The new Premier League season begins with Fulham v Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, and ahead of the big kick-off, we’ve enlisted the help of Kevin Doyle to give us his thoughts ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
Here’s what Kev had to say on a whole range of matters, including relegation, the destination of the title plus Liverpool v Leeds and Spurs v Everton this weekend.
On who’ll win the title
I think it’ll be closer this season between Liverpool and Manchester City, but I’m going to tip Man City to win the league. Liverpool didn’t finish last season the strongest, but that’s understandable considering lockdown and how the campaign was delayed for so long.
Mentally it must have been very difficult for them, and they were just trying to get it over the line. I think Man City will come back stronger this time around, and although I wasn’t sure whether Pep Guardiola would stay and commit, now that he has, I think he’ll want to have a very good season.
City have the bigger squad and Liverpool have had a busy couple of seasons between playing in the Premier League and reaching the latter stages of the Champions League. They play at such a high-tempo and unless they sign a good few players, I can’t see how they can keep that intensity up for another season. On that basis, I’m going to go for Manchester City with Liverpool not too far behind.
On the relegation battle
There’s just so many teams to pick from when it comes to possible relegation contenders. I’ve written down ten here, including West Brom, Southampton, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield United, West Ham and Aston Villa. And in all honesty, I could make a case for any of those finishing in the bottom three.
On the other hand, with the likes of Leeds you could see them having a brilliant season, but equally you could also see them getting relegated if things go wrong. I think it’ll be one or the other because I don’t see them having a middling season. They’ll blow hot or cold and the start will be key for them.
Very few of the teams I’ve mentioned have gone out and spent a lot of money. They all seem to be waiting until the end of the transfer window before signing any players. The exception to that of course is Aston Villa, who spent big on an unproven centre-forward in Ollie Watkins from Brentford.
It’s tough to pick from those sides when someone like Sheffield United could have that second season syndrome that so many teams who do well in their first season in the Premier League seem to have, and they haven’t spent any money either.
I think Palace under Roy Hodgson will have a tough season, while Burney and Sean Dyche struggled at times last season too. He seemed to be falling out a bit with the owners and they didn’t re-sign a few players, so they could be down there.
If I had to pick three, I’d probably go Burnley, West Brom and West Ham, who appeared to sell a player against the wishes of the manager which prompted the captain Mark Noble to come out and tweet his disappointment, which was very unusual. That doesn’t seem to be a happy camp, so I’ll throw the Hammers into the bottom three dogfight as well.
On the Premier League top-scorer
The usual suspects will be there or thereabouts at the top of the goalscorer charts this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sergio Aguero had another great campaign, and then there’s Timo Werner at Chelsea. I think Anthony Martial could be a good outside bet if he can get firing in that number nine role after finishing last season very strongly and looking really sharp.
Harry Kane is obviously going to score goals but whether he’ll score as many in a full season under Jose Mourinho I’m not quite so sure. They might not create as many chances, but he’ll still get goals.
I’d say Aguero is probably the one to catch if he stays fit. He struggled with niggles and injuries last year, but if he stays fit he’s always going to score goals and you know there’ll always be chances created for him, so he’s the one for me.
On Liverpool v Leeds
I think Leeds will really start well in this game. Their manager famously leaves no stone unturned and they’ll have done their homework before heading to Anfield. Liverpool might just stutter getting going with a combination of last season’s celebrations and a number of key players recently being away on international duty. It might just be a bit tough in the first few weeks for them so I think it’s a good time for Leeds to play them.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
On Spurs v Everton
I think Everton might just shade this one. There’s huge positivity around the club with that sensational signing of James Rodriguez, who’s a player I imagine a lot of teams would’ve been interested in. He’s had problems the last few years and hasn’t really fired, but you only have to look at the way he caught alight during the World Cup in Brazil to know that he could be sensational for them.
As for Spurs, I’ve just lost faith in Mourinho, which I think is the same for a lot of people. They’re the exact opposite these two managers. Carlo Ancelotti is just so cool, laid back and relaxed, and then with Mourinho he’s animated and just seems to be courting controversy at all times. I think Everton could have a decent season and I’m going to go with a 1-0 away win.
Prediction: 1-0 Everton
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication