Coral’s Premier League Predictions 2015/16: Matt Haynes
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…
The recruitment of Petr Cech will guarantee the Gunners at least 12 more points per season and is the undisputed signing of the summer. He is going to have the same effect that Edwin van der Sar had when he went to Manchester United and won them titles, so Chelsea will regret letting him switch to the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger will make a decision whether to bring in more players, though with at least £500m surplus available to him and nearly a month to asses how his team perform in the opening games, they are more than capable of winning the Premier League this season and are 7/2 with Coral to win it.
Compared to last summer, Brendan Rodgers’ or more likely the club’s executive committee have been smart in the transfer window. The signing of Christian Benteke, even at £32.5m, could be a masterstroke and, if he can reach peak fitness, he could become one of the most feared forwards in the league.
Watch out for Roberto Firmino, who is the closest the club have come to replacing Luis Suarez, while Adam Lallana could have a fantastic season should he stay fit. Snapping James Milner up on a free transfer was a clever piece of business and he will give the defence more protection alongside Jordan Henderson.
Manchester City won the title in 2011/12 but neglected to strengthen, while Manchester United did and they triumphed a season later. This then reversed as new Red Devils boss David Moyes only bought Marouane Fellaini, while City spent again and reclaimed the trophy. However, last summer, Manuel Pellegrini brought in no-one of major significance as Jose Mourinho splashed over £50m on Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas and subsequently won the Premier League.
A pattern is emerging. Chelsea have only brought in Asmir Begovic, simultaneously selling Cech to one of their biggest rivals, plus Radamel Falcao on loan, who is yet to convince in England. While there is still time left in the window, the Blues board have shown no willingness to spend heavily again and this could, ultimately cost Mourinho’s men.
Premier League defenders will also be aware of how to contain Costa, whose hamstring problems are well-documented. While they may not retain the title, do not rule the Blues out of another Champions League win at odds of 8/1.
4. Manchester United
It could well be case of third time lucky for Louis van Gaal to win the Premier League title, and he will likely learn valuable lessons next time around. The apparent refusal to buy a striker to give Wayne Rooney cover could cost United, more so if they don’t bring in a quality centre back.
While they have added four world class players in Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay, plus Sergio Romero as great goalkeeping cover, the Red Devils haven’t addressed more pressing issues. However, a trophy win could well happen, with the club 7/1 to win the Capital One Cup and the same price to lift the FA Cup. Expect Depay to outshine Rooney.
5. Manchester City
Pellegrini’s poor decisions in the transfer window could be exposed this season. While Raheem Sterling is a good player, he isn’t worth £49m and could cause the same unrest that Mario Balotelli did at the club. Fabian Delph, meanwhile, cannot hope to have the same impact that Paul Pogba would’ve if City broke the bank to get him.
Captain Vincent Kompany is a fading force and, having dismissed the opportunity to sign a capable centre back partner for him, the Etihad club will be lucky to finish in the top five next term.
Mauricio Pochettino has been a shrewd operator this summer. Snaring centre back Toby Alderweireld from under the noses of Southampton, where he spent last season on loan, was very smart and partnering him with Belgium teammate Jan Vertonghen will form a very solid base, especially with Hugo Lloris behind.
Before the transfer window closes, Spurs are likely to bring in a striker as cover for Harry Kane a winger and a central midfielder, which should definitely see them more competitive. A Europa League victory is possible, with the north London outfit 16/1 to win it. Also expect another gem to emerge.
Jay Rodriguez will be like a new signing for the Saints, and can certainly challenge to be the top English goalscorer next term , so is a superb shout at 2/1 to be Southampton’s highest. Jordy Clasie is an exceptional signing and nicknamed “The Dutch Xavi”. He will prove to be every bit as good as the Spanish pass-master. Ronald Koeman needs another centre back to make up for not retaining Alderweireld, though in short, watch this space.
8. Newcastle United
Steve McClaren has the opportunity to take the club back into folklore among fans and, after some wise buys this summer, as well as retaining key players, the feel-good factor can return to Tyneside. Both Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic are inspired signings so, should the Magpies bring in another quality centre forward, they can be one of the surprise packages this term.
