Premier League predictions

Favre expects ‘special test’ for Dortmund when they face Liverpool in pre-season

Issac Cheng

Winners: Arsenal. Chelsea were so dominant last season and there is a good chance that they will secure back-to-back titles, but with a bit of luck on the injury front, Arsenal have a side that can win the league.

Top four: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United.

It may seem a little bit boring, but neither Liverpool nor Tottenham look strong enough to trouble last season's big four.

Relegated teams: Leicester, Norwich, West Ham.

Leicester somehow recovered to survive last season on the back of a strong second half of the campaign, but they enter the new season with their backs against the wall after a tumultuous summer, and they'll never recover. Norwich's signings make them look like they're already preparing for the Championship, while West Ham may struggle under new coach Slaven Bilic.

Biggest disappointment (club) Tottenham. Spurs are slowly slipping off the pace, the top four no longer seems realistic, and they could be in for a season of mediocrity, especially if Harry Kane isn't the same force he was last season.

Biggest disappointment (player) Fabian Delph. The biggest worry for Delph is getting splinters from all the time on the bench. Some would say the former Villa captain deserves nothing more, but after taking his time to settle at Villa, it will be a shame to see Delph take a step backwards.

Surprise package (club) 'Hipster' and 'Stoke' are words you never thought would go together, but the Potters are threatening to be everyone's favourite second team, and hopefully they can back up the ever-growing storm of hype.

Surprise package (player) Raheem Sterling is a class player and will show it at City, and yes, that will be a surprise to many. For a less well known surprise, keep an eye on Elliot Lee at West Ham and Rolando Aarons at Newcaslte – if he can stay fit.


James Ho

Winners: Chelsea. It will be tight between Arsenal and Chelsea, but if Diego Costa stays fit for the majority of the season then the Blues will defend their title.

Top four: Yawn… Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United. No doubt about it.

Relegated teams: Watford, Leicester, Bournemouth.

Watford have a new manager and nearly a whole new squad, and the Premier League is not a place in which you can take time to find your feet. Leicester are back for a second season, but without Cambiasso and the unlikable but effective Nigel Pearson, the Foxes will struggle. Bournemouth will be this season's Blackpool, they're play attacking football, win some fans, but unlike Ian Holloway's side, they'll only last one season.

Biggest disappointment (club) Manchester United. After two big spending sprees a lot is expected of Louis van Gaal and his side, but they may find it tough to really challenge for the title.

Biggest disappointment (player) Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly a genius, but I'm not convinced he's got it right with Falcao.

Surprise package (club) Everton. The Toffees are either going to be a vastly improved outfit from the one that struggled last season, or their season will be over by December. I'm predicting the former.

Surprise package (player) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin. Ox has impressed in pre-season, and if he can steer clear of injuries, this will be a massive season for him.


Adam Alexander

Winners: Arsenal The Gunners are looking good and could overtake Chelsea. They'll need Alexis Sanchez to have another great season and for Mesut Ozil to step up, while injuries could be a problem again, as they always seem to be with Arsenal. Consecutive FA Cups later, Arsenal seem capable of winning some league silverware, now they just need consistency.

Top four: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool.

Chelsea have to be there, as do Arsenal. United have a strong squad and an experienced manager. Liverpool are the outsiders, and this would be a massive shock for Manchester City, but maybe the Reds can manage the top four if Benteke starts banging them in.

Relegated teams: Leicester, Aston Villa, Norwich City.

Leicester barely survived last season and might struggle under Claudio Raineri, while Aston Villa have lost key players (Fabian Delph, Christian Benteke, Ron Vlaar). At least one of the promoted teams usually go straight back down, and I get the feeling it might be the Canaries.

Biggest disappointment (club) West Ham. Big things are expected of Bilic in his first season managing in the Premier League. He did well with Croatia, and has a good reputation, but he only spent one season at the club and has no Premier League experience.

Biggest disappointment (player) Fabian Delph. Since they became nouveau riche title contenders, Manchester City have attracted young English players with hyped-up potential who go on to struggle on the fringes of the team. Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell, Adam Johnson have all struggled to establish themselves after moving to the Etihad Stadium, and Delph could add his name to that list.

