It’s not easy trying to predict how 20 professional soccer teams will perform in the 2017/18 season, but we’ll give it a go. This is the predicted finish of all 20 clubs in the English Premier League from worst to first. Of course, the league leaders at the end of the 38-game season will be crowned champions and the bottom three clubs will be relegated to the second-tier Championship League. Realistically, there are about six teams that could challenge for the title in 2017/18 with another six trying to avoid relegation.
The other eight clubs are basically mediocre, but could either challenge for the crown or find themselves in the relegation zone if things go their way or they’re hit by the injury bug. This list could change slightly depending on the rest of the deals made in the transfer window, which closes at the end of August. However, most major moves have already been made.
20. Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield Town was promoted to the Premier League after winning the Championship League playoffs last season. However, they’re not the best defensively as they allowed more goals than they scored in 2016/17. Perhaps it was because they only scored 56 times in their 46 league games. Manager David Wagner did a good job to get the most out of his limited squad though. He’s made several moves in the transfer window, but Dean Whitehead is really the only proven Premier League player at his disposal. Wagner will be depending on goalkeeper Jonas Lossl who was brought in from Mainz of Germany to replace Danny Ward. Striker Steve Mounie could be a good signing as the 22-year-old cost a club-record £11 million from French club Montpellier. Even if winger Tom Ince plays to his potential as well, Huddersfield will likely go down.
19. Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton finished in second place in the championship League in 2016/17 to earn automatic promotion to the Premier League. This will be the south coast club’s first campaign in the top-tier after 34 years in the lower divisions. Manager Chris Hughton has plenty of Premier League experience, but his players don’t. They need a good season from striker Izzy Brown and Matthew Ryan will need to stand out in goal as a replacement for former keeper David Stockdale. Brighton’s best player is attacker Anthony Knockaert of France and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in the top flight. He scored 14 goals last year and set up eight to lead the offense. Playmaking midfielder Pascal Gross of Germany was signed in the summer and he should help, but look for Brighton to return to the Championship League at the end of the season.
18. Burnley FC
Burnley’s days in the Premier League may be over at the end of the 2017/18 season. The club took 40 points last year and finished in 16th place with just 39 goals in 38 games. They’ve lost defender Michael Keane during the offseason and will have to depend on Andre Gray to lead the squad in scoring. The key player will likely be goalkeeper Tom Heaton though as he was forced to save the most shots in the Premier league last season. Burnley will need good performances from Stephen Ward, Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady and newcomers Jonathan Walters and Charlie Taylor. Controversial midfielder Joey Barton was released and he’ll likely be replaced by Jack Cork. Burnley is tough to beat at home, but is brutal on the road and likely won’t escape relegation this time around.
17. Swansea City
Welsh side Swansea City finished in 15th place with 41 points last season sand played fairly well when Paul Clement took over as manager. However, his main task now is to try and hang onto Gylfi Sigurdsson of Iceland in the transfer window. Without Sigurdsson and his nine goals and 13 assists the team will be in deep trouble even though midfielder Roque Mesa has been acquired. Striker Fernando Llorente scored 15 goals last season and he’ll need to at least equal that output if Swansea is going to stay in the Premier League. The Swans also brought in forward Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea to help out in the goalscoring department. Centre-back Mike van der Hoorn needs to improve this year while Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez need another good season.
16. Newcastle United
Newcastle was crowned champions of the second-tier Championship League last season and has been promoted back to the Premier League just a year after being relegated. While manager Rafael Benitez seems a good fit for the Championship, he’s often out of his league when going up against the big boys in the Premier League. The squad has some quality in Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey as well as former Peterborough United and Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle. Benitez has added some Grade B players in Mikel Merino, Florian Lejeune, Christian Atsu, Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo, but the side still lacks an elite goalkeeper. Newcastle was brutal away from home the last time they were in the Premier League with just five victories from their last 43 road trips in the top-tier. The club should do just enough to avoid relegation.
Watford had a pretty dismal time of it in 2016/17 by finishing in 17th place with 40 points, just six points above the relegation zone. They scored just 40 goals in 38 games and allowed 68 against, so it’s easy to see where the problem areas are. Walter Mazzarri is out as the team’s manager and he’s been replaced by Marco Silva of Portugal. Silva will have his hands full trying to turn the Hornets into a more consistent side though. The club has acquired Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah during the summer and will once again depend on forward Troy Deeney to lead the squad in scoring. A good year from Roberto Pereyra will be a bonus after the Argentine joined from Inter Milan. He didn’t make much of an impact last season due to a knee injury. Chalobah returns to Watford after playing for the team five years ago on loan and he also needs a good season if Watford hopes to avoid relegation.