9. Stoke City
An inspired performance from Mark Hughes in the transfer market has seen him bring in talented Spanish striker Joselu, flying Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay (formerly of Barcelona), compatriot Marco van Ginkel, experienced Premier League pair Shay Given and Glen Johnson, Barca youngster Mohamed El Ouriachi and Real Madrid youth star Sergio Molina.
This upgrade in quality will certainly go a long way to ensuring Stoke become an attacking force to be reckoned with, and Hughes could yet still persuade Andriy Yarmolenko to sign on at the club.
10. Crystal Palace
The Eagles will be a force next season and this could well be a conservative estimate. Alan Pardew has worked wonders, bringing in his former Newcastle player Yohan Cabaye, who can become the driving force of the side, while their already athletic attack can cause a number of teams problems.
11. Swansea City
Garry Monk has gone about his business with minimal fuss this summer, though the capture of Andre Ayew adds a an abundance of class to the south Wales side who know how to get results. Midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League and he makes them tick.
12. Aston Villa
The high-profile departures of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph won’t hurt the club as much as people think. Tim Sherwood can bring the feel-good factor back to Villa Park and has worked wisely in the transfer market. Jordan Ayew and Idrissa Gueye are canny buys, making Micah Richards, who signed on a free transfer, captain will create a new player and with Emmanuel Adebayor also expected to join this could be a very smart move.
13. West Ham United
Although the Hammers haven’t had the best of pre-seasons, it won’t take long for them gel again. Angelo Ogbonna is an astute signing for defence, while Pedro Obiang and Dimitri Payet will add an abundance of class to midfield. If they can bring in Alex Song for another season on loan or on a permanent basis, he can be a big difference between a bottom and top half finish, while it is a big season for Andy Carroll.
The Toffees may find themselves in somewhat of a sticky situation if they neglect to strengthen before the transfer window closes. So far, only Tom Cleverley on a free transfer, Gerard Deulofeu (£4.25m) and David Henen (£200k) have arrived and, especially if John Stones moves to Chelsea, Roberto Martinez needs to reinforce his defence and possibly attacking options.
15. West Bromwich Albion
The Baggies have a habit of surprising people each season and, with Tony Pulis as manager, he will ensure they don’t concede too many goals, though should star striker Saido Berahino leave, they might struggle for goals themselves. With the experience of Darren Fletcher in midfield combined with the steel of Claudio Yacob, plus seasoned centre back Joloen Lescott, the side have enough about them to stay up.
Having upgraded their defence, the Black Cats will be in the Premier League in 2016/17, while Jeremain Lens could prove to be a clever signing in attack. In Jermain Defoe, coach Dick Advocaat has a player who can score goals and any team that has this natural edge up front can easily survive. The loan signing of Yann M’Vila will add steel in midfield. More is needed before the window closes though, and they will need to invest the cash received for Connor Wickham wisely.
Eddie Howe has worked wonders with the south coast club, and he can deliver more by exceeding expectations and keeping the Cherries in the Premier League. In Callum Wilson they have a natural goalscorer and they have recruited very well in the window, blending experience with youthful talent and they may well surprise a few people this term.
18. Leicester City
Esteban Cambiasso was a big loss for the Foxes and, under new boss Claudio Ranieri, whether there will still be the same team spirit is going to be a concern for fans. They pushed their luck for the majority of last season and it could be an even bigger challenge this time around. If they strengthen considerably before the window closes and then gel quickly, Leicester could just survive again, though are 3/1 to be relegated.
19. Norwich City
Like the Baggies before them, the Canaries must shake off that all too familiar tag of ‘yo-yo’ club. They are too good for the Championship, though not good enough for the Premier League. They have some very solid players, however, to stay in the English top flight, they need to shake off the fear factor and really take the game to big teams. Nathan Redmond could be a key player if the East Anglia outfit are to survive.
Far too many changes spells disaster for the Hertfordshire side and they may well be the Premier League whipping boys. By the time the side gels, it could be too late, though strike duo Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra need to show quickly that they can do the business against the best in England.