Only a month to go until the new domestic campaigns kick off across the globe. Thank god for that! Our appetite for football has thus proven unsatisfied, despite good efforts from the Copa America, Women’s World Cup and the Gold Cup, which began on Wednesday morning.
To pass the time further and keep us all a little happier, it’s healthy to pen in the expected pre-season outcomes and outrights and predict how each side will do. So, enough with feeble introductions, let’s begin.
Click on your team’s name to reveal my Premier League 2015/16 predictions:
Predicted position: 2nd
No denial that the Gunners have been heavily tipped, more so than in seasons gone-by, to lift the title next season as surprise contenders, but I use the term ‘surprise’ loosely. A serious title challenge is well overdue, given the tidy squad that Arsene Wenger has assembled so far.
I wouldn’t insult last season’s squad by claiming that Arsenal were a bit of a one-man team in Mr. Alexis Sanchez, as youth players Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin did well to assimilate themselves into the first team, not to mention Olivier Giroud, who had another half-decent season in front of goal. Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil did their bit in midfield too. However, Arsenal just don’t feel like the complete article just yet.
Who do they need? No one. What do they need? Bottle. Just like in previous seasons, the Gunners once again had a less than mediocre record against the big boys, winning just two of their games against the top seven, Liverpool and Southampton at home. They effectively beat most of the other sides home and away, but you don’t win titles if you can’t beat the bigger sides on a Sunday afternoon.
Going in to next season, Arsenal no longer need to concern themselves with winning a trophy of some kind, given that they’ve now lifted the FA Cup on consecutive occasions, as well as the community shield last season, an award that they can attempt to retain against Chelsea next month.
With players such as Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott reluctantly acknowledging that the title needs to be a realistic target next season, I think they will come close, but not quite close enough.
[accordion title=’Aston Villa’]
Predicted position: 20th (Relegated)
Sorry Villains, but there is nothing to convince me that Aston Villa won’t, at the very least, go down next season. How they have managed to survive the drop season after season for a good few years now is mystifying, yet worrisome on behalf of Villa.
Tim Sherwood arrived at Villa Park in February and talked a good game. He got some decent results, if not performances, to boot and guided them to relative safety, as well as, despite not turning up, the FA Cup final.
However, Villa’s squad is still looking a bit thin and the seemingly likely departure of forward Christian Benteke is becoming an issue of when rather than if. With the Belgian potentially leaving and no replacement on the horizon, Villa’s constant struggle to find the back of the net appears dead set to rear its ugly head once more.
More worrying for Villa is that the three promoted sides set to begin life in the Premier League next season, Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford, bagged goals aplenty in the Championship over the course of the last campaign, and although it is a big step between the Championship and Premier League, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two of those teams continue their goalscoring feats next season.
Villa’s survival last season was aided by QPR, Burnley and Hull’s feeble attempts to score week-in, week-out, but that might not be the case this season. Perhaps they might not finish rock bottom, but I would put serious money on Villa falling through the trap door this time round.
Predicted position: 15th
I’m really struggling to decide where to put Bournemouth, so after some lazy thought processes I’ve dropped them at a respectable 15th place. There is always the chance that The Cherries could noticeably struggle in the league, given the leap between the two divisions, and drop back down, but I highly doubt that it will happen.
I can’t claim to have scanned over many pre-season predictions from bloggers and journalists alike, but I’d imagine the argument over Bournemouth’s fate come May 2016 is equally divided between a continuation of the way in which they demolished teams last season carrying them over the line, with them undisputedly likely to concede a fair few, or that their lack of top-flight experience will see them fall at the last hurdle.
It’s a fair debate and I don’t think any one can, with any confidence, say for certain where Eddie Howe’s side will be come the end of their first ever top-flight campaign, but it will certainly be an entertaining one, regardless of the outcome.
Predicted Position: 1st (Champions)
As much as I’m not Chelsea’s biggest admirer, they were unbelievably professional in sealing the title last season and, in truth, the title-chasing teams that finished behind them offered pitiful attempts at taking the crown.
No other side came close. They beat all of the teams that stood in their way at some stage during the season and ground out excruciating performances at times, yet still got the job done.
