How will the Premier League table look in eight months' time? Following on from the most unpredictable season in living memory – which only finished just over a month ago – and with six weeks left of the transfer window, this has been one of the most difficult Season Preview issues FourFourTwo has ever had to put together.
With the magazine now out in shops and online – and readers champing at the bit to tell us how wrong we are about everything – we thought we'd stick out necks out even more and share our predicted table for the season ahead.
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Predicted! FourFourTwo’s 2020/21 Championship table
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TRANSFER NEWS Every Premier League transfer of the window so far
20. West Brom
Organised and disciplined under Slaven Bilic, West Brom have removed a large burden on the wage bill with several senior players departing this summer, including stalwart Chris Brunt.
So far only Matheus Pereira, the Brazilian winger whose stardust while on-loan inspired their promotion campaign last season, has been brought in. That was crucial, but they'll need more if they're to beat the drop.
The west Londoners surprised a few by defeating Brentford in the Championship Play-off Final in July, bouncing straight back to the Premier League after a year's absence.
Scott Parker's side remain suspect defensively - an experienced centre-back to partner the excellent Michael Hector is a must this summer - but are an exciting, ball-playing side and should score plenty of goals, especially with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line.
The arrivals of left-back Antonee Robinson, from Wigan, and Mario Lemina, from Southampton, have been well-received by fans, but it's the permanent signing of Harrison Reed that has raised the roof in SW6. The tenacious midfielder was sensational last season and will need to be on top form if Fulham are to have any chance of staying up.
18. Aston Villa
Dean Smith's side showed their fighting spirit at the end of last season, surviving by the skin of their teeth thanks to the heroics of talismanic midfielder Jack Grealish in the final weeks.
The newly-called up England international needs far more help from his supporting cast this season, with no Villa player scoring more than his eight Premier League goals last campaign.
A proven goalscorer and a goalkeeper are musts this transfer window. Brazilian striker Wesley failed to live up to his billing last term, though he was hampered by injuries, while first choice keeper Tom Heaton is still recovering from a long-term knee injury.
17. Newcastle United
The Magpies will narrowly beat the drop, according to our writers. Steve Bruce's side surprised many last time out by avoiding a relegation dog-fight, but can they do it again?
After a Saudi-backed bid to buy the club from Mike Ashley failed earlier in the summer, fans are fearing another long, hard season. Bruce has shown he's capable of working with a small budget, however, and the free transfer of Jeff Hendrick, coupled with Matty Longstaff singing a new deal to stay at the club, both represent smart business.
Buying a proven goalscorer is a must, though, with £40m man Joelinton not comfortable leading the line alone, as his four-goal haul last season showed.
16. Crystal Palace
Under Roy Hodgson's experienced management, Crystal Palace should be safe from the drop, but not without the occasional scare along the way.
Much will depend on the future of key man Wilfred Zaha. The forward remains Palace's best weapon, but has made clear his intention of moving to a club competing in Europe.
The signing of Ebere Eze from QPR is a possible hint that life exists beyond Zaha. Eze is a similar player, with speed, quick feet and an eye for goal. It would be a tantalising prospect for fans if the two players are teaming up this season.
15. West Ham
West Ham remain a conundrum. On the one hand, it's a club with the infrastructure, passionate fanbase and financial clout to compete for European places. On the other hand, they rarely look like living up to any sort of potential.
Manager David Moyes is a safe, if uninspiring, pair of hands and the squad is a mixture of overpaid filler and genuine top-class talent. In Declan Rice, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Aaron Cresswell, West Ham have several exciting players, and the arrival of Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague should make them more competitive in midfield. The defence still desperately needs reinforcement, however, with West Ham boasting the fifth leakiest defence in the league last season.
14. Brighton & Hove Albion
Graham Potter passed the litmus test last season, keeping Brighton in the Premier League in his first full season. The Seagulls remain a work in progress, however, with Potter keen to impose a more expansive, pressing game on the side while not wanting to lose the robustness.
In winger Leandro Trossard and striker Neal Maupay, Brighton have forwards which can be a handful for any defence on its day, while the arrival of Adam Lallana should give the midfield some added thrust and Premier League experience.
The loss of Aaron Mooy, who departed for China in August, is a blow, and Potter will be keen to sign another goalscoring midfielder and at least one creator to take the reigns from Pascal Gross, who is not the player he was a few years ago.
With Sean Dyche in charge, you get the feeling Burnley could remain in the Premier League until the end of time. The Clarets remain as disciplined, committed and single-minded as ever. It's rarely pretty but it works and Burnley fans are largely content with the way things are.
Reinforcements will be needed to maintain competition for places, especially after Jeff Hendrick departed to join Newcastle. Burnley are yet to make a proper first-team signing and may find themselves in trouble unless this season unless that changes. Keeping hold of exciting young winger Dwight McNeil is another priority this window.
12. Leeds United
Arguably the most intriguing prospect in the Premier League this season. Leeds United are back after a 16 year hiatus from the top flight, with an exciting, hardworking squad and a genuine enigma in the dugout.
Marcelo Bielsa demands hard work, tactical flexibility and commitment from his young team, and takes in matches while perched on an upside down bucket. Spanish international striker Rodrigo has been recruited for £30m from Valencia to add goals, with Leeds are hoping to add a new central defender before the season begins.
11. Sheffield United
The surprise package of last season, Sheffield United came close to European qualification in their first season back in the top-flight and our writers feel they are in for another solid showing this campaign.
