It's back. Albeit, due to the world cup - it's been a somewhat short break from football this summer, however, the week by week grind of the premier league is what we love. Underdogs, shock managerial exits, derby day controversy and of course, the top six being the top six. The premier league is always full of talking points and this season looks set for many more. Will Pep guide his team to more glory? Will Poch or Klopp finally win something? How will new look Arsenal fair? Will Everton finally live up to their potential? And then there's the rest - How patient will Rafa be without any investment? Can Huddersfield and Brighton cope with 'second season syndrome'? and will Wolves step up to the plate, like so many have predicted? With so many questions waiting to be answered, we just can't wait for it all to start again.
So here's our final league table prediction. It's likely to not finish like this but we thought we would give it a shot, so here it goes.
1. Man City
As easy of a claim as any - yet, it still looks like it may be a slightly tougher season this time round for City. Everything that could go right last term for Pep and his star-studded crop of players did, therefore it's hard to look past them winning it again. Perhaps with a little less style and maybe not reaching the numbers like they did last time but with a squad still at the right age for development - surely they're only going to get better as a group.
Reaching the champions league final was an amazing achievement for Klopp and this Liverpool Team, although it marks yet another major final in which he's lost meaning he's still after that elusive trophy as Liverpool Boss. On paper, they look stronger this time round. Allison is an excellent keeper and with Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho added to an already exciting squad - we feel they will be City's closest challenger this season. Van Dijjk was a very solid addition, so it might be a tight call between 1st and 2nd for this lot.
3. Manchester United
Never has a squad looked so strong yet never quite reached the heights. Mourinho does have options and really should be looking to win the league this time round. Year 3 under his management and they still don't seem quite like they can consistently challenge city for the major honour. I struggle to see how Jose will answer his critics this time round either but if Sanchez, Rashford, Martial and Lukaku reach their potential and Pogba is a little more consistent - it will certainly be a close run thing this season. Expect them to be there, or thereabouts again but probably just missing out.
The hardest one to call out of the top six - and we have a slight feeling that it may be Arsenal who slip back into the Top 4 under the radar. Emery has had a bit of an upheaval at the emirates and a new look approach may just be what the gunners needed after years of stagnation. Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan were great signings in January - they look good up front. Still, facing a few questions regarding their naiveity at the back, they are unlikely to really challenge the top 3. Bernd Leno is a good keeper nonetheless so we think it might be a return to the champions league spots this time round.
Tottenham do defy expectations, season in season out and It's a brilliant achievement what Levy and Pochettino have done with this young group of players. With the a new ground now on the horizon, they will only grow further in years to come. However, with a vast majority of their squad playing far into the world cup and starting the campaign with many away games at the start - they begin with an uphill challenge. They've opted to not add any one to this group of players aswell, therefore all focus will be once again be on Alli, Eriksson and Kane so it might just catch up with them as they get used to playing at their new home. If any team can prove us wrong though, its Spurs mind you.
Chelsea just weren't at the races last term. Owner v manager friction is something Chelsea fans have become used to since Abramhovich took over all those years ago and it seems to be part of the culture at the club. They've rained back on player investment in recent years too - meaning their squad lacks a little in certain areas these days. On their day they can challenge for a top 4 place - but too often they just don't look up to it. New boss Sarri will have his work cut out to regain a bit of momentum at the bridge but how many times have we said that? Count Chelsea out of the running and they so often go onto win. Predict big things from them and they capitulate.
7. West Ham
West Ham can write off last season as a job done campaign. Moyes was a stop-gap and did his job by keeping them up - but this summer, the owners have finally discovered a bit of ambition which they've so often promised. Wilshere, Perez, Anderson and Yarmolenko signal intent and with Arnautovic and Hernandez showing flashes last season, they have potential to finally push on and become a top 8 regular. New boss Manuel Pellegrini is a coup and as shown at his time at City, he likes to play good football which the fans will love. Get a good start and this team will be hard to beat again but if they are to flop and underachieve, they will be closer to the relegation zone again - theres very rarely an inbetween for the Hammers.
We expect a much better season for Everton. Like West Ham, last time round can be written off as Allardyce did his job by keeping them up. Marco Silva is a good coach - yet the jury is still out about whether he can stabilise a club and maintain a top 8 position. On paper they are better than the majority of clubs in the league - and with a decent core of experienced players who know the league, they will always be just above mid-table as a bare minimum. A quality team who need to rediscover a feel good factor at Goodison - but they should have less drama this season.
