Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
2020-21 English Premier League Predictions & Preview
It's that time of year again with the Premier League Season back in full swing. There are a lot of unanswered questions ahead of the new season and we are here to guide you through them with a prediction. What's better than one set of predictions? Two sets of prediction. Jake's predictions will be in RED and Victor's in BLUE.
20. West Brom
I could see West Brom come in and be successful under Slaven Bilic, I just unfortunately have to pick someone to come last. West Brom on paper look like the worst team in the league and haven't really made any huge additions besides guys who were good for the club last season. Although everyone thought very similarly of Sheffield and clearly everyone got that one wrong. The situation in goal and up front don't look convincing enough for me to put them any higher than last.
19. West Ham
I think it is their time to go. I think David Moyes just might be the right guy to keep them up, but if the season doesn't start well there is no guarantee they'll keep him around. Declan Rice could very well leave to another club before the deadline comes around and this current squad just is not good enough anymore. There is quite a bit of drama around the club involving their club captain, Mark Noble, who is upset with the club over their transfer decisions. Allowing a talented academy graduate in Grady Diangana leave for a relegation rival in West Brom. I think going down could honestly be a great thing. They can go down and finally hit the reset button without having to worry about fighting for their life for another season in the Premier League.
18. Aston Villa
After watching them celebrate staying up like they got a trophy for it, I believe Villa will get relegated this season. I don't believe Dean Smith is the right guy for the job and all season last year Villa just lacked a real identity to them. They've spent around 45 million on two young players from the Championship in Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash, and although they look pretty good, there is no guarantee that they'll be good enough for the Premier League. They've held onto Grealish which is great news for them, but unfortunately I have to pick someone to go down, and I think it will be them.
Last time Fulham got promoted they spent 100 million pounds just to go straight back to the Championship. This time around I think they'll have learned their lesson. The business they have done has been quite good actually, bringing back Knockaert and Reed who played decent roles in helping them get promoted, while signing Champions League semi-finalist Kenny Tete and a keeper from PSG in Areola. I expect this Fulham side to rally behind Scott Parker as manager and stay up this season.
Every year you just think it might be the one where Sean Dyche gets it wrong and he's stayed at Burnley one season too many, but I don't think it will be this one. Burnley have made zero signings, but that isn't new for Dyche's side. The team doesn't have great depth and they won't play attractive football, but they'll still pick up more points than the teams below them.
15. Crystal Palace
Every year Palace go through a few months of horrible form where they certainly look like a relegation candidate and a few months of fantastic results that end up saving their season. I expect nothing less from Palace this season. Palace quite simply have a better squad than the teams listed below. The signings of Eberechi Eze and Michy Batshuayi should by themselves be enough to keep them up for another season. Those two while already having Wilfrid Zaha and Andros Townsend should get them enough goals to stay up again, but overall it won't be a pretty season.
Brighton are always that team that people think will go down and somehow finish the season in a pretty comfortable position. I am a big fan of their manager Graham Potter and think he could even be a future England manager one day. They have lost Aaron Mooy to China but made some great business in the signings of Adam Lallana and Joel Veltman, but the biggest addition is Ben White coming back to the club after having a season at Leeds that made him look like a future English national team center back for years to come. Having Matt Ryan, Ben White, and Lewis Dunk at the back feels too good for me to predict them to go down.
I am sure that Newcastle fans are disappointed that the club was not sold by Mike Ashley to some new wealthy owners, but Newcastle still made some good business regardless. Jamal Lewis, Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, and Jeff Hendrick are all quite decent signings that have proven themselves in the Premier League before. Throw that on top of a squad that already were comfortable in mid table last season, and I think this year is another building season for them.
12. Sheffield United
Now Sheffield may never have another season as successful as last year, but I won't count them out after last season's surprise. I think opposing teams will have figured out Sheffield's style of play a bit more this season, but Chris Wilder's side should still be plenty good enough to finish comfortably in the mid table. Aaron Ramsdale isn't as good as Dean Henderson, but he will be good enough. Sheffield also made a few signings to add a bit of depth to their backline that they depended so heavily on last season. The only thing that worries me is where will the goals come from, but I wondered this last year, and they still got the job done.
