B/R Football Ranks: Predicting 2019-20 Finishes of All 20 Premier League Teams

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 9, 2019

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 28: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool applauds fans following during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Murrayfield on July 28, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

This weekend will see the 2019-20 Premier League season take flight, with Liverpool hosting Norwich City at Anfield on Friday evening in the opener.

With pre-season complete and the English transfer window shut—meaning squads are fully assembled—it's the perfect time to produce a predicted 1-20 of the Premier League table. It's a task that's both fun and thankless in equal measure.

It's also a ranking, of sorts, and we'll go in ascending order, starting with relegation, rising into midtable and ending with our top-four finishers and title winner. We've also included a best XI for each side, giving you an idea of their collective strength—though in building those we've left out long-term injured players, such Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ruptured Achilles) and David Brooks (ankle surgery).

Sam was away for the latest episode of the B/R Football Ranks podcast where they predicted a much different Top 20. Listen below and also subscribe here

              

20. Norwich City

2018-19 finish: 1st in Championship

NORWICH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Teemu Pukki of Norwich City during a pre-season friendly between Norwich City and Toulouse at Carrow Road on August 3, 2019 in Norwich, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Theoretically, the Championship winners should stand the strongest chance of surviving relegation in the Premier League in the following season.

But as they often are, the Canaries have been cautious and conservative in their summer business, and that's left them in a quality deficit in comparison to the clubs they'll battle with.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Fahrmann; Aarons, Godfrey, Zimmermann, Lewis; Amadou, Vrancic; Buendia, Stiepermann, Roberts; Pukki

           

19. Newcastle United

2018-19 finish: 13th (-6)

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Newcastle United and AS Saint - Etienne at St. James Park on August 03, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Fan unrest, Rafa Benitez's departure and the loss of both Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez—who accounted for more than 50 percent of their goals last season—put Newcastle squarely in the relegation crosshairs.

Joelinton is a very good player who goes some way toward replacing Salomon Rondon, and Miguel Almiron is a gem. But the quality in the squad overall and the new manager, Steve Bruce, inspire little faith.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Schar, Willems; Ki, Shelvey; Ritchie, Saint-Maximin, Almiron; Joelinton

           

18. Burnley

2018-19 finish: 15th (-3)

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Sean Dyche the manager of Burnley looks on during a pre-season friendly match between Burnley and Nice at Turf Moor on July 30, 2019 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season, we saw two very different Burnley teams: the terrible one that featured before Christmas, and the very good one that emerged afterward.

Fans should be alarmed that a key reason for the improvement in results—Tom Heaton and his return from a shoulder injury and subsequent superb play—has departed to a fellow Premier League side. Nick Pope is an able stand-in goalkeeper but has been plagued by fitness issues for a year.

If he can put together a full campaign, they could be OK—but it's an if.

Strongest XI (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood

           

17. Sheffield United

2018-19 finish: 2nd in Championship

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - JULY 16: John Fleck of Sheffield United during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Burton Albion and Sheffield United at Pirelli Stadium on July 16, 2019 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Many will have Sheffield United pegged to go down, as their squad (on paper) arguably looks the weakest in the division, but they're a quirky, canny side with curious tactics and clever set-piece routines.

It takes Premier League sides a bafflingly long time to acclimatise to teams with these features, and what the Blades do in the first half of the season might well be enough to keep them on track for survival.

Strongest XI (3-4-1-2): Henderson; Stevens, O'Connell, Jagielka, Egan, Baldock; Norwood, Fleck, Freeman; McBurnie, Robinson

           

16. Brighton

2018-19 finish: 17th (-1)

ALDERSHOT, ENGLAND - JULY 20: 
Graham Potter manager of Brighton and Hove Albion during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham at EBB Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Aldershot, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Brighton are among the hardest sides to gauge, as there are important questions we can't answer yet.

Can new manager Graham Potter rejuvenate what was a horribly underachieving crop in 2018-19 (aside from a few individuals)? Will they and the new signings adapt to the new style? Are Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay enough to boost a flagging attack that's lost the talismanic Anthony Knockaert?

They'll either just scrape clear, or just succumb.

Strongest XI (3-4-1-2): Ryan; Montoya, Webster, Duffy, Dunk, March; Mooy, Propper; Trossard, Maupay, Murray

            

15. Aston Villa 

2018-19 finish: 5th in Championship

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:    John McGinn of Aston Villa celebrates with Jack Grealish of Aston Villa after he scores his sides fourth goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa at The Valley on July 27, 2019 in Lo
Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Spending big doesn't guarantee success—not by a long shot—but Aston Villa have bought good players and massively improved the mean quality running through the squad.

In Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz, manager Dean Smith commands a midfield trio that could feasibly start for a top-half side, and the acquisition of goalkeeper Tom Heaton is a smart one.

Strongest XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, Grealish, McGinn; El Ghazi, Jota, Wesley

           

14. Crystal Palace

2018-19 finish: 12th (-2)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and AFC Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on May 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

It's rare that one player can define a side's fortunes—it's a team game after all—but with Wilfried Zaha and Crystal Palace, that feels like the case.

So the fact that they held on to their prized attacking asset probably means they'll survive; without him, things would have looked far bleaker. 

Strongest XI (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Tomkins, Van Aanholt; Camarasa, Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend; Zaha, Benteke

          

13. Bournemouth

2018-19 finish: 14th (+1)

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Callum Wilson of Bournemouth during the Pre-Season Friendly match between West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth at The Hawthorns on July 26, 2019 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Smart business was the story of Bournemouth's summer.

They secured well-priced deals for a series of good players who won't drastically change the outlook of the side's Premier League campaign for the better, but the signings will help them stay afloat among a sea of spending.

Strongest XI (4-4-1-1): Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Rico; Fraser, Lerma, Billing, Danjuma; King, Wilson

           

12. Southampton

2018-19 finish: 16th (+4)

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Ralph Hasenhuttl of Austria the Southampton manager instructs his players during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Huddersfield Town at St Mary's Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Pho
David Cannon/Getty Images

There will be no dangerous flirting with relegation for Southampton this season.

A sprinkling of good attacking additions this summer ahead of Ralph Hasenhuttl's first full season at the helm has them primed for easy survival and perhaps even a top-10 finish if things roll their way. 

Strongest XI (3-5-2): Gunn; Valery, Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Ings, Adams

           

11. Watford

2018-19 finish: 11th

Abdoulaye Doucoure of Watford FC during the Pre-season Friendly match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Watford FC at Alois Latini Stadion on July 20, 2019 in Zell am Zee, Austria(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Eleventh would probably disappoint Watford, but the quality of the pack filling out the top half of the table is quite something.

Much of their good work last term came at the start of the season, as they formed something of a surprise package, and that charm is unlikely to work twice. Ismaila Sarr is a brilliant addition, though, and could spur them on to bigger things.

Strongest XI (4-2-2-2): Foster; Kiko Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas; Sarr, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney

            

10. West Ham

2018-19 finish: 10th

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 20:  Felipe Anderson of West Ham United in action during the Premier League Asia Trophy 2019 match between West Ham United and Newcastle United at Shanghai Hongkou Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

After West Ham recruited well this summer, it feels strange to place them in exactly the same position as last season, but there's an element of proving to be done from east London.

We saw exactly how good they can be in flickers last term, but we also saw how they can self-destruct with apparent ease. The quality of teams that are looking to crack the top six is so high that West Ham can't afford to do the latter, but can they be trusted not to?

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Wilshere; Lanzini, Fornals, Felipe Anderson; Haller

          

9. Wolves

2018-19 finish: 7th (-2)

WATFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 27:  Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers (L) and Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Vicarage Road on April 27, 2019 in Watford, Un
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Wolves' 2018-19 campaign was sensational, enough to bring European football to Molineux for the first time since 1980, but how their resources will split across multiple competitions is a big question mark.

Playing Saturday-Thursday-Sunday is difficult, and their squad isn't terribly deep, with Nuno only picking up a few first-team players this summer and losing the same number on loan.

Strongest XI (3-5-2): Patricio; Doherty, Vallejo, Coady, Boly, Jonny; Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker; Jota, Jimenez

         

8. Chelsea

2018-19 finish: 3rd (-5)

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY - AUGUST 03: Christian Pulisic of FC Chelsea looks on during the pre-season friendly match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Chelsea at Borussia-Park on August 3, 2019 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Gett
TF-Images/Getty Images

With Frank Lampard at the helm, anything could happen—and we mean that in both the good sense and the bad sense.

His first season in management with Derby County was promising but showed clear flaws. How quickly will they be ironed out?

Chelsea's lost their star player (Eden Hazard) and two starters from 2018-19 (Gonzalo Higuain and David Luiz), only being able to count Christian Pulisic as a new arrival because of the transfer ban.

