, so it is risk, but certainly means huge business if it pays off. The one element holding back the Red Devils is their defence, which has proven shaky on occasion due to Van Gaal’s tinkering with both the formation and lineup of his team. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were hit and miss last season at the heart of the back four, and with David de Gea’s future still up in the air, it will be at the back which will determine if United climb higher than the previous campaign.

4th – Manchester City (Last Season – 2nd)

Manchester City v FC Viktoria Plzen - UEFA Champions League

Whilst they finished as Chelsea’s closest rivals, Manchester City could easily struggle to find themselves that high up by May 2016. Manuel Pellegrini can be considered somewhat fortunate to still be in the hotseat at the Etihad Stadium due to not picking up any silverware last season. Despite the ease in which Chelsea topped the league table ahead of them at the end of the previous campaign, City have also hardly strengthened their squad heading into the first weekend fixtures, which is considerably surprising.

Of course, they have acquired two young English talents with plenty of potential in the forms of Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph. Sterling, the subject of the transfer window’s most drawn out and controversial deal thus far, will feel immensely pressured to live up to his £49 million price tag. And as of right now, he does not live up to that huge outlay, and if he does not live up to his potential, the winger will not add greatly to his team’s progress up the table. However, they can rely upon their existing squad, which has more than enough quality to at least secure a top four finish.

Joe Hart has been a rock in the Manchester City goal every campaign, whilst Vincent Kompany is a born leader with a great mind for defending, in spite of his last couple of seasons being somewhat disappointing. The midfield remains a beacon of creativity, with David Silva contributing more goals to add to his mountain of assists per campaign, in support of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. And, of course, they have Sergio Aguero, who has been the undisputed king of goalscorers in the Premier League since his arrival on the scene, and their greatest hope of earning another league title.

5th – Liverpool (Last Season – 6th)


Following a disappointing prior season, and the tough losses of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard to the MLS and pacy winger Raheem Sterling to Premier League rivals Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers has a big task ahead of him if he doesn’t want this campaign to be his last in the Anfield dugout. Nevertheless, his willingness to splash the cash in the pursuit of genuine talent and potential could pay huge dividends in catapulting them back into the elite of English football.

Of course, many were suggesting that would be the case last year, as Rodgers spent big in the light of Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona the previous summer, and few of them lived up to their hefty fees. However, this time Liverpool have made astute acquisitions with Premier League experience, instead of risking their lot on intangibles and inconsistent stars. James Milner has been one of the most continuously excellent players in the England for a number of years, and his free transfer from City could prove more worthwhile than Sterling’s big money move in the opposite direction. The midfield partnership he should provide with Jordan Henderson was a vital addition, as well as his remarkable versatility and work ethic.

Liverpool have strengthened nearly every area of their side with talented names with Premier League experience, or in the case of Roberto Firmino, a background in the demanding Bundesliga. The tricky winger will likely be a fitting replacement for Sterling, and the presence of Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne offer more attacking threat for the Reds, something that was sorely lacking last year, and defensive strength in the full-back position. That is without mentioning if Daniel Sturridge can move on from his injury nightmares last term, Liverpool are unquestionably the most likely to break into the top four stranglehold.

6th – Tottenham Hotspur (Last Season – 5th)

Liverpool-v-TottenhamThis will likely be another trying season for Tottenham Hotspur as they set about building a new stadium for the future. Last year was a mixture of positives and negatives for Mauricio Pochettino’s first year in charge at White Hart Lane, but a fifth place finish was a signal of progress, and will fill fans with confidence that they might be capable of breaking into the top four. Nevertheless, it will be a tough ask for a team that hasn’t spent nearly as much of their rivals ahead and around them to achieve such a tough feat.

Spurs have been consistent over the past few seasons, finishing in the upper reaches of the table, despite any criticism that has been directed towards them. The squad at White Hart Lane have players that would make most clubs in Europe jealous, but one area that will need to be addressed significantly in the remaining transfer window is purchasing a new striker. Harry Kane went above and beyond the call of duty for a player of his reputation last season, scoring 21 goals in the league to catapult them into fifth place. Yet, Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor offered absolutely no support, so competition in that area is sorely required.