Chelsea haven’t been all too busy in the market thus far, but the back-page dominating story of Falcao’s once-debated future was concluded earlier this month when he sealed a season-long loan move to the Blues, carrying plenty of baggage from his abysmal season in Manchester. It is certainly a risk for Jose Mourinho’s side, but if any manager is capable of getting the Colombian his confidence back, it’ll be Jose.
The one big loss to Chelsea is long-serving goalkeeper Petr Cech, who made a short move to neighbours Arsenal. The switch will cause concern among the Blues’ fans, as they no longer possess a back-up keeper with the genuine quality required to step in should Thibaut Courtois fall victim to injury or require a rest.
Still, Chelsea possess the essential ingredients for another title-winning campaign; skill, adaptability, quality, youth and the most valuable quality of all, experience.
[accordion title=’Crystal Palace’]
Predicted position: 10th
Crystal Palace haven’t exactly had it easy since their promotion to the Premier League in 2013, but they finished last season in an incredibly solid 10th place. I’d expect them to replicate that solidity, especially since the announcement that French midfielder Yohan Cabaye would be reuniting with his former boss Alan Pardew, having agreed to join the club from Paris Saint-Germain in a club record £10 million deal.
The Eagles had another managerial merry-go-round last season as Tony Pulis, who guided them to a hugely triumphant finish in 2013/14, managing to evade the drop, departed shortly before the season began. This caused an indirect instability at Selhurst Park as they failed to win in their first four league fixtures, before replacement manager Neil Warnock eventually helped them to their first win at Everton in late September. Warnock was then sacked in late December as a result of a poor run of results. Pardew, formally and controversially of Newcastle, came in and guided the club to ten wins in eighteen games.
Coming off the back of a strong finish last season and seemingly no imminent big-name departures, the Eagles look set to have another strong season, with a chance of Europa League football on the cards should things go their way.
Predicted position: 9th
Everton fail to impress me, and last season was pretty poor on their part given the tidy squad that they have assembled.
The toffees are a team that consistently threaten to have a good season, and do pull off some shock scores on the odd occasion. However, there were far too many occasions when they failed to pick up expected points. Results were so poor that there was a lingering stench of relegation surrounding the club around February time, which they eventually shrugged off with some much needed wins.
I’ve plumped Everton in ninth on the basis that Stoke will make one more attacking signing, and it may even come down to which club land Inter Milan winger Xherdan Shariqi. If not, Everton might just pip them to eighth, but I really can’t see them finishing much higher, despite the shrewd acquisitions of Tom Cleverley and the permanent signing of Gerard Deulofeu.
[accordion title=’Leicester City’]
Predicted position: 17th
If Nigel Pearson was still in the Foxes’ hot seat then I would be placing Leicester a fair bit higher than just one place above the drop-zone.
He wasn’t the most liked manager in the Premier League, due to his baffling interviews and touchline antics, but he did the unbelievable by guiding Leicester to not only safety, but comfortable safety, so much so that they could simply relax in their final game against Queens Park Rangers, which they won 5-1.
However, now that Pearson has been sacked, due to a falling out over an incident involving his son, it’s tough to predict who Leicester will bring in and the changes that the new boss will make. Jurgen Klopp has been vaguely linked with the job, and while it does seem a tad unrealistic, Leicester’s philosophy might suit the German perfectly, so who knows?
For what it’s worth, Leicester would have to have a truly shocking season to go down and I believe that they will avoid the drop one way or another.
Predicted position: 4th
I’m sure Liverpool fans have had more than enough of seeing their side on the back pages last season, mainly due to the large amount of unexpectedly negative headlines that the club created.
The Reds finished in an uninspiring sixth place last season and came off the back of a 6-1 demolition at Stoke on the final day, as well as a 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace a week prior. Both games acted as send-offs to club legend Steven Gerrard, but the results left a sickening feeling in the stomach as a result of the manner of the defeats.
Despite being awarded the honour of Manager of the Year for the 2013/14 season, after coming agonisingly close to handing Liverpool their first league title in almost 25 years, Brendan Rodgers was on the end of plenty of criticism from Reds’ supporters and critics alike, which seemed fair on the face of it, given that he brought in more than £100 million worth of talent last summer.
