6 ridiculously early 2019/20 Premier League predictions
The 2018/19 season has only just finished, but this is what our writers think could happen in the coming year.
One of the Big Six to miss out on top six
Highlighting the top six’s domination of the Premier League is misleading, given that it was only Manchester City and Liverpool who took command this season.
The others are closing in on them. In the last 10 games of the campaign, Manchester United ranked 14th for points, Tottenham were 12th and Arsenal were 10th, with only slim margins deciding several of their matches earlier in the season.
Unlike Arsenal and United, Wolves, Leicester and Watford have a clear long-term strategy for success that will edge them closer to the top, while Everton should continue to improve under Marco Silva.
Wolves have proved that every top-six side bar City and Liverpool are fallible, and I expect at least one of they and Leicester – also backed considerably financially – to spoil the party next season.
Jamie Vardy to score 20+ goals
Vardy proved this season that he’s among the most formidable forwards in the league when Leicester aren’t in a period of managerial turmoil.
The England international scored 18 Premier League goals despite spending most of the campaign featuring under a manager who didn’t play to his strengths, and netted 10 in 11 games after Claude Puel was sacked in February.
That run was his most prolific since he scored in 11 successive matches back in 2015.
Vardy clearly isn’t slowing down.
He’s finished among the league’s top five scorers in three of the last four seasons, so winning the Golden Boot isn’t far off, particularly given that three players split the honour with just 22 goals this term.
With all of the top-six sides splitting their goals between two or more forwards, Vardy has a chance to outscore them all in a full season under Brendan Rodgers.
Championship play-off winner to finish in the top 10
This is based on the assumption that either Aston Villa or Leeds win the play-offs.
But the last two seasons have shown that promoted sides need not be satisfied with a year of firefighting, given Wolves finished seventh this term and Newcastle came 10th in 2017/18.
Villa and Leeds both have players who should easily make the transition between the Championship and Premier League – I’m looking at you, Jack Grealish and Pablo Hernandez – while both clubs have the backing, fanbase and reputation that would make them an attractive prospect to new players if promoted.
Their respective managers should both be adept a step higher, too.
Dean Smith took Aston Villa from 14th in October to the play-offs, having won 10 of their final 12 league games this season, while Marcelo Bielsa has revolutionised an under-performing Leeds side and will surely flourish in the top tier.
Burnley to be relegated
Burnley had a tough 2018/19 season, with the distraction of Europa League qualifying causing an early slump before a mid-season resurgence saved them from the drop by six points.
Granted, they will not have an early start to worry about this time around, but you do wonder how much more Sean Dyche – who has been at the club for seven years – can do with the resources available.
Most worryingly for the Clarets is the fact that there will be very few weak sides in the Premier League next season. Several clubs, including Burnley, were helped this season by the presence of three poor teams in Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield, but that does not look to be the case next term.
All three clubs who come up from the Championship look strong, while Southampton and Newcastle both improved significantly towards the end of 2018/19.
It looks like the perfect storm for Burnley to be sent packing.
Mason Greenwood to win first senior England cap
After a season banging in the goals for various youth sides, Greenwood’s performance in Manchester United’s 2-0 pathetic final-day defeat to Cardiff proved that he is ready for senior football.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already said that Greenwood, who is fast, intelligent and can finish with either foot, will get chances next season. That will presumably be in the Europa League to start with, but Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi has shown how impressive displays in that competition can lead to first-team and international recognition.
Should Greenwood’s impact in 2019/20 be anything like that of Hudson-Odoi’s in 2018/19, it’s feasible that Gareth Southgate, who doesn’t have loads of strikers to choose from, will look closely at United’s gifted 17-year-old.
Michy Batshuayi to be Chelsea’s Premier League top scorer
This one relies on so many moving parts our traders aren't able to price it up...yet.
Chelsea’s transfer ban and the inevitable departure of Eden Hazard has come at a good time for the unappreciated members of their squad.
But whereas Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have shown enough to justify more minutes in midfield, they’ve no obvious solution up front.
Maurizio Sarri clearly doesn’t fancy Olivier Giroud – only giving him seven Premier League starts this season – while all five of Gonzalo Higuain’s goals came against bottom-half sides, two of which have since been relegated.
Even if they find a loophole that will allow them to spend some money this summer, how many sought-after strikers are going to want to sign for a club who have just lost the most creative player in England?
Recalling Tammy Abraham is an option, but Batshuayi ought to be first in line after scoring six goals in his last 10 games for a Crystal Palace side who were struggling to find the net before he arrived.
He did well on loan at Dortmund, has a good international record for Belgium and has already scored 19 goals for the Blues despite limited opportunity.
Just imagine what he could do with a decent run in the team.
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