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Best signing? First manager to get sacked? Our writers' Premier League predictions

We also give our tips for the teams that will finish in the top four.

Chelsea v Manchester City.FA Community Shield.5/08/2018. Source: AFP7

Eoin Lúc Ó Ceallaigh

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

I think Liverpool look to have finally fixed the glaring goalkeeper problems they’ve been having for a number of years with Alisson Becker coming in. They were good going forward last year but were let down defensively a lot of the time and with Van Dijk coming in in January and now Alisson in goals, there isn’t as gaping a hole at the back.

Wolves have also built on what was a decent squad from last year, bringing in Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. Might not be looking to finish near the top of the table, but bringing in players with their experience will definitely be a help in laying down roots in the Premier League.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Spurs
4. Man United

Who will get relegated?

Southampton, Brighton and Fulham

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Declan Rice. Made a name for himself last year and would expect more of the same.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

David Wagner. I reckon Huddersfield might be in a relegation battle and can see Wagner being relieved in an effort to stay afloat.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

As a Liverpool fan, I’m looking forward to watching the talent that Jurgen Klopp has built in the squad. The holes have finally been addressed and there’s some serious class across the team now as opposed to in the attacking roles.

I’m also dreading the false hope that this will give me coming towards the end of the season when City inevitably inch the title.

(SP)BRITAIN-LONDON-FOOTBALL-THE FA COMMUNITY SHIELD-CHELSEA VS MANCHESTER CITY The winning team Manchester City celebrates after the Community Shield match. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Gavan Casey

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

Any time I lazily scroll through the sports channels while poisoned hungover on a Sunday and – without fail – land on a Lazio game, I tend to leave it on to watch Felipe Anderson. He’s plainly not going to win a league with West Ham, but I could see him having a Dimitri Payet-sized impact on the season. He’s an own-brand Kaka; a smooth operator minus the frills with plenty of ‘go’ to him, and the expanses of the Hammers’ own Stadio Olimpico should see to it that he does wreck upon plenty of visiting teams.

The great English poet Peter Drury gushed of the attacking midfielder’s goal against Inter in May, “He has rolled that in like a six-foot putt on the 18th green at Augusta!”, and one can only wince at the prospective horrors which lie in wait for us when Jonathan Pearce is unleashed upon the gantry for his first West Ham game of the season.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester City
Manchester United
Liverpool
Tottenham

Who will get relegated?

Huddersfield, Southampton, Cardiff.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Despite his tasty cameo against Man City in the League Cup last season, it’s difficult to imagine Connor Ronan getting his big break at Wolves on account of the fact that they’ve added a 113-cap Portuguese international to the already-decent conglomerate, which kept him out of the side for large portions of their title-winning campaign. His teammate Matt Doherty, though, formerly of Bohemians, seems a bonafide starter at right-back.

Doherty bombs forward, bags the odd goal, and as he enters his prime at 26, he’s sure to prove Ireland almost farcically stacked in his position relative to all other areas of the pitch when he misses out to Seamus Coleman and Cyrus Christie in Martin O’Neill’s matchday squad to face Denmark in October.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

I think we can say with a fair degree of certainty that Neil Warnock will be making the cranberry sauce this Christmas.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

I’d love to say I’m most looking forward to the international breaks but as a United and Ireland fan it’s much of a muchness. I’m excited to see how Declan Rice develops alongside West Ham’s solid recruitments in and around him; he has plenty of genuine ‘out balls’ now and should start to spray passes like it’s nobody’s business.

I’m dreading nearly all of it, but especially the ‘we must continue to fight, thumbs-up-emoji, #mufc #GGMU’ messages posted to Ander Herrera’s Instagram account by his agent every other weekend.

Spain: Girona v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre-Season Friendly Mauricio Pochettino. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Paul Fennessy

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

It’s a pretty obvious suggestion, but Alisson looks a considerable upgrade on Loris Karius. He may take a while to adapt to the Premier League, but he looks to have all the qualities to be a top goalkeeper and improve Liverpool’s goals-against record considerably

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea

Winning back-to-back titles is notoriously difficult to do. A Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Man United were the last English side to achieve this feat, actually winning three in a row from 2006-07 to 2008-09. Yet Pep Guardiola’s men are no stranger to pulling off impressive feats. The reigning champions have the players and more importantly the squad to emulate that famous Red Devils team.

Liverpool finished 25 points behind City last season, but they also knocked them out of the Champions League, and are arguably the only title-contending team who have considerably improved on their squad from last year. While catching City is a big ask, the gap between the two should be a lot closer this time around.

United don’t look good enough defensively and still struggle to control games in midfield against the top sides, but Jose Mourinho teams have a habit of grinding out results, so I still expect them to be top three come the end of the season.

Chelsea have a good coach in Maurizio Sarri and the bones of a squad that won the title the season before last — they should be better this time around.

Arsenal will take some time to properly transition following the Arsene Wenger era, while this could be the season where Tottenham’s lack of squad depth finally catches up with them, so it feels as if it could be an extremely rare year whereby both North London clubs are absent from the top four come May.

Who will get relegated?

