Pundits leaning towards Liverpool

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min (right) and goalkeeper Fraser Forster embrace after a pre...
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min (right) and goalkeeper Fraser Forster embrace after a pre-season match against Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow in July. PHOTOS: REUTERS
Another English Premier League season is nearly here. Otago Daily Times reporters and special guests make some predictions.

Hayden Meikle

ODT sports editor

Champion: Liverpool. Yeah yeah. But you tell me if there is a single weakness in Klopp’s team.

Rest of top four: Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham. City to finish second by a whisker, Chelsea to be very good but not great, Spurs to threaten under Conte.

Wildcard: Manchester United. Genuinely don’t know whether the ongoing Old Trafford restoration project will be funny or annoyingly successful this season.

Plucky underdog: West Ham. Always like to see the Hammers go well.

Relegated: Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton.

Player of the season: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool). He’s already amazing, and this is the season he takes over world football.

Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea).

Golden Boot: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

Champions League winner: Real Madrid.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea.

Jeff Cheshire

ODT sports reporter

Champion: Manchester City. Hate to say it as a Liverpool fan, but City just has too much quality across the park, particularly in its depth. Adding Erling Haaland creates an interesting dynamic at the front.

Rest of top four: Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea. Liverpool has quality and should be right there with City. Spurs have two of the best goal-scorers in the game and can threaten anyone, while Chelsea will be solid with the addition of Raheem Sterling.

Wildcard: Arsenal. Plenty of useful additions and, after a disastrous start, was on the improve last season.

Plucky underdog: Leicester. The days of a title may be gone — seriously, that really did happen — but this team can still compete with anyone on any given day.

Relegated: Fulham, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest.

Player of the season: Mo Salah (Liverpool). Was untouchable at times last year and no single player can take over a game like the Egyptian King.

Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal).

Golden Boot: Haaland. Scores goals for fun, although how he and City fit together will be interesting.

Champions League winner: Manchester City. Surely gets it done this year.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea.

Manchester City striker Erling Braut Haaland shoots at goal during the Community Shield game at...
Manchester City striker Erling Braut Haaland shoots at goal during the Community Shield game at King Power Stadium in Leicester last Sunday. Liverpool defender Andy Robertson looks on.

Neville Watson

ODT correspondent

Champion: Will be between the Manchester teams. Can/will City change its style to get the best out of Haaland? And with the egos gone/going, Erik ten Hag will have United purring by October.

Rest of top four: Tottenham and Arsenal. Chelsea may struggle post-Abramovich, it’s too early for Newcastle’s newly found finances to make an impact, and Liverpool won’t finally become the best team the world has ever seen to win two Premier Leagues. They will remain rooted on one like the other powerhouses of the English game — Blackburn and Leicester.

Wildcard: Everton. It can’t be worse than last season for the better half of Merseyside.

Plucky underdog: Brighton. Under manager Graham Potter, the Seagulls are certainly worth watching.

Relegated: Leeds, Fulham, Bournemouth.

Player of the season: Harry Maguire (Manchester United). With a stable defensive pairing and the captaincy back, he will prove all his doubters wrong.

Honourable mentions: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Yves Bissouma (Tottenham), Edouard Mendy (Chelsea).

Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham).

Champions League winner: Bayern Munich.

FA Cup winner: Tottenham.

Richard Murray

Dunedin City Royals coach

Champion: Liverpool. It pains me to say, but Klopp’s new signings get the Reds across the line.

Rest of top four: City, United, Chelsea. It’ll be another very tight race at the top, but the noisy neighbour will get pipped. United will be back, and much improved. Chelsea will be consistent, but struggle to beat the top two.

Wildcard: Spurs. Conte excellent, but question their defence in big games.

Plucky underdog: West Ham. Great last season, and expect it to back up as long as it can keep Declan Rice.

Relegated: Leeds, Bournemouth, Everton.

Player of the season: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) — 23 goals in 35 games last year, and expect him to continue that form this season.

Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Declan Rice (West Ham), Mo Salah (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Man United).

Golden Boot: Son Heung-min.

Champions League winner: Real Madrid.

FA Cup winner: Manchester United.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah celebrates with the trophy after his side’s Community Shield win...
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah celebrates with the trophy after his side’s Community Shield win over Manchester City last Sunday.

Chelsea Whittaker

Southern United midfielder

Champion: Chelsea (would never bet against it).

Rest of top four: Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Wildcard: Newcastle.

Plucky underdog: Wolves.

Relegated: Fulham, Brentford, Bournemouth.

Player of the season: Thiago (Liverpool).

Honourable mention: Jesse Lingard (Nottingham Forest).

Golden Boot: Mo Salah (Liverpool). An absolutely class goal-scorer.

Champions League winner: Chelsea (as above).

FA Cup winner: Chelsea or Liverpool.

Dougal McGowan

Football South chief executive

Champion: Liverpool (though it hurts to say that).

Rest of top four: Manchester City (that hurts too), Spurs and the mighty Man United.

Wildcard: Manchester United (always have to be hopeful, but it will either be that or mid-table mediocrity) or Arsenal.

Plucky underdog: Newcastle. With the amount of $$ available, it will be interesting if it gels as a squad.

Relegated: Depends on what I would like to see and what will be. Sadly Bournemouth, Brentford and Forest (I would like to see Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea relegated but those would be long odds).

Player of the season: Luis Diaz (Liverpool).

Honourable mentions: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Erling Haaland (Man City), David De Gea (the only reason Man United might get anywhere).

Golden Boot: Haaland.

Champions League winner: Man City.

FA Cup winner: Spurs.

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