So quality-wise, they simply don't stack up against the top sides in the league, and that plays into the pessimism here.

Strongest XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pulisic, Willian, Giroud

          

7. Everton

2018-19 finish: 8th

BREMEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Milot Rashica of Werder Bremen and Richarlison De Andrade of FC Everton battle for the ball during the pre-season friendly match between SV Werder Bremen and FC Everton at Wohninvest Weserstadion on August 03, 2019 in Br
Cathrin Mueller/Getty Images

As Nick Bright mentioned on B/R Football Ranks this week, Everton almost always come out of the summer having done good business, but rarely does that translate to the leap in performance we expect.

If the two finally tally up in 2019-20, it'd be perfect timing, as the top-six field looks severely susceptible to a side like Marco Silva's.

With a season under the manager in the bank (the latter part of which was excellent) and a strengthened squad at hand, this is a big opportunity, but the prediction is they will fall just shy.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne; Gbamin, Gomes; Bernard, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Kean

         

6. Manchester United

2018-19 finish: 6th

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 03: Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United in action during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and AC Milan at Principality Stadium on August 03, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/F
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Some big-money signings have strengthened the defence, but there's still little reason to believe United can better their effort of sixth from last season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's pedigree is under serious doubt, as is the commitment to the cause from some players, and it'd take something pretty magical to spur a top-four run.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, McTominay, Matic; Lingard, Martial, Rashford

            

5. Leicester City

2018-19 finish: 9th (+4)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Youri Tielemans of Leicester City during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Leicester City and Atalanta at The King Power Stadium on August 02, 2019 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Of the cluster of sides eyeing a top-six break-up party, Leicester City have the strongest case—and the prediction is they manage it.

They may have lost Harry Maguire to Manchester United, but in adding Ayoze Perez, Youri Tielemans (permanently) and James Justin to an already talented squad, they have the quality and depth to manage it.

Bagging Brendan Rodgers' services midway through last season gave them time to adapt to his style, and they should start fast, fuelling a great season.

Strongest XI (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison; Gray, Perez, Vardy 

         

4. Arsenal

2018-19 finish: 5th (+1)

Lille's Ivorian forward Nicolas Pepe celebrates  after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Lille (LOSC) and Angers (SCO) at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, northern France, on May 18 2019. (Photo by DENIS
DENIS CHARLET/Getty Images

From a summer in which very little was expected, Arsenal secured the services of Dani Ceballos, William Saliba, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz. This constitutes incredible success given the budgetary constraints they were operating under.

How it all fits together, particularly up front, is anyone's guess. But it's a strong XI—stronger than last season's—and could easily deal enough damage to secure a top-four berth for the first time since 2016.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney; Torreira, Ceballos; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

                

3. Tottenham Hotspur 

2018-19 finish: 4th (+1)

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Tanguy Ndombele of Tottenham Hotspur runs  during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and FC Internazionale at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on August 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Is
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Even without the deadline-day acquisitions of Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, Spurs looked a strong shout for third place in the Premier League this season.

Sealing both serves to cement that spot. The question then becomes whether they can truly enter the bracket Liverpool and Manchester City—arguably the two best sides in the world—operate in.

Strongest XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Ndombele, Son, Eriksen, Alli; Kane

            

2. Liverpool

2018-19 finish: 2nd

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool in action during the FA Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on August 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

It's too difficult to predict that Liverpool will go one better in the Premier League this season when they've spent the summer refusing to strengthen.

They lack the depth Manchester City do in most areas and look set to the roll the dice that the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will play every game (again) to keep up with the juggernaut to the east.

Strongest XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino

        

1. Manchester City

2018-19 finish: 1st

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City during the FA Community Shield fixture between Liverpool and Manchester City  at Wembley Stadium on August 4, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

It's a three-peat for Man City, who, unlike Liverpool, have opted to strengthen their squad even after a phenomenal season. That's the difference between them.

The only two potential weak points they showed last season—at full-back (both sides) and at holding midfield when Fernandinho was injured—they've strengthened, buying Joao Cancelo, Rodri and Angelino.

As ever, though, the question for City and for Pep Guardiola won't be answered on the domestic front, but on the European one. Is this crop good enough to win the Champions League?

Strongest XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne; Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero

        

Follow @stighefootball

Instagram.com/brsamtighe

All statistics via WhoScored.com.

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