Predicting the 2021/22 Premier League Table
I thought it would be fun to try and predict the Premier League table. Let’s see who I think will win the league, get into Europe or get relegated. I’ll revisit this at the end of the season to see how I got on.
1. – Chelsea
I expect most people make Manchester City the favourites to win the league and if Kane signs for them I will probably change my mind and back the reigning champions. For now, Chelsea are the ones to sign a top goal-scorer in Romelu Lukaku. Man City showed it is possible to play with out a recognised striker, but Chelsea clearly needed a striker. Timo Werner only scored six goals last season despite being surrounded by an abundance of creative players. With a far more clinical forward to build attacks around, I expect Chelsea to be even better this season. If the defence stays solid and Lukaku keeps scoring Chelsea are going to be very tough to beat.
2. – Manchester City
Manchester City were so good last season, I couldn’t put them anywhere lower than second. They were incredible last season, but can they keep it up for another season without a striker? I don’t know. Their focus will be on the Champions League and the teams around them have strengthened. I’m making these predictions before the season starts and Harry Kane is still a Spurs player. If they do spend the money needed to pry him away from Tottenham, City will be almost impossible to stop.
3. – Manchester United
This looks like being a really exciting season for Manchester United fans. There is still a lot of uncertainty over Pogba but this has been a very successful transfer window for them. Jordan Sancho is going to terrify defences and I can see Bruno Fernandes and him combining really well together. At the back they have also strengthened with Varane finally giving Maguire a dependable partner at the heart of the defence. This team is looking really good right now, but so do all the other teams at the top which is the only reason I have them at third.
4. – Liverpool
Of the big four teams, Liverpool are the hardest for me to predict. They have recovered from the injury crisis they suffered in defence last year, so they should be much stronger. But all of the other teams at the top of the table have strengthened their squads and fixed problem positions. Liverpool on the other hand have one of the strongest first elevens in the league, but the quality beyond that starts to drop off considerably. If the first team stays fit all season, I still believe they can challenge for the title. Another consideration is the African Cup of Nations. Losing Mané and Salah for a month is going to be really tough.
5. – Leicester
Leicester finished fifth last year, and this is exactly where I expect them to finish this season. I think there is a clear gap between the top four teams and the rest this year, so finishing any higher than fifth would be a real achievement. On the other hand, Leicester seem like the most consistent of the remaining teams, without the issues other teams are facing. Of all my predictions this might be the one I’m most confident about.
6. – Tottenham Hotspur
I hope Spurs will be playing more adventurous and attacking football this year. If they do, they might be able to cope with losing Kane. Son has consistently shown that he is even more dangerous playing upfront instead of Kane. Spurs might be about to lose Kane, but I think they will be strengthening in other areas. Cristian Romero could make a real difference at the back and Bryan Gil is very highly rated. The new director of football Fabio Paratici has been given the backing and funds to rebuild the squad. I might be in a minority but I’m optimistic about the new season free from the negativity and gloom that surrounded the club during Mourinho’s tenure.
7. – Arsenal
I do think Arsenal are going in the right direction, and have made some smart signings like Ben White from Brighton. They have a good core of young players like Saka and Smith-Rowe and I’m sure these players will only improve as they get more experience. On the other hand they still have a lot of players who aren’t good enough. Arteta has a clear plan and a system he wants to play but time will tell how long it takes to pay off. Something that could be very important is that Arsenal have no European involvement this season, so their players should be fitter and better rested through out the coming campaign. I expect many people would put Arsenal above Spurs in their predictions, but I think it will be pretty close.
8. – Aston Villa
Aston Villa are a hard team to predict. Losing their one star player Jack Grealish is a big blow. If Grealish had been fit and available for the whole season, they could have finished much higher in the table. We saw last season that when Grealish was absent they were a completely different team. The good news however is that they have made very good signings. Emi Buendía was the best player in the Championship last season and when surrounded by better players I’m sure he will get a lot more goals and assists than he did when he last played in the Premiership with Norwich. Speaking of goals, Ings is a fantastic signing for Villa. Replacing Grealish is a real challenge, but the signings Villa have made show real ambition. It might take time for the new squad to gel, but this is a team that is going places.
9. – Leeds
I’ve put Leeds down to finish ninth again which is exactly where they finished last year. This would might be stagnation for some teams, but for a recently promoted team like Leeds this would be a remarkable achievement. Leeds were very exciting to watch last year and where ever they finish, I’m sure this will continue.
