Premier League Predictions 2015-16

blueguitar322

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Sep 20, 2005
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Less than 48 hours until the Premier League season begins.
 
Top Four
I see the top four teams as very close to each other. It's really difficult to determine where to place each team, and there's no order that would come as a surprise to me at the end of the year. That said, here's my best guess:
 
1. Cheslea (2014-15: 87 points, +41 goal differential)
Key transfers: Falcao (in), Begovic (in), Cech (out), Drogba (out)
 
They might have the best starting 11 in the league, or at minimum the best defensive six (DM+defenders+GK). Costa and Hazard are both in the top two or three at their positions and have the ability to score seemingly out of nowhere. But more than anything, I think Mourinho is in a class all his own when it comes to tactics. Chelsea have what it takes to grind out results and stay mostly consistent from the start of the year to the end. The big questions for Chelsea are (1) will Costa stay healthy? (2) do they have enough depth? They were extremely fortunate with injuries last year.
 
2. Arsenal (2014-15: 75 points, +35 goal differential)
Key transfers: Cech (in)
 
Even despite starting makeshift defensive formations for the first three months of last season and missing out on Coquelin until December, Arsenal had the third best defense last year by goals scored. Give the team a full year of a healthy Coquelin and Cech in goal and this might be the most solid defense Arsenal has had since the Invincibles era. Add in a healthy dose of confidence (4 wins, 2 losses, 3 draws vs Chelsea/City/United in the last year+) and I think the team is solidly in the mix unless injuries derail them yet again.
 
3. Manchester City (2014-15: 79 points, +45 goal differential)
Key transfers: Sterling (in), Delph (in), Milner (out)
 
City seem like a somewhat popular darkhorse to drop out of the top 4 this year, but I don't think that's very likely. Sure, if they start poorly or Aguero continues having constant injury niggles, the pressure might get to Pellegrini. But if City are healthy all year and get off to a hot start, I think they might actually be the best chance to prevent Chelsea from back-to-back titles. No question about the talent in the team and I think Sterling is a great addition and will play well with Aguero and Silva. Very high potential, but also a riskier choice than either Chelsea or Arsenal, and that's the only reason I have them third.
 
4. Manchester United (2014-15: 70 points, +25 goal differential)
Key transfers: Depay (in), Schweinsteiger (in), Schneiderlin (in), Robin van Persie (out), Falcao (out), Di Maria (out)
 
United have spent buckets of cash over the last three years and have 7th place and 4th place finishes to show for it. There's probably some pressure on Van Gaal to deliver immediate results, but despite the clear talent in the team, my guess is United will continue to have a few growing pains this year. Even if United hang on to De Gea and their defense remains as strong as it was last year, where will the goals come from? Rooney is still a top striker but the supporting cast is a bit lacking both in talent and depth compared to the other top 4 teams. That said, their midfield looks great and should be very fun to watch.
 
The Next Three
I see a sizable gap between the top four and the next three, though stranger things have happened and if things "click" for Tottenham or Liverpool, they certainly have the potential to finish top 4.
 
5. Liverpool (2014-15: 62 points, +6 goal differential)
Key transfers: Milner (in), Ings (in), Firmino (in), Clyne (in), Benteke (in), Gerrard (out), Sterling (out), Lambert (out)
 
As an Arsenal support who watched the team lose Henry, Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie, etc. between 2006 and 2012 I have lots of sympathy for Liverpool. Losing Suarez set them up for their terrible start last year, and losing Sterling is another blow this summer. That said, I like what Liverpool has done with the cash and see them as a dark horse to return to CL play. Tough task for Brendan Rodgers to try to figure out how to get the best out of all of the new signings.
 
