MICAH RICHARDS predicts Premier League 1-20 in guide to new season

Manchester City to take the title from Liverpool, Manchester United to hold off big spenders Chelsea and a BIG shock with who’s going down… MICAH RICHARDS predicts the Premier League 1-20 in his guide to the new season

  • The Premier League gets underway on Saturday as Fulham host Arsenal at 12:30
  • Liverpool are looking to defend their title despite a tough summer window
  • Leeds, West Brom and Fulham are hoping to prove surprise packages this term
  • Here, Sportsmail’s new columnist Micah Richards gives his season’s predictions 

After a brief break, the Premier League is back once again this Saturday as newly-promoted Fulham get ready to host an Arsenal side buoyed by their FA Cup success.

While there hasn’t been too long off between the end of last season and the beginning of the new one, there has been plenty of change with clubs splashing the cash in the transfer window.

Chelsea have led the way this summer by spending £230million and counting and they will be desperate for a title assault this summer while Manchester City will go all out in their bid to topple Liverpool at the top of the table.

Here, Sportsmail’s new columnist Micah Richards has given his predictions, as well as what stars to look out for, ahead of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign… 

Sportsmail’s new columnist Micah Richards has given his predictions ahead of the new season



Phil Foden – Age: 20, Position: Midfielder

Let’s stop the talk about Foden being one for the future. This is his time, this is his season. He is not here to replace the departed David Silva, he’s here to write his own story. 

Foden will be playing regularly for England in 12 months. We know about his special ability and already have seen enough glimpses of it. I have no doubt he is ready to shine — for Pep Guardiola and Gareth Southgate.

THE GAFFER – Pep Guardiola

City’s football under him has been majestic and it’s puzzling how a squad packed full of world-class stars lost nine league games and ended up 18 points behind Liverpool. Guardiola will be desperate to wrestle the title back. The title race will be tighter this season.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Luke Mbete-Tabu, 16

Widely tipped by coaching staff to make an impression this season, the speedy left-footed defender is an excellent passer of the ball, powerfully built and has already drawn comparisons with Vincent Kompany. The former Brentford academy prospect will train with the first team this season.  


Manchester City will have a point to prove after Liverpool beat them to the title last season



Joe Gomez – Age: 23, Position: Defender

It’s so hard to pick out the key players from the champions, as they have got world-class players from front to back. So I’m nominating Gomez as my one to watch as I believe he’s got so much more in his locker. 

He is England’s best central defender — without a shadow of a doubt — and I want to see him become a real leader this season. I know he can do it.

THE GAFFER – Jurgen Klopp

Transformed Liverpool into English, European and world champions playing a breathless style of football to rival the club’s teams of the 1970s and 80s. The challenge is to maintain standards and defend their title. Will be intriguing to see how they fare as the hunted rather than the hunters.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Harvey Elliott, 17

Since joining from Fulham, the winger has made a big impression on Jurgen Klopp with his talent and attitude. Eager to learn from senior stars Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Mo Salah and occasionally plays left-back against Salah in training. That versatility is serving him well.


Liverpool will have it all to do to successfully defend their title after a tough summer window



Paul Pogba – Age: 27, Position: Midfielder

You might think it obvious to pick the biggest name from one of the biggest teams but I gave this choice plenty of thought. I’ve highlighted Pogba because there are no excuses for him at United now.

He’s got Bruno Fernandes alongside him, exciting forwards in front of him, he’s fit and looks happy again. He’s got the stage — now let’s see the fireworks that we know he’s got the talent to produce. 

THE GAFFER – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The baby-faced assassin has proven he can hold his own as a Premier League manager. The combination of Bruno Fernandes behind Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford has brought back the flair. Still plenty of ground to make up on the top two, though.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Shola Shoretire, 16

United staff are buzzing about a talent that some regard as the best in Europe of his generation. The winger and playmaker made his UEFA Youth League bow at 14, starred in the FA Youth Cup this year and has a contract that underlines his value. Expected to make his first-team debut this season.  


Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are crucial to Manchester United’s fortunes in the new term



Timo Werner – Age: 24, Position: Striker

What an exciting signing this is! I watched him more than 20 times for RB Leipzig last season and I will say with confidence that he will challenge for this season’s Premier League Golden Boot. 