Southampton looked dead last season in October after the loss to Leicester 9-0. How they went from that result to an 11th place season is incredible and a huge accomplishment from their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Southampton have made some decent moves so far in Walker-Peters and Salisu, while still rumored to add a few more. But with someone like Danny Ings in the team to get you goals, I'm not worried about Southampton next season.
10. Leeds United
I can really only see this season going one of two ways for Leeds. They either try to play the same style they dominated the Championship with and fail, or they come in and impress everyone and push towards the upper half of the table. Personally, I think it will be the second choice of the two. Rodrigo is a good signing, although signings like him don't always work out. Ben White was a key piece for them at the back who has gone back to Brighton at the end of his loan. However, I believe Bielsa is too good of a manager and the club have backed him enough in transfers that they'll have a successful season back in the top division.
Leicester looked like they were well on their way towards Champions League football last season before dropping off down to fifth. Leicester have done nothing this offseason to make me really believe they will finish any higher than this next season. Being in the Europa League will be a challenge for them considering they haven't done anything to add to their depth, and they may even put more of an emphasis on trying to win that then doing well in the league table.
Everton are getting closer and closer to where they want to be. With Carlo Ancelotti in charge and some decent transfers in, Everton could very well finish even higher than eighth. Although I don't think James Rodriguez will be as good of a signing as everyone thinks, Doucoure is a great player and Allan should be a nice partner for him. Though the backline and Pickford will still hold them back from making too much noise next season. However, Everton are a few big step ups from Moise Kean, Richarlison, and Calvert-Lewin away from being back in Europe.
There is no question that Tottenham brought in Mourinho to win a trophy. Tottenham have a good squad, but they haven't strengthened enough to make me put them above anyone else on this list. Although with Mourinho in charge, I will never count them out. I think Mourinho will be successful in winning Spurs a trophy because they will put more of an emphasis on competitions like the Europa League, FA Cup, and League Cup.
Wolves could very well finish much higher than sixth if it all comes together. One key to their success this season will be that they are not in the Europa League. Meaning they can focus all of their attention on doing well in the league. Wolves are spending money wisely and they are expected to be in a Europa League place at the end of the year, but I think the board are trying to build something even bigger.
Arsenal have found their manager to replace Wenger in Arteta, but getting them back to Champions League football next season would be quite the accomplishment. Overall Arsenal weren't a bad team last season, they were just let down by a few weak links (David Luiz and Mustafi). Gabriel and Saliba are huge additions to the team at center back that should help them take a big step forward this season.
4. Manchester United
United are a hard team to predict because I think they have a lot of unfinished business in the transfer window. Similarly to Liverpool, I think one of United's main issues is depth. Van de Beek is a good signing and I think there are a few more to come. If they end up hitting on Sancho and Alex Telles, I think there is no reason they couldn't come much higher than fourth.
Liverpool obviously have a fantastic first team, but when it comes to depth, they are lacking. Liverpool were fortunate enough to not have many injuries last season, because if they did a lot of responsibility would be passed to unproven youngsters. Unless they make a signing like Thiago before the window is over, I could see Liverpool slipping even further than third.
Chelsea are currently undergoing one of the greatest transfer windows in the history of the sport. That may seem like an exaggeration, but it truly isn't. They signed basically every target they had (besides keeper) and all before the first game of the season. After a window like this the expectations on the shoulders of Frank Lampard are massive, but ultimately I think this squad is too good and too deep to not compete high up in the table. I think the gap between second and fifth/sixth is going to be much closer than it was a season ago, with many teams looking likely to compete for the top four spots.
1. Manchester City
Well, they aren't adding Lionel Messi, but City are still my winners for the 2020-21 season. City have still made two good additions so far in Nathan Ake and Fernan Torres onto a team that is already plenty good enough to win the league. Winning two Premier League titles in a row is hard enough, so winning three in a row last season would've been extraordinary. But City have the best manager and squad in the league, so it's hard to not see them winning the title.
Team of the Season:
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
In recent years the player of the year hasn't gone to the team that actually wins the Premier League, but this year I believe that it will. The last person to win back-to-back player of the year was Ronaldo back in 07-09. De Bruyne is that good and if City win the league I am sure De Bruyne will be deserving of another POTY. Bruno Fernandes, Aubameyang, and Pulisic would all be interesting choices to me, but I just can't pick any of them over De Bruyne.
