It feels like two minutes have passed since Gianluigi Donnarumma beat away Bukayo Saka’s penalty to win Euro 2020 for Italy and break England hearts, but apparently the new Premier League season starts on Friday.
Manchester City have spent £100 million on Jack Grealish and Chelsea are on the verge of reuniting with Romelu Lukaku, while we say a warm hello to Norwich, Watford and Brentford who arrive from the Championship.
So how might this season play out and where could your team finish in the table? With a big reminder to not take this too seriously, here's the definitive run-down of how the Premier League table will 100% look come May – all before a ball is kicked.
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1. Chelsea

And the winners of the 2021-22 Premier League are… Chelsea! Or at least they could be.
The Blues are the only team without a question mark in any position, assuming the deal for Romelu Lukaku gets over the line as expected. Goalkeeper: class. Defence: class. Midfield: class. Attack: Soon to be class.
Since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, Chelsea have kept the most clean sheets, conceded the fewest goals and are unbeaten against the other teams in the top seven. It was against the smaller teams where Chelsea fell short last season, but with the imminent arrival of Lukaku, one of football’s finest flat-track bullies, that should be set to change. The title beckons.

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2. Liverpool

  • Last season: 3rd
  • Title odds: 5-1
It will hurt Liverpool that when their wait for a Premier League title came to an end, they were unable to celebrate with their supporters.
The last time they played in a full stadium, they were carving their way to an unprecedented title-winning margin. Then Covid hit, fans were banished, they limped over the line and haven’t been the same since.
Now with Virgil van Dijk back alongside under-the-radar signing Ibrahima Konate in defence, Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to deliver a second title. Something happens at Anfield when it’s packed with supporters – more so than any other club. Will it be enough? Given Chelsea’s recent recruitment, and the likely absence of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane during the Africa Cup of Nations, not quite.

3. Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally has a squad of players that want to be at the club. And with the addition of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, plus Paul Pogba’s impressive return to form, this is a team that can challenge for the title.
But will they win it? Marcus Rashford will be a big miss as he recovers from shoulder surgery, heaping more early expectation on Sancho, while the lack of a leading defensive midfielder – to replace the industrious but limited pair of Fred and Scott McTominay – suggests they will just fall short.

4. Manchester City

‘But—but—Man City won the league by 12 points’. It’s a fair argument, concerned reader. But last season was an anomaly with a condensed schedule favouring the best squad and teams not reliant on their fans (i.e. Man City).
Of course this prediction is conditional on them not signing Harry Kane, which looks 50-50 at this stage. Jack Grealish is a nice addition, but how many points does he guarantee City this season over what they already had? He’s unlikely to have the same impact as Lukaku, for example.
With Chelsea looking formidable, Liverpool boasting the Van Dijk-supporters combo, and Man Utd strengthening at both ends of the pitch, it’s going to be a tricky proposition for City to retain their title.
It's worth remembering that their main ambition is to win the Champions League, particularly after defeat to Chelsea in the final last season. Will they be prepared to go all-in on a title race when the trophy they really crave continues to elude them?

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5. Tottenham

It might only be one place between fourth and fifth, but we’re jumping over a vast chasm to get here. This won’t be a case of ‘just missing out on the Champions League’ – this is a battle way below a runaway top four.
This Tottenham squad had the confidence battered out of them by Jose Mourinho, and Nuno was the last manager left to take the job, so it’s easy to forget that it’s still packed with talent. Kane’s departure is far from certain and with Son Heung-min at the club, plus the arrival of Cristian Romero to shore up an ailing defence, they can still chalk up the points.
Much will depend on how they juggle the unappealingly-titled UEFA Europa Conference League, but this Spurs side should surprise a few this season.

6. Leicester City

  • Last season: 5th
  • Title odds: 50-1
We know how Leicester operate by now: peak in the middle of the season, then sink like a stone as soon as the first ‘could they win the Premier League title’ article surfaces.
Any player that arrives from talent farm RB Salzburg is worth taking notice of and Patson Daka is no different, so expect the goals to flow again for Leicester with Jamie Vardy and ‘Senior Man’ Kelechi Iheanacho also in tow.
But with the top four looking exceptionally strong this year, it feels Leicester may have missed their moment to return to the Champions League.

Patson Daka of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Queens Park Rangers and Leicester City at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on July 31, 2021 in London, England.

Image credit: Getty Images

7. Aston Villa

  • Last season: 11th
  • Title odds: 200-1
Are three players better than one? Aston Villa will certainly hope so after Jack Grealish’s departure paved the way for Danny Ings, Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey to join.
Two of them are proven in the Premier League – Ings guarantees goals when fit, while Buendia arrives after being named the Championship’s best player (15 goals, 15 assists) – and it wasn’t long ago that England fans were desperately praying Bailey would make a shock nationality switch ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
With Emi Martinez again guarded by impressive duo Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, Villa have a golden chance to pursue European football this term.

