THE WRITERS ROOM | 11th September 2020

If there’s one positive to take from the bleakest of Black Mirror episodes which we’ve come to call life, it is that the Premier League is back, sooner than it usually is, sparing us from the usual arduous wait and allowing fans to jump straight back in where they left off from the last season.

The More Than A Game writers decided to roll the dice as well as their sleeves up and predict the many possibilities from what promises to be yet another season as cinematic as ever. We’re probably going to look back and these and think, “what were we thinking” but in doing our best Patrice Evra impressions possible, we love this game.


Top 6: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham

The new arrivals over the summer and the hurt sentiments of both- the players and the manager from last season’s “disappointing” results and silverware returns only fuels City’s odds of winning the title this season. With the squad depth that City possesses and the class that they display on the pitch, the team from the blue half of Manchester will be crowned champions come May.

In my humble opinion, a poor transfer window over the summer has certainly dented Liverpool’s chances of defending the title this season. However, despite Minamino finally clicking and showing his class in the friendlies, the club from Merseyside, yet again, will be praying that none of the front 3 endure an injury in the course of the upcoming season. One of the bigger reasons which bring out the best in the team is the fans and with an empty Anfield, Liverpool may struggle and look set to concede the title to Manchester City

Chelsea has had arguably the best summer transfer window in all of European football. With the arrival of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech up-front, Chelsea will be a force to reckon with up-front. Thiago Silva’s arrival from Paris fills the gap of a leader that the dressing room has been yearning for years. While they look stronger than last season, the London-based club may still have a long way to go to bridge the gap between them and the likes of Liverpool and City.

One step forward, two steps back. That has been Manchester United’s story for years now. The Red Devils had successfully bolstered their squad last season with the likes of Harry Maguire and ‘Spider-Wan’ joining the team in the summer and shortly afterward, they signed their Portuguese magnifico-Bruno Fernandes. However, a rather poor summer transfer window and the Champions League fixtures crowding up the calendar all mean United may lose out on the top 3 solely due to poor squad depth.

Mikel Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will fire Arsenal back in the top 6 contentions. Willian’s signing might play as a wildcard for Arsenal and the club does possess some serious talent in the likes of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah. With a few decent signings over the summer, the Gunners, come May will hold bragging rights over their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur will complete the top 6 in the upcoming season. Spurs have made some decent signings over the summer and have invested in almost all parts of the field. Notably, the arrivals of Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will certainly help up the ante. Tottenham fans would be wishing that their golden man- Harry Kane stays fit throughout the season and help fire the club into the top 6.

Golden Boot: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal’s Mr. Reliable, Aubameyang missed out on the Golden Boot last season by a whisker. A team that is still in the rebuilding phase and with Arteta’s mind and tactics, the odds are certainly in favor of that of Auba’s. Scheming from the left-wing, Aubameyang is certainly one of the deadliest and the most clinical strikers in world football and is destined to show his class yet again in the upcoming season.

Golden Glove: Ederson Moraes

With the reinforcements brought in over the summer and the existing defensive options on the roster, Manchester City’s No.1 looks set to pip fellow Brazilian and Liverpool goalkeeper- Alisson Becker. Pep Guardiola would be busy over the break with the Spanish coach figuring out solutions to the defensive frailties showed by his team last season. With Kalidou Koulibaly’s signing looking imminent, the Senegalese and Aymeric Laporte will certainly help Ederson keep his award he earned last season.
Player of the Season: Kevin De Bruyne

Is it even worth debating? Would you even dare to bet against the Belgian? De Bruyne has shown his class week in and week out since his return to the Premier League from Wolfsburg. With 13 goals and 20 assists last season, KDB has certainly cemented his place as a Premier League great. Breathing down his neck, Bruno Fernandes would be raring to go but the Belgian looks set to edge him for the season.

Signing of the Season: Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz oozes class. It’s as simple as that. The former Leverkusen talisman would turn out to be a revelation in the dressing room as well as on the pitch for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. A midfield-forward hybrid, Havertz would probably walk into the starting XI of a majority of Europe’s best teams. With 12 goals and 6 assists in the Bundesliga last season, Havertz would certainly be the signing of the season if he manages to replicate those numbers in the Premier League.

Relegated teams: West Brom, Fulham and Aston Villa

With the defensive frailties they have showcased over the last season, West Brom would be one of the teams that would be going down next season. The Premier League is unforgiving and it has been quite evident that decent teams with a shaky defence have always had a torrid time fighting for survival in England’s top tier league.