6. Tottenham (2014-15: 64 points, +5 goal differential)
Key transfers: Alderweireld (in)
 
Alderweireld should help solidify Tottenham's defense, which was their weakness last year (tied for 5th in most goals allowed). Tottenham are fairly strong in attack (5th in goals scored) so another year of Pochettino and another year of settling should help them as well. While a top-4 run would not surprise me, I don't think they have as much talent as any of the teams above them, which is why I have them sixth. It also remains to be seen over the next few years just how much a drain on their finances their new stadium will be, but that should not affect them very much in 2015-16.
 
7. Crystal Palace (2014-15: 48 points, -4 goal differential)
Key transfers: Cabaye (in), Sako (in), Wickham (in)
 
Probably more wishcasting than anything else, but I love the atmosphere at Selhurst Park and think they've added some good players - especially Cabaye. 
 
I’d love to see Southampton carry on their winning ways, but they just keep losing key players – Schneiderlin and Clyne this summer after being fleeced each of the last two summers as well.
 
I expect Everton to have a bit of a bounce-back year, but the PL is shaping up to be significantly more competitive top-to-bottom, making it difficult for top-half (but not top-four) teams to differentiate themselves.
 
Relegation
  • Leicester City fired their manager and hired Claudio Ranieri less than a month ago, and one has to wonder how long he'll last.

  • In a year when PL payouts rose and all sorts of teams started spending some serious coin, Aston Villa lost Benteke, Delph and Weimann. The combination of losing three key players + better players on other teams, and the fact that Villa barely stayed up this year, means I think they’re going down this year.

  • Norwich City is my third pick, but don't have any great reasoning behind it
Awards
Golden boot: Aguero (if he can stay healthy)
Defender of the year: Ivanovic - can't stand the guy, but he can ball
Young player of the year: Oxlade-Chamberlain - probably some wishcasting / Arsenal fan bias, but he seems primed to take the next step. Strong candidate for another injury, unfortunately.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
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Philadelphia
We'll see how the rest of the transfer window shakes out but right now I think this is a three-horse race between Chelsea, Arsenal, and City that will be largely decided by which team keeps their key players the healthiest over the course of the year.
 
1. Arsenal - I'm listening to my heart over my head a bit on this one but they are close enough to Chelsea and City that picking them is not that crazy.  Arsenal was the best team in England during the second half of the year, they've had the best pre-season, they addressed a significant weakness by adding a World Class keeper, and they are the least reliant on key players liable to suffer age-related declines.  They need to stay healthy and have some key younger players - especially Ox, Theo, and/or Ramsey - improve their games and develop some consistency.  Getting Benzema would be huge.
 
2. Chelski - They walked the league last year and have the best manager at grinding out results.  However, from about December onward, they really weren't much better than several of their competitors last year and they haven't done much so far this summer to improve their team.  Three guys - Hazard, Costa, and Fabregas - make their offense tick and they really have nobody that provides what each of those bring to the team, so if any of them get injured or badly lose form, this squad could struggle for goals.
 
3. City - I have no idea what to make of this team as so much depends on whether their difficulties last spring reflected real declines in the ability levels of key players like Kompany, Yaya, Silva, and Zabaleta or whether it was just a temporary malaise.  For all the stick their defense has received, they didnt give up that many more goals than in the past and City has had its greatest successes when it just overwhelms other teams offensively.  So my big question is whether they can regain that level of offensive production, mainly by keeping Aguero healthy and getting greater contributions from other attackers. I think Sterling over Milner is an improvement to the squad but not a massive one (for this year at least, it will be much bigger going forward).  Adding a guy like De Bruyne would change the equation more.  Their midfield could be a big weakness.
 
4. United - As currently constructed, even if we assume Pedro is a done deal, I don't think they have enough offense to win the league, especially given that Van Gaal seems intent on playing Depay in the hole ahead of two defensive midfielders in the pivot.  They clearly would love to buy a big player this month and that could change the equation quite a bit.  But right now they don't have enough dynamism and creativity in their front four to consistently break down teams that drop deep.  I think you'll see opponents do that quite a lot against United this year - let them have the ball, drop deep, and play on the counter.  And I think you'll see a lot of games in which United have 70% possession but create few real chances and draw 1-1.
 
