So after doing 20 teams in 20 days and offering a predicted place of finish, it was time to look back across three weeks of copy and see if anything lent itself to different interpretations and different places in the table.
TL;DR version — I’m making some changes based on the full transfer window and some gut hunches.
(Original Version) (Revised Version)
1st — Manchester City 1st — Manchester City
2nd — Liverpool 2nd — Liverpool
3rd — Tottenham Hotspur 3rd — Arsenal
4th — Arsenal 4th — Manchester United
5th — Chelsea 5th — Tottenham Hotspur
6th — Manchester United 6th — Chelsea
7th — Everton 7th — Everton
8th — Burnley 8th — Burnley
9th — Newcastle United 9th — West Ham United
10th — West Ham United 10th — Wolverhampton
11th — Bournemouth 11th — Fulham
12th — Crystal Palace 12th — Bournemouth
13th — Leicester City 13th — Leicester City
14th — Fulham 14th — Crystal Palace
15th — Wolverhampton 15th — Newcastle United
16th — Southampton 16th — Southampton
17th — Watford 17th — Watford
18th — Brighton and Hove Albion 18th — Brighton and Hove Albion
19th — Huddersfield Town 19th — Huddersfield Town
20th — Cardiff City 20th — Cardiff City
And now, some completely irrational reasons on the shuffling of some teams:
I am bullish on Arsenal because the Gunners have so much offensive firepower they have the potential to turn 1-1 draws into 2-1 wins. Given the compressed nature of the bottom 13 teams, those extra four, six or even eight points will loom large in how the top seven shakes out, and the hunch is Arsenal reaches the podium after having some teething pains defensively early.
The more I scrutinize Tottenham, the more fatigue of its top 15 players is a glaring concern in the fight for a top-four finish. The backhanded best thing that could happen to Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs is a group play exit in Champions League so they have one less front to battle.
This might be an American thing, but switching No. 1 goalkeepers right before the start of the season never fully pans out. It’s like switching quarterbacks in football. The sooner Kepa Arrizabalaga can step under the crossbar, the better because Chelsea’s transition to Sarri-ball could result in a few draws where wins would have been expected.
I’m buying West Ham partially because of its increased depth following an aggressive summer spending spree, but I also want to believe Manuel Pellegrini figured out how not to have a team disappear on the road while in China. That was one of the things that held City back from reaching that next level before Pep Guardiola entered and more money was spent. The Irons another team which will have some confounding losses before separating themselves from the pack.
Newcastle United’s drop is solely attributed to the fact I expect Benitez to walk before Boxing Day and have to grind the rest of the season to survive. This is the third consecutive transfer window Ashley has rope-a-doped him into believing money would be there, and while what available money was available well spent, I imagine Benitez was less than thrilled with the assets purchase of House of Fraser Ashley made, the owner’s non-football business acumen notwithstanding.
Fulham and Wolverhampton are peas in the same pod. Whichever side transitions to Premier League life better while sacrificing the lesser amount of attacking nous and club identity will finish higher in the table. They are both like Bournemouth if Bournemouth spent money.
While I am convinced Huddersfield and Cardiff will be bottom two, the top of the drop is still somewhat up for grabs. Despite the talent at Southampton, I am far from sold on Mark Hughes after he did only just enough to keep the Saints afloat. Watford’s instability on the touchline means it is always a mystery package until after the second international break, and Javi Gracia can ill-afford a slow start.
Leicester City has talent despite Riyad Mahrez’s departure, but it’s on Claude Puel to make it mesh.
All these things said, the season should be a fun ride. Happy viewing!