Already we can say that we’re beginning to inch toward the 2019/20 Premier League season. Yes, the summer transfer window is still open, and there’s some time yet to go. But with league play set to begin when Norwich City visits Liverpool about a month from the time of this writing, the Premier League will be back in full force before we know it.
Given that, now seems a good time to offer a few scattered predictions about the season to come!
1. Norwich Will Have A Top-15 Finish
You may have read about the current iteration of Norwich City in Top Soccer Blog’s previous piece about the teams set to join the Premier League this season. Having won the EFL Championship, the Canaries earned automatic promotion, and will ascend to the top flight with a hungry and deserving side. Many would agree that this is simply better than your average newly-promoted club. Norwich notched 93 goals in its EFL Championship season in 2018/19, which was the most in the second tier of English football since Bournemouth in 2014/15 (Bournemouth would finish 16th in the EPL the following season). And with much of the squad still in place, and 29-year-old, 30-goal-scorer Teemu Pukki set to become one of the most exciting strikers in the EPL, it seems the Canaries could make some noise. We think they can top the Bournemouth group from 2015/16 and finish in the top 15 right away.
2. Arsenal Will Top Man Utd. & Chelsea
Setting Arsenal up to underachieve is essentially a national tradition for football fans at this point, so perhaps I’m falling into the trap. But I’m not suggesting the Gunners will compete for the EPL title – merely that they’ll show more progress than rival clubs Chelsea and Man Utd. Arsenal will have David Ospina back to take the place of the retiring Petr Cech in goal, and could have a few significant additions (with the transfer market still active). More importantly though, United looks to be on pace for a multi-year rebuilding effort and Chelsea is dealing with the fairly devastating loss of Eden Hazard. The Gunners should be more stable, and will have a year under their belt with second-year manager Unai Emery.
3. Chelsea Will See A Late Drop In The Odds
It’s somewhat early for the odds to accurately reflect the season to come, but we’d expect the best bookmakers of the UK to lose some confidence in Chelsea as the season nears. With Manchester City and Liverpool set to be heavy favorites and Arsenal and Tottenham still attached to numerous potential transfers, the Blues’ transition into the post-Hazard era may just start to look a bit daunting for bettors. Now, Chelsea does have a virtual army of reinforcements returning from loan spells (including American star-in-the-making Christian Pulisic), and has also signed Mateo Kovacic away from Real Madrid to shore up the midfield. But thew new-look attack will take time, and Hazard’s loss will require adjustment.
4. Leicester City Will Finish Top Six
If you were merely to pay attention to casual headlines on the internet, you’d believe the biggest splash City made was its unveiling of new road kits. A closer look though reveals a team that’s made some significant moves toward contention. Without significant losses, City has added Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United’s top scorer last season) and up-and-coming defenseman James Justin. They’re also in the process of signing Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans on a permanent deal following his loan from AS Monaco. These aren’t headline moves compared to the dealings of bigger clubs, but there’s little question this team will improve after a ninth-place finish a season ago. A top-six finish seems within reach.
5. Liverpool Will Top The League
If there’s one thing everyone seems to be in agreement on it’s that Liverpool and Manchester City are the presumptive favorites yet again. And while most people (and betting odds) seem to have City out in front, I’m eyeing a Liverpool title. This is simply too good a group not to capture a title, and after coming within a point last season, 2019/20 is the time to get it done.