Frank Lampard’s team are set up for him to thrive and the word I’d use to describe Werner is ‘electric’. Watch him cut in off the left or hang off the shoulder of the last man. He’ll get a minimum of 20 goals.

THE GAFFER – Frank Lampard

Some say he had a poor season, taking Chelsea from third to fourth and losing the Cup final. Others argue he performed fantastically to secure a Champions League place with a transfer embargo and losing Eden Hazard. He’s now been backed with signings and top four is the minimum target.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Billy Gilmour, 19

Chelsea saw a glimpse of what Gilmour is capable of last season and his season-ending injury was a big blow. The small Scot is a classy, confident midfielder who likes to conduct play with his passing range. He has a great attitude and work ethic too, making him a manager’s dream.


Chelsea have spent big this summer, signing the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz



Bukayo Saka – Age: 19, Position: Winger

He’s played left-back, left-wing — I’ve even seen him operate as a right wing-back. Versatility, however, does not disguise his talent and he is going to become a big figure for Arsenal in the coming years.

Manager Mikel Arteta has huge faith in this 19-year-old and the fact he played 38 times in all competitions last year shows the regard in which he is held. Expect further progress.

THE GAFFER – Mikel Arteta

Won the FA Cup but Arteta still deemed Arsenal’s season a disappointment. Top four is a must according to the Premier League’s youngest manager. 

Can be ruthless — Mesut Ozil hasn’t played since March — and is tactically astute. There are more reasons to be cheerful than fearful.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Miguel Azeez, 17  

England U18 midfielder Azeez has been at Arsenal since he was five, earned comparisons with Gunners legend Patrick Vieira while idolising Sergio Busquets and shone for the club’s youth sides, playing for the U18s and U23s well before his time. He is eligible for England, Nigeria and Spain.


Bukayo Saka and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang will be looking to shine once again for Arsenal



Harry Kane – Age: 27, Position: Striker

You might see this as another cliched selection but it is nothing of the sort. Yes, Kane is England’s captain and Tottenham’s main threat but he still has things to prove. If he wants to leapfrog Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski and be recognised as the world’s best No 9, he has got to score the goals that will help his team win something. 

He had a really bad injury last season, but still scored 18 in the league and will want to show he is firing on all cylinders this time around.  

THE GAFFER – Jose Mourinho

The 57-year-old arrived at Spurs claiming he couldn’t be happier, though it hasn’t all gone according to plan. Occasionally, moody Mourinho has shown his true colours. This will be his first full season in charge and the pressure is on to end Spurs’ longest trophy drought since the Second World War.  

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Japhet Tanganga, 21

He has just signed a new five-year contract and already looks a composed and sound centre back. He can also play full back, and made his Premier League debut on the right against Liverpool in January. He held his own against the champions elect and is an exciting prospect.


Jose Mourinho will look to Harry Kane for inspiration during his first full season in charge



Raul Jimenez – Age: 29, Position: Striker

The first time I saw Jimenez, I thought to myself: ‘Is he a bit slow?’ Then I watched him at the Etihad Stadium last October, when Wolves beat Manchester City 2-0, and he totally changed my mind. He held the ball up, he brought people into play and City couldn’t handle him. 

He looked the real deal and went on to prove it, ending the Premier League season with 17 goals and scoring another 10 during their long Europa League campaign. He will continue to thrive.

THE GAFFER – Nuno Espirito Santo

Last season’s slog started with a Europa League qualifying win over Crusaders in July 2019, and ended more than 12 months later in August 2020. Nuno handled it all superbly and led Wolves to seventh. Will be eyeing an assault on the top six this season.  


The Portuguese forward started only nine league matches last season but everyone at Wolves is hugely excited about him. Neto prefers to operate on the right of a three-man attack and is quick, skilful and direct. He has all the raw materials required to become a star.  


Raul Jimenez will yet again be looking to standout for Wolves under Nuno Espirito Santo 



Caglar Soyuncu – Age: 24, Position: Defender

His first year in England was a great success but it would be wrong to underestimate the role Jonny Evans played in helping him settle down. Evans had an excellent season but I’m looking for Soyuncu to progress again. 

Leicester are an excellent side and if they are going to remain around the top six, pushing for the top four, their defence is going to be crucial.  

THE GAFFER – Brendan Rodgers

A collapse in the second half of the season saw Leicester miss out on the Champions League. But at least Rodgers and that little notebook he loves to scribble in will feature in the Europa League. He will look to juggle that alongside their domestic campaign, which could prove tricky.


