Another season has passed, yet not a season like we’ve ever seen before. Not since World War II has a football season been suspended, and never in the history of the Premier League. The next season is scheduled to start in mid-September, which means that the shortest off-season in sports will be even shorter, especially for the clubs that still have European competition left to play. The transfer window is already roaring, with several major clubs refusing to splash out, while others (looking at you, Chelsea) have been incredibly busy, dropping hundreds of millions over the last month leading up to the window. Liverpool won the league and predictably celebrated the next several weeks (fans even tried to give their best impression of the Minneapolis riots). Most of my Week One predictions turned out to be wrong, highlighting either the unpredictability of the Premier League, or my lack of Premier League knowledge (or both, who knows!). We’ll dive into those in a minute, along with who has already been snapped up in the transfer window (and who has left). First, thoughts on the final week:
Leicester City were shattered by the shutdown. After staying top-three for most of the season, they tumbled all the way to fifth, and stumbled in a last bid to earn a Champions League spot against a rejuvenated Manchester United squad.
Chelsea pulled out a win when needed. Frank Lampard should win Manager of the Season – hear me out! With 12 months of coaching experience in his lifetime, no transfer window to take advantage of, the loss of his best player, Lampard managed to guide Chelsea to a top-four finish in a season that most people assumed would end up with Chelsea mid-table. Lampard beat Guardiola, Klopp, Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers, Solskjaer, Arteta, and pulled a double over Mourinho, all in his first season. Chelsea will play the FA Cup final on Sunday against Arsenal, as well.
Sheffield United struggled after the break, but earning a top-10 finish in their first season after promotion, all while barely spending a dime, warrants a big round of applause.
Mikel Arteta looks like a breath of fresh air for Arsenal, and I believe he will be the manager there for some time to come.
Likewise for Mourinho – finally, he has found a place where his counter-attacking tactics are not only welcomed, but perfected, with the likes of Bergwijn, Son, Kane, and Moura all suited to hitting the opposition on the break. This was on full display in their takedown of Leicester two weeks ago.
Manchester City and Liverpool are still miles ahead of anyone else right now, and this is unlikely to change, especially with the appalling decision to overturn City’s Champions League ban.
Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich are relegated, replaced by Leeds and West Brom (third promotion still to come). Leeds will be welcomed back with open arms after a 16-year absence, while West Brom will hope to bring an end to their promotion/relegation volatility with a stable 2020/2021 season.
My predictions at the start of the season:
Kane will win the Golden Boot, with Salah the runner-up. City will win the league. One of last season’s top six will be replaced by either Leicester or Wolves. Bournemouth, Sheffield United and Southampton will be relegated. City will make a deep run into the Champions League, Manchester United will win the FA Cup, Liverpool will win the Carabao Cup, and Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham will earn Champions League positions for next season.
Vardy shocked no one except me with another barn-storming season, winning the boot. Salah was four goals behind. City never got close to winning the title. Leicester replaced Arsenal in the top six, and Wolves kicked Arsenal all the way down to eighth–which I was correct about. Southampton and Sheffield United out-performed my expectations, while Bournemouth was an accurate prediction. City are one game from a Champions League Quarterfinal. Manchester United were one game from fighting for the FA Cup final. City won the Carabao Cup. Three of my four picks for Champions League spots were correct, with the one surprise being Chelsea (see, I’m not biased! I thought my own club wouldn’t even be top four!).
Major breaking news: Newcastle’s disastrous attempt to find a new buyer continues to hit new roadblocks, as the Saudi investors who had submitted a bid to buy the club just pulled out.
Transfer news: Chelsea have all but signed Havertz, as no one else will pay his asking price, adding to their already massive haul of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. Chelsea are still eyeing Ben Chilwell, and are, unsurprisingly, leading the way in this transfer period.
Arsenal will announce the signing of a new winger, George Lewis, after the FA Cup final.
Manchester United are rumored to have succeeded in securing Jadon Sancho from Dortmund for £60M.
Everton are attempting to trade for Wilfried Zaha.
City and Liverpool are battling to sign Sevilla defender Diego Carlos, for a rumored £54M.
Jesse Lingard looks to be on the move, with interested parties in Germany, as well as Newcastle. Fingers crossed another Brit plays in a different league for a spell!
Chelsea have announced that Kepa will be available for loan, albeit for what will surely be a splashy loan fee, given his £150k/week salary.