Over the last few weeks we have been churning out season previews — you can find them all here at PST Preview central — and we took some time to predict how the PL standings will look on May 15, 2016 after the final games of the 2015-16 season have been played.
As always, it’s tricky to stick our necks out on the line, and I’m sure you will let us have it in the comments section, but here it goes…
Predictions from our five writers show Chelsea are the favorites among the PST crew, with everyone picking Jose Mourinho’s men to retain their crown. As for newly promoted Watford and Norwich, it’s not looking good.
Below you can see who we think will win the league, who will qualify for the Champions League (top four) and who will be relegated to the Championship (bottom three). Plus this season we have also added the predicted points tally of each team, on the right. Bonus: Click on the teams and it will take you to their 2015-16 season preview.
Feel free to let us know your final PL standings in the comments below. Anyway, here’s our predictions:
Starting in Liverpool, a report from the Daily Star says Liverpool are the frontrunners to sign Welsh attacker David Books, 23, from recently-relegated Bournemouth.
Per the report, Everton, Tottenham and West Ham all want to sign Brooks but Bournemouth’s price tag of $45.7 million is putting clubs off.
David Brooks is certainly a Klopp-like signing. Look at Georginio Wijnaldum, Andrew Robertson and Harvey Elliott. Liverpool’s recruitment team loves to scour the recently-relegated sides for a bargain and Brooks would fall into that category but from his playing style he would also be a very good fit.
His 2019-20 season was impacted by a huge ankle injury but his return after the restart did improve Bournemouth and had the Welsh international been fit all season, they’d probably still be in the top-flight.
Where would he slot in at Liverpool? The Reds do need a tricky, more attack-minded attacking midfield player and although Brooks primarily plays out wide, he can slot inside and would be a good alternative to Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum. Brooks could also play out wide if Salah and Mane need a rest, and is probably a better option than fringe players Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino.
It remains to be seen if Klopp and Liverpool will splash this kind of cash, as they are said to be keen on trimming their squad and adding conservatively. That said, David Brooks would probably be worth over $70 million before his injury and Bournemouth’s relegation, and he is young and hungry and has bags of pace as well as being a direct runner with the ball at his feet. Liverpool may decide that this is the right player at the right price at the right time.
Moving from Liverpool to Manchester, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a dilemma with his goalkeepers.
David de Gea is no doubt his number one but with Sergio Romero as his back-up option and youngster Dean Henderson desperate to stake his claim as a regular at Man United, something has to give.
The London Evening Standard believes that means Henderson, 23, will head back out on loan for the 2020-21 season. Henderson shone on loan at Sheffield United over the last two seasons but with the Blades looking to sign Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale on a permanent deal, maybe Henderson could be heading elsewhere this summer.
Henderson has been linked with Chelsea, but Man United would be unwilling to strengthen a direct rival, so a move back to the Blades seems likely. However, an extra spanner in the works is that Romero could move on as he now wants to play regularly, so Henderson would be De Gea’s back-up for the 2020-21 season.
Asked about his goalkeeper situation, here’s what Solskjaer had to say.
“I think I must be the most privileged manager in the world with the goalkeeping department, with Sergio, David and we’ve got Dean Henderson coming back. Three top, top ‘keepers,” Solskjaer said. “This season has shown how important Sergio has been for us and for me David always, always performing. We will see what we do for the rest of the season and going forward. It’s difficult, but it’s a nice problem to have. We have Dean, Sergio, David in the ranks. Lee (Grant), the fantastic pro that he is, is backing them up. It will be difficult to keep three of them at the club, so we will see what the decision will be there.”
It would be tough for Henderson to go from playing regularly to sitting on the bench but is the next step in his development playing 10-15 games per season in the FA Cup and League Cup? He may get the odd start Champions League and Premier League game when De Gea needs a rest, but that’s it.
Henderson needs to play regularly and many would argue he should go head-to-head with De Gea for the starting spot at Man United and back himself. If De Gea makes a few mistakes early on in 2020-21 and Henderson is waiting around on the bench, he could get the chance he wants to usurp the Spanish star.
With Manchester City still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.
Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it. Both Manchester clubs are the bookmakers favorites to seal their respective European glory.
Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
Wednesday, August 12: Atalanta 2-3 PSG
Thursday, August 13: RB Leipzig 1-2 Atletico Madrid
Friday, August 14: Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich
Saturday, August 15: Manchester City 3-1 Lyon
JPW’s Europa League predictions
Quarterfinals (August 10-11) Monday, August 10: Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Monday, August 10: Manchester United 3-1 Copenhagen
Tuesday, August 11: Wolves 1-2 Sevilla
Tuesday, August 11: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Basel
Champions League betting odds
Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
(+210) Atalanta v. PSG (+117). Tie: +275
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+135). Tie: +220
(+235) Barcelona v. Bayern Munich (+115). Tie: +255
(-305) Manchester City v. Lyon (+750). Tie: +450
Manchester City (+220)
Bayern Munich (+325)
Paris Saint-Germain (+500)
Atletico Madrid (+800)
RB Leipzig (+1700)
Europa League betting odds
Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
(+112) Inter Milan v. Bayer Leverkusen (+240). Tie: +250
(-385) Manchester United v. Copenhagen (+1000). Tie: +480
(+235) Wolves v. Sevilla (+120). Tie: +230
(-106) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Basel (+290). Tie: +255
Manchester United (+180)
Inter Milan (+325)
Bayer Leverkusen (+650)
Shakhtar Donetsk (+1100)
Aug. 10 is today and Sporting Director Michael Zorc has spoken as the team flew to Switzerland for preseason training and Sancho was with them.
