Unlike my MLS predictions piece from back in March, we were able to get part of the gang together for some roundtable-style predictions. Today we have Dan, Jay, Chris, and Matt to provide their respective predictions for the upcoming English Premier League season. I will serve as the moderator, and provide my own predictions as well. With that being said, let’s get to work.
1. Let’s go ahead and start with what everyone is dying to know. Who takes finishes in the top four this season?
Matt: I feel like the narrative has shifted away from the Big Four to the Superior Seven.
Me: Okay guys, change of plans. Give me your top seven.
Matt: I hope not to disappoint, but here’s my top seven in no specific order: Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Spurs, Manchester United.
Me: I’m assuming this is the consensus top seven for everyone, right?
Dan: If Southampton had not gone through their fire sale, they would be in the battle for a Europa League spot. That being said, my top seven, in order, is: Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool, and Tottenham.
Chris: My top seven is essentially the same, with United-City and Everton-Spurs switching places. So I’m thinking it’ll be Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Spurs, Everton, and Liverpool.
Jay: I’ll take Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, & Tottenham.
Me: It seems as though I’m the only one drinking the Chelsea Kool-Aid this season. Give me Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, and Tottenham. My top three are interchangeable, as I think it’ll be a tight race down the stretch. If van Gaal can strengthen that defense, perhaps they can make a run for fourth.
2. From one end of the totem pole, to the other: who’s getting relegated?
Chris: Brunley, QPR, and Hull.
Jay: Southampton, Sunderland, and Leicester.
Me: Those first two are bold picks, Jay. I can see both being likely situations though. I’m going with Aston Villa, West Brom, and Burnley.
Matt: I agree with two of those. I have Burnley, Aston Villa, and Hull.
Dan: I’m going with a hybrid of both of those picks. I’m picking: Burnley because I think they will be bullied most of the year; West Brom – their board has mismanaged the club for years and we will see bleak results this season; and Hull – honestly I flipped a coin between them and QPR, Hull lost.
3. After an amazing World Cup with goals aplenty, I think it’s appropriate that we talk about who’s going to be the top five goal scorers.
Jay: Daniel Sturridge, Robin van Persie, Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, and Jay Rodriguez.
Me: Going all in with van Gaal’s puppets up top? Dave would approve.
Matt: I’ll take: Diego Costa – he’s going to be such a bully up top; Olivier Giroud – he can now be rested throughout the season; Rooney – just to banish memories of the World Cup; Edin Dzeko – by virtue of his supporting midfield; and Sturridge because he feels like dancing.
Dan: I hear the chuckles already, but Arsenal is a much healthier and complete team this season – with other alternate striking options on the bench he’ll either get the rest he needs at times, and/or will be pushed to perform. 2nd is RvP – LvG will cater to his every demand. Rooney will suffer, but RvP will benefit from a nice season. 3rd will be Sturridge – he’ll score for the first 4 months, after that he’ll coast, but it will be enough to keep him top 5. I’ll take Costa 4th – I don’t think he’ll be top, but I can see him getting 18-19 goals. Give me Dzeko 5th – City will be pushing for another title, and he’ll be the benefactor of the engine room behind him.
Me: All very good choices. I’m thinking Sturridge, Costa, Romelu Lukaku, Dzeko, and RvP. It’s painful to see two former Chelsea players on that list. Sturridge is more of a gut feeling, plus there’ll be goals aplenty to score in Rodgers’ system. Costa because Chelsea. Lukaku is going to be the go-to guy at Everton. The dude is a stud, and a spoiled brat, that I wish would’ve stuck around at Chelsea. I hate to pick Dzeko, because I predicted him to breakout at the World Cup and he was terrible. That being said, he was integral in City’s title run last season. RvP because LvG.
4. On the complete opposite side of goals, who will have the most clean sheets?
Matt: Chelsea, by far.
Me: I can only hope so. Hopefully they figure out who is going to be the starting goalkeeper and run with him, whether it be Cech or Courtois.
Dan: Szczesny. Tied last year for most clean sheets with Cech. Arsenal needs another defender at the moment, but the core backline is still there, plus Chambers is good enough to play every week. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Crystal Palace up there, Tony Pulis is a disciplined manager and turned that club around last year. **(editors note – roundtable occured before Pulis quit)
Me: As much as I want to be different and take someone else, I got to say it’ll be Szczesny also – but only by virtue of Chelsea not figuring out which goalkeeper to start. So I’ll say Cech/Courtois combined (if they both stay) will have more clean sheets than Szczesny.
5. This summer we saw a lot of talent enter/move around the Premier League. Which player do you think will exceed their transfer fee value?
