THE Premier League is under way and in the spirit of all columnists, I feel it is high time to make some predictions.
I cannot see any way past Manchester City, in terms of who will win it. They just have so much quality.
I have gone for Manchester United to finish second and not Liverpool. People write off Jose Mourinho and yes he is disappointed and sulking after pre-season and he might not be the same manager he was 15 years ago or have that same smile and is ageing slightly, but he still knows what he is doing. It would be foolish to write him off.
People moan about him not having enough central defenders after not getting Diego Godin, Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld or Jerome Boateng, but I still think Victor Lindelof is still a decent central defender, even though we have not seen the best of him. There’s also Eric Bailly, who should be fitter this year and is strong.
Then, there is still Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who have been there for so long and know the club inside out and the standards set. United still have some fantastic forwards.
Liverpool will be strong and brilliant to watch and score loads of goals. But I still think they will slip up in games when you do not think they will.
Spurs will finish in the top four, for me. It will surprise a lot of people as they have not signed anyone and their fans are moaning. But those players all know the standards and game- plan of Mauricio Pochettino and they will hit teams for lots of goals, like Liverpool and City.
If anyone will dislodge one of those four, it is Arsenal for me. I think Unai Emery has strengthened them where he needed to.
As for the three to get relegated, I have gone for Southampton, Watford and Cardiff City.
Huddersfield Town will have enough to survive for me and I think they will battle enough to get the points they need to ensure that Yorkshire definitely has one team in the Premier League next season. They have great organisation and spirit.
I think the first manager to be dismissed will be Javi Gracia at Watford, who have turned over a lot of managers, although many have gone for Claude Puel or Mark Hughes.
The Golden Boot winner is a difficult one. Harry Kane is up there every year and Mohamed Salah was out of this world last season. But I think the goals will be shared more at Liverpool this time as they will have so many players on the scoresheet.
My vote has gone for Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I do not think Sergio Aguero will play a full season at City and Gabriel Jesus will play a lot and Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling will score a lot, too.
I see Kevin de Bruyne smashing it in terms of the PFA player of the year. He will play an outstanding part for City on the back of an unbelievable World Cup.
I think it will be a shoot-out between Wolves’ Ruben Neves, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Sane for the young player accolade. I do not see past those. If Neves plays like he did in the Championship, he could walk it.
I see Liverpool’s Naby Keita and Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira as the buys of the season. The latter is exactly what Arsenal needed in their midfield. As for flop of the season, I have gone for Yoshinori Muto, who has signed for Newcastle. They may have also brought in Salomon Rondon, but I don’t see the Japanese striker being their ‘number nine.’
I do not see the value of Chelsea paying £51m for Jorginho either. All that money for someone to pass the ball sideways..
As for the breakthrough player, I see Phil Foden from City bursting onto the scene. I see it as being his year.
Looking at the transfer window deadline day, it was a bit of a flop, wasn’t it? Manchester United failed to get a centre-half and Spurs were unwilling to pay more than £25m for a squad player in Jack Grealish, who got a new contract at Aston Villa.
If he had gone to Tottenham, I think he would have just been a bench player.
Overall, I think that the ones who have done the most unbelievable work in the window are Fulham and Wolves and I am really looking out for them.