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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Chelsea, Man City or Man United for the title? Premier League 2017/18 predictions

As the 2017/18 Premier League season gets under way, our team of writers and editors offer their thoughts and forecasts.

Antonio Conte, left, guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season but will face competition from Arsene Wenger, right, and Arsenal as well as Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in what could be the most competitive season in Premier League history. Frank Augstein / AP Photo
Antonio Conte, left, guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season but will face competition from Arsene Wenger, right, and Arsenal as well as Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in what could be the most competitive season in Premier League history. Frank Augstein / AP Photo

Ahead of the new Premier League season, our staff give their predictions of what will unfold in 2017/18. Will Chelsea avoid a similar catastrophe to the last time they defended the title? Who are the breakout players we need to look out for? Who will rival Harry Kane for the honour of top goalscorer? These and much more are debated below.

Steve Luckings, deputy sports editor

Eden Hazard set to be key to Chelsea's title defence. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Eden Hazard set to be key to Chelsea's title defence. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Winner: Chelsea. Keeping Eden Hazard and clever recruitment must see the champions start as favourites.

Top four: Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur. Although much will depend on how Spurs perform in new surroundings of Wembley.

Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United. It will be a season of struggle for the three promoted clubs.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal. The competition Arsene Wenger can always turn to to deliver a trophy.

League Cup winners: Liverpool. Though much admired, Jurgen Klopp must look to deliver silverware at Anfield to reinforce his position.

Top scorer: Harry Kane. will face stiff competition from the usual suspects of Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.

Player of the Year: Dele Alli. His upwards trajectory looks set to continue.

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Time for the on-loan Chelsea midfielder to cement a regular place at Crystal Palace to convince observers he has what it takes.

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Richard Jolly, Premier League correspondent

Can Pep Guardiola guide Manchester City to the title this season? Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Can Pep Guardiola guide Manchester City to the title this season? Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Winner: Manchester City. This year, Pep Guardiola has more players he has signed and City have the most talented attacking group in the league.

Top four: Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal. Playing at Wembley may cost Tottenham while Champions League football may take a toll on Liverpool.

Relegated: Huddersfield, Burnley, Brighton. Money often talks in the Premier League and the clubs with the lowest wage bills face an uphill task.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s progress at Anfield should be reflected in silverware sooner rather than later.

League Cup winners: Manchester United. Jose Mourinho specialises at winning the first major trophy of the season. History could repeat itself.

Top scorer: Harry Kane. A goal machine. Kane has become so relentlessly consistent he has to be the favourite to retain his crown.

Player of the Year: Alexis Sanchez. If he stays at Arsenal, the Chilean could prove he is the best player in the league.

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Tammy Abraham. Has scored goals at other levels. Now he should prove he can get them in the Premier League.

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Jon Turner, assistant sports editor

Everton midfielder Tom Davies could be set for a big season. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Everton midfielder Tom Davies could be set for a big season. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Winner: Chelsea. Still the best balanced team with goals everywhere and a rock solid defence. Star man Eden Hazard will get even better and recruitment has been smart, although more bodies are needed.

Top four: Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United. Romelu Lukaku's flat-track bully-ness will see United pick up the points they struggled to get against lower table sides last season. Wembley will affect Tottenham, Arsenal don't look strong enough.

Relegated: Burnley, Huddersfield, Brighton & Hove Albion. Can usually bank on two promoted sides to struggle, while Burnley won't be able to rely on their incredible home form to the same extent.

FA Cup winners: Manchester United. Jose Mourinho will use his squad wisely in the knockout competitions and there are few managers more effective in one-off tactical battles.

League Cup winners: Manchester City. Pep Guardiola's squad is too big and too talented not to win a trophy this year. It just won't be either of the major domestic titles.

Top scorer: Alvaro Morata. Chelsea's new record signing has it all and if he adapts quickly to his new team and surroundings, will be right in the mix with the usual suspects.

Player of the Year: Eden Hazard. The best players in the best teams normally win these awards and the Belgian forward will keep getting better.

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Tom Davies. Already offered a glimpse into his enormous talent last season, but in a much-improved Everton side with big ambitions, expect Davies to push on to a new level. A place in England's 2018 World Cup squad could also be on the cards.

