Coral’s Premier League predictions 2015/16: Sam Barnard
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…
Although the defending champions (15/8 title favourites) have added just former Manchester United flop loanee Radamel Falcao and Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic to their roster, they still have by far the strongest squad in the top flight.
2. Manchester United
Don’t be fooled by Louis van Gaal’s decision to let attackers Falcao, Robin van Persie, Nani and Angel Di Maria go, as he is building something special. United finished fourth last term, despite not playing to their potential, so back them to finally find their feet again.
To date, Petr Cech is the Gunners’ only notable summer signing, but the Czech is a Premier League legend and finally a keeper Arsene Wenger can trust. They’ll be full of confidence after winning the FA Cup last term as well as the Community Shield recently.
4. Manchester City
The Citizens have basically been limited to signing English players this summer, to fulfil their homegrown quota, and it remains to be seen whether Fabian Delph can offer anything special, or Raheem Sterling can live up to his hefty price tag.
After signing too many players last season following the big-money sale of Luis Suarez, Liverpool have done it again. However, this time it seems they have spent wisely to gain the likes of James Milner, Christian Benteke and Nathaniel Clyne.
Spurs have sold more than they’ve bought, and could drop a place from their fifth-place finish last term. It is hard to imagine Harry Kane matching his goalscoring feat last season again without investing in extra support.
7. Stoke City
The Potters have certainly been the surprise package in the summer transfer window, and Mark Hughes has used his links with Barcelona well again, snapping up Ibrahim Afellay and Moha El Ouriachi. On top of that, Marco van Ginkel, Glen Johnson and Joselu have joined.
Are Jordy Clasie and Steven Caulker good enough replacements for Morgan Schneiderlin and Toby Alderweireld respectively? Perhaps not, but they should be able to help the Saints to a third consecutive top 10 finish.
The Toffees started last season poorly, but did manage to catch up to finish 11th. They should do better this time around and can get back into the top 10, if they can find more cover at the back.
10. Crystal Palace
Alan Pardew was a returning hero to Palace last term, guiding them to 10th place (6/4 to do so or higher again), and the signings of Yohan Cabaye, Connor Wickham and Patrick Bamford (loan) will only be good for them. It will be difficult for the Eagles to out-place the above clubs, though.
11. Swansea City
Garry Monk’s Swans had a terrific 2014/15 campaign, somehow finishing in eighth despite the loss of Wilfried Bony mid-season. While they added to their squad, it may be difficult for them to match that feat, but they can still come a respectable 11th.
12. West Ham United
The Hammers have had a busy summer in terms of transfers, and have appointed former player Slaven Bilic as their new head coach. They have looked fairly shaky in pre-season, but can match their 12th-place finish they achieved last term.
13. Aston Villa
Under Tim Sherwood, Villa looked a side full of confidence, despite only finishing 17th last campaign. They have lost key players Benteke, Delph and Ron Vlaar, but have heavily recruited and could be surprise packages.
14. West Bromwich Albion
Tony Pulis has the record of never being relegated from the Premier League, and has added James McClean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert to his team. The Baggies should be safe, but don’t expect anything special from them.
15. Newcastle United
Pantomime club Newcastle have been relatively sensible this summer, and have added Netherlands international Georginio Wijnaldum to their ranks. New boss Steve McClaren will have to work miracles if he is to improve on the Magpies’ 15th-place finish last term.
Championship winners Bournemouth (5/4 to be top promoted team) have done a remarkable job under hero Eddie Howe to reach the top flight, and look decent shouts to emulate predecessors Leicester City in staying up.
17. Leicester City
Esteban Cambiasso and Nigel Pearson may have gone, but former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is a highly experienced coach and can keep them up for a second season following promotion.
Dick Advocaat was initially unsure if he fancied a second season at Sunderland after saving them from relegation, but has decided to carry on. However, the Black Cats have been unable to attract top talent, so back them for the drop at 2/1.
Newly-promoted Watford really have gone transfer crazy this summer, signing no less than 10 players. The players don’t have long to gel, and it could result in them going back down.
20. Norwich City
Would signings such as Graham Dorrans, Youssouf Mulumbu, Robbie Brady and Andre Wisdom fill fans with great confidence after being promoted via the Championship play-off final – the most lucrative match in football? They are 4/1 shouts to finish bottom.