Outside of the attacking area that is heavily reliant on the fitness of Kane, the rest of the Tottenham squad is capable of cementing another European push this campaign. Hugo Llrois in goal is one of the side’s best assets, with Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld bulking up their previously frail back four. But, their biggest advantage over the teams surrounding them in the league is their midfield depth and ability, with Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli both capable goalscorers and of laying on a killer pass for a teammate, along with some exceptional young talent in Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll in their ranks.

7th – Everton (Last Season – 11th)

everton_2498539bWas last season for Everton a blip or a sign of things to come? I certainly wouldn’t blame Toffees fans for becoming somewhat nervous about their side’s long-term fortunes, especially under Roberto Martinez, who got former side Wigan Athletic playing good football, but hindered their defensive solidarity and could never escape the clutches of a relegation dogfight until their eventual drop in 2013. With rumors also circulating about the whereabouts of John Stones and Ross Barkley when September comes around, many would be justified in believing the club will suffer again.

However, they should only be written off at the peril of those who occupied the top half of the table at the conclusion of last season. Although notorious for their disastrous starts to the year, Everton have the depth and talent within their squad to overcome any other team in the entire Premier League. Martinez has them playing an attack-minded style of football which can result in massive victories or brutal losses, but with the collection of players he has at his disposal, they chances of them descending into the lower reaches of the table for the second consecutive season.

Should Stones remain at Everton are forego a big money move to Chelsea, which would be best for his long-term career going forward, he will stand at the heart of a strong defense both at the back and attacking down the wings with Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman. In midfield, the combination of Barkley, who can both delight and frustrate in equal measure, with the security of Gareth Barry as a deep-lying playmaker behind him. Kevin Mirallas and new signing Gerard Deulofeu add creativity and guile on the wings, which will open chances for the aerial strength of record signing Romelu Lukaku. On paper, Everton has all the attributes necessary to reestablish itself back into the top half of the league.

8th – Swansea City (Last Season – 8th)


Swansea City have reached a pivotal point in their Premier League stint, as this will mark their fifth consecutive year in the top flight of English football. Consistency will be key, as clubs like Fulham and Wigan can attest to, you can never be comfortable in your position no matter how many years you survive. The choice of Gary Monk as manager could have resulted in this downward spiral due to his lack of managerial experience, but the Swans have continued to grow from strength to strength, playing a free-flowing style of football that has earned many admirers across the country.

This year, I foresee the club taking another step forward, if only a slight one. With the top six pretty firmly established and spending big to push for greater glories, Swansea have been far more modest in transfer window. Their most notable signing, Andre Ayew, was a free transfer, but his experience at Marseille could prove an ingenious acquisition. The talent is assuredly there, it is whether Monk and the Swansea style of quick passing and slick possession will suit his talents, and all signs point towards that being the case.

The Welsh club’s greatest asset is undoubtedly their young but creatively outstanding midfield. The goals and assists of Gylfi Sigurdsson especially were fundamental in the team finishing in the top half of the table, along with the support he received from Jonjo Shelvey, Jefferson Montero and Ki Sung-Yueng. Lukasz Fabianski was one of the best men between the sticks last campaign following his transfer from Arsenal too. However, before than can consider pushing for European places, they need to ensure Bafetimbi Gomis, who had an excellent end to last season, can provide the goals of Wilfried Bony in the first half of the year, otherwise their vast possession will be for naught.

9th – Southampton (Last Season – 7th)


The Saints went marching forward last year, laughing in the face of those who believed they would suffer from numerous departures at the start of the season, and the appointment of Ronald Koeman as their new manager. They lost Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers for significant amounts of money, which looked set to severely cripple their squad strength. However, Southampton invested the cash they generated from their departures impressively, signing a number of creative and attacking-minded players, such as Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle.

These expressive additions to the squad filled in for the massive holes left in the Southampton formation, and proved so capable that the south coast club were competing for European places right until the very end of the campaign. It has become clear that the team’s scouting network has a real eye for gems that have been overlooked by others, with Pelle and Mane in particular being integral components in providing the goals required to boost them up the standings. With Koeman in charge, I expect another solid season for the Saints, if not quite as impressive as last season.

