With the beginning of August comes the anticipated start of the new football season. The transfer window is reaching its final weeks and managers are starting to form the sides they hope will bring success. Fans of opposing teams put forward their argument as to why they’ll do better than the others, leading to a flurry of differing opinions. This is no difference within Well On Paper, so here come the inaugural WOP predictions:
Premier League Title
It’s been a frantic transfer window for the heavyweights of England with multiple big money signings arriving. £70 million for Alvaro Morata, £75m for Romelu Lukaku and £50 million for Kyle Walker, how they adapt to their new clubs will influence their title aspirations.
WOP results show the possibility of a three-horse race between reigning champions Chelsea and the Manchester clubs. Antonio Conte has to show he can cope with a Champions League campaign alongside trying to keep the title at Stamford Bridge.
Their spearhead Diego Costa has been frozen out by his manager and it’s clear he has not future with the Blues after two league triumphs at the club. Whether Morata is an improvement is debatable, he is younger but doesn’t bring the pedigree of Costa. The same applies with Nemanja Matic’s sale and the arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko. Matic has proven he is a top class ball winner, Bakayoko impressed in a league winning Monaco team, but can he bring that to Chelsea?
With that inexperience and added fixture congestion, we think it’ll end up between the local rivals. Matic is one of the strangest moves of the summer, with United the new home of the Serbian. £40 million was parted with to bring him up north, but as he slots straight into the team, it allows former world record signing Paul Pogba to have more freedom and become more of an attacking influence. This can only benefit United, whilst Lukaku and Victor Lindelof come into the spine as Jose Mourinho armours to claim a league title in his second season at the helm.
However, his competition is fiercer in Pep Guardiola at City. He’s had a season to learn, practice and perfect his methods in England, now he’s ready to climb to the top. His revolution is coming full circle with Bejamin Mendy, Danilo and Walker coming in at full-back for around £125 million. That doesn’t even include Bernardo Silva who adds guile and creativity to an already stacked attack at City and promising keeper Ederson from Benfica. If the signings click and Pep finds a system that can be effective consistently, he will add England to his list of domestic honours.
This was unanimous. As the ‘big three’ go at it for the crown, Liverpool will complete the top four ahead of Spurs and Arsenal. The transfer window can sway this still with Philippe Coutinho’s future in the air, likewise Alexis Sanchez and Spurs not seriously adding to their squad. But with Mohammed Salah coming into Anfield, adding another dimension to the forward line, Jurgen Klopp’s style and improvement of his squad should see them edge out North London into fourth.
Result: City, United, Chelsea, Liverpool
With the money in the Premier League, it adds a competitive level to staying in the top flight with Bournemouth able to splash £20 million on Nathan Ake, Huddersfield swooping for Aaron Mooy and Tom Ince for a combined £18 million and Brighton breaking their club record for Matt Ryan. But there are factors that stand-out when thinking who will face the drop.
Huddersfield and Brighton are new to Premier League football and bring a fresh challenge, new stadiums and an exciting set of fans for their journey. On the other hand, most of their squads are untried at this level and it will prove decisive if they can step-up, if not they will head straight back down. Chris Hughton has top flight management under his belt with Newcastle and Norwich and had mixed results, so it’s hard to say if he can keep Brighton up. It would be miraculous for David Wagner to keep Huddersfield up, but coming in as an unknown could be an advantage.
Joining them is Watford. Marco Silva is next on the managerial merry-go-round at Vicarage Road. They haven’t set the world a light since promotion a couple years ago and just about avoided trouble last year. Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah are good prospects, but it may be one season too far for the Hornets.
Result: Watford, Huddersfield, Brighton
As close as the Premier League can be, the Championship is arguably the most unpredictable and competitive league in Europe. Typified with Huddersfield, relegation survivors for years, gaining promotion via the play-offs last season. Another batch of English giants join the division and we make them favourites to go back up.
John Terry is Aston Villa’s marquee transfer and we expect his stature and surreal success to be passed around Villa Park. Steve Bruce has an impressive promotion record, Villa could be next. Middlesbrough have bought well with Martin Braithwaite joining from Toulouse and Britt Assombalonga adding Championship proven quality to Garry Monk’s team. As they take the automatic spots, Wolves’ Portuguese revolution, Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday will compete for that play-off title.
Result: Villa, Boro, Wolves
This is highly likely to change following the astonishing £198 million transfer of Neymar to PSG, but we gave it a go. Barcelona have enormous funds to bulk their squad depth and ultimately, possess the best player in world football, but new manager Valverde must prove himself at Camp Nou. Real Madrid aim for an unprecedented third European crown in a row, the transfer window will also hinder their fate with Kylian Mbappe on their radar. Not to mention, Neymar’s new club PSG are lining up an almighty charge at the Champions League. If they somehow can afford to bolster their team further, they will be lead contenders for the title.
But, Bayern Munich come out as our pick for the Champions League as Carlo Ancelotti looks for another title to add to his cabinet. The loan signing of James Rodriguez looks brilliant and despite a dreadful pre-season, they have great squad depth to go all the way.
Result: Bayern Munich
Do you agree or disagree? Have we missed someone out? Which transfers could affect the predictions? Let us know via Twitter (@wellonpaper) or in the comments below!
(Featured Image credit- skysports.com)