The English Premier League returns for another season on August 8,2015. The 2015-2016 season promises to be even more tightly contested than the last. Champions – Chelsea won the league with 87 points; 8 more than Runners-up – Manchester City. I predict that this season’s first and second place teams will be separated by five points or less.
My 2014/2015 EPL predictions were a disaster even though I managed to predict the Champions – Chelsea, The Top 3 and at least one of the Relegated teams – Burnley. My EPL Top Scorer prediction of Daniel Sturridge was a dud as a result of him having an injury ravished season. I can only hope that injuries don’t affect the outcome of my predictions or the season.
The start of the EPL season means it’s also the start of the Fantasy football season. Last season I finished outside of the Top 4 in my fantasy league but I plan to set that right this season. Yahoo discontinued their EPL Fantasy League, which means fantasy football fans have limited options for this season. I have decided to start an EPL Fantasy League on the EPL website. If you are interested in joining my fantasy league you can check it out here. I have digressed a little but let’s get the ball rolling.
There were some notable transfers in the off-season [List of 2015 EPL Transfers]. The historical top Five teams have all strengthened in various positions. Liverpool, Manchester United, and Manchester City had the most additions to their teams. While Chelsea and Arsenal only had two and one addition respectively. For Liverpool and Manchester United, it seems to be a case where they identified positions and replaced those pieces, while Arsenal and Chelseaare basically saying they are happy with the cards they have in hand.
Arsenal should have been challenging for the premier league title every year for the last five years. This, however, has not been the case. Whether it was a lack of spending, injuries or just bad luck, they always seem to fall out of contention in the second half of the season. I bravely or stupidly predicted that they would finish runners-up last season (they finished in third place). Arsene Wenger decided not to open his wallet again this off-season and their sole acquisition was Peter Cech. That being said, Cech is being touted as the final piece to the Arsenal puzzle. I expect Arsenal to challenge for the title this season (but they are always a key injury away from 4th place), Wenger has finally gotten the Jose Mourinho ‘monkey’ off his back by defeating him in the Community Shield last Sunday. I can’t wait for the next match-up between those two.
Liverpool lost/sold Raheem Sterling to Manchester City and then went about and bought a bunch of players like they did last year when they sold Suarez. We all saw how that ended, they went from fighting for the EPL title to fighting for a European spot. Milner, Ings, Firmino, Clyne and Benteke look like good additions on paper and even in the preseason, but the league is not won until May. Liverpool’s target this season should be Champions League football. If they are not in the Top 4 come December, Brendan Rodgers will not make it into the New Year.
Chelsea made two notable transfers in the off-season; One was a no-brainer and the other left me scratching my head. They brought in goalkeeper Begovic and striker (I use the term lightly) Falcao. Even without these two additions, Chelsea is expected to challenge for the title again this season.
Manchester United did some impressive business this off-season. They managed to bring in Depay, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and Sergio Romero while fending off Real Madrid from poaching De Gea. They weren’t able to hold on to (or did not want) Di Maria and also parted ways with Nani and Robin Van Persie. United are building an impressive team but I don’t believe they are title contenders just yet. I do expect them to challenge for a Champions League spot.
Manchester City, for the most part, enters this season, much like they did last year – with the perception that their team (though above average) is still missing some pieces. I don’t think Sterling and Delph were the answers to the questions Chelsea asked them last season. This City team is still not ready to challenge in Europe which I am sure is one of the main targets of the club. Manchester City is too reliant on Aguero and to a lesser extent Toure. If Aguero, Toure, and Silva can remain healthy for the majority of the season, then I see City challenging for the title come May.
TOP SCORER: Sergio Aguero
BOTTOM THREE – RELEGATION