When you look at the quality of the other teams, Fulham pales. Having been promoted to the Premier League this season itself, the strategy for the first season should be that of surviving and making it to the second year. Fulham endured a rather disappointing set of outings in the business end of the Championship last season and with a poor show in the summer transfer window, they look set to go down.

With 8 points in the final 4 games, Villa managed to pull out The Great Escape last season. However, they are the third and final team to go down next season for me. Having had one of the worst defensive records last season, the Premier League strikers will have a gala time playing the Clarets and Blues.

A lackluster roster and with an average at best forward line, Dean Smith would be banking on club hero Jack Grealish to provide moments of magic and inspiration to steer them into safety yet again come summer.


Top 6: Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal

Guardiola’s team was quick to react in the transfer window after what was termed as a disappointing season for the blue half of Manchester. With the signings of Nathan Aké and Ferran Torres providing further depth to an already fantastic squad, the Premier League trophy would return to Manchester again even without the signing of Koulibaly. Lampard did a fantastic job to finish in the top 4 with the squad that was provided to him at the start of  last season and with Chelsea having done some excellent business to upgrade their attacking prowess, they would be one of the top scoring teams in the league this season even though their problems at the back will be their undoing in the title race.

Solskjaer would be hoping to improve upon the progress that the team made last season. The signing of Donny van De Beek would provide much needed cover in the midfield department, but the Red Devils are still 2-3 signings away from a title challenge.

Defending champions Liverpool have probably one of the best starting elevens in the Premier League. However, the Merseyside club desperately needs to add some reinforcements in the attacking area. The likes of Minamino and Origi have been good in patches but failed to hit the required standards. The club has still not replaced Dejan Lovren and with Klopp having only three recognized centre-backs going into the start of the Premier League as well as the prospect of playing without fans for the majority of the season would hurt Liverpool more than any other team.

Could Liverpool suffer a major drop-off due to the lack of activity in the window?

While the arrival of Arteta has brought some much-needed fighting spirit to the club, Mourinho’s second season at his former club is the one where he is at his best. Arsenal and Spurs have made some decent signings in the transfer window to improve the current squad. However, both the North London clubs might just find it a little difficult to break into the top four this season because of the quality of the teams ahead.

Golden Boot: Anthony Martial

At the start of last season when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to put his faith in Anthony Martial as his number 9, many would have questioned the Norwegian’s judgement because of the Frenchman’s inconsistency. However, the Frenchman repaid the faith by having his best season since signing for the club in 2015, scoring 22 goals and providing 9 assists in all competition. The signing of Bruno Fernandes and return of Paul Pogba has also helped Martial to blossom in front of goal after the lockdown period and he has all the potential in the world to overtake the likes of Aubameyang, Salah and the rest of the best in the race for the Golden Boot this season.

Golden Glove: Ederson Moraes

A lot was talked about Manchester City’s defensive problems last season and how the injury of Aymeric Laporte led to Pep Guardiola constantly altering his defensive line. Despite all the issues in the back four, Ederson still managed to pip the fantastic Nick Pope for the Golden Glove last season which speaks volume about the quality of the ‘keeper. With the acquisition of Aké and the signing of Koulibaly looking more likely, the Brazilian would have more protection in front, making him the strongest contender for the Golden Glove.

Player of the Season: Bruno Fernandes

The accolade would once again belong to a midfielder in Manchester but this time it would move towards the red half of the city. Bruno Fernandes has been immense for Manchester United and was arguably the best player in the Premier League in 2020. Barring any major injury, the Portuguese is expected to continue his brilliant form and pip Kevin De Bruyne (who would be the closest challenger) as the player of the season.

Signing of the season: Timo Werner

Of all the business that Chelsea has done in this season, Timo Werner is the most impressive one. The former Leipzig striker is a proven goalscorer and will go directly into the starting lineup. At the age of 24, the German still has his best years ahead of him and the release clause paid by Chelsea might look like a steal in the near future.

Relegated teams: Aston Villa, Fulham and Brighton

Last season after the lockdown period, Villa managed to avoid relegation partly because of their captain fantastic Jack Grealish. Club record signing Ollie Watkins would provide an upgrade over the current attacking force but making the jump from Championship to the Premier League is something which many strikers have struggled with and it would require some performance from Dean Smith’s side to avoid the threat of relegation this season.

Just like Aston Villa, Fulham are also way too reliant on Mitrović. The Serbian was the top scorer for the London side with 26 goals in the Championship, while the second top scorer chipped in with only 8 goals. Scott Parker would also be wary of the defensive side of his team, which conceded 83 goals in the 2018-19 Premier League campaign.