10. – West Ham
West Ham were the big surprise from last season but there are some big question marks over them in the new season. How will they handle playing in Europe? The Europa League schedule can be a real slog, with lots of games in far away places. If they try to play a full strength team in Europe I can only see the league form suffering. Another question mark is Jesse Lingard. He was a sensation for them last year, but so far Manchester United look reluctant to sell him. If West Ham can sign him permanently and manage the challenges of playing in Europe I’m sure they can match last season’s terrific performance. Until we know more, I’m predicting West Ham will only finish mid-table.
11. – Newcastle
There always seems to be drama surrounding Newcastle of the pitch, but this year the team seems solid on the pitch. It seems like a long time since Newcastle had this much attacking talent. Joe Willock was fantastic at the end of the last season, and fortunately Newcastle have been able to make his loan permanent. With Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as well this trio should get plenty of goals.
12. – Everton
I have no idea what is going on at Everton. James Rodríguez is Everton’s best player, but it looks like he doesn’t want to play there. Benítez is a great manager, but he is a really unpopular appointment with Everton fans. If they start badly, the pressure is going to build. They just got thrashed by Manchester United in preseason. You can’t read too much into preseason, but it’s another sign that there might be something wrong behind the scenes.
13. – Wolves
Last year was a year to forget for Wolves. Not only did the Raúl Jiménez injury leave them toothless upfront but Nuno seemed to totally lose his mojo. Nuno has been so instrumental to Wolves that it’s hard to imagine what Wolves will be like with out him. The return of Jiménez is fantastic to see, but I’m uncertain about the new manager. Reports from preseason have suggested Wolves are playing a really high line and could be ripped apart on the counter attack. If we assume that Wolves will take time to adapt to a new manager thirteenth seems like a fair result.
14. – Brighton
Brighton are a really solid team defensively, and I have no worries about them going down. They keep plenty of clean sheets and maintain high levels of possession and create chances. Unfortunately they are held back by a real lack of cutting edge. With a clinical striker I’d fancy them to be challenging for the top half of the table, but without such a player they won’t reach their full potential. I hope we see more from Tariq Lamptey this season. He is a very exciting young player, but his season was blighted by injuries, and sadly he will miss the start of this season. If he can get fit and stay fit I could see his pace cutting teams open and lifting Brighton a little higher up the table.
15. – Brentford
I’m really excited about Brentford. The club is run in a different way to most clubs and they have innovative scouting systems to discover hidden gems. The other promoted teams were playing in the top flight just two years ago, but Brentford are completely new and a breath of fresh air. Ivan Toney scored a phenomenal number of goals and assists in the Championship last season. Scoring goals is often the difference between staying up and going down in any league, so I’m backing Brentford to have the best season out of the three promoted teams.
16. – Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace are probably the team that have changed the most from the last season. A lot of older players have left the club and a number of younger players brought in to replace them. If they can sign a few more players and keep Zaha, I think they will have enough to build a good team. I’ve put them at sixteenth as recognition of how difficult rebuilding a team is. I expect them to struggle at the beginning of the season and for the investment to pay off as the season goes on.
17. – Watford
Watford set a record number of clean sheets last season in the Championship. This defensive solidity should serve them well in the Premiership where they are going to be underdogs in most of their games. Like Brighton the problem is going to be goals. I have no idea who is going to start up front for them and most of the options don’t inspire confidence. Sarr is definitely talented, and a good defence is a real plus, but I expect Watford to be at the heart of this year’s relegation battle.
18. – Norwich City
Another team I expect to see front and centre in that relegation battle is Norwich City. I would be comfortable swapping Norwich and Watford on this list, but Norwich lost their best player Emi Buendía. His creativity and goal threat is going to be sorely missed. Norwich have made signings, but their preseason has been incredibly disrupted by Covid and it will take time for the new signings to gel. Two years ago they went down without a fight, often playing gung-ho free-flowing football that left them too exposed against Premier League quality. The team have matured since then, and I expect they will definitely improve on the meagre twenty-one points they managed last time.
19. – Burnley
Burnley aren’t a team you associate with relegation battles and are usually seen as a reliable team that won’t be in too much danger. On the other hand the squad is paper thin, and they only finished one place above relegation last year. The promoted teams this year look strong, so this might be the year things fall apart. Burnley have done really well to be a regular fixture in the Premier League but a few key injuries this year and they would really struggle to stay up.
20. – Southampton
I’m really worried about Southampton this year. Losing Ings is a big blow, and they could be losing more players before the season starts. They have the time to make new signings before the transfer window closes, but I don’t see the owners wanting to invest in players when they are trying to sell the club. Like Burnley, Southampton are an established Premier League team and I’m convinced this will be a very difficult season for them. They have also sold several defenders and their defence wasn’t that good anyway. If they start conceding more goals and don’t replace Ings with another proven goal-scorer, they look doomed.