Reflecting back, it was far from a successful investment, as the likes of Mario Ballotelli, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren failed to live up to their price tags. On a glass half-full note, players for the future such as Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Lazar Markovic could still prove to be worthwhile signings, should they be guided in to the new season with care.
Rodgers desperately needs to get his transfer window activity spot on this summer, and thus far he has done quite well. Not brilliantly, but well. James Milner, Danny Ings and Adam Bodgan don’t come across as excitable new transfers, but Milner was undoubtedly a very under-rated playmaker at Manchester City and I imagine that a fair few City fans will be sad to see him go. Danny Ings didn’t set the world alight in his first Premier League campaign with Burnley, but despite a slow start few have had a bad word to say about him and he could be the first adaptable striker for Liverpool since Luis Suarez. Adam Bogdan, well… I don’t know what’s going on there, you’ll have to inquire with his agent.
The biggest transfer arrived in Roberto Firmino, who signed for the Reds on July 4, and the prospect of him linking up with Brazilian team-mate Philippe Coutinho will make for some satisfying viewing in Liverpool’s midfield next season. Liverpool’s new batch of signings was capped off with Nathaniel Clyne on July 1, and Joe Gomez around a similar time.
Liverpool now need a forward who is agile, proven and experienced. Daniel Sturridge’s recurring injuries puts his future in doubt and the less said about Lambert and Ballotelli the better.
Liverpool should finish in at least fifth place, but fourth and a place in the Champions League would make for a decent season.
[accordion title=’Manchester City’]
Predicted position: 3rd
Both sides of Manchester had little to brag about last season, both finishing in mediocre fashion and below early expectations. City obviously finished the higher of the two, but their feeble attempts at challenging Chelsea for the title were just that, feeble.
They showed indifferent form against the sides surrounding them, doing well at home but faltering away, and most of the ground that separated them and Chelsea were points that they had dropped against the teams that they should have been beating comfortably. Burnley home and away, Hull at home and Crystal Palace away were all games that cost the club serious points in games that they were expected to win.
The £49 million capture of Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling means that Manchester City have yet again splashed the cash in the transfer market, and yet more signings could be on the way. Do they need any, given the crazy amounts of money that they have splashed over the last six or seven years? They shouldn’t, but sadly, they do. I can’t quite put my finger on which department they need re-affirming, as on paper they look strong all over and Frank Lampard is the only big-name player to have departed the club so far.
The Blues might not need any more arrivals, but the philosophy of the City owners suggests that signings will occur, as when the team under-achieve in a season the usual response is to simply throw money at the problem until it solves itself.
City must now ensure that they are abiding by Fifa’s financial fair-play rules (ironic, right?) and refrain from spending mass amounts of money unnecessarily, particularly so following the capture of Sterling. Perhaps they could take a leaf out of Liverpool’s book and scan for some quality free transfers in order to bag themselves a bargain, although taking transfer advice from Liverpool is perilous to say the least.
[accordion title=’Manchester United’]
Predicted position: 5th
Forget Chelsea, Arsenal or City for pre-season predictions and expectations, the number one question above all others is where United will conclude their campaign.
Just like City, Liverpool and Everton, the Red Devils underachieved massively last season, and although they showed glimpses of being a genuine title-winning side with some hard-fought wins towards the back-end of the season, namely at Liverpool and Crystal Palace, they then went on to lose at home to West Brom and away to Everton, putting them right back at square one.
After the ill-spoken season under David Moyes, last season was about transition and United fans knew it. Louis Van Gaal was an exciting prospect to fill the unfillable void left by Sir Alex Ferguson, and although his reign has yet to lift-off, once he has little-by-little pieced together the squad he desires, we should see a serious title challenge from the new-look Manchester United.
Having said that, LVG has already made a number of signings so far this summer. Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian were the first two through the Old Trafford doors, and although they are both certainly players that Manchester United need, neither have been greatly discussed in an over-glorified manner. Long-serving Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is also set to join the Red Devils after informing the German giants that he wanted to undertake a new challenge before it was too late. The World Cup winner is certain to make a big impact at United, and he will be joined by Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who has undergone a medical with the club ahead of a £25 million switch.
United now have plenty of talent available in midfield, but it doesn’t require a detective to know that United frantically need a quality centre-back, and although Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford of late, no solid proof of a genuine move has been revealed as yet.