Young Player of the Year: Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
There are plenty of great options for young player of the year. Phil Foden looks ready to have a breakout season at City, Greenwood has broken into the starting eleven at United, and Alexander-Arnold could very well just win the award again. But if Pulisic stays healthy, it is his trophy to lose. The attacking options next to Pulisic this year should be fantastic in Werner, Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Giroud, and Hudson-Odoi. If he can stay healthy (which may be a big if), I expect Pulisic to lock up this award.
Signing of the Season: Kai Havertz, Chelsea
Well it was the one that cost the most money for a reason. Havertz is that good and should be able to run the show for Chelsea immediately on day 1. If Sancho signs for United or Koulibaly signs for City, I think either of those two are more likely to win, but if Havertz lives up to the hype he will be the signing of the season. I think Adam Lallana will play a pivotal role for Brighton this year as well and deserves a shoutout.
Top Goal Scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
He's the main man at Arsenal right now and their only dependable goal scorer at the moment. Timo Werner will be close as he should get plenty of service this season, but I think there are other players at Chelsea who will get their goals, too. Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, and Harry Kane I expect to be close as well, but nobody looks as deadly in front of goal as Aubameyang.
Manager of the Season- Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
After taking over the dumpster fire that Unai Emery left behind, Arteta has almost done a perfect job. Winning a FA Cup and Community Shield to ensure players Arsenal was still a good club to be at and give some hope towards bigger things in the future. If Arteta gets Arsenal into the top four he deserves to be manager of the season for sure, but even a display of fifth and finishing above Tottenham would earn the award from me. Unless Chelsea or United win the league, neither Ole or Lampard will win the award, and picking Pep or Klopp at this point is just boring.
20. Aston Villa
Jack Grealish should have left this summer, it doesn't look like he will and it makes no sense. Aston Villa are a relegation team and were lucky to narrowly escape last season.
Fulham barely secured promotion and that's not good for a team headed to an unforgiven league. There will be no miracles this season and they will be a one and done relegation team.
18. West Brom
I actually like West Brom but they don't have what it takes to stay up. They were the king of the draw last season in the Championship, tying for most draws in the league with 17. Narrow draws in the Championship turn into losses in the premier league.
17. Crystal Palace
This will by a very trying season for Crystal Palace but they should stay up right at the end. Wilfred Zaha needs to leave soon.
Newcastle were so close to having a billionaire takeover that might launch them to unforeseen heights. Buuuuut, 2+2 doesn't always equal 4 in life and Newcastle are back to reality. Reality is, this team did well to finish 13th last season and I expect them to take another step back.
Brighton are going to be relegated soon, just not this season. They are one year away from having their best assets raided by bigger clubs and that will be the end of their run in the premier league. For now, they get one more season outside of the relegation zone.
14. West Ham
Who knows who West Ham will have coaching by the end of the season. Fortunately they escaped relegation last season and I expect them to do it again, but the truth is this team isn't any better than a team that comfortably avoids relegation.
The darling for every neutral fan in the premier league. If you watched any Championship games last season, then you know they play a very attractive style of soccer. They have the style for success but I don't think they have the players yet. I think they'll start the season hot but cool down with no real depth to end the season.
12. Sheffield United
Sheffield United shocked the world to start this season. Then the world caught up and they finished in 9th after been as high as fifth. With a full season to scout their game plan, teams should adjust and that adjustment means a 12th placed finish.
Burnley might be the most 10th place team that has ever existed. Everything about this team screams average. Only thing not average about this team is Nick Pope and even with him winning goalkeeper of the year, they managed to finish 10th last season. I don't expect Nick Pope to repeat that kind of season, which is why I bump them down to 11th.
Hard to think this was the same team that lost a game 9-0 last season. But it happened and it looked like their romantic stay in the premier league was coming to an end. Southampton were 18th after that game but miraculously finished the season at 11th, just 10 points behind Leicester City. They'll continue that form this year and finish in the top half.
Yes, I know they signed James Rodriguez and Allan. Truth is for me, it doesn't really matter. This team has a lot of holes defensively and that might hinder any success they hope to have. James will have a big season but they have a lot of work to do.
