We have been churning out tons of content to get you prepared for the 2020/2021 campaign kicking off this weekend but, sometimes, it is nice to have a bit of fun and speculate on what we think will happen for the next 10 months. With a combination of research and gut calls, four of us here on the writing staff have collaborated to answer ten questions. So let's not waste time. We know you have to get back to tinkering with your squad, but take a break for a moment and see what happens when you put four heads together to come up with some season predictions. One bold prediction I will make right out of the chute: 2021 is going to be better than 2020.
See? Already putting my neck out there
YOUR TOP FOUR
Andrew - Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham
Chuck - Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham
Neal - Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal
Steve - Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United
Thoughts: In the few years we have been putting our predictions together, this may be the closest we have come in agreement on the top four, with universal agreement on the top three and some differences in the top four. Liverpool and Manchester City are set up for the top two spots again this season, barring an unthinkable turn in the wrong direction. With Chelsea’s summer spending spree and a full season of management under Frank Lampard’s belt, the staff are convinced Chelsea is the “best of the rest”, the likeliest to challenge for a top two finish and a lock to finish in a Champions League spot.
The variation comes at the fourth spot. 3 out of 4 of us believe a North London club will take it, with Andrew and Chuck backing Spurs and Neal on the Arsenal train. Chuck likes the additions Spurs have made and Andrew thinks José Mourinho will find that managerial magic to put his legacy back on track. Neal admits his Arsenal pick comes in some part from his optimism for the club he supports but is confident in Mikel Arteta’s leadership and the squad that is starting to take shape under his watch. I am not happy about how my top four looks, from a fan perspective, but yeah, the top 3 are a lock in my view and I think United finally have some cohesiveness in their side that we have not seen for some time and a full season of Bruno Fernandes to guide this team to a Champions League spot.
YOUR BOTTOM THREE
Andrew - Brighton, Aston Villa, Fulham
Chuck - Aston Villa, Leeds, Fulham
Neal - West Brom, Crystal Palace, Fulham
Steve - Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Fulham
Thoughts: Fulham has always been a secondary club that I have supported. Clint Dempsey had some fine seasons there and Craven Cottage is my favorite ground in English football, so it’s great to see them back in the top flight. That said, I see little in terms of new impact players versus their last trip to the PL two seasons ago. The defense especially looks a trouble area, so it is no wonder all four of us agree they are going right back down again at the end of the season. Otherwise, let’s look at my picks first, as the other two nominees were selected by other staff as well. Crystal Palace - Neal and I are on the same page. This is a side that is not addressing the needs that have seem them begin to slip in recent seasons and I think it finally catches up now. Andrew and Chuck are in line with my Aston Villa call. They both think the club hasn’t done enough to improve a side that barely survived last year and I concur. That side is held together by the one-man show in Jack Grealish.
While Fulham is universally panned, the other two newly promoted sides each get a dubious nod here. Chuck is of the opinion Leeds are too short on talent to survive while Neal thinks West Brom are still weak from a lack of additions in the summer. My personal surprise to see here is Brighton, as Andrew feels they are another side short on adding enough talent to improve a side that was fighting relegation last season. My personal surprise should not take long to explain...
CLUB THAT MOST EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
Andrew - Everton
Chuck - West Brom
Neal - Leeds United
Steve - Brighton
Thoughts: What better way to transition to the next prediction that to stick with the Seagulls. Right. I will acknowledge that Brighton have not done much in the summer window, but Adam Lallana is a significant piece for them. I see tons of young talent in this side all set to make an improvement in their careers and things could come together enough for me to see them push for a top half of the table finish, which fits the bill of “exceeding expectations”. Two promoted sides here, as there typically will be representation for a question like this.
Not to pit my colleagues against one another, but very interesting that Chuck sees Leeds getting relegated and West Brom exceeding expectations, while Neal feels the exact opposite. Chuck urges folks to wake up and recognize these are not the Baggies we are accustomed to, which I am in agreement with. Neal feels the guidance and experience of Marcelo Bielsa will push Leeds beyond just a club that survives. Andrew feels Carlo Ancelotti is ready to push Everton beyond their expectations and even challenge for a top four finish, which, given how the Toffees usually fall short on expectations and have made some significant signings as of late, looks a sound prediction.