And last but not the least, Brighton, since gaining promotion in 2017 have finished in the bottom six in all the three seasons. The club sacked Chris Hughton, who helped them gain promotion, and got Graham Potter to push the club closer to the top 10. However, Potter has also struggled with the squad which in the closing stages of the season finds very difficult to win games and expect their luck to run out very soon.


Top 6: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal

Liverpool are still the favourites to retain the title. With the potential arrival of Thiago, it would be hard to look past the Reds. City still struggle against low blocks as seen in the Champions League and if they manage to snare Koulibaly, it will be a much closer fight this time. 3rd and 4th is a toss-up between United and Chelsea. Chelsea, with the number of new signings, the pressure is on Lampard to find balance in the lineup and I expect United’s stability to edge him through.

Tottenham have plugged some holes in their squad and look primed to be the dark horse to challenge for top 4 while Arteta’s project at Arsenal will take more time to fully bed in.

Golden Boot: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabonese international has hit at least 20 league goals in each of his last 5 seasons. With Mikel Arteta building his attack by using him as a focal point, expect him to plunder goals by the bucket.

Golden Glove: David de Gea

Will De Gea be back to his elite best next season?

A left-field choice considering the Spaniard’s torrid form over the last 2 years but the arrival of Henderson as backup could push him to higher levels this season.

Player of the Season: Sadio Mané

The Senegalese is a very crucial cog in the Liverpool machinery. His all-around game will be crucial for Klopp’s men if they are to retain the title and he might just spearhead them to a successive domination of English football.

Signing of the season: James Rodriguez

The mercurial Colombian is finally in a team which is built around him offensively and a manager who he loves working under. His creative numbers haven’t diminished. If he remains fit, he could inspire Everton to challenge for the Europa League spots.

Relegated teams: Fulham, West Brom and Aston Villa

Unfortunately for Fulham and West Brom, their sheer quality of squad will likely take them down this year. While Villa have made sizeable upgrades, they will be in a fight with West Ham in order to avoid the drop.


Top 6: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

The race for the Premier League trophy this season, given the recruitment by the clubs chasing the champions Liverpool promises to be a tight one and it looks extremely unlikely that we would again see a gap of 18 points or more between the top 2 teams. Liverpool continue to be linked with Thiago but beyond Tsimikas at left-back, they are yet to add to an already formidable squad. Manchester City have strengthened their squad with some astute buys and remain heavily linked with Koulibaly who would undoubtedly improve their defence.

Chelsea have been the biggest spenders by some distance this summer and in Werner, Ziyech and Havertz, they have 3 new incredibly exciting attackers. Lampard has bolstered his backline with the likes of Chilwell and Thiago Silva. It remains to be seen as to how these new recruits gel together. Still though, there must be a lot of optimism in and around Stamford Bridge at such show of intent by the club.

Manchester United have once again been embroiled in a transfer saga with the player in question being Jadon Sancho, the whole ‘will he? won’t he?’ process has been on for a few months now. The club have signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax but with a very suspect centre of defence and a relatively weak selection of defensive midfielders, a lot of work still remains to be done.

Last season Arsenal and Spurs (for a large part of the season) were the two traditionally big clubs who struggled to retain their place in the Top 6 with the Gunners eventually finishing 8th and the Lilywhites scraping the 6th spot. Both the clubs have been active in the transfer market and would be hoping for a sustained Top 4 challenge this season.

Golden Boot: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

PierreEmerick Aubameyang ended last season in red hot form and if his strike against Liverpool is anything to go by, he looks to have started this season in the same vein of form and would be one of the firm favourites to win the Golden Boot this season. Last season’s top scorer Jamie Vardy alongside the likes of Sadio Mané and Sergio Agüero could be the 3 who could challenge the Gabonese forward for the top honors.

Golden Glove: Ederson Moraes

Ederson won the Golden Glove last year and it will most likely be a straight shootout between him and his compatriot Allison. Both these goalkeepers have been the top 2 in the league for the last 2 seasons and will be fighting to be the best once again. Nick Pope certainly deserves an honorable mention here as his consistency over the past few seasons has been remarkable.

Player of the Season: Kevin De Bruyne

It is incredibly difficult to look past Kevin De Bruyne in this category. The Belgian has been without doubt the best player in the Premier League over the last 5 seasons and equaled Thierry Henry’s assist record last term. He has been playing at a phenomenal level and looks set to stay there for the foreseeable future. The City midfielder’s biggest challenger for individual honors could be Mane who too had an amazing season last year.