5. Liverpool - I think this team will be considerably better than last year's edition and has a real chance to challenge for Top 4.  Firmino is a better player than Sterling right now (although probably not in two years), Benteke and Ings are a big improvement over Balotelli and Lambert up top, Milner is a very good and very underrated player, Clyne improves their RB situation, and losing Gerrard is addition by subtraction.  My big reservation is that they are bedding in so many new players again in the context of an absolutely murderous first 11 fixtures (including away matches at Arsenal, United, Everton, Spurs, and Chelsea!).  If they have a rocky start, there is a real danger of not only falling too far behind the leaders but of the club turning into a circus and Rodgers getting the sack.  But if they can survive that start, they are very well positioned to make a run into the Top 4 as they play all the best teams at Anfield in the second half of the year.
 
6. Spurs - They seem to be running in place right now while others are using the increasing revenues around the league to improve.  Having gone through this experience with Arsenal, I can't help but wonder whether the financing of the new stadium is going to curb Spurs' ability to invest in the team over the next few years and whether Levy's goal isn't less to break into the Top 4 than to essentially tread water and not get overtaken by teams below them in the table.
 
7. Southampton - Losing Schneiderlin is a big blow but Clasie is a tidy little player and might actually give them a boost offensively as a more incisive passer.  Sadio Mane looked unplayable at times last season and could be a breakout player.  They hit the wall last year when they stopped acoring and badly need a bit more offense and creativity.
 
8. West Ham - I love the additions that they've made.  My only reservation about this pick is whether playing in Europe will take too much of a toll.  We'll see if they make the next round later today.
 
9. Crystal Palace - They managed to keep their key players and add both Cabaye and Wickham.  Nobody will want to go to Selhurst Park this year.
 
10. Everton - They underperformed last year in significant part due to European play.  I'm not sure what to expect from this team.  I could see them finishing anywhere from 6th to 15th.
 
11. Swansea - One of the league's better teams last year and they are bringing everybody back, along with a couple (IMO uninspiring) additions. 
 
12. Stoke - FC Barcelona North or Hackers United?  This team is in a weird transition phase but they always seem to get enough results to stay midtable.  I think  N'Zonzi is a fairly substantial loss.
 
13. Newcastle - They opened up the checkbook a bit and made three very good signings.  I particularly like Wijnaldum and Mitrovic. That should be enough to keep them out of the relegation battle but I don't know if its enough to move them into the top 10.
 
14. West Brom - Tony Pulis keeps his teams up.  Keeping Berahino, as seems to be the case, will help a lot.
 
15. Leicester - This team was really good down the stretch last spring and they're bringing nearly everybody back plus a couple additions and Claudio Ranieri.
 
16. Aston Villa - Lots of comings and goings, losing Delph and Benteke and signing a bunch of French guys named Jordan.  They may struggle at first gaining cohesion but I think there's enough talent to stay up.
 
17. Bournemouth - I really have no clue but they're a great story and I want to see Eddie Howe mange in the league for a few seasons, so I'm picking them to stay up.
 
18. Sunderland - Their biggest move this summer was signing Advocaat.  He's a good manager but they don't have much talent and if he takes a while to get used to the Premier League they may get buried.
 
19. Norwich - I don't know much about this team but they seem like good candidates to go straight back down.
 
20. Watford - Have made a bunch of additions.  There is a danger of simultaneously needing to bed in lots of new players but not adding enough quality.
 
Awards
 
Golden Boot - Aguero
Defender of the Year - Koscielny
Young Player of the Year - Depay
 

Cellar-Door

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Aug 1, 2006
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TOP 4
1. Chelsea
2. Arsenal
3. City
4. United
 
Next 3
5. Spurs
6. Southampton
7. Everton
 
Relegation
Norwich, Villa, Leicester
 
Golden Boot- Aguero
Defender- Ivanovic
Young Player- Ward-Prouse