FIRST MANAGER SACKED
Andrew - David Moyes
Chuck - Dean Smith
Neal - Roy Hodgson
Steve - David Moyes
Thoughts: Let’s start with the one name mentioned twice in David Moyes. Andrew is of the opinion that West Ham’s opening run of fixtures will see poor results and be the catalyst for an early exit. For me, the fixtures are just icing on a cake no one wants to eat. West Ham seem so aimless, so perennially aimless to me and there is friction between club captain Mark Noble, Moyes and the brass at West Ham following the sale of Grady Diangana. No one is happy, there are big names underwhelming and taking up wages...it will be another reset job there sooner rather than later.
Chuck made a late change in his prediction to reflect recent activity around the league and thinks Dean Smith will be first for the chop, with Aston Villa looking increasingly like a side that won’t be able to survive and the club will look for a new savior. Neal doubles down on the decline of Crystal Palace and nominated Roy Hodgson. He acknowledges that Hodgson isn’t necessarily the problem at Selhurst but Palace will need to save face with a managerial change to cope with underwhelming results.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR -
Andrew - Raheem Sterling
Chuck - Mo Salah
Neal - Kevin De Bruyne
Steve - Trent Alexander-Arnold
Thoughts: Oh, if only Leo Messi was in the mix. Were he to be, we know that would have been Neal’s pick. Instead, he opts for the midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne. No need to get cute here, Neal knows the best player in the league when he sees him. Andrew is thinking of another City option in Sterling. He sees the winger putting it all together this season and taking the Golden Boot while City go on to win the league title. Chuck thinks last season was a down one for Mo Salah and, with 19 goals/10 assists, technically, it was. And Chuck thinks Salah has the motivation to find the kind of form that saw him score a combined 54 goals the previous two seasons. Meanwhile, I’ve decided, gosh darn it, we are due for a POY award to come from a position that never gets into the conversation. There is a reason why TA-A is the highest owned FPL player heading into the season - he is far and away the best player at his position. Sure, he is not the best defensive fullback on the planet, but attacking and defending combined on a side like Liverpool’s, given he is only 21 years of age...if he doesn’t win it this year, it will come.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Andrew - Gylfi Sigurdsson
Chuck - Alexandre Lacazette
Neal - Adam Lallana
Steve - Ben Davies
Thoughts: I am glad we had this exercise because it made me think longer and harder about Ben Davies. He looks set to be the regular left back this season and I think he is going to challenge Matt Doherty, at least for a while, in production. I had Doherty in my squad pretty much since the game went live but after some thought, I have taken him out for Davies and using the 1m elsewhere, so I am putting my money where my mouth is here. Sticking with North London, Chuck sees a reversal of Fortune for Lacazette. While there has been some questions around the Frenchman’s future with the club, Chuck predicts he settles in with the #9 role and flourishes.
A couple of FPL midfield favorites from the past decade have made the list as well. Neal is ready for Lallana to shake the cobwebs off his boots and make an impact with Brighton. We all remember how influential Lallana was with a small club during his Southampton days. Anything close to a return like that, and this pick will look brilliant. Andrew backs the Icelandic legend Sigurdsson, doubling down on Everton’s resurgence and Gyfli being a major reason why, though the arrival of James Rodriguez could make that difficult in terms of playing time.