I hope it isn't the case but Leicester's performance post-quarantine may have showed us their true colors. It seems like they are a team that got hot in the early parts of the season but cooled back down later on.
Wolverhampton are one of the most well coached team in the league. Unfortunately, they are starting to show signs of a team keen on selling its best players for profit. This doesn't bode well for a team that could have pushed for a Champions League place last season.
If this were FM or FIFA, Chelsea would be at the very top. But this is real life, and history tells us that chemistry matters, it is never a good idea to make a bunch of big signings and expect them to blend in all at once and take you to glory. It often backfires. 09 Real Madrid bought Xabi Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Benzema all in the same transfer window. It took them three years to win a league trophy. West Ham tried their own version of the project a couple years ago and they were almost relegated last season. These Chelsea transfers are great but it might all be too much too soon.
This is a big step for a team that just finished 8th in the table. But if you've watched Arsenal over the last few months, then you know Arteta is up to something big. He's still one full transfer window away from getting all the right pieces but this upcoming season will be a big jump.
4. Manchester United
This United team sneakily had the biggest transfer in the summer window. Donny van der Beek is someone I believe has been underrated for a long time. He's my signing of the season and I believe is game is perfectly suited for any league in the world. I expect Bruno's form to come back to normalcy and that might slow things down but van de Beek should help pick up the slack. I would have this team finishing higher but Ole is just not the right coach.
This is where I'm really out in the wild. I'm not sure on this one myself, especially as an Arsenal fan. It might be nostalgia from the Amazon documentary, but something tells me Mourinho is cooking up something big in North London. I don't expect it to last, but for one season if Mourinho gets the best out of Harry Kane and Dele Ali, they could shock the premier league. Expect a return to the Dele Ali that scored 18 goals in the 2016-17 season at just 20 years old.
This Liverpool team has a motivation issue that reared its head towards the end of last season. It's expected, it's the same fatigue Manchester City ran into. What could have shaken things up is a few key signings to motivate players who may be too comfortable but that hasn't been the case. Championship hangovers are real, I expect Liverpool to feel its full force.
1. Manchester City
Don't let last season fool you, Manchester City are still the best team in the premier league and it's not even that close. Liverpool won the league by 18 points but their goal difference of 52 was 15 less than City at 67. What does that tell me? Liverpool had the kind of season where everything went right in the league. City will be back to their best this season and back as champions.
Team of the Season:
Player of the Year: Dele Alli
This is a bit of a strange choice for me but I am going with my gut. Something tells me Mourinho is going to get the absolute best out of Dele Alli. Dele is the Mourinho type of player and with his backing, the sky is the limit for what he can accomplish this season.
Young Player of the Year: Mason Greenwood
18 year old, 17 goals in 49 games for one of Europe's biggest clubs. Add to that praise as one of the best finishers in the game already at 18, and Mason Greenwood is about to make the step from hot prospect to star. No Sancho too? This award is pretty much his, God willing he remains healthy through the season.
Signing of the Season: Donny van der Beek
There were a ton of signings this season that could potentially win this recognition. I mean, Chelsea alone have about 4 or 5 candidates. However, my winner will be Donny van der Beek. Very few players have playing styles that could adjust and excel in virtually any league in the world. He is one of those few players, and to get him for less than Chelsea spent on Chilwell is ridiculous. I was tempted to name Thiago Silva or James Rodriguez but their style won't adjust as well right away.
Top Goal Scorer: Harry Kane/Aubameyang
I am predicting a tie in first place for this trophy. I don't think Vardy at 33, and 34 in January will win another golden boot. All 6 of the top teams have a striker that could get goals but for me it comes down to which team has the fewest goal scorers. Arsenal and Tottenham both struggle in that department outside of Aubameyang and Kane, which means they'll be tasked with leading their clubs in goals once again.
Manager of the Season: Pep Guardiola, Manchester City
I wanted to go with Arteta because Arsenal finally look like a team capable of beating the other members of the BIG 6 for the first time in years. However, if they finish outside of a CL spot like I predicted, it'll be hard to justify him winning. Mourinho will have a shout but ultimately you can't fail with predicting the premier league winning coach will also win this award.
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