Central defence is a key area, and should United somehow fail to sign a top centre-back, I can’t see them finishing in the top four, particularly so if goalkeeper David De Gea opts to move to Real Madrid.
All eyes on Old Trafford.
[accordion title=’Newcastle United’]
Predicted position: 19th (Relegated)
Ah dear. The less said about Newcastle of late, the better. It’s been truly sad to see such a great club being sluggishly destroyed by another clueless owner.
Being a Blackpool fan, I know how it is to become a victim of corporate greed, but the fight must go on, unfortunatley at the Magpies’ league expense.
Now, I’m not going to be one of those narrow-minded people who calls for fans to “get behind their team” under such circumstances off the field. Toon fans are electric and St. James’ Park, no matter how Newcastle are playing, is an intimidating ground for opposition sides.
However, Newcastle’s players, or the majority of them, didn’t look interested in giving it their all, provoking the question of ‘why should fans back the players when the players seemingly don’t care?’
They get their pay-check, and nine times out of ten, they don’t care. There are of course exceptional cases like Jonas Gutierrez, which was heart-warming to see him score Newcastle’s second goal against West Ham on the last day of the season, prolonging their top-flight status. However, as I type this, the North-East club have yet to bring any playing staff in, with only Steve McClaren joining the club as manager so far, which seemed to raise more errors than hopes.
Should the club fail to strengthen this summer, there is not a cat’s chance in hell that Newcastle will beat the drop next season, regardless of whether the fans back the side or not.
Sorry Newcastle fans, you’ll get your club back soon enough, just hang in there.
[accordion title=’Norwich City’]
Predicted position: 14th
Ah, the Premier League whipping boys are back for another round!
I’m just kidding you Canaries, but let’s face it, there’s a chance of some stuffings away from home next season. It wouldn’t be a Norwich Premier League campaign if that wasn’t the case.
I can only worship the ground Alex Neil walks on after his incredible work at Carrow Road last season. The Scot, who had very little experience at a top Championship side, not to mention a Premier League club, put pen-to-paper with Norwich, having been granted permission to speak to the Canaries from former club Hamilton at the age of 33. The step-up means that Neil will become the youngest Premier League boss by a massive six years.
The wonders that he has done at Norwich already is an incredible achievement and Neil fully warrants the opportunity to weave his magic against the big boys next season. The club went on a fantastic run last season, winning 17 games out of 25 between January, when he started, and May, where he capped off the incredible run with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley.
Norwich have retained most of their Premier League squad from the 2013/14 season, with the likes of John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Bradley Johnson, Johnny Howson, Nathan Redmond and Elliot Bennett holding the fort for new arrivals, the two this summer being Youssouf Mulumbu and Graham Dorran, who will provide some vital experience and know-how.
Both Norwich and Neil are unlikey to raise quite as many eyebrows as last season, but they should avoid a return to the Championship.
Let’s be ‘avin’ you!
Predicted position: 7th
Were Southampton the biggest over-achievers last season? I’ll let Swansea fans decide.
Regardless, they did impressively well last time out and there’s little chance that the next campaign will be any different.
For an extensive period of time, the Saints were threatening to push for a top four place as late as February, but sadly some results got away from them. Despite the stumbling finish, the club still sat in a brilliant seventh place, just behind Liverpool.
The most surprising element of their season was the fact that they had lost Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Luke Shaw to Liverpool and United respectively last summer. Yet, with some shrewd signings that went under the radar, the club managed to top their 2013/14 finish. That alone stood as a commendable testimony to Ronald Koeman’s case for Manager of the year.
Nevertheless, as of now, Southampton have lost Artur Boruc, Jos Hooiveld and prominently Nathaniel Clyne among others, but have also been busy with arrivals. Juanmi, Cedric and Cuco Martina have arrived from Malaga, Sporting Lisbon and FC Twente respectively and could once again prove worthy signings as the season progresses.
Liverpool will no doubt be keeping close tabs on Southampton’s further activity over the coming weeks.