8. Everton

  • Last season: 10th
  • Title odds: 100-1
It always seems we’re hyping Everton moments before they let us down. It’s only 10 months since we were all crowning them champions, James Rodriguez pulling the strings for Carlo Ancelotti as the Toffees led the way after six games. Both have rewarded Everton’s faith and vision by disappearing – the former doing very little after the autumn, and likely to leave this summer, and the latter abandoning the project to re-join Real Madrid.
Will it work under Rafa Benitez, the man who masterminded rival Liverpool’s run to the Champions League in 2005? The Spaniard will be boosted by Richarlison’s recent exploits, which saw him leave Tokyo 2020 as top scorer with an Olympic gold medal. Complemented by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, there are goals in this team.
But Everton always have a slump, hence the good – but not great – prediction.

9. Arsenal

  • Last season: 8th
  • Title odds: 50-1
Nearly everyone is predicting Arsenal to finish seventh. Below the big six, but certainly better than those below. Why?
If fans were allowed into stadiums last season, and Mikel Arteta didn’t look like a football manager, there is not a chance he would still be in charge. What we mistook for genius in his early press conferences was in fact the rambling clichés of a man who has failed to inspire anything of note at the Emirates.
Arteta is fortunate that he has two brilliant youngsters at his disposal: Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. But unless he can find a way to get regular goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, it’s going to be another tough season – even with the addition of £50m man Ben White at the back.

10. West Ham

  • Last season: 6th
  • Title odds: 150-1
There’s no shame in finishing in midtable, even if the Hammers will rightly dream of more. We’ve seen many times before how European runs often stretch squads unfamiliar with midweek football, while West Ham's best player from last season’s European push – Jesse Lingard – is not coming back.
There is a wildcard, however. Said Benrahma had a quiet first season at the London Stadium, often earning his minutes from the bench, but the Algerian has five goal involvements in his last three pre-season outings and anyone familiar with his Brentford exploits will know how good he is when on form.

11. Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • Last season: 13th
  • Relegation odds: 5/1
If Bruno Lage had joined Wolves two summers ago, at the peak of his old Benfica side’s heyday, then we would be tipping them to break into the top four. But after his title defence unravelled in Portugal, Lage has spent a year in the managerial wilderness before taking the top job at Molineux.
Raul Jimenez is back after fracturing his skull in November, while Francisco Trincao – another one from the Jorge Mendes stable – arrives from Barcelona. With so much unknown about this Wolves side, and their manager, you feel they could finish anywhere from eighth to 18th. So, err, 11th is the prediction.

Raul Jimenez

Image credit: Getty Images

12. Leeds United

  • Last season: 9th
  • Relegation odds: 10/1
If there’s one thing we know about Marcelo Bielsa, it’s that the good times don’t last forever. But he’s making a pretty good fist of it at Elland Road.
It’s hard to see them being dragged into the mess below, but improving on last season’s ninth-placed showing also seems unlikely.
Bielsa will be acutely aware of what happened to Sheffield United after their first season of playing against-the-odds attacking football in this division. Once they were figured out, it quickly unravelled. This Leeds side has more variety and quality than that Blades outfit, but expect them to be picked off more this season.

13. Brighton

  • Last season: 16th
  • Relegation odds: 6/1
We’re now firmly into ‘anyone could go down territory’.
But you feel Brighton, under Graham Potter, are ready for a breakout season. They finished fifth in the murky world of the expected goals (xG) table last season, rather than their actual position of 16th, highlighting an inability to take big chances.
With £50m in the coffers following Ben White’s exit to Arsenal, surely this is the time to get a proven striker in to fire them up the table. The Seagulls also welcome Enock Mwepu, another young Zambian from RB Salzburg, who should be a useful addition.

Danny Welbeck of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United at American Express Community Stadium on May 15, 2021 in Brighton

Image credit: Getty Images

14. Newcastle United

  • Last season: 12th
  • Relegation odds: 11/4
Any team with a fit and firing Allan Saint-Maximin should be safe automatically. Boosted by the Frenchman’s return, Newcastle finished last season strongly to quieten any worries ahead of this season.
But pessimism still exists, particularly around Steve Bruce’s tactics and Mike Ashley’s never-ending ownership. The fans will play a huge role in which way this season goes – stay onside with the team and they should have enough, particularly if Callum Wilson chips in with another double-digit haul.