Many feel Burnley will tail off after last season's excellent consistency, but we feel they may be able to balance the rigours of the Europa League and the premier league just fine. Dyche is a realist, he knows the budget he has but he also knows how to set up a football team that will win you enough points to compete. People will expect them to slip up more often, which they probably will - but perhaps not as much as is being projected. Top half again would be an amazing feat.
Leicester, minus Mahrez are definitely a weaker team. However, last season proved they often have enough in their tank to beat lesser sides. The old guard at the back who won the league are long gone now - but with Jamie Vardy still as good as ever, they are a solid bet to maintain there premier league status with little effort. Perhaps lacking depth which a few others possess, Leicester won't quite be able to push on from last season we suspect - so more of the same is a realistic expectation.
The investment into this newly promoted Wolves side instantly propels them into the solid mid-table bracket. An exciting crop of talented portuguese players, coupled with additions such as Moutinho and Rui Patricio clearly shows they have the squad to compete. It's hard to see anything less than mid table - which would be a job well done.
Along with all three relegated clubs, Southampton massively underachieved last season yet Mark Hughes managed to install a bit of discipline and guide them away from the drop. No real high class additions this summer either and having lost Tadic, it's hard to see them reach the heights of their three consecutive top 8 finishes. Having said that, we expect a less nerveracking end to the season this year though.
13. Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson defied all his critics by transforming Palace into a mid-table side after a horrific start. The dynanism of Zaha is paramount for his team and Benteke needs to rediscover his form to lift them from being a relegation struggler to a comfortable middle of the road outfit. We expect an easier ride this time round but like always, palace seem to make it difficult for themselves at times.
Rafa performed miracles in getting Newcastle up to 10th. A hardworking, organised side who were able to nick a goal at key times last season, Newcastle finished in relative comfort after a great run in. Always likely to gain a few unexpected wins at home in front of 50,000 geordies, Benitez knows how to keep his side in matches as they were very rarely thrashed. Little money has once again been invested into the squad but they are more than capable of surviving with the spaniard at the helm. But it's suddenly a much bigger ask if he were to leave.
At times last season, Bournemouth struggled to reach the heights of the 2016/17 campaign where they finished in 9th. The core of the squad which have been in the premier league for a number of years now, still remain and being a little porous at the back means they are always likely to lose the odd 'must win'. However, Eddie Howe knows how to implement his philosophy of playing good football with this squad and only seems to sign players which meet his outlook. We expect another season of survival but it's hard to see them push on too much further.
Fulham, like wolves look well equipped for top flight football. A good, young squad boasting sought after talent such as sessegnon and Cairney - they look fresh and ready to premier league football, which might have been too much of an ask in previous campaigns. If they get off to a good start then momentum may be key - as Brighton and Huddersfield proved but safety should be assured.
It's hard to see this year being as straight forward for Brighton. Teams will suss them out and with still a fairly limited budget - the squad has not been improved too drastically. Gross proved a wonderful addition last term and with such a brilliant home record, they may just be able to creep above the drop zone and avoid relegation again but it will be tight.
The business model at Watford has undeniably worked over the past few seasons but it's difficult to see it working for too much longer - especially after losing Richarlison. On paper, there are three worse teams than the hornets and they do have the ability to beat anyone on their day, however too often they slip into bad patches of form which seem to cost them. A pretty poor christmas run in meant their season fizzled out, highlighting how important a good start is for them. If this doesn't materialise, I can't see them escaping the rot this time around unfortunately.
All three promoted sides managed to stay afloat last season and it may happen this time aswell - depending on how much Cardiff overachieve. Like so many teams around them, home form is paramount for Neil Warnocks men but with very little premier league experience in their ranks, it's difficult to envisage anything but a season of struggle.
Wagner performed miracles keeping Huddersfield up last term and transformed them into a comfortable premier league outfit come may. The big question will be whether teams are able to work them out a bit more this year and it looks like theyre lack of real investment may count against them. Lacking a genuine premier league quality striker may be the stumbling block. Bearing Burnley endured an up and down few years before last term, it just may not be the worst thing in the worl though.