Surprise package (club) Crystal Palace. The Eagles did very well under Alan Pardew last season. Although clubs that punch above their weight often struggle the next season, Palace have built an impressive squad for the upcoming campaign. Patrick Bamford (on loan from Chelsea) was voted the best player in the Championship last year and could be primed for a breakthrough season. Yohan Cabaye’s transfer from PSG was a great piece of business and they have also kept Yannick Bolasie around despite interest in his signature while Fraizer Campbell, Wilfried Zaha and Connor Wickham seem like they could hit some form as well.

Surprise package (player) Juanmi. Tiny Spaniards have been doing very well in the Premier League in recent years, think David Silva, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas. Even Ayoze Perez, Michu, Esteban Granero, Jordi Gomez and Gerard Deulofeu. I see the former Malaga forward following that trend at Southampton.


Daryl Pei

Winners: Chelsea. Jose Mourinho’s squad remains the strongest in the division and may well run away with the title once more, barring a significant injury crisis.

Top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool.

Arsenal and Man United will joust for second place throughout the season, with the Gunners’ more settled squad ultimately seeing them to second. Liverpool will respond well to a slow start to the season and a run of victories during the second half of the season will see them into the Champions League spots.

Relegated teams: Sunderland, Bournemouth, Norwich.

At least two of the promoted sides will go down, since the they just don’t score enough goals to stay up. The Mackems have flirted with relegation over the last couple of seasons and 2015/16 may well be the year they go down once more.

Biggest disappointment (club) Manchester City. Despite spending a large amount of money in the transfer window, injuries to key players and the inability from Manuel Pellegrini to integrate his new signings into the side will be enough for City to miss out on the Champions League spots.

Biggest disappointment (player) Raheem Sterling. The youngster will show glimpses of what he is capable of but will disappoint for the most part, as the weight of his transfer fee ultimately wears him down.

Surprise package (club) Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers’ side will be written off early in the season after a couple of defeats, but the likes of Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke will soon find their feet and inspire the Reds to something of a successful season.

Surprise package (player) Cedric Soares. The Portuguese right-back is Nathaniel Clyne’s replacement at Southampton, having been picked up for just 5million from Sporting Lisbon. The 23-year-old may well prove to be the signing of the season and has the talent to be the star of the Saints backline.


Nick Krige

Winners: Chelsea

Top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City

Even though Liverpool and Tottenham have strengthened I don't think they will be good enough to crack the top four. Arsenal and Manchester United have got stronger and, while I feel like they have closed the gap with Chelsea, I think the Blues are still strong enough to take the title. Man City's signings haven't really inspired me. Sterling has looked dangerous in pre-season, but I think they rely too much on Aguero.

Relegated teams: Norwich City, Leicester City, Watford

I don't think the two promoted teams will be good enough to stay in the league. I believe Leicester over-performed last season and their squad feels weaker to me this season.

Biggest disappointment (club) Southampton – They have an obviously great manager and have made some decent signings, but I'm not sure they'll be able to surprise people for a third season in a row and I think the Europa League fixtures are going to really stretch their squad.

Biggest disappointment (player) This one hurts me, but it could well be Harry Kane. Unless he has a blistering start to the season, the he is going to have to deal with a lot of "one-season wonder" and "Yet another example of failed English potential stuff". He does seem very head-strong and can possibly deal with it, but he only really had to deal with positivity last season. I do hope I'm wrong though.

Surprise package (club) Crystal Palace. I think they looked very dangerous after Pardew arrived last season and I think with a full pre-season behind them they could take some points off big teams.

Surprise package (player) James Milner. I don't really know if such a well-known player can count as a surprise package, but I am a huge fan of his and think he is woefully underrated because of his ability and willingness to fill in anywhere he is needed. I think he is going to be an extremely influential player for Liverpool this season, especially if he is consistently used in the center of midfield.


Virgil Maia

Winners: Chelsea essentially had the league title wrapped up by December last season, and while I don't expect a repeat this time around, the Blues should be in pole position come the end of May.

Top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City

While the usual suspects will be involved in the Premier League title race, some have strengthened well during the off-season, while others are yet to complete their summer business. Chelsea have been relatively quiet thus far, bringing in Asmir Begovic as a replacement for Petr Cech and securing the services of striker Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan. If Diego Costa's dodgy hamstrings continue to give him trouble, then the Blues will find themselves relying on Loic Remy and Falcao – two players who failed to live up to the hype last season.