15. Burnley

  • Last season: 17th
  • Relegation odds: 5/2
Thought Burnley was a tough place to go? They took just a single point off the top seven at Turf Moor last season. Much of that was due to the absence of supporters, who will return to create a typically hostile atmosphere this time around.
Their squad is limited, but Sean Dyche knows how to keep teams in the Premier League. This will be their sixth straight season in the top-flight and it’s hard to bet against them making it seven.

16. Brentford

  • Last season: Championship play-off winners
  • Relegation odds: 11/10
Ivan Toney arrives as the standout player from the promoted sides, having fired 31 goals last season in Brentford's promotion-winning campaign. He's even said the club are aiming to win the Premier League, but we’ll tone down those expectations and tip the Bees for safety – just.
They are not going to be a typical promoted side, trying to grind out results, and will stick with Thomas Frank’s daring high-press. Will it lead to some big defeats? Probably. But with Toney, they have a striker who could hit 15 goals and that’s usually enough.

17. Crystal Palace

  • Last season: 14th
  • Relegation odds: 7/4
Crystal Palace’s fate rests on one question: can Patrick Vieira get the best out of Wilfried Zaha? After playing much of last season upfront, Vieira has trialled the Ivorian on the wing in pre-season and could persist that way, assuming the goals don’t completely dry up for Christian Benteke.
There are big concerns, however. Palace have lost a lot of experience with Patrick van Aanholt, Andros Townsend and Mamadou Sakho among those to depart this summer on free transfers, while Eberechi Eze could be out until 2022 with an Achilles injury.
And then there's the Africa Cup of Nations. Zaha, Cheikhou Kouyate, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew could all be absent in January, and potentially early February, as they depart for international duty. Sounds ominous, doesn't it?
But in Zaha, they have the player in this relegation battle – someone capable of dragging an inexperienced side through a dog-fight – while 19-year-old Michael Olise will add creativity in the absence of Eze. Vieira will just have to turn off his phone until after deadline day and pray for a swift Ivory Coast exit in Cameroon...

Wilfried Zaha

Image credit: Getty Images

18. Southampton

  • Last season: 15th
  • Relegation odds: 10/3
Something isn’t quite right at Southampton. Since January 16, they have lost 15 of 21 games in the Premier League and were fortunate to have enough of a cushion to swerve a relegation battle last season.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side often start games well, and can rattle the biggest sides, but all too often they fail to sustain it for 90 minutes and leak soft goals. With Danny Ings departed, their goal threat now rests on the shoulders of Che Adams and new recruit Adam Armstrong, who bagged 28 goals in the Championship last season for Blackburn Rovers.
But with the latest 9-0 defeat still fresh in their minds, it's at the other end of the pitch where the worry is for the Saints. Only West Brom conceded more than them in the Premier League last season, and we all know what happened to them. It looks set to be a difficult season at St Mary’s.

19. Norwich City

  • Last season: 1st in Championship
  • Relegation odds: 10-11 (fav)
Emi Buendia and Oliver Skipp, arguably Norwich’s two best players last season, will play no role in their survival mission after the former moved to Aston Villa and the latter rejoined Tottenham. It leaves them in an alarming position ahead of their latest quest for top-flight survival.
Can Josh Sargent, who scored seven Bundesliga goals last season before being relegated with Werder Bremen, really make the difference? It seems unlikely.
Norwich always have the entertainment factor, and will court plenty of goodwill again with their attractive football. But that’s often why they yo-yo between the divisions – too good for the Championship, not quite street-smart enough for the Premier League.

Norwich City

Image credit: Getty Images

20. Watford

  • Last season: 2nd in Championship
  • Relegation odds: Evens
Watford had the stingiest defence in the Championship last season as they earned automatic promotion, but where are the goals going to come from?
Ismaila Sarr was top scorer from out wide, firing 13, with no other player cracking double figures. Emmanuel Dennis arrives from Club Brugge and Josh King on a free transfer to give Hornets fans a glimmer of hope, but one of them will need an unbelievable season if they are to stay up.
Get this article plastered on your dressing room wall, Xisco Munoz, and prove this wrong...

Full predicted table - at a glance

  • 1. Chelsea
  • 2. Liverpool
  • 3. Manchester United
  • 4. Manchester City
  • 5. Tottenham
  • 6. Leicester City
  • 7. Aston Villa
  • 8. Everton
  • 9. Arsenal
  • 10. West Ham
  • 11. Wolves
  • 12. Leeds United
  • 13. Brighton
  • 14. Newcastle
  • 15. Burnley
  • 16. Brentford
  • 17. Crystal Palace
  • 18. Southampton
  • 19. Norwich City
  • 20. Watford
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02/12/2022 AT 06:40