“We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season, the decision is final. I think that answers all our questions,” Zorc said. “Last summer we adjusted Jadon’s salary to match the development of his performances. So in context, we had already extended his contract until 2023 back then.”
Reports had stated that Sancho had all but agreed personal terms on a five-year contract at Man United and was just waiting on the two clubs to agree a transfer fee. But Dortmund and Man United have both distanced themselves from that in recent days as the German giants have not received any bids for Sancho from Man United.
We have now reached an impasse.
The England international is wanted by so many top clubs around Europe but Jadon Sancho to Manchester United seemed like the best fit.
Now it may not happen at all and Man United can play hardball here. They don’t really need Sancho. He would be a luxury signing.
Sancho will be a menace out wide with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as United’s other forward options and Paul Pogba and the brilliant Bruno Fernandes creating just behind them. But he would be an extra sprinkle of stardust to an already star-studded attack rather than the cherry on top.
The summer transfer window closes on Oct. 5 and few will bet against Sancho leaving Dortmund between now and then. He hasn’t put in a transfer request, and it seems it’s unlikely he will do that, but that would swing the pendulum in United’s favor.
Manchester United are going to wait for their man and Dortmund know it. We haven’t heard the last of this, even if Dortmund say the decision is final.
Sancho is the top target for Solskjaer and in a summer where plenty of clubs won’t be spending big, Man United have the ability to do so. The Red Devils know that Sancho may become unsettled and Dortmund are then a position where they should sell, or risk his value dropping further.
This is a waiting game and even though Dortmund have called the shots early on, Man United aren’t showing their hand and are going to wait until the right moment to make their move.
Manchester United – Copenhagen preview: Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken isn’t disguising his happiness that a bid to oust tournament favorites Manchester United from the Europa League will be contested over just one leg thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is a great advantage for us that it is decided over one match on neutral ground and without spectators, than if we had to meet them both home and away,” he said on the club’s official site.
The entire tie will be staged at 3 pm ET Monday at Old Trafford.
Know the opponent: Copenhagen
The Danish Superliga runners-up stumbled down the stretch to finish four points ahead of third but well behind title-winning Midtjylland. Ousted from the Champions League by Red Star Belgrade in penalty kicks, defending has been an issue.
Players of a 4-4-2 for many of their recent outings, Copenhagen has won their last two in a 4-2-3-1. You may see ex-Manchester United prospect Guillermo Varela and former Sunderland and Everton player Bryan Oviedo.
Here are the highlights of the Round of 16 defeat of Istanbul Basekshir. Jonas Wind led the way in the 3-0 triumph at home, overcoming the 1-0 first leg loss in Turkey.
How they got here
Copenhagen had nearly five months to lament their 1-0 first leg deficit to Istanbul Basaksehir, then unloading on the Turkish powers via a 3-0 second leg in Denmark.
Copenhagen began their UEL run all the way back in the champions’ route of the playoff round, beating Latvia’s Riga before finishing second to Malmo in Group B. It then beat Celtic to get to the Round of 16 tie with Basaksehir.
United went 4-1-1 in the group stage, a loss to Astana on the penultimate match day no big deal thanks to a home pounding on AZ Alkmaar on the final day to win Group I.
The Red Devils pounded Club Brugge and LASK Linz over two legs to seal a space in the quarterfinals and are significant favorites to win the UEL. Their +180 odds through DraftKings are ahead of Inter Milan (+325) and Sevilla (+500).
What they’re saying
Man Utd’s Sergio Romero on the nature of his club: “As a group of players, if we have a team-mate who is struggling a bit on the day, all the lads have to give him a lift, so he can compete in the game in the best possible way. For sure, every bit of work and effort every day in training, as well as all our dreams are focused on getting United back to another Europa League final. So, we’re going to work hard for that to happen.”
Copenhagen boss Solbakken: “We have to meet the best Premier League team since the coronavirus break, and have, among other things, seen how they beat LASK 5-0 with a B-team, so no matter who they field, we naturally have great respect. … They have a lot of quick players, they play fast and they’ve been good on the counter since Bruno Fernandes came, and they also combine very fast around the field. So there is a lot you can get nervous about, but we have to stick to our own plan and see how far it can take us.”
The one-legged nature of this round changes the nature of the competition, as class will generally win out over 180 minutes. Ninety (plus) brings a bigger chance of an upset, with Manchester United at -385 and Copenhagen still the biggest underdog of the round at +1000.
The match won’t be without scares, but even an empty Old Trafford bears its advantages. United emerges with a 3-1 win.
How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League