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Worst signing? Surprise package? Our writers' Premier League predictions

We also consider who will finish in the top four and which sides will be relegated.

Manchester City v Liverpool - Community Shield - Wembley Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

Gavin Cooney

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Man City
2. Liverpool
3. Spurs
4. Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

18. Brighton
19. Norwich
20. Sheffield United

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Best – There are a few. Rodri should help Man City as cover for Fernandinho, plus his comfort on the ball will be ideal against high-pressing sides like Liverpool and his height lends itself to set-piece battles with bootball merchants like Burnley. Nicolas Pepe is a very exciting signing for Arsenal and, given he comes from France, he should hit the ground running. Elsewhere, I like Youri Tielemans at Leicester, Moise Kean at Everton, Tom Heaton at Aston Villa, and Tanguy Ndombele at Spurs. But the answer is Aston Villa signing Marvelous Nakamba, who may be the best adjective to play in the Premier League since Robbie Savage.

Worst – Tempted to say Steve Bruce at Newcastle. Yeah, Steve Bruce at Newcastle.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Let’s say Southampton, who have had a full pre-season with a very impressive coach and thus might just take Watford’s almost-pushing-for-the-Europa-League-before-falling-away-in-mid-April mantle.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

There are a couple at Bournemouth – Mark Travers, who may well end up as first-choice goalkeeper, and Gavin Kilkenny.

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

Roy ‘Hodgey’ Hodgson.

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

Most looking forward to – Both games between Manchester City and Liverpool. Bar perhaps the 5-0 after Sadio Mane got sent off from 2017 and the cautious 0-0 at Anfield last year, these games have been exceptional since Pep came to England. Expect some extra spice this year, given there is creeping acrimony between the players, and Liverpool’s knowledge that both of these games are essentially must-win for them. They can’t count on anyone else to take points from City.

Least looking forward to – Jamie Redknapp talking about VAR. Christ.

Manchester United v AC Milan - International Champions Cup - Principality Stadium Source: DARREN STAPLES

Cian Roche

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

City
Liverpool
Tottenham
United

Who will get relegated?

(Not in that order)

Sheffield Utd
Norwich
Brighton

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Best – Harry Maguire to United – United’s defence is so poor that the injection of talent like Wan-Bissaka and Maguire will have an immediate effect, particularly Maguire in the heart of the defence

Worst – Danny Welbeck to Watford – Can’t see it working out after Welbeck’s uninspiring spell with Arsenal.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Moise Kean, expecting him to build on his promising career at Juventus.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

James McCarthy. Should his move to Palace come off he’d be expected to get a lot of game time. Can he force his way back onto the international scene ahead of the Euros?

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

Graham Potter. Will Brighton rue parting ways with Chris Hughton?

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

Looking forward to most — Brendan Rodgers season at Leicester City, the brand of football he’ll have the team play and whether they’ll compete for Europe.

Dreading most — Seeing City & Liverpool run away with the league again.

Wigan v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly - Banks's Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

Fintan O’Toole

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Who will get relegated?

Norwich City, Sheffield United and Brighton.

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Tanguy Ndombele looks like a great solution to the lack of midfield depth with Spurs and Kieran Tierney is a brilliant defender for Arsenal to sign. Going to speculate that a £40 million striker signing from the Bundesliga (Sebastien Haller/Joelinton) doesn’t work out as planned.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Aston Villa might have a solid return to the top flight.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

Sheffield United’s ascent to the top tier will lead to plenty of Irish focus on them. Interesting to see how Callum Robinson fares after arriving from Preston.

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

Roy Hodgson.

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

Looking forward to Moise Kean at Goodison Park and dreading the wave of baseless rumours that will dominate the January transfer window.

Spain: Barcelona - Arsenal Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Gavan Casey

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal.

Who will get relegated?

Brighton, Southampton, Sheffield United.

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Best: Rodri, aka ‘The Fire Extinguisher’, to Manchester City: the champions lost two of six games in which Fernandinho was missing last season, and lost only another two of the 29 in which he played. Heir to his throne Rodri was the only midfielder in La Liga to make 100 tackles last term, and he seems to have a set of cojones on him as well considering he was released by Atlético aged 16 and sold by the same club for €70m just seven years later. The only concern I would have for him is that he risks deafness such will be the regularity with which Pep Guardiola will maniacally scream encouragement into his ear from point-blank range following all 31 of City’s league victories this season.

Worst: Probably the half of Aston Villa’s 378 signings who didn’t play for the club on loan last season, if we’re honest.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

More than likely Villa now, but maybe — just maybe — Ravel Morrison might fulfil an ounce of his potential at Sheffield United, which would be enough to finally see him become at least a decent Premier League operator at the age of 26.

Probably Villa, actually, yeah.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

There are several genuine options to choose from this season — Adam Idah at Norwich, Troy Parrot at Spurs, Michael Obafemi at Southampton to name just three of them — whereas last season it was Matt Doherty or bust. But based purely on Bournemouth’s relatively slim squad and his man-of-the-match performance versus Lyon in pre-season, I think Dubliner Gavin Kilkenny could wind up seeing more game time than all three of them.

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

Roy Hodgson without even a shadow of a doubt. His star player wanted away but remains a Palace player, he was given sweet feck-all to spend this summer, and Palace have a tricky enough schedule over the first few months of the season: there are just too many ways in which the whole thing can blow up for it not to. The only reason I didn’t pick Palace to get relegated is because of the inevitable sugar rush they’ll get when Sam Allardyce takes the reins from November.

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

As a Manchester United fan, all I can hope is that the inevitable accidental coming-together of Phil Jones and Harry Maguire creates a black hole that swallows us all. I’m also looking forward to the international breaks.

Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan - International Champions Cup - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Paul Fennessy

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Man City

2. Liverpool

3. Tottenham

4. Man United

It’s difficult to see anyone other than Man City and Liverpool mounting a serious title challenge. They were so far ahead of everyone else last season and no other side’s recruitment has been strong enough to envisage them catching up anytime soon. 

Liverpool look the more likely to suffer a slight drop-off out of the two favourites. A couple of their players, like Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, haven’t had much of a break having been on Africa Cup of Nations duty. And the high-intensity manner in which they play tends to be quite draining  and difficult to maintain over the course of the season, compared with Man City’s more serene, death-by-possession approach.

The other top four spots will be interesting. Tottenham had a dreadful end to last season and were somewhat lucky to get top four having lost 13 Premier League matches — three more than both Man United and Arsenal. The new signings should strengthen them, though keeping Christian Eriksen could be key, as I’m not sure they have anyone good enough to replace him.

Chelsea and Man United both have inexperienced managers, and Eden Hazard will be a big loss for the former.

Despite the signing of David Luiz, I’m not sure Arsenal’s defence is strong enough. I fancy Man United to be the least worst of that trio, with Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka likely to bolster their backline.

Who will get relegated?

18. Newcastle

19. Sheffield United

20. Brighton

Sheffield United look the least well equipped of the promoted sides to survive. They haven’t spent too big and their pragmatic, direct approach seems more suited to the Championship. Despite having a couple of good young Irish players, it’ll be a tough campaign for the Blades.

Brighton barely stayed up last season, and I feel it could be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ after sacking Chris Hughton. The former Ireland manager’s style may not have been scintillating, but it got them promoted to the Premier League and kept them there ultimately. A sudden shift can have dire consequences, as Crystal Palace discovered the season before last after appointing Frank de Boer and feeling the need to sack him 10 weeks later after just four games (no permanent manager has been in charge of fewer matches during the Premier League era). If Graham Potter gets off to a dodgy start, a similar situation could arise there.

Newcastle overachieved under Rafa Benitez, particularly last season, when they finished 13th. With the appointment of Steve Bruce, a man who has already experienced Premier League relegation twice as a manager, the players’ limitations may well be more exposed. Even Bruce himself admits he is not perceived as being on a par with Benitez and their summer recruitment looks nothing special.