It will once again depend on if the scouts have located some talismans that will allow them to progress further, or just simply consolidate their position in the top half of the table. Either has its benefits, and at this stage it would be preferable for Southampton to concentrate on being an established Premier League side for years to come, than risk that status through a push into Europe. The losses of Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne will be difficult to handle, but their immense defensive solidity, with the club conceding the second-least goals the previous year, will likely ensure another top half berth.

10th – Stoke City (Last Season – 9th)


A perennial difficult trip for any Premier League club, Stoke City are a firmly solid team that should have no threats when it comes to relegation, even in the unpredictable nature of this division. They should at this point be solely looking up at how far they can grow in this year, with Mark Hughes having done an excellent job in his tenure with the mid-table fixtures. In a game with Stoke City, the opposition know they have to up their game, as whether it is home or away, they are going to have a fight on their hands.

The club’s 6-1 demolition of Liverpool in the final game of the previous campaign will invariably raise hope among the Potter’s devoted fan base that the club is making strides towards the upper reaches of the table and potentially Europe or a trophy. Stoke City though are a middling side, who whilst very much capable of scalping even the richest of opponents, can easily fall victim to relegation-bound units the very next game. They are consistently inconsistent, always offering a tough test but results that can go either way.

They have made some interesting signings in the current transfer window, especially the free transfer of former Barcelona starlet Ibrahim Afellay, who should link well with another prodigy from that club in Bojan, and a past Real Madrid youngster Joselu up front. However, they have also bid farewell to a number of established names, such as Steven N’Zonzi and Asmir Begovic, which could potentially balance out to leave Stoke in a similar position to last year, safe and sound within the middle of the pack. They should have nothing to fear from the spectre of relegation, their experienced squad keeping them firmly secure.

11th – Crystal Palace (Last Season – 10th)


At the mid-way point of last campaign, many had marked Crystal Palace as certainties for relegation. The loss of Tony Pulis had damaged morale, and replacement Neil Warnock was unable to produce the results necessary to ensure the club’s survival. However, following the appointment of club legend Alan Pardew, they enjoyed a significant boost in fortunes, and ended the year remarkably in the top half of the table. Like Pulis before him, Pardew has enough experience and knowledge to grind out more than enough points to earn a similar finish this year.

Of course, considering this is only their third season in the Premier League, they still are not secure in their survival, and could easily be drawn into a relegation dogfight after a poor start. But, the signing of Yohann Cabaye from PSG is a firm indicator that they intend to remain in the top flight for years to come, as the Frenchman’s time at Newcastle demonstrates they have a class act in their squad. Cabaye will provide an excellent playmaker for the attacking qualities of Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon. They undoubtedly have the technique within their ranks to retain a safe spot in the middle of the pack.

12th – West Ham United (Last Season – 12th)

West-Ham-United-v-Swansea-CityThe departure of Sam Allardyce might be seen as a blessing to the West Ham United fans, who desired a particular playing style that their previous manager was not known for employing. Personally, due to this decision if the club were relegated, I wouldn’t feel sorry for them. Allardyce was a secure pair of hands, who brought West Ham back to the Premier League and would have undoubtedly keep them in the top flight. The pressure is thus on new man at the helm Slaven Bilic to maintain their place, including a potentially dangerous traversing of Europe, before their move to the Olympic Stadium.

Fortunately, within their squad they have more than enough quality that they shouldn’t be threatened by relegation, but should not have high hopes of finishing in the top ten. If Andy Carroll can get fit and avoid injury, he has the potential to add a significant tally of goals to the Hammers’ cause, alongside Diafra Sakho following his impressive first year at Upton Park. New signings Angelo Ogbonna and Dmitri Payet will boost both the defence and midfield, whilst retaining Carl Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal is arguably their best piece of business, his work rate and crossing vital in creating chances last season.