[accordion title=’Stoke City’]
Predicted position: 8th
Stoke are such an unappreciated side in the league and somehow keep maintaining consistently respectable positions each and every year, yet their performances usually go unnoticed. Stoke seem to keep edging higher and higher towards the Europa League spots and if Stoke make a U-turn on the Shaqiri situation, or another top-level winger is acquired, eighth is the very least I would expect from a solid Potters side.
Nobody would dare doubt their impressive home form, even against the big sides, but away from home is where they truly lack conviction and usually get found out. With the addition of some real attacking quality, Stoke could turn themselves into a side that possess the capability to go to Old Trafford on a Tuesday evening and grab a 1-1 draw, rather than lose by a one goal margin.
I recall watching Stoke play Arsenal at the Emirates in January and, in truth, they were rubbish and fell to a 3-0 defeat. Arsenal are brilliant and sometimes unplayable at the Emirates, but Stoke never looked in it. A month earlier, Stoke had beaten Arsenal 3-2 at the Britannia and were brutal, yet brilliant.
It’s interesting how some teams play so differently away from home, and Stoke are the perfect example. If they can figure out how to start picking up more points on the road then Mark Hughes’ side should be looking at a top eight finish next term.
Predicted position: 18th (Relegated)
My final relegation place goes to the Black Cats, as I can’t help but feel, much like Aston Villa, that their time is up. Both teams are usually happy to survive the drop, but such a low target can only be achieved so many times before a lack of larger ambitions bites you on the behind.
Dick Advocaat did a creditable job of keeping Sunderland in the league and his emotions poured out when they were mathematically safe following a goalless draw at Arsenal on the Wednesday prior to the final day. It portrayed a beautiful element of football and showed just how much it means to so many across the game.
However, despite Advocaat’s change of heart, having initially stated that he would step down, before eventually agreeing to another year, I can’t see his inspiration and experience alone being enough to keep a dogged and lacklustre Sunderland side from the drop.
So far they have brought in Seb Coates from Liverpool and Welsh full-back Adam Matthews from Celtic, but Sunderland require a bit more quality than that if they are serious about prolonging their stay in the top division. There’s still plenty of time to rectify proceedings, but it would take a fairly big name to guide them to relative safety, and personally I cannot see that kind of player materialising.
[accordion title=’Swansea City’]
Predicted positon: 11th
If there are any Swansea fans reading this, please take this particular segment with a pinch of salt, as chances are you will finish higher than 11th, but I’m desperately struggling to predict where the middle six teams will finish between eighth and 13th.
Along with Ronald Koeman and eventual winner Jose Mourinho, Garry Monk was up there for Manager of the Year, and quite rightly too. Since taking over the role full-time last summer, Monk has carried on the Swansea philosophy that earned them a place in the Premier League to begin with, using neat, passing play and attacking football. Swansea’s play was very pleasing to the eye for the most part of last season, but some silly defeats here and there prevented them from jumping in to a Europa League spot, a target that they will no doubt be aiming towards this season.
The South Wales side haven’t messed about in this window, completing a host of new signings early on. Andre Ayew, Franck Tabanou and Eder have all joined the club from Marseille, St. Etienne and Braga respectively. If they all contribute to Monk’s developing philosophy we can expect to see more of Swansea’s attacking nature gracing our screens once again next season.
The sole interesting exit out the Swansea door so far is Jazz Richards. The 24-year-old Welsh International had a solid season, but he has put pen-to-paper with Championship outfit Fulham who have done very well for themselves there.
Quite simply, I would expect to see more of the same from the Swans next season, and as one of the best run clubs out there they fully deserve it, too.
[accordion title=’Tottenham Hotspur’]
Predicted position: 6th
Over the last week or so life has been looking on the up at Spurs, not that life’s been bad at White Hart Lane, but it hasn’t been fantastic either.
Spurs have released images of their stadium expansion, which looks pretty impressive. It features the largest single-tiered stand in the league, ahead of the Kop at Anfield. Also, Mauricio Pochettino has begun trimming his squad and should continue to do so over the course of the transfer window. Flop strikers Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Saldado are heading for the exit, and they won’t look back on their time at Spurs all too fondly.