TOP PLAYER NEW TO PL
Andrew - Matheus Pereira
Chuck - Kai Havertz
Neal - Timo Werner
Steve - Kai Havertz
Thoughts: Not surprising to see three out of four choices coming from Chelsea, where they have made it rain in the transfer market this summer. Neal thinks Werner has the best combination of skill and opportunity. In terms of opportunity, no argument from me. But from a skill side, I am more excited about the potential of Havertz, who could be the next Eden Hazard-level FPL beast for years to come. Chuck thinks with all the talent around him, Havertz is in line to have a field day in this league. Chuck also made a point to mention Matheus Pereira, if he did not have Chelsea to draw from. That helps support Andrew’ notion that Pereira will be the top player new to the PL. This makes me personally excited as I invested heavily in West Brom’s playmaker in a recent auction draft. Sure, Chelsea weapons will likely put up more FPL points than the best Baggie can, but credit to Andrew for the pick. I should label the question - Top Player New to PL Given The Club They Are Playing For...but that simply doesn’t roll off the tongue well.
BIGGEST FLOP NEW TO PL
Andrew - Hakim Ziyech
Chuck - Rodrigo Moreno
Neal - Thiago Silva
Steve - Eberechi Eze
Thoughts: Here we recognize just how much shopping the Blues have done this summer. Not only have they brought in two candidates for the best player new to the league in our collective eyes, they have also brought in two of the biggest busts. Andrew is not sold on the Eredivisie product, mainly because he sees a blocked pathway to minutes due to the trio of Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount. Neal sees the veteran Silva as a bit past his prime to have the kind of impact we would want to see from a player of his stature in the PL. Chuck is not sold on Rodrigo, who he feels will need time to adjust with his new club and manager and was coming off a disappointing showing with Valencia last season. (to be fair, Rodrigo technically isnt “new” to the PL, he did have a cup of coffee with Bolton many, many moons ago, but I will let it pass) Finally, to further beat Crystal Palace while they are down, I am not sold that Eze is going to provide the spark the Eagles so desperately need.
MOST OVERRATED/OVERPRICED FANTASY PICK
Andrew - Roberto Firmino
Chuck - Adam Lallana
Neal - Hakim Ziyech
Steve - Paul Pogba
Thoughts: Again, I am seeing some friction between Neal and Chuck in their predictions for the year which, if nothing else, will make for some great banter as the season goes on. While Neal had Lallana as his Comeback POY, Chuck views the same player as overrated and/or overpriced. A lack of minutes and the fact that he finds Leandro Trossard, who costs .5m less, a better option seals the deal. Neal thinks Ziyech is overpriced because he is tagged like someone who is guaranteed regular playing time, when that is not the case in his view. Andrew says what many of us feel about Roberto Firmino - a far better player in reality than he is in FPL. I will admit, this question is too easy for me, it feels like cheating. I need to check, but I’m quite sure I have had Pogba as the answer to this question before. He has been overpriced every single season. And now, with more firepower around him further up the pitch, where are the attacking returns that validate an 8m price tag going to come from? He should be 6m. A full 2m overpriced for me.
MOST PRODUCTIVE BUDGET/UNDERRATED FANTASY PICK
Andrew - Aleksandar Mitrovic
Chuck - Allan Saint-Maximin
Neal - Phil Foden
Steve - James Maddison
Thoughts: Let me get my pick out of the way first, because maybe a 7m player isn’t considered “budget”? To me it is, and he’s only .5m more than Foden so I am going with it. This is the price, along with Saint-Maximin, that jumped out at me, in a good way, the first time I took a pass through the player list. I mean, assuming he is fit for most of the season, I have a hard time finding anyone that comes close to the skill set Maddison has playing for a club as solid as Leicester going for that cheap. Let’s turn to Chuck next then, who indeed decided upon Saint-Maximin. Everyone’s price is relative and, when you look at attacking options that are available for under 6m, ASM stands out like a healthy thumb. It’s easy to see how, if able to nail a regular spot down, Phil Foden is a clear candidate to be of extreme value and that’s Neal’s call for this question. Andrew thinks Mitrovic will be a consistent provider of goals that will make his price look a bargain, drawing comparisons to what Danny Ings was able to do last season.
Hit me up on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles
Neal Thurman - @nealjthurman
Chuck Booth - @ChuckBoothSport
Andrew Gastelum - @andresoctavio92