Chris Wilder moved quickly to replace goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who excelled on loan from Manchester United over the past two seasons, with the promising Aaron Ramsdale from Bournemouth already this summer. Savvy, no-nonsense business, but what else do you expect? A new right-back remains a key objective, with Nottingham Forest's Matty Cash rumoured to be top of the list.
Quite what the Toffees are capable of achieving this season is anybody's guess, so it's unsurprising our writers have stuck them slap bang in the middle.
Carlo Ancelotti remains one of the world's finest coaches and with the addition of James Rodriguez, the Italian will be reunited with one of his star performers from his tenure at Real Madrid. The three-time Champions League-winning boss can't be written off.
Another target has been Wilfred Zaha, with the left wing a problem area. Champions League football, a relegation scare or mid-table obscurity? We can't wait to find out.
9. Leicester City
The fact a 5th-placed finish last time out was deemed a disappointment speaks volumes about how far Leicester have come under Rodgers. Our writers fear the added burden of Europa League fixtures will take their toll on a talented but shallow squad.
The loss of Ben Chilwell to Chelsea - a fair deal for all involved - will need to be balanced out as soon as possible. Much will depend, as always, on the goalscoring exploits of Jamie Vardy. The striker is still banging them in well into his mid-30s; few football fans don't have a soft-spot for the former England man.
What's this? A team who were battered 9-0 by Leicester City in a match last season sit one spot higher in our writers' predicted standings?
It's no mathematical error; despite having a glass jaw, Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton are well-balanced, hardworking unit and full credit to the Austrian for getting this team playing his way after just a season and a half in charge.
Hasenhuttl has cleared out a number of ageing players and those he deems surplus, freeing up wages for new signings. Top centre-back target Mohammed Salisu has joined from Real Villadolid and Kyle Walker-Peters from Spurs, adding pace and experience to defence.
Wolves finished 7th last season – and we expect them to do the same again this year. Nuno Espirito Santo boasts a talented squad that many believed would be picked apart this summer. Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves have all been linked with moves though no bids have been received yet.
The loss of Matt Doherty to Spurs, for a relatively cheap £14.7m, is a blow. The Irishman had developed cult status among Wolves fans and Fantasy Footballers in recent seasons. A replacement is a priority this summer.
6. Tottenham Hotspur
Jose Mourinho has got business done just the way he likes it this summer - quick and dirty. Matt Doherty has been brought in from Wolves to add pace and attacking quality at right-back, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's arrival from Southampton has given the manager an intelligent, tough-tackling option at the base of midfield. Joe Hart, meanwhile, has been signed for his winning mentality as much as anything.
The loss of Jan Vertonghen to Benfica means an additional centre-back couldn't hurt, though it's unlikely too much further business will take place at Tottenham between now and the start of the season.
Mikel Arteta is looking increasingly like the Messiah with each passing game. The Spaniard appears to have convinced star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to see out his top-level playing days in north London, and has delivered surprising victories in the FA Cup and subsequent Community Shield.
Central defenders William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have joined, while Dani Ceballos has returned on loan to compliment a squad rich with young, eager to impress talent. Willian adds experience and thrust from the wings, even if he is a little old. Creative midfielder Houssem Aouar remains a top target. The Gunners could be in for their best season since Wenger left.
If last season was all about blooding youngsters and allowing Frank Lampard some time to find his feet in top flight management, that period is now over. The expensive signings of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, two of the Bundesliga's brightest stars, along with the magical Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, should make Chelsea an attacking threat against any opposition.
It is hoped, even at the ripe old age of 34, Thiago Silva can help to shore up a leaky defence. A season to make or break Lampard's managerial career. The pressure is on.
3. Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's enthusiasm and loyalty to the Ferguson blueprint appears to be finally paying off, and we predict a good showing this season. The Norwegian is an emphatic believer in youth and his careful management of Mason Greenwood has been admirable, while the midfield looks the best it has in over a decade following the recruitment of penalty king Bruno Fernandes.
Donny van de Beek's arrival from Ajax gives United even more top level midfield quality to select from, while a left-back and a winger - ideally Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund - remain high on the shopping list.
Last season's champions appear a little frugal compared to their rivals this summer. Jurgen Klopp is largely happy with his squad and the addition of one more midfielder - Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich is the top target - would probably be enough to ensure another title ding-dong with City.
The departures of squad players Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne freed-up more than £300,000 per week in wages, according to reports; a much-needed clear out.
Left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas, signed from Olympiacos remains the only arrival at Liverpool so far.
But even for a team as dominant as Liverpool were last season can't stand still, and we think they'll find defending their title a difficult proposition. Having looked impermeable for so long, late season form revealed that this side was still human. Can they really keep it up?
1. Manchester City
Pep Guardiola isn't taking last season's Premier League disappointment lying down. It is hoped Nathan Ake's early £40m arrival from Bournemouth will shore up a defence overly reliant on Aymeric Laporte.
Former Valencia winger Ferran Torres, meanwhile, has been brought in to replace Leroy Sané, who departed for Bayern Munich at the end of the season.
The real elephant in the room ahead of a new Premier League season is, of course, Lionel Messi. If the Argentine genius gets his wish, and is allowed to team up at City with his former coach, there may be no hope for any of City's rivals. Just imagine Messi and Kevin De Bruyne combining around the opposition area. OMG.
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