14. Stoke City
If you look up the word mediocre in the dictionary there should be a picture of Stoke City’s emblem. This team isn’t good enough to challenge for a top-four spot and it’s not bad enough to worry about the relegation battle. Manager Mark Hughes guided his team to a 13th-place finish last year with 44 points and just 41 goals for in 38 games. The club has lost Marko Arnautovic, Glenn Whelan, Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley in the offseason while acquiring Darren Fletcher from West Brom and Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea. The squad looks weaker than last year and veteran striker Peter Crouch is getting older at the age of 37. If Saido Berahino doesn’t break out of his scoring clump then the Potters may even have to worry about relegation.
13. Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace managed to avoid relegation last year with Sam Allardyce in charge, but he’s gone and has been replaced by Frank de Boer. Palace earned just 41 points last season for a 14th-place finish with 12 wins and 21 losses. They should do a bit better in 2017/18 as they have some talented players such as Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Andros Townshend and Yohan Cabaye. They’ve also acquired centre-back Jairo Riedewald from Ajax in the summer and picked up Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea. But on the other side of the coin, they lost Mamadou Sakho. New boss De Boer is expected to use a 3-4-3 formation and it might take some time getting used to it. Palace should finish slightly higher than last year.
12. West Bromwich Albion
West Brom had a decent season in 2016/17 as the Black Country club placed 10th on the table with 45 points. They have an overrated manager in Tony Pulis though and take most of their points from the league’s lower teams while losing to the top squads. The addition of Jay Rodriguez from Southampton will help as will Yuning Zhan from Vitesse Arnhem. However, Pulis has already loaned Zhan out to Werder Bremen of the German Bundesliga and Darren Fletcher has also left the club to join Stoke City on a free transfer. West Brom lacks scoring power and without anybody to deposit the ball in the net it looks like they’ll slide down the standings by a couple of spots. That could change though if Pulis pulls off a miracle before the transfer window closes.
Bournemouth may be the Premier league’s most-underrated team under the tutelage of manager Eddie Howe. The team likes to play attacking football and placed ninth on the league table last season with 46 points. Howe made a couple of good moves in the offseason by signing veteran English striker Jermain Defoe from Sunderland on a free transfer along with experienced goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Chelsea. The boss is also trying to add some more depth to the squad before the summer transfer window shuts down at the end of August. Bournemouth allowed 12 more goals than they scored last year and if Defoe and Begovic can help narrow that deficit somewhat they should be able to challenge for a top-10 spot once again.
10. Leicester City
We all know Leicester City won the Premier League two seasons ago and then looked like a candidate for relegation most of last year. However, things turned around when manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked and replaced with Craig Shakespeare. The club started to string some wins together and finished the campaign in 12th place with 44 points. Leicester isn’t as good as their championship-winning season would have us believe, but they’re not as bad as they were for the first half of last season either. The team acquired Vicente Iborra and Kelechi Iheanacho in the offseason and just as importantly, they still have Riyad Mahrez in the squad as of now. With Jamie Vardy leading the attack up front the Foxes should be able to finish in the top half this season.
It doesn’t really matter who’s in the squad and who’s managing the club, but Southampton always seem to finish in the top 10. The team is well known for selling off its best players and they finished eighth in 2016/17 with 46 points. Mauricio Pellegrino of Argentina takes over as the club’s third manager in the past three years after Claude Puel was let go at the end of last season. The team hasn’t done anything in the transfer window other than acquire Jan Bednarek from Lech Poznan. In fact, the squad may be slightly weaker than last year as Jay Rodriguez has left to join West Brom. The Saints may not be as strong this season, but it’s hard to knock them out of the top 10.
8. West Ham United
West Ham United should be used to their new stadium in London by now, but the team will have to improve on its home record. Manager Slaven Bilic is hoping to rebound from last year’s total of 45 points and a disappointing 11th-place finish. The club has picked up some fine players in the summer transfer window such as Marko Arnautovic and striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. However, one of their biggest additions is English international goalkeeper Joe Hart who was brought over on loan for the year from Manchester City. The club’s success often hinges on the health of injury-prone striker Andy Carroll though. If the big Englishman can stay healthy and Hart plays to his potential then the Hammers could very well climb the standings this year.
