That wonderful little World Cup business meant that we we hardly missed the Premier League’s absence this summer, didn’t it? That said, we’re now more than ready for its return. With three stalwarts in Stoke, Swansea and West Brom departing and three old boys in Wolves, Fulham and Cardiff returning and a swathe of pricey new squad additions for almost everyone, we’re all but guaranteed another bumper year of thrills n’ spills and more football than you can shake a lino’s flag at.
We’ll be showing all the live games throughout the year and teaming up fixtures with drinks, food and table deals. You can keep an eye out for the games and events that are on at your local Rileys here…
How’s the 2018/19 Premier League season going to shape up, though? Well, it’s almost impossible to tell. Here’s how it could go down, though…
Not many Premier League winners retain their crown. In fact, no one’s managed it since the 2008/09 season. So history is against Manchester City a little bit here. The bookies aren’t, though. City are odds on to pick up the trophy again next year. Their closest rivals? Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp strengthened massively over the summer, bringing in the likes of Allison, Fabinho and Naby Keita. No other club has recruited as shrewdly – or spent as much as Liverpool.
The red half of Manchester are a huge 12/1 to win the trophy, with the unrest over Jose Mourinho proving enough to make most football fans think United could well be in for a stinker this time out. Arsenal are entering a new era under Unai Emery but surely they can’t mount a serious title bid? Spurs are capable of running City close, but with no show of intent from Daniel Levy over the summer, you can’t look beyond Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City for the title. Especially given they’ve just signed Riyad Mahrez who helped guide Leicester ruddy City to a Premier League win only a couple of short years ago.
Prediction: Manchester City.
Fighting for the Champions League
So if City win again, that leaves a dogfight for the other spots. Only three of Arsenal, United, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool can get Champions League places. You’ve got to imagine that the newly-invigorated Merseysiders will easily bag one of those spots. And as much as Jose’s looking more than capable of throwing his toys out of Old Trafford, would you really put it past him to just drudge his way to one of the other CL slots…? We wouldn’t.
New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri may struggle to replicate the early success of his predecessor Antonio Conte and with major stars’ heads turned, The Blues may miss out on Europe. So with the West Londoners perhaps left wanting, it’s a fight in the north of the capital for the remaining Champions League spot. Spurs vs. Arsenal. Poch vs. Emery. We’ll go with recent history and the ability of Kane & Co.
Prediction: Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham we see filling out the remaining Champions League places.
Could spring a surprise
Last year saw Ol’ Wotsits Stubble himself, Sean Dyche, lead his Burnley side to glory, finishing fifth. Could we be lined up for some similar heroics this time out? Well, possibly. Many fancy Wolves, fresh from free-flowing football and a string of wins last season to keep up the pace this time out. With players like Moutinho and Rui Patricio joining the likes of Diogo Jota and Leo Bonatini, it’s more than possible.
Fulham are another promoted clubs that have signed well in the tranfer market and could impress in the big time. Slaviša Jokanović welcomes Ligue 1’s most creative player, Jean Michael Seri, to Craven Cottage. As well as André Schürrle.
West Ham have spent big but also wisely over the summer. And in Manuel Pellegrini they have nous and experience. We expect a decent showing from them this season.
Will take mid-table
We can’t see Everton making much of a charge in 2018/19, so anywhere between 8th and 14th may be in store for them. The same, we feel, can be said for the likes of Crystal Palace, Burnley and Leicester City. All have enough talent to avoid huge issues, but don’t boast even talent of squad depth to challenge for Europe.
While Fulham and Wolves hope to push on this season, Cardiff City, under the wily tutelage of the whinging old bag of football Neil Warnock, will hope merely to survive. Whether they will or not will be down to how much fight the former Sheffield United boss can instill in his Bluebirds.
Huddersfield did well last season and impress more than a few football fans. But many think they could struggle this season and they’re among the favourites to drop back down a league. It’s that second season thing that worries many Terriers fans. Watford have been up for a good few seasons and ducked and dived to great effect. But losing their best players and making no significant signings – along with having a relatively uninspiring manager in Javi Gracia could mean they’ll be deep in the mire.
Expect to hear squeaky bums in nine months’ time in places like Southampton, Brighton, Bournemouth and Newcastle too.
Prediction: Cardiff, Huddersfield and Watford for the drop.
Top scorer hopefuls
Sometimes the top goalscorer comes from leftfield. We all take it as read that Mo Salah is the deadliest player in the league now, but twelve months ago he was just a Chelsea flop Liverpool had spent a ton of money on. So there’s a chance the Golden Boot lands on the foot of a rum shout (just not much of a chance).
Salah is second favourite for the prize, after Harry Kane who is the very firm favourite. Man City’s Sergio Agüero can’t be ignored, nor can Romelu Lukaku or Arsenal’s Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Prediction: If he can avoid injuries we reckon Sergio Leonel “Kun” Agüero could be the man for it this year.
No one likes to criticise anyone before a ball’s been kicked (well, alright, most of us do…), so we’ll keep this section brief. Who’s in line for a bit of a fall this year? Well, club-wise, Burnley will want to kick on from fifth, but it won’t get any better for them we don’t think. The only way is down (the league, not the leagues…) for the club that only signed one arguably first team player this close season. Leicester City‘s manager Claude Puel is red-hot favourite to the be the first boss sacked, so that’s not good news for them. We see a bit of a poor season for The Foxes.
Player-wise? Well, much is expected of Richarlison at Everton. But at that price? Hmmm. He’s got ‘flop’ written all over him. He was usually pretty awful away from home last season. Though we hope we’re wrong.
That’s how we see it, anyway. But who cares who says what, eh? The talking is nearly over. It’s not about people rattling on and on now. It’s about football. And we’re more than ready for its return… Join us for live games – your local Rileys will be showing ’em all! You can check what live matches are on throughout the season here.