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We’ve almost made it. The long off-season is nearly over, teams have signed new players and waived goodbye to others, and every team besides Tottenham has returned from their preseason tour and is ready to start the season. We’re just a few days away from the start of another wonderful English Premier League campaign and what fun would that be if we couldn’t pretend that we already know exactly what will happen even though none of us have even the slightest clue?
Here are your bold predictions for the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season.
Memphis Depay will be the Young Player of the Year
The secret is out on Harry Kane, and thus so is his chance to win this award this season. Kane should won it last season, as he should have considering it was ridiculous that 23-year-old Eden Hazard, who has been playing first-team football since was 16 and was involved in a £32 million transfer over the summer, was even nominated, but this year the award will go to Manchester United’s Memphis Depay.
Depay brings versatility to the table with his ability to play with both feet, out wide, or in the middle. If Louis van Gaal opts to play a 4-3-3 formation Depay could easily hold down the left wing position, or he can play behind the striker if van Gaal opts for a different formation. So far in the preseason that’s been the case, and Depay has already shown a tremendous ability to link up with lead striker Wayne Rooney.
While the 21 year old has an eagerness to learn how to play with Wayne Rooney, he still is arrogant enough to think he’ll fit right in at Manchester United, and thus take the Premier League by storm.
Someone will crash the Top Four this season
If there’s one thing I don’t like in every sport it’s when everyone–pundits and fans alike–agree on something. When everyone agrees on something that usually means something else occurs. Last season everyone liked to say Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Everton would be battling out for fourth place, only for Everton to never be in the race, Spurs to not really be in the race, and Liverpool to fade late.
This season it seems that everyone and their mother agrees that the Top Four will be Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United, with no one even giving a chance to another team. It does seem like everyone in last year’s Top Four got better, but let’s not write off the other teams in the hunt just yet.
But it won’t be Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers will be the first manager to be sacked
Except for Liverpool, we can write them off already. After finishing second in 2014, Liverpool lost their best player in Luis Suarez and went on a major shopping spree with that money to bring in several players who, except for Adam Lallana, turned out to be absolutely terrible. This season they’ve lost young starlet Raheem Sterling and club captain Steven Gerrard.
While I think Sterling is overrated and losing Gerrard will actually benefit Liverpool, the bottom line is they still can’t defend and they still haven’t replaced all the goals that Luis Suarez got them. Add in the fact that towards the end of last season Liverpool looked absolutely lifeless and lost, and that Jurgen Klopp is waiting in the wings, and you have Brendan Rodgers being one slow start away from a pink slip.
Chelsea will not win the title – because of Jose Mourinho
This isn’t because Jose Mourinho is a bad manager, this is because Jose Mourinho has had so much success in his career that his ego is finally going to catch up to him. You may remember Chelsea dominating on the backs of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, and Oscar. But what you’re forgetting is there were plenty of nights where Chelsea looked not only very human, but very beatable. A lot of times they were bailed out by the goals of Diego Costa.
Yes, the same Diego Costa who is very very injury prone and who battled a few injuries last season. So what do you do when you’re main striker is someone who is injury prone and at any point may miss significant time? You bring in backup of course. Except Jose Mourinho’s idea of backup is Radamel Falcao–an injury prone striker who at any time may miss significant time and only scored four goals last season despite being healthy.
If anything happens to Costa this year, it could be tough for Chelsea to make up those goals, all because of Mourinho’s ego.
Southampton will be in a relegation fight
What’s that saying? “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?” After the mass exodus last season, everyone and their mother picked Southampton to be relegated only for the Saints to finish seventh. So why am I doing that this year?
For starters, I don’t think they’ll be relegated, they’ll just be down at the bottom in danger of relegation. There are two big differences between this year’s Southampton and last year’s: the addition of the Europa League and the absence of Morgan Schneiderlin. Despite surviving the mass exodus of a year ago Schneiderlin is likely going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Southampton. He’s the engine that made the team go as the team struggled mightily when he missed time with injuries last year. They’ve managed to replace many of the players that they lost, as very few teams develop players the way Southampton does, but Morgan Schneiderlin is one of the best midfielders in the game and is not easily replaced.
Wayne Rooney will win the Golden Boot
That’s right. The man who scored just 12 goals last season will lead the league in goals this year. Why? This season Wayne Rooney will be returning to his preferred position of the leading striker. It’s a position he’s played just two other times in his career, in 2010 and 2012 when he scored 34 goals (in all comps) in each season. To go along with Rooney returning to the lead striker role is the midfield behind him this year will be significantly better than the midfields of 2010 and 2012 which means Rooney will get his chances, and he’ll convert.
AFC Bournemouth will stay up
Every year three teams make the jump from the Championship to the Premier League and usually one of those teams is a team you’ve never heard of and is a popular pick to be sent right back down. But the truth is, unless you’re Derby County, every team has a chance of staying up, as there’s always one team that does it (and in the most recent years, two teams have stayed up). That brings us to Bournemouth, a team that played with attacking flair and dominated the championship last season and they plan on playing the same way this year in the Premier League. Bournemouth enters the league not afraid of anyone and even though they may struggle, they will be one of the more entertaining teams in the bottom half to watch, and for that reason alone they’ll be good enough to avoid going right back down.
Manchester City will be in a fight for fourth place
Here’s the thing about Manchester City, they’re a team that sometimes lacks motivation. When they win the title they come back the following season with no motivation except to collect a paycheck. The strength of Sir Alex Ferguson was that he always kept his players hungry for more trophies. Well in City’s case, it looks like they’re full.
They didn’t win the title last year so maybe they’ll be out to prove something this year, but the truth is they didn’t exactly get better this summer. Fabian Delph will be a great pick up for years to come, but the jury is still out on Raheem Sterling. I think he’s an above-average player who is very overrated and will never live up to his price tag. On the other side, they lost Frank Lampard who bailed them out of many games last season and who knows what the deal is with Yaya Toure, who was pretty much invisible for all of last season.
Manchester United and Arsenal both got better this summer. If Yaya Toure and Manchester City don’t get their act together (or get helped out by another late season United slide) City won’t be gunning for the title this season, they’ll be hoping to hold on to 4th place.
Manchester United will win the league this season
I was very confident about United rising from the ashes and taking back the Premier League title this year until about two days ago. All summer long things were looking great for United–they went out and signed Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmain, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Morgan Schneiderlin. Meanwhile, they cut dead weight in Nani, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, and Tom Cleverley and it looked like they’d be selling Jonny Evans. Most importantly they didn’t sell David de Gea.
But then a few days ago a couple of things became clear. United had failed to address their biggest hole from last season (center back) and it now looks like they’re not going to sign a center back at all. Furthermore with each passing day it’s looking more and more likely that David de Gea will be sold.
United finished fourth last year mainly because David de Gea bailed out United’s terrible defense time and time again. United haven’t improved their defense at all and that will be exposed with any other goalkeeper behind them besides de Gea (unless they get Hugo Lloris).
So now, I don’t know if United will win the title. Who do I think will win it? I don’t know that either, and that’s why I can’t wait for the season to get going so we can find out.