Coral’s Premier League predictions 2015/16: Jamie Clark
It’s that time of year again. With the new Premier League campaign about to kick-off, Coral experts bring you our predictions for which teams we think will finish top of the pile and who will be left scrapping for survival…
Many commentators said the title race was boring last term. It is shaping up to be anything but this term. Blues boss Jose Mourinho reluctantly let Petr Cech, but it could be a move that comes back to bite Stamford Bridge. Chelsea still have the most complete squad, however, and they are worthy 7/4 favourites to retain the title.
Cech’s capture can improve the Gunners, and see them run their London rivals close, but Arsene Wenger is still light in central defence and the anchorman role. Arsenal’s roster are always stretched by injuries at some point and, with Jack Wilshere already out, this is rearing its ugly head already.
There is a lot to like about the Red Devils, and punters can expect them to cope a whole lot better than bitter rivals Liverpool did when returning to the Champions League. Matteo Darmian is a real gem at full back, and could prove to be the best of their signings. Memphis Depay should deliver, while Louis van Gaal has to keep Bastian Schweinsteiger and skipper Wayne Rooney fit.
4. Manchester City
Raheem Sterling is scarcely worth half the £49m the Etihad outfit splashed on him and Fabian Delph’s mercenary move from Aston Villa may see him reap what they sow. Should Sergio Aguero sustain another injury, Manuel Pellegrini is snookered and it’s just paving the way for another title push under successor in waiting Pep Guadiola in 2016/17.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has has his best summer of recruitment to date at Anfield. Christian Benteke has to stay fit, as Daniel Sturridge cannot, but it’s Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne who look the most astute additions. Liverpool should take the Europa League seriously and try to win it, as it could their only way of getting back to the Champions League.
Spurs need backup to Harry Kane, and badly. Shrewd chairman Daniel Levy needs to move heaven and earth to get forward flops Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado off the books (he managed it with French defensive midfield duo Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli), and a replacement in quickly. Toby Alderweireld might just give the White Hart Lane rearguard its solidity, which it is so often criticised for lacking.
The Potters are pushing for improvement, if their ambitious recruitment drive is any indicator, and Mark Hughes’ men could well getting. Signing someone like Netherlands international winger Ibrahim Afellay would’ve been impossible under Tony Pulis but, with Bojan and Peter Odemwingie both back, there is competition for places up top, despite Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross’ back injury ruling him out for two months.
8. Crystal Palace
If Stoke’s recruitment has caught the eye, then Crystal Palace have a huge candidate for signing of the summer in their capture of Yohan Cabaye. Alan Pardew can continue to get the Eagles up the table (6/4 for another top 10 finish), and has recruited smartly by also adding Patrick Bamford on loan from Chelsea and free agent Bakary Sako, who should cut it at this level, among others.
9. Newcastle United
A top 10 finish and marked improvement is entirely possible for the Magpies under Steve McClaren. They have strengthened every area they needed to, with Chancel Mbemba an outstanding all-round defensive prospect, Netherlands international Georgino Wijnaldum to provide goals and guile from midfield, and Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic hungry to test himself against the best.
Many tipped the Saints to struggle last season and instead they improved. They have a Europa League campaign to juggle with alongside domestic commitments, however, and Ronald Koeman’s roster does not look to be of a sufficient size or have sufficient strength in depth to cope and kick on.
Andre Ayew is a great signing, but the Swans hit a ceiling last term. Underestimating managerial novice Garry Monk was a mistake, but his tactics look predictable before a ball has been kicked. The Liberty Stadium wingers will look to find Bafetimbi Gomis and Eder at every opportunity, with Gylfi Sigurdsson supporting behind whoever leads the attack. Premier League teams will figure Swansea’s shifting style out quickly.
12. West Ham United
New Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has already seen his side bow out of the Europa League, and that is an early embarrassment for his reign. Fans moan no end about how they want to be in Europe, and for the second campaign they’ve had this century in continental competition their team bottled it. Injuries and suspensions played their part, but its hard to see them improving on what Sam Allardyce did at Upton Park.
The Toffees are in real danger of being left behind. While other clubs have made impressive signings, Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu are not enough on their own to improve things at Goodison Park. Reliant on Romelu Lukaku up front, Kevin Mirallas could still leave and give Roberto Martinez problems. Everton are worryingly light in defence and, regardless of whether John Stones leaves, they need cover.
14. West Bromwich Albion
If your team is coached by Tony Pulis, that guarantees Premier League safety. Don’t expect the Baggies to be any great shakes, as summer signings James McClean, Rickie Lambert and James Chester all have plenty to prove.
15. Aston Villa
Tim Sherwood has lost Benteke and Delph, and those brought in as replacements lack Premier League experience. Like their rivals West Brom, Villa should stay up comfortably.
The Cherries will relish playing top-flight football for the first time, and have plenty of potential to stay up under Eddie Howe. Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings are great signings, while Callum Wilson can emulate Charlie Austin’s exploits in his maiden Premier League season.
Dick Advocaat is not a long-term fix for the Black Cats, and his signing of injury-prone defensive duo Sebastian Coates and Younes Kaboul is a huge risk. Jeremain Lens, the only attacking arrival to date at the Stadium of Light, has chosen question career moves before and this is another one.
18. Norwich City
Alex Neil’s Canaries will struggle upon their Premier League return and, although some canny additions have been made, they may just be beaten by Sunderland in the survival scrap.
19. Leicester City
Claudio Ranieri is dining off his reputation at Chelsea, established a decade ago, and the Foxes are flirting with disaster (3/1 to go down) if the Italian’s terrible foray into international management with Greece is any indicator. Second season syndrome should rear its ugly head here, because ‘the Tinkerman’ will not be able to help himself and never name a settled Leicester side.
Whatever identity the Hornets had in getting up from the Championship has been lost by a change of coach and personnel en masse. Only Troy Deeney and Heurelho Gomes at either ends of the pitch can be truly sure of their place from last term’s XI. Quique Sanchez Flores has it all to do at Vicarage Road, but may not last the campaign.