Five Premier League Predictions for 2017-18

The 2017-18 Premier League season is underway after Arsenal’s win against Leicester ended the long and arduous wait for football to return.

Large transfer fees have been deposited into even larger bank accounts, exorbitant contracts have been signed off, players have been put through their paces, and managers have appeared in front of the media to answer the questions fans want to hear.

It’s time for the football.

As always, a new season brings fresh hope and renewed optimism.

Every club starts on a level playing field and over the next nine months, anything can happen.

With that in mind, FOX Sports Asia takes the dangerous step of gazing into the crystal ball and predicting five things that might seem improbable but could just happen.

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF…

Tottenham challenge once again, even without any new faces

From all that has been made about their build-up to the new campaign, you would think that it is all doom and gloom at Tottenham purely after their failure to land any major signings so far this summer.

But having boasted the most-prolific attack and steadiest defence in 2016-17, is there really a need to fix what is not broken?

All across the park, Spurs have bona-fide stars in almost every position and even the blow of losing Kyle Walker has been softened by the emergence of Kieran Trippier as a more-than-capable replacement.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen are names that make up a formidable side. It is only the start of a list also comprising Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen.

Mauricio Pochettino has expressed confidence that fresh faces will arrive.

The best part about not desperately needing to bring in reinforcements? You can guarantee, if and when Spurs do take out the chequebook, it will be to bring in someone that their manager genuinely believes will be a good addition.

Diego Costa plays a pivotal role for Chelsea

It has been one of the biggest sagas of the summer and it has been allowed to drag on longer than it should. Surely, following an acrimonious fallout with manager Antonio Conte, Diego Costa will never play a game for Chelsea again?

Well, stranger things have happened.

New signing Alvaro Morata has undoubted quality but his pre-season displays suggest he will take some time to settle, and it can be argued that he produces his best football when he has another main striker to play off.

Likewise, Michy Batshuayi has done little to prove he is ready to be the focal point of Conte’s attack.

With Costa seemingly only desiring a return to Atletico Madrid – who are banned from making any signings until next January – there is a strong likelihood the 28-year-old will still find himself at Stamford Bridge by the end of this month.

He would still be third in the pecking order but should Morata and Batshuayi fail to fire on all cylinders, it would be unthinkable for Conte to ignore a big-game player with a proven track record, one which has seen him notch 115 goals in his past 216 matches for two of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Another big-name deal gets done before the transfer window closes

A host of eye-catching transfers have already been completed but, with the transfer window open for a few more weeks, there remains plenty of time for the cash to be splashed.

England’s big guns continue to be regularly linked to some of Europe’s top prospects and, given the Premier League’s penchant for drama and excitement, one gets the feeling that there are still more twists and turns to come.

It is no secret that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola continues to covet Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez, while his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho is still one winger short of the four reinforcements he identified at the start of pre-season.

It could even be Everton that make the biggest wave in the closing stages of the transfer window, should they finally decide to meet Swansea’s £50million valuation of Gylfi Sigurdsson.

With long-time Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk having recently handed Southampton a transfer request, and Chelsea reportedly monitoring Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, plenty could still happen before September 1.

Wayne Rooney rolls back the years

Regardless of your allegiances, it has been sad seeing Wayne Rooney’s decline in the past two seasons.

The brightest gem England has produced over the past decade, the 31-year-old went from struggling on the pitch to hardly appearing on it at all.

For someone who achieved so much at United, few give him enough credit for staying committed to the cause despite regularly having to play second fiddle to a new sheriff in town.

First, Cristiano Ronaldo, then Robin van Persie and, last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He was not always the main man at Old Trafford, even though he probably deserved to be, but Rooney never let his ego stop him from trying.

His powers have evidently waned but he is now at a club that genuinely wants him to be there, and in the thick of it all.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman clearly believes his new man can make a contribution, and Rooney’s versatility could see him deployed in a variety of roles.

Of course, there is an equal possibility that the former England captain’s best days are well and truly behind him, and he has to endure another downhill year.

But for the old-school fan increasingly disillusioned by top players settling all over the world purely in search of one final big, fat paycheck, Rooney reportedly turning down huge offers from China and America to return to where it all started has gone some way to reviving football’s romantic side.

Few would begrudge him a successful second spell at Goodison Park.

A top-six manager does not see the season out

The emergence of six genuine heavyweights in the league and only four Champions League available (or five, if you decide to go for the Europa League route) means that, each year, at least two clubs will miss out. That also means at least two managers will fail to meet minimum expectations.

On paper, all six look rather secure, especially Jurgen Klopp, who is beloved by the Kop, and Pochettino, who has done great things with Spurs.

Likewise, Mourinho and Guardiola are only in their second seasons in charge of the two Manchester clubs, Conte is the reigning title-winning manager, while Arsenal would not have handed Arsene Wenger a new two-year deal only to get rid of him soon after.

Nonetheless, football is a business and a fickle one at that.

A slow start to the campaign or a poor run of form and, suddenly, heads are on the chopping block and knee-jerk reactions appear to be good decisions.

After all, in the past two years, both managers from the defending champions were unceremoniously booted out midway through the season.

Conte will be hoping it will not be a case of three in a row.

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