Arsenal have only brought in Cech, but the solitary acquisition has arguably turned the Gunners into veritable title challengers.

Manchester United strengthened heavily last summer and it's hard to see them failing to improve this term, especially as they've brought in several exciting players once again, with more expected to be unveiled shortly. A top striker would most certainly not go amiss at Old Trafford.

Manchester City, meanwhile, have brought in three Englishmen in the shape of Patrick Roberts, Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling. The lingering feeling is that City's title prospects depend heavily on the form of skipper Vincent Kompany and the injury-prone Sergio Aguero.

Relegated teams: Bournemouth, Leicester, Sunderland

Bournemouth earned the plaudits for their attacking style of play as they earned promotion to the Premier League, but they will find the step up to the top flight of English football too difficult to overcome. Their backline will face some stern scrutiny in the coming campaign and to be brutally honest, they just don't have enough quality to stay up.

Leicester would have been wise to retain the services of manager Nigel Pearson, if only for footballing reasons. The appointment of veteran campaigner Claudio Ranieri is a curious decision, especially as the Italian takes up the reins at King Power Stadium following an abysmal spell in charge of the Greece national team.

Sunderland have been treading water for the past two seasons and it feels like they will finally succumb to relegation at the third time of asking. The Black Cats have one or two quality players but the remainder of their squad list makes for some uninspiring reading – a veritable list of 'where are they now' players.

Biggest disappointment (club) Bournemouth have a young and talented manager in Eddie Howe, but the fact remains he is untested in the Premier League. The Cherries may have claimed the Championship title last term, but they have not strengthened sufficiently to ensure their Premier League survival.

Biggest disappointment (player) Radamel Falcao has been handed a second chance by Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge but the Colombian's failed loan stint at Manchester United has done little to inspire confidence in his ability. Be that as it may, he clearly has the faith of the 'Special One'. You can't help but feel, however, that Falcao will have a similar impact to that of Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge last season – minimal to negligible.

Surprise package (club) Of the three promoted teams, Watford arguably have the best chance of finishing well clear of the dreaded drop zone. Bankrolled by the same family that owns Spanish side Granada CF and Italian outfit Udinese Calcio, the Hornets already boast an impressive squad studded with talented players. The acquisition of France international Étienne Capoue is a massive coup for the club and perhaps even a signal of things to come before the end of the transfer period.

Surprise package (player) While Georginio Wijnaldum is name not very well know outside the confines of the Netherlands, the attacking midfielder is already an established player in the national team setup. The 24-year-old is versatile enough to play anywhere in midfield, thanks to his silky dribbling skills and wide range of passing. If he is given the creative freedom his talent warrants, Wijnaldum is bound to be one of the season's surprise packages.


Chris Vermuelen

Winners: Chelsea. The Blues remain the strongest team in the league and have added good back-up options to a settled team.

Top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United

Chelsea should defend their title, but expect Arsenal to offer a much stiffer challenge this season even if they do fall short at the end. Manchester City have not impressed with their summer recruits, while Manchester United should just about finish in fourth, but both Manchester clubs will be pushed by Liverpool and Tottenham.

Relegated teams: Aston Villa, Leicester, Bournemouth.

I think Aston Villa could go down after losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph this summer. They have brought in good singings, but it's doubtful that they will adapt in time to keep Villa up. After narrowly escaping relegation last season, I don't think Leicester have done enough in the market to stay up.

Bournemouth played good football on their way to winning the Championship last season, but I don't believe they have the calibre of player to play stylish football successfully in the Premier League.

Biggest disappointment (club) One of the Merseyside clubs. I think Liverpool will fail to make the top four once again this season, while Everton have not convinced in the market and could well fail to even finish in the top half of the standings.

Biggest disappointment (player) Harry Kane. The England international will be a victim of his own accomplishments. Kane set impossibly high standards for himself last season and I think he'll struggle to emulate that form this season and be labelled a disappointment.

Surprise package (club) Crystal Palace. The Eagles improved remarkably under Alan Pardew in the second half of the season last time out. And with a pre-season under his belt and some really quality recruits, they will be even more dangerous this season.

Surprise package (player) Roberto Firmino. I think the Brazilian adds another dimension to a revamped attacked and will link-up will with compatriot Philippe Coutinho. He's also already showed signs of a good understanding with Christian Benteke.