Signing of the Season: Timo Werner

With almost 4 weeks remaining in the transfer window, this particular prediction would be a difficult one so I would caveat it by saying that if Koulibaly or Sancho were to sign for Manchester City or United respectively, then they would move to top in terms of the best signings of the season. The Premier League clubs have been very active this summer with Everton making some big-name signings (the likes of James Rodriguez will excite the Toffees). Aston Villa, Newcastle, Sheffield United and Wolves have all made impressive additions to their squads but the signing of the season for me would be Timo Werner for Chelsea. The former Leipzig is just lethal in front of goal and will thrive at Chelsea given the amount of talent that would be behind him.

Relegated teams: West Brom, West Ham and Fulham

Moyes may have too big a job on his hands to rescue West Ham from the drop

All of these teams have been the competition’s original participants, but with the tremendous change in football operations, they have failed to catch on and it is evident. Having been reduced to occasional visitors in England top-flight, Villa who barely could adapt to life in the Premier League last season don’t have much to look forward to while Fulham and West Brom still seem to only be Championship outfits at best. 


Top 6: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham

Pep Guardiola’s surprising exit from the Champions League at the hands of Lyon might just be the right motivation for his team to turn things around. The board’s backing in the market, a team full of superstars and possibly the best footballing brain in world football, City are poised to become the runaway winners, yet again.

Liverpool however, for all their heavy metal style on the pitch, have been lacklustre in the transfer window, virtually adding no players to the roster. In a league that adapts fiercely, this might just be a pebble in Klopp’s shoe on his way to defend his crown. While Frank Lampard’s team sit at the very opposite end of that spectrum, causing an uproar in the transfer market attracting mercurial talents from all over Europe, Super Frank’s project might start to take shape this season.

As for Ole’s Red Devils, just the addition of Bruno Fernandes propelled United to a third-placed finish, from position six in the table. Expecting a similar impact, the Red half of Manchester have added another creative midfielder to their ranks, but lack in quality on the bench will kill any aspirations United might have to clinch the Premier League title.

The latest addition to the famous “DNA managers” list is Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta. Pep’s apprentice did beat the Premier League’s top coaches to win silverware and has had good additions to the squad too. But with games coming thick and fast, Arsenal are bound to blunder and slip in the rankings, making way for their hefty sounding rivals.

Tottenham, in their new billion-dollar home would expect to bring back a piece for the trophy cabinet and with a serial winner in Jose at the helm, they might finally be able to end their long trophy drought. ‘The special one’s’ flair and tactical genius is a safe bet for winning trophies, England’s league title is just out of hands unless they do a serious turnaround in the transfer business.

Golden Boot: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal’s tumultuous campaigns have continued since the departure of Arsène Wenger but one man has been supreme, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese international has topped the goalscoring charts regardless of his team’s form, but now with Mikel Arteta’s project taking shape, you wouldn’t bet against the Arsenal captain taking home the ultimate individual prize.

Golden Glove: Ederson Moraes

Ederson’s a favourite amongst the MTAG writers to pick up a successive Golden Glove

City’s wall between the sticks has been one of Pep’s best buys since he began life in Manchester. Ederson, in what was dubbed as a mediocre season by City’s own high standards, produced 16 shut outs in the 2019/20 season. With an invigorated and bolstered defence, the Brazilian shotstopper looks set to defend his crown. 

Player of the Season: Kevin De Bruyne 

No player has managed to grab the PFA’s coveted trophy for two campaigns running, a testament in its own to the Premier League’s elite pool of athletes. But the man in question here is no mere athlete, is he? The most important cog in Pep’s side, Kevin De Bruyne might be the one to charge the Sky Blues to Premier League glory again, and expect fireworks!

Signing of the season: Timo Werner

Chelsea, who lived with a transfer ban in the previous season have gone all out in the window, attracting top talents and the German centre-forward might be the best of the lot. The London-based club seemed to have found their next big number 9 in Tammy Abraham but his injury and dip in form sent Chelsea into a dogfight for the top 4.

At 24, Werner has conquered Germany and will have high hopes pinned on him by the Stamford Bridge faithful if they’re to win any silverware this campaign.

Relegated teams: Fulham, West Brom and Aston Villa

All of these teams have been the competition’s original participants, but with the tremendous change in football operations, they have failed to catch on and it is evident. Having been reduced to occasional visitors in England top-flight, Villa who barely could adapt to life in the Premier League last season don’t have much to look forward to while Fulham and West Brom still seem to only be Championship outfits at best. 

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