Predicting Barclays Premier League nine best teams

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

Last season, it was a two-team race to win the Barclays Premier League. Liverpool won the league finishing with 99 points while Manchester City finished with 81. The third and fourth place teams, Manchester United and Chelsea both finished with 66 points. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a competition toward the end of the season. Will this year be the same, or do we have some new contenders for the 2020-21 season?

Of the 20 teams in the league, only nine of them really have the firepower and quality to win the hardest league in the world. So, let’s start from the bottom I suppose.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers have one player that can make or break their season based on his own success and that is forward Adama Traore. Last season he made 27 shots and only scored four goals and assisted nine. He’s not afraid to shoot, though, taking 43 shots. However, only 12 made it on target. If the Wolves have a chance at all, Traore will have to do a little bit more, but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment as he is still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. It’s not looking too good for Wolverhampton.

The next team are the 5000 to one odds beating Leicester City who won the league in the 2015-16 season. These guys finished in fifth last season with 62 points, which isn’t a bad finish for them. Obviously, they’d love to be playing in the Champions League, but that’ll have to wait until next season. Forward Jamie Vardy scored an astonishing 23 goals in 35 games, but he can’t do it all himself. They won the league four years ago because they had an overall solid, well-balanced team. They can’t rely on Vardy to do it all again, however, if Vardy is on fire again this season, they could sneak into the top four if they beat a few of these bigger teams coming up later on the list.

Next up is Everton. They just signed James Rodriguez for an undisclosed amount, and I think that he’ll be the key that finishes them well above the mediocre 12th place they finished a season ago. They just opened their season with a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspurs, so they are off on the right foot. Rodriguez played almost the whole match. I don’t think Everton can finish top five, but they’ll certainly do better than 12th.

Those are three teams that aren’t quite there yet to win the league, I think. Coming up now are three heavy hitters who always have a chance, it’s just whether or not they can stay consistent and get results against one another.

Let’s start with the Spurs. We already discussed their week one loss to Everton, which doesn’t look promising, but they sure do have the talent to make a run at the title. The problem is, since this league is normally so tight and competitive, one bad loss like this could be the difference between first and second come May. Either way, the front three of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son will be tough to contain this season, but you can’t get blanked by Everton week one and expect to win the league. They’ll need to prove a little more consistency if they want to have a chance.

Next is Arsenal. I’ll admit Arsenal is my team, but they are never really reliable. They opened up the new season with a 3-0 win over Fulham and currently sit in first place because of goal differential, but can they stay there? They made two key splashes in the transfer market to strengthen their midfield, which was admittedly their biggest weakness. They added Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid and Willian from Chelsea. The latter assisted on two of the goals in their first game and is already proving to be a good signing. And then they still have a well-rounded front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe. These three combined for 37 goals last season, with Aubameyang putting 22 of those away himself. They’re off to a good start, but I still think they’ll finish fifth.

Manchester United will finish either fourth or somewhere in the bottom half of the table. They have the talent, it’s just whether or not they can come together and prove themselves. They struggled last season down the stretch, and they can’t afford to start this season off like they ended the last one. Their new signee is midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax. He’ll have to prove himself but will fit in perfectly next to Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to really solidify their midfield. Add in the young guns of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial and suddenly United looks pretty strong. It’s even rumored that Gareth Bale could sign from Real Madrid to really spruce up the attack. With arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in David de Gea, they are an all-around stacked team. Maybe they’ll surprise me this season, but it’ll have to wait as their matchday one fixture was postponed.

Chelsea finished fourth last season and I think they can do better. They made the biggest splash in the transfer market with five terrific signings. They strengthened their attack with Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, their midfield with Thiago Silva from Paris-Saint-Germain and Kai Havertz from Bayern Leverkusen, and even their defense with Ben Chilwell from Leicester City. Werner scored 28 goals last season in the Bundesliga and assisted eight. Put this guy next to the American youngster Christian Pulisic and you have something special. If all these guys clique and figure it out, then I think this will be the most fun team to watch in the whole league and I know they’ll be able to finish in the top three.

Finally, let’s talk about the two biggest hitters of them all. I’ll start with Manchester City. After trying to persuade Lionel Messi out of Barcelona all summer, they really didn’t do much else in the transfer market. But they still have the second-best offense in the league. Raheem Sterling scored 20 goals last season, Sergio Aguero scored 16, Gabriel Jesus scored 14, Kevin De Bruyne scored 13 and Riyad Mahrez scored 11. Their offense just runs deep, and that’s what will win the league. I’m saying it now, City will go back and win the league this season. You thought just their offense runs deep, no, it’s also their defense. Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and Nicolas Otamendi, just to name a potential starting four. This team has depth, a little more than the last team I’m going to talk about.

That team is Liverpool, last year’s champions. They will not repeat. You could call it a shaky start in their first game against Leeds United where they barely escaped with a 4-3 win. They looked awful out there. Sure, their attack is still lethal with the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. These guys combined to a total 46 goals last season, with the majority of those assists coming from the defense, the two best wing backs in the world right now, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. Sure, they have the best center back in the game right now in Virgil van Dijk and one of the best keepers in Alisson. All this star power, but I still don’t think they’ll repeat. City is going to be more consistent this season and it will be a race until the finish unless Liverpool are the ones who can’t keep it together which could happen. All great teams come crashing down eventually, and I think this is the year for Liverpool.

So, those are the nine teams who could win the premier league. Sorry to the other 11 that I didn’t mention, better luck next year. Regardless, this season is going to be fun. There’s a lot of new faces in the league ready to make a name for themselves or prove that they have what it takes to play in England. Hopefully someone doesn’t run away with the title too early this season.