13th – Newcastle United (Last Season – 15th)

celebration-newcastle-united-burnely-jan-2015-nufc-01-600x410It is fair to say that Newcastle United had an especially disappointing campaign in the 2014/15 season, and could be considered lucky to still have a spot in the Premier League. Their performances in the second half of the season certainly didn’t merit their place in the promise land, and they rode their early form under Alan Pardew for the remainder of the year. Now managed by Steve McLaren, a manager with plenty of experience in England and Europe, there will be cautious optimism that they will not be dragged into the same danger they were in the previous year.

Of course, McLaren will have to get his squad playing at the peak of their ability, something that has been sorely lacking in 2015. They have spent a significant sum of money on a few players with strong reputations in central Europe, with the pick of the bunch Aleksandar Mitrovic, who could prove a handful if he produces the same form as during his time at Anderlecht. Within their current team they have assured potential for success, but it will be reliant on Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote rediscovering their form, as well as Siem de Jong actually being able to compete for an entire campaign following his injury-ravaged debut season.

14th – Watford (Last Season – 2nd Championship)


In spite of significant managerial turmoil throughout last season, Watford were promoted to the Premier League for the first time since 2007, and will be hoping for a longer experience than their prior two stints in the top flight. The Hornets have an experienced and credible manager at the helm in Quique Flores, who won numerous trophies with Atletico Madrid and Benfica. He will get them playing the expressive, attacking football that they were celebrated for in the Championship last season, which will either rescue them from an immediate drop or see them crash and burn.

What makes Watford seem like the best bet to survive out of the promoted teams, who will all have to endure a significant fight to remain in the top flight, is their European roster of players that have a blend of experience and enthusiasm. Strikers Troy Deeney and Majej Vydra have been worthy of an opportunity to compete at the highest level for years, whilst they can rely on strong midfield support from Lloyd Dyer, Valon Behrami and Ikechi Anya. Defensively they will unquestionably struggle, with Heurelho Gomes in goal likely to be tested on a regular basis. But, their potential for buckets of goals make them the most likely promoted side on paper to retain their status next year.

15th – West Bromich Albion (Last Season – 13th)


West Bromich Albion made a brilliant signing last year when they appointed Tony Pulis as their head coach. As a manager, he has an impeccable record of making his team’s secure and stable, a characteristic evident in his work at Stoke City and Crystal Palace. Pulis is certainly the ideal man to take charge at the Hawthorns, but the question remains whether he will be enough to compensate for their shortcomings within the playing squad. Whilst they have been fixed in the top flight for a number of years now following years of being a yo-yo side, they still will be perilously looking over their shoulders the majority of the season.

West Brom have only made a few signings thus far, with James Chester adding strength to their defence, the maverick James McClean adding width and attacking intent, and Rickie Lambert a proven goal threat. Beyond that, their squad remains pretty much untouched from last year, which gives them stability, but the likelihood of little improvement from the following season. They will be heavily reliant of Saido Berahino’s goalscoring threat, with the remainder of the team often wasteful in those scenarios, and should he depart this summer, they will desperately need to invest in a replacement. The Baggies can rely on a firm defence, a staple of Pulis’ method, but without Berahino’s goals they could easily fall through the trap door.

16th – Aston Villa (Last Season – 17th)

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park

Tim Sherwood upon his appointment at Aston Villa last year galvanized his troops, enlivening their performances and attacking edge that they were sorely lacking for the vast majority of the season. He is without doubt confident in his own ability to manage and a motivator, but this will be Sherwood’s first time beginning a Premier League campaign as the gaffer. He will need to hit the ground running to display he is more than just a mid-season stimulant, and can actually carry his squad for an entire year. There is nothing to suggest he cannot do that, but the current quality of his players raises doubts.

The Villains have been hit by two significant departures. The loss of captain Fabian Delph to Manchester City eliminates most of the guile and drive in midfield, whilst Christian Benteke being transferred to Liverpool will unquestionably dry up their potential for goals. Both will need fitting replacements, especially Benteke due to Villa’s lack of proficiency in the opposition penalty area. New signings such as Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede are unknown quantities, and could easily prove capable of filling the goalscoring boots of the Belgian. But, Villa will also look towards Gabriel Agbonlahor to improve after some shoddy seasons, and hope that they continue to maintain their defensive solidity.