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Ian Hawkey, European football correspondent

Jose Mourinho always delivers the league title in his second season. Will he do it at Manchester United? Nikolay Doychinov / AFP
Jose Mourinho always delivers the league title in his second season. Will he do it at Manchester United? Nikolay Doychinov / AFP

Winner: Manchester United - Hard to beat, and on the up. And Jose Mourinho's second seasons at most of his clubs have been his most impressive.

Top four: Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal. Arsenal to return to sound habits and to the 2018/19 Uefa Champions League, Spurs to struggle at their temporary Wembley home.

Relegated: Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Stoke City - Huddersfield likely to find their long absence from the top flight leaves them susceptible, while the wobbles of Stoke and Bournemouth in the last six months bode badly.

FA Cup winners: Manchester City. Pep Guardiola needs a trophy and, in the absence of the main domestic one, they can bring their flair to bear on the Cup.

League Cup winners: Newcastle United - Rafa Benitez is one of the game's managerial experts in knockout football, and he's due another Cup medal.

Top scorer: Gabriel Jesus - A goal every 93 minutes in his first six months in a new league augurs well for the brilliant Brazilian, as long as he stays fit.

Player of the Year: Paul Pogba - A big price-tag has not yet been justified, but United bought class and self-belief in Pogba. Now is his time to show it.

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Rob Holding - The Arsenal defender, young and English, has a World Cup to aim for after promising showings late last season.

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Graham Caygill, sports editor

Dele Alli is expected to be one of the leading stars this Premier League season. Andrew Matthews / PA
Dele Alli is expected to be one of the leading stars this Premier League season. Andrew Matthews / PA

Winner: Manchester United - With good signings and a striker in Romelu Lukaku who should help solve their problem of a lack of goals last season, United are well placed to challenge this year. Jose Mourinho made them hard to beat last season, and with a little more quality a first title since 2013 could be heading to Old Trafford.

Top four: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur. The Manchester clubs to have the edge, while Liverpool flounder trying to balance the pressures of Uefa Champions League football with a title push, and Arsenal continue their sad regression under Arsene Wenger.

Relegated: Huddersfield, Brighton and Swansea. Huddersfield will find the step up to the Premier League to big a gulf, Brighton will lack the goals to stay up, and Swansea dodged a bullet last season but it will be a tall order for them to do it again.

FA Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur - Mauricio Pochettino's side have deserved a trophy for their excellent football in recent seasons and this would be a fitting

League Cup winners: Manchester City. Should have plenty of goals in them this season and a first trophy for Pep Guardiola at the club will be a fillip.

Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku. Scored a lot of goals in a good Everton side. With better players and service at United hard not to see him comfortably passing the 20-goal mark.

Player of the Year: Dele Alli. Tottenham may not win the league, but the Englishman is getting better and better by the year, and he will be central to their push for the top four again.

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Nathan Chalobah. Has finally left Chelsea and now has the chance to live up to his considerable promise by shining in Watford's midfield.

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John McAuley, reporter

Arsenal have bought quality players and look optimistic about improving their fortunes in the Premier League in the new season. Hannah McKay / Reuters
Arsenal have bought quality players and look optimistic about improving their fortunes in the Premier League in the new season. Hannah McKay / Reuters

Winner: Manchester City. Spent more than £200 million (Dh970m) thus far, and could add Alexis Sanchez to an already impressive squad. Plus Pep will have finally found his feet in England.

Top four: Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool. Unlike two seasons ago, Chelsea will put up a strong defence, with United and Liverpool getting in ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham.

Relegated: Huddersfield, Brighton, Burnley. A predictable choice, but two of the three promoted sides will head straight back down. Watford and Swansea could run Burnley close, though.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal. Groundhog Day for Arsene Wenger: fail to get into the top four, but win another FA Cup – a record eighth for the Frenchman.

League Cup winners: Everton. Easily the best squad outside the top six, their summer splurge will keep them in touch with those Champions League chasers – and seal some silverware.

Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian has a credible league record that reads 85 goals in 186 appearances, although it is at United where he will really flourish.

Player of year: Kevin De Bruyne. One of the league’s finest creative players, the Belgian will be a key contributor to Manchester City’s title-winning side. Bernardo Silva will star, too.

Breakthrough player of year: Andrew Robertson. The Liverpool left-back will make that position his own, proving an incredibly astute signing from Hull City.