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Best: Youri Tielemans – The Belgian international was superb last season after joining Leicester on loan and on that basis, it seems a very good piece of business to secure his permanent signature for £40 million

Worst: Andy Carroll – A signing that seems to have been made in hope more than expectation that the big man will rediscover anything like the form he showed in his first Magpies spell. The 30-year-old has scored just three goals in 28 appearances over the past two seasons, and the most recent time he reached double figures in a campaign was during his last Newcastle stint nearly a decade ago. He doesn’t even have the mobility and work-rate of a Shane Long-type player to compensate for his lack of goals.

Granted, it was a free transfer, but the fact that it is only a one-year deal is a sign that even the club have serious doubts over whether their new player is up to the task at hand.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Leicester. Of all the teams who could trouble the big six, I expect the Foxes to go closest. They finished last season strongly, memorably beating Arsenal 3-0 and coming desperately close to earning a remarkable draw away to Man City. Brendan Rodgers is a good manager with a clear philosophy on how the game should be played, and I expect them to cope sufficiently with the loss of Harry Maguire.

Everton have also been talked up, with a number of high-profile signings, but it remains to be seen how well and how quickly all these new players gel.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

Callum Robinson. Sheffield United’s club-record signing, if the Blades are to stay up, the 24-year-old needs a big season. He was Ireland’s brightest attacker in the most recent qualifying win over Gibraltar and will also likely continue to be a key player for Mick McCarthy’s side for the remainder of the Euros campaign.

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

Graham Potter – As outlined above, I expect it to be a rough transition for Brighton, and the panic that induces may well cost the former Östersund boss his job.

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

I’m dreading the type of matches we saw all too often last season, where a side such as Man City are two or three goals to the good inside 20 minutes and the game becomes a dreary formality well before half-time.

I’m looking forward to the fixtures between the big six, as they are less likely to turn out to be non-events, and their importance has been heightened over the years, as you now get the sense that whoever triumphs in that little mini-league between them will almost certainly claim the title.

Chesterfield v Sheffield United - Pre-Season Friendly - Proact Stadium Source: Tim Goode

Ben Blake

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City

Liverpool

Spurs

Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

Norwich

Brighton

Newcastle

Best and worst signing of the summer?

Best: At £25m from Celtic, Kieran Tierney could prove to be a steal for Arsenal in years to come. The talented 22-year-old has already got plenty of experience playing in the Champions League and facing the best players in the Premier League should only improve his game.

Worst: Newcastle United broke their transfer record to bring Brazilian striker Joelinton in from Hoffenheim for £40m. The 22-year-old hasn’t exactly been a prolific goalscorer in Germany, Austria or Italy, so it’s hard to know whether he will justify the large fee or end up like another Alfonso Alves or Jo.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Many have pointed towards Fulham last season as evidence that Aston Villa have set up to fail after spending over £100m on 12 players this summer. It will undoubtedly be a big ask for manager Dean Smith to gel the squad together quickly, but Villa should have enough to secure safety if he can work his magic.

Which Irish player should we watch out for?

Enda Stevens is one of four Ireland internationals at newly-promoted Sheffield United (along with John Egan, Callum Robinson and David McGoldrick) this season. Having made his Premier League debut at Aston Villa back in 2012, the former Shamrock Rovers full-back had to take the long road through the lower leagues back to England’s top flight. Now 29 and a regular in the Ireland squad, Stevens has developed into a fine wing-back and he has the maturity to succeed this time around.

Which manager will be the first leave their club?

He might be a local lad, but Newcastle fans won’t be long turning on former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce if things get off to a bad start.

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

Looking forward to: Seeing if the young Irish players at top flight clubs who will be itching for game time — such as Mark Travers (Bournemouth), Troy Parrott (Tottenham), Aaron Connolly (Brighton), Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Will Smallbone (Southampton) and Adam Idah (Norwich) — are given first-team opportunities. I’m hopeful more than anything else.

Dreading: The teething problems that will inevitably come with the implementation of the Premier League’s new rule changes.

- Originally published at 07.00 

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