Sportstar's Premier League 2020-21 predictions: Champion, top four, golden boot winner

Our team of football writers make their picks on who they think will be the champion, make the top four, be relegated into the Championship and be the golden boot winner.

Jordan Henderson

Liverpool will look to defend its Premier League title by fending off challenge from Manchester City and Chelsea.   -  Reuters

The new season of the Premier League is set to commence on Saturday and it promises to be another enthralling campaign. Liverpool bids to become only the fourth team in the Premier League era to retain the crown which it claimed in commanding fashion last season.

Can Manchester City bounce back after a disappointing challenge or will we see the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea re-enter the fray?

Our team of football writers have made their picks on who they think will be the champion, make the top four, the three teams who will be relegated by the end of the season and the golden boot winner.

READ | Premier League 2020-21: Liverpool, City favourites again as teams gear up for hectic season

Top Four (Anirudh Velamuri's)

1) Manchester City

2) Liverpool

3) Chelsea

4) Manchester United

Relegation

Aston Villa, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion

Top scorer

Timo Werner (Chelsea)

Manchester City has shored up its defence with Nathan Ake and is expected to wrap up Kalidou Koulibaly’s signature before the end of the transfer window. Leroy Sane, who missed the majority of last season through injury, has left for Bayern Munich, and he has been replaced by Ferran Torres for half the cost. Phil Foden has shown over the last season that he has the talent to thrive under Pep Guardiola and David Silva’s departure should see the England international play a bigger role this term. Guardiola’s side, which finished 18 points behind Liverpool last campaign, should have enough firepower to bounce back to form.

Can Timo Werner become the first German player to win the golden boot in English football and fire Chelsea to the title? - Twitter/Chelsea   -  Twitter/Chelsea

 

Liverpool has finished two seasons in a row with 90+ points, winning the title once and finishing as the runner-up before that, but a third season with similar output is too much to expect from Jurgen Klopp’s side – especially with no addition yet of note to the first XI. The transfer window started with it losing out to Chelsea for Timo Werner and has since spent the days trying to put together enough money to bid for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Klopp will motivate his side once again, no doubt, but back-to-back league titles should be out of the equation.

Chelsea had the second most shots and created the second most chances last season. But it also conceded the ninth most goals and most in the top ten. How were those rectified? By recruiting two of the world’s most promising forwards along with Ajax’s creative genius. To be fair to Frank Lampard, he did ‘solve’ the long-standing left-back issue with Ben Chilwell and also recruited the Champions League runner-up’s defensive rock and captain, Thiago Silva. Yes, it might take a while for all five recruits to hit the ground running and there's no guarantee of defensive stability – but will clean sheets matter if you outscore your opponents every game?

Manchester United might have spent the transfer window in an aimless pursuit of Jadon Sancho but it did manage to add Donny van de Beek to the squad. The bench is still relatively weak but the Dutchman, with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a midfield trio to match the quality of its attacking triumvirate. If Harry Maguire avoids going to a Greek prison and full-backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka remain relatively injury free, the Red Devils have enough to seal Champions League qualification.

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Top four (Shyam Vasudevan's)

1) Chelsea

2) Manchester City

3) Liverpool

4) Arsenal

Relegation

West Ham, Aston Villa, Brighton, and Hove Albion

Top scorer

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Kai Havertz to come a close second)

Chelsea, bolstered by the arrival of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, will be the team to beat this season. Frank Lampard has sought to address his side’s defensive frailties -- that saw it concede a massive 54 goals, the most by any club in the top-10 -- by roping in Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, and Malang Sarr to add some much-needed stability at the back. Chelsea will largely depend on its attack, featuring a plethora of striking options including the two new arrivals and the likes of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, and Tammy Abraham. With a finely balanced unit, this very well could be the season when Lampard wins the first silverware of his managerial career.

READ | Premier League: Five young players to watch out for

Manchester City has retained most of its core from last season and will continue to power on from where it left off. Having pummeled over 100 goals last year, City, as always, will remain a favourite for the title. Liverpool lifted its first Premier League trophy in 30 years the last term, but a fairly mellow transfer window sees the side lacking fresh faces. Jurgen Klopp got the better of Man City’s Pep Guardiola last season, but it remains to be seen if he can indeed outfox the Spaniard for a second successive season.

Will Mikel Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lead Arsenal back into the Champions League for the first time in five seasons? - REUTERS   -  REUTERS

 

And lastly, coming to Arsenal. The Gunners enjoyed a terrific debut season under Mikel Arteta as they bagged the FA Cup and followed it up with a Community Shield win over Liverpool. With Willian also coming on board to offer support to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang upfront, a rejuvenated Arsenal will pack a punch this season.

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Top Four (Aashin Prasad's)

1) Manchester City

2) Liverpool

3) Manchester United

4) Arsenal

Relegation

Aston Villa, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion

Top scorer

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be the favourite despite finishing 18 points behind champion Liverpool. City scored 100 goals, for the second time in three seasons, while it struggled defensively at counter-attacks. City also will be banking on the 33-year-old Sergio Aguero, who is still the best finisher at the club, to remain injury-free.

READ | Premier League: Five new players to watch out for

While City is seeking reinforcements in defence and attack, defending champion Liverpool has found it tough in the transfer market so far to freshen things up. The pursuit of Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara has hit a stumbling block with Liverpool struggling to match the reported asking price of £30 million. Liverpool will be afforded the opportunity to set the pace from matchday one with City having to play catch up due to its delayed start to the season.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero's fitness will be crucial to the team's chances of regaining the title. - GETTY IMAGES   -  Getty Images

 

To sustain its own level from the from 18-19 and 19-20 campaigns, where it posted 90-points plus, Liverpool would require some additions to its squad. The Reds have only added Takumi Minamino, who can stake a claim for a place in the first team, since the end of the 2018 summer transfer window.

Much-like post the coronavirus lockdown, Manchester United heads into the new season with a relatively thin bench. Midfielder Donny van de Beek has been roped in and other additions are likely on the way before the end of the October 5 transfer deadline. The English transfer record fee pursuit of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho could allow United to build on its third-place finish and a strong end to the season. Since Mikel Arteta's appointment in December last year Arsenal has not been found out defensively unlike teams from the past, and is looking good to finish in the top four for the first time in five seasons.

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