Dan: Frazier Campbell – former United and recently former Cardiff man, for a 600k transfer fee, he’ll bang in 10-15 goals to keep Palace in the PL, a very lucrative position to stay in.
Jay: I’ll take Rickie Lambert for a cool 4 million. Little pressure playing behind Sturridge.
Matt: The best value-for-cost pickup in my mind is Gareth Barry to Everton for two million pounds, but he’s a known quantity already, so I don’t think that’s what you are looking for. I think Filipe Luis will really shine in Chelsea’s system, and then I’m interested to see what Brown Ideye will do for West Brom. Dusan Tadic could also be a good pick up for Southampton.
Me: Alexis Sanchez. I don’t care how much he signed for. I believe that he truly is the missing piece to Arsenal’s puzzle.
6. Every World Cup, there are players that are purchased based solely on their performance at the World Cup. Considering every player that is coming to the Premier League in 2014/15, who will fall short of their transfer fee value?
Jay: Cesc Fabregas.
Me: sigh A few weeks ago I would’ve agreed. His preseason performances have influenced me. I spoke with Matt before this, and we agree on the same player: Ander Herrera. He describes it better than I can, so I’ll turn the floor over to him.
Matt: So yeah, Herrera will be fighting on his own in the midfield for a little while, so I don’t think he’ll set the league alight from the beginning. Also, I totally understand why they did it, but I fear that Romelu Lukaku is going to have a poor season for Everton.
Dan: From a value point of view, Luke Shaw hands down is the most overvalued. At nearly 30 million pounds, there is no way he’ll contribute enough to the club to make them feel they got their monies worth. Not to put down Shaw’s ability, but Southampton should either open a Wall Street brokerage or go to jail for the obscenity of this deal.
7. Which team will improve the most? And least?
Chris: Most – Manchester United. Least – Southampton.
Jay: I agree with Chris – ManU and Southampton.
Matt: Sunderland will do better than last season, and I kind of fancy Stoke to push for a Europa League spot. Man United will do better, but not quite to the CL.
Dan: I think Aston Villa, who finished 15th last year, will end up further up the table – potentially 8th or 9th, moving up six spots. Even if United finishes in 4th, that’s only a 3 spot jump (no shot they win the league).
Me: Least improved – I’ll agree with Chris and Jay. Southampton is in trouble. I think the most improved team will be West Ham. They’re probably my favorite non-Chelsea team this season.
Dan: But Burnley has the Ginger Mourinho.
Me: Yeah, West Ham – make that 2nd most favorite non-Chelsea team this season. I would go in to war with Jose Mourinho and Sean Dyche.
8. Which team will win the F.A. Cup and League Cup?
Jay: F.A. Cup – Manchester United. League Cup – Stoke City.
Chris: I’ll take Manchester United as well for the F.A. Cup, and Arsenal is going to win the League Cup.
Matt: Manchester United for the F.A. Cup, and Spurs for the League Cup.
Dan: Manchester City the FA Cup. I never know with the league cup – many clubs look at it as a reserve or B team competition. I’ll just throw Everton out there.
Me: Manchester United and Louis van Gaal are both too good to not win a trophy this year, so I think they’ll win the F.A. Cup. I’m all in with the Ginger Mourinho, so give me Burnley for the League Cup!
9. Let’s wrap it up with a wild card. Regardless of team affiliation, which new player(s) to the Premier League are you excited to watch?
Chris: DeAndre Yedlin – whenever he joins the Spurs’ squad after MLS’s season.
Jay: I’ll take Yedlin as well, but I’ll also throw in Ander Herrera.
Matt: I am most excited to see if Pochettino can spark Erik Lamela, who never really looked comfortable last season, but has shown some hugely encouraging flashes this pre-season. Southampton were my second favorite team to watch last season after Spurs, so really I’m just excited to see Pochettino work his magic for Tottenham.
Dan: Alexis Sanchez is going to blow the door open on the EPL. He won’t need the “grace period” so many PL elitists believe is necessary to acclimate.
Me: If Dan is sticking with his Arsenal guns, then I’m going with the Chel-ski boys. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have linked up well thus far in preseason, and have both scored some impressive goals. Felipe Luis adds to what was the best defense in the Premier League last season, and of course I’m happy to see Didier Drogba back at Stamford Bridge.
That’s a wrap. Hope we can do it again sometime. Thank you for your time guys.
So that’s it. Those are our predictions for the 2014/15 season. I’m sure we’ll all have some of them wrong, but a lot of good information was given and some bold predictions as well. Feel free to leave your predictions below, or communicate with us on Twitter.
That being said, bring on Rebecca Lowe’s luscious hair and Arlo White’s golden voice donning our televisions every weekend for the next ten months.