18. Southampton 19. Huddersfield 20. Cardiff

Of the three promoted clubs, Cardiff have spent far less heavily than Wolves or Fulham, so I expect them to suffer accordingly amid the harsh environment of the Premier League. Southampton and Huddersfield both struggled and came close to relegation last year, finishing three and four points above the drop zone respectively. They have done nothing in the intervening period to convince me that this year will be significantly different.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Declan Rice. It’s amazing to think he is still only 19 and has already appeared fairly regularly for West Ham. It will be interesting to see how Manuel Pellegrini uses him this season. He has played mainly at centre back for the Hammers, but has been most impressive for Ireland — both at senior and U21 level — in midfield.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

Rafa Benitez. Himself and the Newcastle board have not been seeing eye to eye for a while now. The Spaniard definitely overachieved by guiding the Magpies to 10th last season and it’s hard to envisage it getting much better this year. Signings such as Fabian Schär and Sung-Yueng Ki have not exactly caught the imagination and the board have generally been slow to back the manager financially. It seems like only a matter of time before Benitez gets sick of them, or vice versa.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

Most looking forward to: Watching City play. I don’t support them, but their style of football is a joy to behold. If you truly love the game, then it’s impossible not to be in awe of their brilliance at times.

Least looking forward to: The inevitable managerial moaning and inept refereeing decisions, particularly with the knowledge that the problem could at least have been partially solved had the clubs done the decent thing and agreed to the introduction of VAR.

Richarlison Press Conference - USM Finch Farm New Everton signing Richarlison. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Fintan O’Toole

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

Alisson. Looks the solution to one of Liverpool’s biggest problems in recent seasons, which they needed to work on to become a side that can mount the strongest challenge to Manchester City.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester City
Liverpool
Manchester United
Tottenham

Who will get relegated?

Cardiff City
Huddersfield Town
Watford

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

After establishing himself last year with West Ham, and given how important he’s likely to become to Ireland’s prospects, Declan Rice will be worth watching.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

Rafa to finally lose patience with the restrictions placed on him and depart Newcastle.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

Looking forward to finding out why exactly Richarlison cost £50 million and dreading the Mourinho soap opera as he complains about everything.

Notts County v Leicester City - Pre Season Friendly - Meadow Lane Leicester City's James Maddison. Source: Nick Potts

Killian Woods

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

Remember the name, James Maddison. As a Norwich fan, I watched him a bit last year and it was obvious he would get a big move this summer. I was hoping he would land at Spurs, but Leicester might be a better start for him.

From what I’ve seen of him, he definitely has the skillset to fill the Riyad Mahrez-shaped hole in Leicester’s team. He has a great eye for a pass, is very skilful with the ball in close quarters and can place the ball in the net with precision from outside the box.

I’d say he’ll click with Jamie Vardy very well and the pair will feed off each other nicely.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal.

Who will get relegated?

Huddersfield Town, Cardiff, Fulham. They’re three predictable picks but that’s because I think it’s fairly safe to say these sides will struggle to score goals this season.

Huddersfield only managed 28 goals last year and haven’t signed anyone who can rectify that issue and I don’t think Aleksandar Mitrović is the answer to Fulham’s problems. As for Cardiff, they’ve signed some potential goalscorers like Bobby Reid and Josh Murphy, but they are relatively untested at this level.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

It’s slim pickings these days when looking out for Irish players in the Premier League. He’s by no means an unknown prospect, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for Declan Rice.

It would be great to see him kick on further for West Ham this season as a solid part of their squad. West Ham seem to have assembled an exciting squad — it will probably fall apart though, because that’s the West Ham way. But if by some miracle the new players bed in and West Ham have an exciting season, Rice could use it as a platform for a big move next summer.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

Southampton are just looking for an excuse to sack Mark Hughes, but their opening run of fixtures might save him for now. I’d say Benitez, who has been moaning about his inability to properly beef up his squad, should be worried.

In their opening five games, Newcastle face Spurs, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, with a game against Cardiff their only realistic chance to get a win. If Benitez gets to the middle of September with only three points, the Magpies could use it as an excuse to offload him.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

Since the World Cup was so refreshingly exciting and open, I’m fairly pessimistic about this upcoming Premier League season. The league is so predictable and even though it is hyped up beyond belief, the competition is kind of boring.

I want a good title race. There hasn’t been one involving more than two teams for a long time and the relegation battles have also been so boring, because there is a lot of dead weight in the league.

Munich, 05.08.2018, firo, football, 1.Bundesliga, season 2018/2019, friendly match, FC Bayern Munich - Manchester United Source: firo Sportphoto

Rónán Duffy

Which summer signing is going to have the biggest impact on the season and why?

You could pick between any of Liverpool’s three big signings and make a case that either will have the biggest impact, but I’m going to go with Alisson. For one main reason.

If Karius was starting the season as Liverpool’s #1, literally every touch would be scrutinised and any inevitable wobble would be blown up beyond belief.

It would become a distraction very quickly and avoiding that alone is probably worth £65 million. Oh, and he’s clearly quite good too.

What will be the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs.

Who will get relegated?

Watford, Cardiff, Huddersfield.

Which Irish player(s) should we watch out for?

Seeing how Wolves perform after their runaway league win, their big bank and their strong showing against Man City last year is clearly one of the most interesting aspects to the new season.

So as part of that, I’m looking forward to seeing how their Irish stalwart right-back Matt Doherty gets on. He’s in his prime too, so the Premier League has hopefully come at a good time for him.

Which manager will be the first to step aside?

Watford haven’t been shy about showing managers the door in recent seasons, so Javi Gracia could be the first to go.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

I know they’ve been accused of being mercenaries since their amazing year, but I still love following the Leicester team that won the league. Even the players that have since left.

So I’m really looking forward to seeing what Riyad Mahrez can do in the best team in league. He showed signs of being back to his best in the second half of last year, so he could do some serious damage at City.

The thing I’m dreading most is the perennial Mourinho obsession, I could really do without him being the topic of discussion. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not looking forward to English players being hyped up (more) after the World Cup either.

- Originally published at 06.30

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