17th – Sunderland (Last Season – 16th)


Sunderland as a club have been riding their luck with regards to Premier League safety for a number of years now, as they have struggled to improve in any noticeable manner. Managers have come and gone, none finding the correct formula to boost them out of the relegation battle year after year. At this point, it feels as though it is not a manner of if they are going down, but when, and if it will be under current manager Dick Advocaat. They have been the benefactors of teams performing worse than them in previous campaigns, but this could easily not be the case this time around.

Defensively, Sunderland endured their fair share of mishaps, including the infamous 8-0 loss to Southampton. But overall they could be seen as having a solid and experienced back four, with recent signings Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates joining the likes of John O’Shea and Wes Brown. Midfield acquisition Jeremain Lens also has strong credentials to suggest he will add more flair to the team’s attack. That in particular is dearly needed at a club that has found it repeatedly difficult to ripple the back of the net, and will likely have to trust in veteran striker Jermain Defoe to steer them away from danger.

18th – Norwich City (Last Season – 3rd Championship)


In the extremely competitive environment of the Championship last year, any one of the top six teams could have easily entered the Premier League and make a real go of staying up. Norwich are certainly no exception to this rule, as they overcame Middlesbrough in the Play-Off Final to reach the top flight after only a year out. They will not wish to transform into a yo-yo club that Sunderland and West Bromich Albion once were, but it will take a significant effort from manager Alex Neil and his players to avoid a swift return back to the second tier.

There is no questioning the considerable talent in their squad, and most have Premier League experience, whether as part of the Canaries or another club. The signing of Youssouf Mulumbu on a free transfer could prove a stroke of genius, due to his many standout appearances for West Brom over the years, as well the purchase of Robbie Brady from Hull City, the best player of their ill-fated campaign last season. They can also boast the talents of Nathan Redmond, Alexander Tettey and Cameron Jerome. They will surely push a number of established teams very hard, but they might not have enough going forward to save them beyond May.

19th – Leicester City (Last Season – 14th)


One of the undoubted surprise packages last season, Leicester City went from being dead and buried to the lofty security of 14th place in the second-half of the campaign. However, situations have changed significantly since the day they secured a second season of top flight competition. Madcap manager Nigel Pearson was sacked following reports of his son, a former youth player at the club, engaged in a recorded sex tape in Thailand. Whilst he was more than a little strange, Pearson motivated his team out of danger, and question marks will unquestionably surround new manager Claudio Ranieri throughout his regime.

Ranieri worked wonders the last time he managed in the Premier League with Chelsea, but that was over a decade ago and the Italian has found little success since. Furthermore, Esteban Cambiasso, an experienced and impassioned presence in the Foxes midfield last season decided against signing a new contract. Leicester will be looking to their extremely hard-working and focused players to prevent a case of second-season syndrome, and if recent signings Shinji Okazaki and Andrej Kramaric can provide the necessary goals to keep them afloat. However, I see Pearson’s departure as a negative that might easily detract from their hopes of survival this coming season.

20th – Bournemouth (Last Season – 1st Championship)

download (9)Bournemouth will have an interesting first season in the Premier League, and will feel under less pressure than most other teams surrounding them due to their humble surroundings. Nevertheless, for a relatively small club, they are more than capable of posing a big threat. Manager Eddie Howe is one of the most exciting young managers in England right now, leading Bournemouth from the precipice of falling out of the Football League, to the promise land of English football. He instructs a rapid attacking style with quick passing and fluid moves, which will make them many fans among neutrals.

However, these tactics were also employed by Burnley and Blackpool in the past, and they go one of two ways. They will either shoot you up the table and shock some big name opponents, or they will be exposed at the back and cut to the sword over and over again, leading to an assured relegation. I feel the latter will be the case for Bournemouth, but they have the quality within their young, exuberant squad to prove that prediction wrong. They were relentless goalscorers in the Championship, thanks to the lethal strikes of Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie in particular, whilst they have strengthened their defence with the acquisition of Tyrone Mings. Regardless of the outcome, this will be an experience Cherries fans will never forget.


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