Friday, 9 August 2019

PETER CROUCH predicts where each Premier League side will finish

The Premier League season starts on Friday with Champions League winners Liverpool hosting Norwich.

Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch runs the rule over each team ahead of the big kick-off.

I’m not sure what to expect this season — but you can never dismiss a side that scores goals. If there is a threat at the top of the pitch you have a chance, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will always carry a threat. They have also signed the exciting Nicolas Pepe from Lille, too.
The situation with Laurent Koscielny over the summer was a shambles though and there is something about Arsenal that just doesn’t convince me. The football is glorious at times and you think they could win the World Cup, but on other occasions they seem to be a team that couldn’t even win a coin toss.

They look the most vulnerable team to drop out of the top six.
MANAGER: Unai Emery - were Arsenal really any better last season than under Arsene Wenger? Possibly, but now Emery’s been backed in the transfer market, he needs to finish in the top four.
KEY MAN: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - a world-class striker. Should flourish with Nicolas Pepe providing supply lines and vital to Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
How good is it to see them back? I have a rapport with the club, where I played for two years, and was over the moon they won promotion. They are going all out to stay up too, having spent £130million on new players this summer.  

There are no guarantees with spending though. Fair play to the owners for backing their manager, Dean Smith, but we have seen big splurges go wrong before and Fulham went straight back down last season after investing £100m 12 months ago. 
But Villa are a different club and Jack Grealish deserves to show what he can do in the Premier League. Anywhere above 18th will represent success.
MANAGER: Dean Smith - superb job to take Villa from 14th in October to promotion in May. Heavily backed in the transfer market and will need to get off to a good start after such big spending.
KEY MAN: Jack Grealish - Villa have spent heavily on new players this summer but Grealish remains their standout star. If he can reproduce his superb Championship form in the Premier League, Villa should survive back in the big time.
They confuse me more than any other Premier League club. Every year, there has been a point when it has appeared they would be relegated. But then they always stay up and always do it with a degree of comfort.
You cannot deny they are a success story — it is all the more remarkable given their average attendance of about 10,500. I like Callum Wilson and Josh King — strong, powerful strikers who will score goals.
Eddie Howe wants young players who work hard and do everything he tells them to and it works. Yet it nags away at me that, one day, they will drop down and return to the Championship. They will probably stay up again this season — but it will be close!
MANAGER: Eddie Howe - to take a club the size of Bournemouth up through the divisions and into the big time was impressive. To keep them there for five seasons is astonishing. Surely a bigger job beckons soon!
KEY MAN: Callum Wilson - seemingly over the injury problems that have plagued him since Bournemouth’s promotion in 2015. Big new contract and England recognition no more than he deserves. Now he just needs to stay fit. 
There is no worse feeling in football than going through a season of struggle. I had it at Stoke two years ago and I fear Brighton’s squad will experience it this season, given how close they came to relegation in May.
I was shocked to see Chris Hughton sacked and replaced by Graham Potter. Chris is a very good manager and I think he deserved another season. 
I can see a point, though, where things catch up with Brighton. The promoted teams are just as good as the Seagulls and will target them as a team they can take points from.
MANAGER: Graham Potter - unproven at the top level but impressive start to his career in Sweden and at Swansea. If he can keep Brighton up, it’s job done for Potter.
KEY MAN: Lewis Dunk - captain, leader, Brighton legend. Dunk’s form over the past two seasons earned him an England cap. If Brighton survive, a large part will be down to Dunk.
You can be sure of one thing in the early weeks — my last club are going to make a quick start and be as far from trouble as possible.
Sean Dyche was furious about the way they began 12 months ago and, knowing him as I do, he won’t let it happen again.
They have got a good squad and I would expect Nick Pope to be the new No 1 now Tom Heaton has gone to Aston Villa.
Jay Rodriguez is a good addition to a group that is honest and will cause problems for any away team at Turf Moor. A place in the top half awaits them once again.
MANAGER: Sean Dyche - has performed miracles at Turf Moor but fear is he’s taken them as far as he can. If this is his last season, Burnley could surprise a few people with a settled squad and no Europa League.
KEY MAN: Nick Pope - appears to have won the battle for the gloves at Burnley after Tom Heaton was sold to Aston Villa. If progress continues, could even challenge Jordan Pickford as England No 1. 
I wrote in February that if Maurizio Sarri was going to leave, there was only one man to replace him. So I’m delighted Frank Lampard, who I know so well, was that man. He deserves this chance. He is a good appointment — the right appointment.
Frank will change the atmosphere, which had turned sour last season. They have had to contend with a transfer ban but Christian Pulisic, a player I admire, was signed before and he will add to the quality. I’m not going to say he can replace Eden Hazard, because nobody can.
We will all miss the magical little Belgian but Chelsea have plenty of quality remaining. They will be in the top-four reckoning.

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