Premier League 2019/20 predictions: Manchester City v Liverpool again, Leicester in top four and relegation for Newcastle
Ahead of the kick-off for the new season, here is a look at what members of staff at The National expect to play out
The 2019/20 Premier League starts on Friday, but as usual with less than a week to go to kick off, there is plenty of intrigue as to what is ahead.
Can anyone stop Manchester City from winning a third successive league title after their past two years of success under Pep Guardiola?
Premier League 2019/20 preview: Team-by-team guide and predictions
Who is getting relegated? Who will be the surprise package? Who will disappoint and fail to live up to expectations?
The National's staff have done their best to answer those, and more, questions as to what to look out for in the new campaign.
They have addressed seven topics of which the answers will go along way to dictating how the season plays out until its climax in May 2020.
Check out some of the teams, players and managers in the gallery above expected to have eventful campaigns.
These are The National's eight staff members taking part:
Steve Luckings Deputy Sports Editor
Jon Turner Assistant Sports Editor
Richard Jolly English Football Correspondent
Faisal Salah Online Editor
John McAuley Sports Reporter
Ian Hawkey European Football Correspondent
Kumar Shyam Sports Production Editor
Gareth Cox Sports Production Editor
Who will be 2019/20 Premier League champions?
While most eyes will be transfixed on their formidable forwards, which should again excel, it is defensively where Liverpool are stronger and where the title can be won. Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold provided most assists of any defenders in the league last term, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk are the best passing centre-back partnership in the league and goalkeeper Alisson will be even better with a season of Premier League football under his belt.
Jon Manchester City
The champions secured the second-highest points total in Premier League history last season (bettered only by their 2017/18 campaign) and did so without their best player. Kevin de Bruyne is back fit and firing, and I can't see Liverpool pushing City as close this time around. A third title in a row beckons.
Richard Manchester City
A team who have set new standards in terms of consistency. Liverpool did wonderfully well to push them so close last year but City, with continuity, strength in depth and a raft of match-winners, feel most likely to get 95-100 points again.
Faisal Manchester City
It is hard to see any club dethroning Pep Guardiola’s ever evolving Manchester City side. With record signing Rodri in midfield, they will keep hold and win a third on the trot.
John Manchester City
If successfully defending the Premier League is a huge ask, three on the bounce seems a real stretch. Rivals Manchester United were the last team to do it, 10 seasons ago. City, though, are perhaps better equipped, and Rodri will prove an inspired signing.
Ian Manchester City
Fortified by the hot breath they felt down their necks from Liverpool last season, City have both the appetite for repeated success and the room and resources to find new variations in their gameplan should anybody dare suspect it might be becoming predictable.
There is very little to separate Liverpool and Manchester City and it could go down to tiny differential factors. One could be the fact that Sergio Aguero bears the workload as City's main front man while Liverpool show no sign of letting up from all sides, even Jurgen Klopp from the sidelines.
Gareth Manchester City
Finding it very difficult to look beyond Guardiola's side making it three titles in a row. The £62.8 million (Dh288m) signing of Rodri from Atletico Madrid in central midfield has strengthened an already daunting squad and Kevin de Bruyne, who struggled with injuries in the last campaign, looked in ominously good touch pre-season.
Who finishes in the top four?
Steve Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea
Jon Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea
Richard Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United
Faisal Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham
John Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United
Ian Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United
Kumar Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City
Gareth Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United
Who will be the surprise package?
Steve Youri Tielemans
The Belgium midfielder, 22, may not even technically qualify as a surprise package, given his outstanding performances after joining Leicester City on loan from Monaco in January. His athleticism, technical excellence and eye for goal persuaded Brendan Rodgers to make Tielemans the club's record signing this summer.
Jon Graham Potter
The English manager made a name for himself with his progressive and unconventional methods in Sweden. Now in charge at Brighton & Hove Albion, Potter's primary aim is to keep the club in the Premier League. If he lives up to his burgeoning reputation, he could be this season's surprise success story.
Richard Reiss Nelson
It could be a breakthrough year for the winger, who impressed on loan at Hoffenheim last season. If Arsenal fail to buy Wilfried Zaha, it should give him an opportunity, especially as Unai Emery wants to play 4-2-3-1.
Faisal Wolverhampton Wanderers
Led by Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves were very impressive last season. With improvements to the squad, and more settled stars, they will surely finish higher than seventh this time around.