Everton finished last season in seventh spot with 61 points with just 10 losses all year long. Manager Ronald Koeman has tried to strengthen his team by signing goalkeeper Jordan Pickford along with Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen. His biggest acquisition though was landing Manchester United and England’s all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney. Koeman may not be done either as he could be after Gylfi Sigurdsson. But let’s not forget that Everton lost its top scorer in striker Romelu Lukaku as he was sold to Manchester United. Everton will definitely miss his goals as Rooney won’t be able to replace them all. Look for the Toffees to finish in the same position as last season.
6. Tottenham Hotspur
The big change for Tottenham Hotspur in 2017/18 will be playing their home games at Wembley Stadium as White Hart Lane is being torn down and a new ground is being built. The squad has plenty of scoring threats in Golden Boot-winner Harry Kane along with Dele Alli and Son Heung-min and their defending was second to none last year. Spurs were runners-up to London neighbors Chelsea in 2016/17 as they finished with 86 points, seven behind the champions. However, manager Mauricio Pochettino has stood pat in the transfer window so far. In fact, his squad is actually weaker than last year since defender Kyle Walker was sold to rivals Manchester City. Tottenham lost the fewest games in the league last year with just four and they scored the most goals (86) and allowed the fewest against (26). They’ll be a good side again this season, but not as good as they were a year ago.
Liverpool had one of their best Premier League seasons in recent memory in 2016/17, but still managed to finish only in fourth place with 76 points. Manager Jurgen Klopp brought in Mohamed Salah from Roma during the offseason and finally unloaded mediocre midfielder Lucas Leiva. Other than that, the German boss hasn’t tinkered with his squad too much. However, he is trying to sign defender Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton and there were rumors about acquiring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal. The club desperately needs injury-prone striker Daniel Sturridge to stay healthy this season. If he does, the Reds should be in the mix for the top spot in 2017/18 even though they’ll also have to spend some energy on qualifying for the Champions League. The team’s weak spot is still in its own end though.
It’s usually more difficult to defend a championship than it is to win one. Chelsea may find that out this season after everything went their way in 2016/17. Long-time captain John Terry has left to join Aston Villa of the Championship League and it looks like striker Diego Costa is trying to force his way out of Stamford Bridge. Manager Antonio Conte has brought in Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid to replace Costa’s goals in case he leaves, but he’s still a question mark. The manager also acquired Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko. Chelsea won the Premier League with 93 points last season, but it’s hard seeing them being able to replicate that feat this campaign especially since they’ll be returning to the Champions League. The Blues will still compete for the crown, but won’t successfully defend it.
3. Manchester City
The blue half of Manchester finished in third place with 78 points last season in a bit of a disappointing year for manager Pep Guardiola. The club wasn’t the best defensively and that includes its goaltending. Guardiola has gotten rid of a lot of dead wood during the summer by releasing players such as Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and goalkeeper Willy Caballero. England international keeper Joe Hart will also be on loan at West Ham this season. City has tried to shore up defensively and spent quite a bit of money during the transfer window on players such as Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Douglas Luiz, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. As long as strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus haven’t forgotten where the net is, Man City will be a title contender again.
2. Manchester United
Man United dropped way too many points last season because of their league-leading 15 draws. The club finished with 69 points which was good for sixth place, but made the Champions League by winning the Europa League. Manager Jose Mourinho needs to take some of the blame for his style of play, but United could have finished top-four with better luck around the opposition’s net. Striker Romelu Lukaku was brought in to be a consistent goalscorer, but he’s not really going to add that much to the attack if Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t return. The 24-year-old Lukaku will basically replace the 38-year-old Ibrahimovic’s output and let’s not forget Wayne Rooney has returned to Everton. If United can turn half of their draws into wins though via some timely goals they should challenge for the title since they’re solid in goal with David De Gea and sound defensively, especially with the addition of midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea.
The Gunners are known to choke when the going gets tough in Premier League races and the European Champions league, but oddly enough they’re the best in England when it comes to winning the FA Cup. If Alexis Sanchez stays, the team has the talent to win the Premier League in 2017/18, but does it have the intestinal fortitude to take the crown? There’s no Champions League football to distract them this year, so manager Arsene Wenger will be able to focus on the domestic league. The club finished fifth last season with 75 points and Sanchez leading the way in scoring with 24 goals. Wenger acquired French striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for scoring depth in the summer along with Sead Kolasinac. If the Gunners can finish better in the box and tighten up defensively, they have enough attacking depth in the squad to win the league.