LIFTING THE LID: Ahead of the new Premier League season getting underway this weekend, we sat down with Tony Cottee to discuss his predictions for the upcoming campaign.
I’d love to say it is going to be a close fight between four or five teams, but in reality there are only two competitors, Manchester City and Liverpool. Liverpool will give it a good go this season with their new signing, Darwin Nunez, and I think he will make a difference. They’re going to miss Sadio Mane without a doubt, but I look at Man City and I think there’s two key signings for them, Kalvin Phillips and Erling Haaland, who both really excite me. I think Haaland is the missing link and I think they have a shot at the Champions League too.
As I said, Man City and Liverpool pick themselves really, I don’t think you can dispute the fact that those two will be in the top four. I think Tottenham will finish in third. Richarlison is a really good signing for them, and I think they’ve improved as a club since Antonio Conte joined. I expect Arsenal to finish fourth, and again I like what Mikel Arteta has done with the club. With the signing of Gabriel Jesus as well, I think that will shoot them into the top four ahead of Chelsea, who I expect will finish in fifth.
The teams to mention are Newcastle, who have a good chance of pushing for Europe – they’ve got fantastic support and deep pockets now. And Manchester United, they can’t be any worse really, with amazing individual players. They were very poor as a team last year. Leicester and West Ham will also be contenders. I think that Leicester were very unlucky last year in terms of the injuries they had, they had the whole back four out at one stage which made it very difficult.
And West Ham have had two very good seasons and will be pushing for Europe as well. Biases aside, I’ve gone for Chelsea in fifth and Newcastle to make up the other Europa League place. Then I think Manchester United will finish seventh to get in the Europa Conference League, leaving West Ham and Leicester to finish inside the top 10.
I think it’s tough for the teams now in terms of getting promotion from the Championship and staying up, it’s such a hard thing to do. I believe that Fulham will get relegated unless we see the Aleksandar Mitrovic of last season in the Premier League, which didn’t happen last time. The same goes for Bournemouth with Scott Parker. I also think Southampton could be in danger of getting relegated. Having two 9-0 defeats and staying in the Premier League is an achievement within itself. I hope I am wrong because they’re a good club. But I think that Southampton, Fulham and Bournemouth will be relegated.
Top scorer: Erling Haaland
A difficult one but Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah will be scoring lots of goals for Liverpool, they always create chances. And like I’ve already mentioned I think Jesus and Haaland will be great signings and will score lots of goals this season. Harry Kane deserves credit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the top goal scorer this season. Having said that, if Haaland can hit the ground running, I think he might well run away with the Golden Boot.
Player of the season: Phil Foden
I think all the above mentioned are in with a shout, and I think that Kevin De Bruyne is a wonderful player, he’s someone who makes things happen for Man City and has a chance. But my choice will be Phil Foden. I am very excited about him, and I think he is a tremendous player and I’m proud to say he is English. I think it’s a big season for Man City and he has established himself as a regular now. With the likes of Haaland and De Bruyne around him, he will need to show Gareth Southgate why he is the number one player on his England team sheet.
Best bets of the weekend
I expect Tottenham to get off to a winning start against Southampton, there will be a real buzz surrounding their signings. I think Liverpool will beat Fulham away, unless Liverpool need some time to start firing. And I think Leicester will beat Brentford.
Lay of the weekend
I think there will be quite a few draws as there are a lot of teams that are hard to separate, for example Crystal Palace and Arsenal. I think the angle for betting this week will be in the draws.