John Video Assistant Referee
Like it or loathe it (typically the latter) VAR has arrived. There have been significant teething problems with the technology, as witnessed at the recent Women’s World Cup, but VAR will apparently be implemented differently in the Premier League – namely a high bar in place for overturning decisions. It’ll take a while, but we’ll grow to see its merits.
After successive seasons spent flirting with relegation, the Saints have the look of better fortunes ahead under Ralph Hassenhuttl, the Austrian brought in earlier this year to salvage their Premier League status. A top-half-of-table finish would be a significant leap upwards, but a real possibility.
Kumar Leicester City
There is a lot to like about the 2015-16 champions who have a top-class manager in Brendan Rodgers. James Maddison and Jamie Vardy, who is free from international duty, should carry the threat for Leicester, who have a real chance of top-four football.
Gareth Jack Grealish
A huge season for the 23-year-old. The penny finally seems to have dropped for Grealish and this is the season to prove that he can produce at the top level. An attacking midfielder with a lovely touch who could easily play his way into Gareth Southgate’s England plans.
Who will be the biggest disappointment?
Steve Manchester United
Solskjaer's start to life in the United hot seat was an undoubted success, going unbeaten in his first 12 games and shattering club and Premier League records. But United's dismal run-in - they won none of their last five games, culminating in a 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff City on the final day - left an abyss of depression hanging over Old Trafford that continues to linger.
The summer has not been great for Arsenal. Manager Unai Emery is yet to strengthen a squad that is in desperate need of improvement, and one that has lost its best midfielder in Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal have regressed and will once again be over-reliant on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Can see them slipping out of the top six.
Richard Mateo Kovacic
It was baffling Chelsea paid £40 million for the Croatian when, despite a fine display in the Europa League final, his loan spell had been so underwhelming. Chelsea require a midfielder who offers the goals and assists Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are less likely to provide. Kovacic did not.
Faisal Manchester United
The red team in Manchester will continue to suffer, mostly due to the miscalculations from their management team. They had a brief moment of respite when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed on to replace Jose Mourinho. However, it was short lived, and the summer moves have done little to inspire.
John Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
After an incredibly accomplished start to life in the United dugout came an incredibly worrisome downturn. Increasingly, a club legend lost his lustre. United should make top four, but that’ll be in spite of Solskjaer rather than because of him. There may even be a change mid-season, and the obligatory bounce-back.
Ian English managers.
Twice as many will be in charge at the beginning of this season as there were at the beginning of the last, up from four to eight. But expect the majority of their clubs to finish in the lower half of the final table.
Kumar Tottenham Hotspur
Kieran Trippier has gone and much-sought after manager Mauricio Pochettino is upset at a lack of say on transfers. If things go wrong, they could even slide out of contention in Europe. That would be a big disappointment for a team who vied for the title most of last season.
Gareth Steve Bruce
Tyneside-born Bruce might have parachuted in to his dream job as Newcastle manager, but he could not have picked a worse moment. Fans are in open revolt against owner Mike Ashley, after Rafa Benitez was allowed to leave for China, and Bruce is going to need United Nations peacekeeping skills to restore calm.
Who will be the three teams relegated?
Steve Newcastle United, Norwich City, Sheffield United
With Rafael Benitez no longer around to galvanize the troops and ring the last drops of talent out of a limited squad, it seems Newcastle's days in the top flight are numbered. Norwich City and Sheffield United lack the quality of rivals and neither has signed a striker capable of reaching double figures.
Jon Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Sheffield United
We will see just how much Rafa Benitez helped paper over the cracks at Newcastle, who have not only lost the Spanish manager this summer but their two best attacking threats - Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon. Aston Villa and Sheffield United to struggle with the step up and head straight back to the Championship.
Richard Sheffield United, Brighton and Newcastle.
The temptation is to pick the three promoted teams and each could go down. But much rests on how managerial changes go: Steve Bruce may demonstrate the difference Rafa Benitez made for Newcastle while Graham Potter must add goals to a Brighton team who were in freefall.
Faisal Sheffield Utd, Norwich City, and Brighton
Yes, two of the newly promoted teams are very likely to go down. The one that is most likely to survive is Aston Villa. Their history in the competition and prospects of a stronger side give them a leg up. Although, one of these three could still surprise us all.