Tottenham haven’t spent big yet, with only a month to go, but have come off best from a controversial debacle involving Belgian international Toby Alderweireld. The defender was at the centre of a potential court case involving his former clubs Atletico Madrid and Southampton, as well as his new suitors, Spurs. Southampton had the choice to purchase Alderweireld for a lowly £6.8 million, which they claimed Atletico failed to stand by. Thankfully, the issue didn’t expand in to anything too dramatic, as Alderweireld come out and claimed that he wanted to sign for Spurs, subsequently finalising the issue before it became a legality.
Spurs have also added former Burnley full-back Kieran Trippier and MK Dons starlet Dele Alli to their armoury, with Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli heading in the other direction to newcomers Watford, while Paulinho has made the move to Chinese outfit Guangzhou Evergrande – a curious decision to say the least.
Spurs fans will be hoping that Harry Kane doesn’t turn out to be a one-season wonder, and should he continue his goal-scoring feats the club will have plenty to look forward to during the new season.
However, the North Londoners really need to lay down a marker on their ambitions. Like Liverpool, they really need to get somewhere this season, rather than settling for the usual Europa League spots that they frequently take up. Granted, they reached the League Cup final in February, which was promising in itself, but were easily swept aside by Chelsea on the day.
All said and done, I personally cannot see Spurs illuminating the league this season, and would expect them to finish in their usual 5th, 6th or 7th place.
Predicted position: 16th
Watford, like Bournemouth, scored for fun last season and thoroughly deserved their promotion, which they effectively sealed at Brighton on the penultimate weekend of the season. While I’m concerned about whether they can keep the door at the back shut when required most, I believe they will survive in the Premier League should they adopt a ‘you score two, we’ll score three’ approach.
It’s tough to see the Vicarage Road crowd not being pleased with an attacking trio of Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra up front and a solid midfield with flare to provide them plenty of service, but like Bournemouth, their lack of Premier League experience will cost them on some occasions. However, that’s all part and parcel of being a breath of fresh air in the top flight.
Although, the Hornets are currently under-going some managerial instability, with Slavisa Jokanovic departing despite successfully guiding Watford to the top flight for the first time in eight years. Watford’s management choices over the last 12 months, whether full-time or interim coaches, such as Billy McKinlay, have been relatively positive and for now Quique Flores remains in charge. Whether the club plan to keep him on permanently is unclear, but Watford should have just enough to survive.
[accordion title=’West Bromwich Albion’]
Predicted position: 12th
The Tony Pulis effect makes me feel that West Brom should be pretty solid next term, now that the Welshman has a full summer and season to flex his muscles and put his own twist on last year’s uninspiring Albion side. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a club under his guidance descending in to any great peril, but they won’t be pushing up too many daisies at the top end of the table either.
It would appear that the departure of solid midfield duo Yousouff Mulumbu and Graham Dorrans is indirectly linked to Albion’s want to add some attacking flare to their squad, rather than having a set group of players that can often play it safe, but fail to win matches consistently. Their signings thus far, however, fails to suggest that Tony Pulis is opting for an attacking approach, with former Manchester United stalwart Darren Fletcher joining their ranks. Although, Irish international James McClean’s arrival from Wigan Athletic casts some doubt on Pulis going for yet another defensive approach.
We can only wait and see, but I wouldn’t be rushing to purchase an Albion season ticket if I was yearning for pleasing football, that’s for sure.
[accordion title=’West Ham United’]
Predicted position: 13th
West Ham have already kicked off their competitive campaign with the Europa League qualifiers currently in progress. The Hammers saw off Andorran minnows FC Lusitans in what was effectively a two-legged warm-up ahead of the new season for coach Slaven Bilic and his men. They now face Malta side Birkirkara in the final qualifying round of the European tournament.
Like West Brom, West Ham certainly shouldn’t be peaking over their shoulders at the drop this year due to their solid defensive line. of course, only the top sides in the league possess enough true quality in both departments to balance defence and attack, but West Ham aren’t a team known to withhold such a luxury.
An attacking duo of Enner Valencia and Diafro Sakho raises hope that the Hammers can finalise their era at the Boleyn Ground in a positive fashion, but their transfer activity thus far fails to suggest that they can punch above their weight in the league, and a mid-table finish seems a respectable prediction for a respectable side.
Do you agree, or will my predictions prove to be horribly wrong? Leave a comment below and let us know!