John Brighton, Sheffield United, Norwich City
Emotion runs high at United, and will certainly be an asset, especially at home, but the quality does not match. Brighton’s only just survived last season and, even the impressive Graham Potter, don’t have the goals to again do it. Norwich won’t recover from an early fixture run that includes Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Ian Norwich City, Sheffield United and Burnley
The squads who finished top and second in last season’s Championship seem a little thin for the Premier League, and the immediate precedents are discouraging. Two new promotees went straight back down last May, Fulham plunging even after a big summer spend. Burnley’s formula for survival, meanwhile, has developed a very threadbare look.
Kumar Sheffield United, Newcastle United and Brighton
Sheffield United's limited transfer business doesn't carry much hope, while the absence of Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon will hurt Newcastle's goal threat. Brighton just avoided the drop last time out but won't be so fortunate this time.
Gareth Brighton, Norwich City, Burnley
A tough call as there are potentially 10 teams who could be dragged into the dogfight. Brighton were lucky to escape last season – they will not be so fortunate this time. New boys Norwich are lacking top-flight quality, while Sean Dyche's Burnley will continue last campaign's downward spiral.
Who will be player of the season?
Steve Virgil van Dijk
It is rare for defenders to usurp the more gilded forward players for individual awards these days, but the Dutchman was a worthy winner of last season's PFA Player of the Year. It is easier to navigate your way through Brexit than it is to get past the imposing Liverpool centre-back. A true leader of men.
Jon Bernardo Silva
Did you see what watch him last season? Silva was the best player on the pitch nearly every game he played, and didn't matter in which midfield position - central, holding, advanced, on the wing, the Portuguese was sensational. Silva, who turns 25 on the opening weekend, is only going to get better and if he maintains, or somehow improves on last season, more individual awards should be heading his way.
Richard Kevin de Bruyne
It says something that City did a domestic Treble when injuries restricted De Bruyne to a bit-part role. Yet that may give the Belgian more of a point to prove. He is an extraordinary footballer and, at 28, is in his prime now.
Faisal Virgil van Dijk
The Dutch powerhouse was the best player last season, and is most likely to continue being the rock at the back for Liverpool.
John Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne has shown enough glimpses of his talent during pre-season to suggest he’s set for a standout campaign. Can control City’s play from deep, out wide or further forward. When on song, there’s no better watch.
Ian Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian perhaps ought have picked up a Footballer of the Year award before, as the most dynamic force in Manchester City’s 2018 title triumph. Injured for a significant period since then, he has had a summer without an international tournament - unlike many - and has the nous and application to get better and better.
Kumar Sadio Mane
The Senegalese was the joint top-scorer along with Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season and after an impressive Africa Cup of Nations more could come from him.
Gareth Paul Pogba
This will clearly come back to haunt me. There will be no happy medium with Pogba - he will either be the fulcrum in a resurgent United, or a lazy passenger who helps get his manager the sack by Christmas. I fancy him to run the show this season.
Who will be top scorer?
Steve Harry Kane
The Tottenham marksman managed 24 goals in 40 appearances in a season disrupted by injuries. If Kane's body holds up to the physical demands, and with Spurs back in their own stadium full time, expect the England captain to challenge his main rivals at the top of the leaderboard.
Jon Sergio Aguero
The Argentine striker has scored more than 20 goals a season for the past five seasons and he will continue his remarkable levels of consistency this season for a rampant City side.
Richard Mohamed Salah
There are three outstanding candidates and Salah could get a third Golden Boot. Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero may have better goal-per-minute ratios but might not play as many minutes; the Spurs forward has become more injury-prone while the City man could be rotated.
Faisal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Last season, Aubameyang was the team’s top scorer, and with an improved side, the likes of Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe around him, he will be even more prolific.
John Harry Kane
Another player whose 2018/19 season was hampered by injury. In fact, had Kane not been sidelined for lengthy spells the past two campaigns, he would perhaps have exerted a stranglehold on the Golden Boot. Won in consecutive seasons previously, should he stay fit, top-scorer honours will be Kane’s again.
Ian Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
A statistically sensational first 18 months at Arsenal confirmed that wherever he plays, ‘Auba’ will outsprint, outjump and often outthink the best defences, and be a generous companion up front, too. Another great season is seemingly ahead.
Kumar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Scored 22 goals in his first full season in England to share the Golden Boot. With Nicolas Pepe boosting Arsenal's offence expect more opportunities to come the Gabon striker's way.
Gareth Sergio Aguero
The Argentine is currently sixth on the Premier League's top guns with 164 goals. Aguero will sail ahead of Thierry Henry (175), Frank Lampard (177) this season, and edge past former United and City striker Andy Cole's 187 top-flight goals.
Updated: August 5, 2019 01:05 PM