Brendan Rodgers turned to Thomas in the final stages of last season, when senior left-back Ben Chilwell was ruled out with a foot injury, and the academy product stepped up well. He should see plenty of action given Leicester’s involvement in the Europa League.


Caglar Soyuncu will be crucial for Leicester if they want to make the top six again next season



Richarlison – Age: 23, Position: Striker

It has been a difficult couple of years for Everton, who really need to start finding consistency, but the one man who has always captured my eye is their Brazilian striker. 

Sometimes you look at him when he is scowling on the pitch, and you wonder if he is frustrated but I’ve got no doubts he could play at a higher level. He’s Everton’s best performer by a mile.  

THE GAFFER – Carlo Ancelotti

A talented tactician and someone who is used to winning. Evertonians miss Europe and want Ancelotti, a three-time winner of the Champions League, to take them there. 

He said survival was his priority when he took over in 2019. Now he needs to move towards the right end of the table. 

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Jarrad Branthwaite, 18

Branthwaite was one of the few reasons for Carlo Ancelotti to be cheerful during the season finale. They will look to recruit another centre-back but know the 18-year-old is capable of stepping up. He’s 6ft 5in, left-footed and fearless. The only question mark is over his agility.  


Everton will look to Richarlison to make the difference following a difficult couple of yeaes



Michail Antonio – Age: 30, Position: Forward

I’ve got to give Antonio a bit of love. I remember coming up against him when he played for Nottingham Forest, when he was a young winger who put his head down and didn’t look at the bigger picture. 

To see how he has developed into a striker, who can time his runs and finish well, is a testament to the hard work he has put in to improve. He scored 10 goals in the Premier League last season and will get plenty this time.  

THE GAFFER – David Moyes

Experienced manager with a point to prove, especially after his first spell that saw him replaced by Manuel Pellegrini after guiding them to safety. Now’s his chance to build on solid post-lockdown form and ensure they do not become embroiled in yet another relegation battle.  


West Ham youth coaches past and present are excited about Johnson for a reason. A winger who has been converted into an attack-minded right-back, he will challenge Ryan Fredericks for that spot this season. But crucially Johnson can fill in at left-back, too.


Michail Antonio enjoyed a fine end to last season, guiding West Ham to Premier League safety



Danny Ings – Age: 28, Position: Striker

He was in with a chance of winning the Golden Boot in the final week of last season and that told you all you need to know about his quality and consistency. Ings is thriving with the responsibility of being the main man at Southampton. 

It was a huge achievement to get to 22 goals — only Jamie Vardy scored more — and he hasn’t finished developing yet. He is in my Premier League Fantasy Football team and when I hear Southampton have scored, I immediately think: ‘Ings!’

THE GAFFER – Ralph Hasenhuttl

Hasenhuttl is probably sick of hearing about that 9-0 loss to Leicester — and we’re sorry to bring it up again — but it does sum up the extraordinary job he did to turn fortunes around. He avoided the boot then led them to 11th in the table. It helped having Danny Ings up front.


The left winger might have made his debut last season were it not for a quad injury that kept him out for four months. A £500,000 capture from Bury in 2017, Ferry has quick feet, loves putting defenders on the back foot and has the end product to back it up. Been on the bench four times.


Danny Ings is thriving off the responsibility of being the main man at Southampton



Jack O’Connell – Age: 26, Position: Defender

He’s a big, powerful defender. Whenever I watched him last season, you could see he had great organisational skills and he is quick enough to always get to where he needs to be. 

It’s a different challenge playing in a three-man defence and I always struggled with knowing when to press and when to stay, but O’Connell knows his job inside out. I look forward to seeing Sheffield United progress again under Chris Wilder.

THE GAFFER – Chris Wilder

The Blades took the league by storm, now it’s time to see if that was a one-off. You suspect not, because straight-talking Wilder won’t let his players rest on their laurels. His three-at-the-back system, which involves overlapping centre backs, was something we’d not seen.


The Irish striker joined from Tralee before signing a first professional contract earlier this year. Eligible for both Republic of Ireland and Albania, Gaxha has designs on forcing his way into Chris Wilder’s first-team plans this term after featuring heavily for the U23s.  


Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United were the surprise package last season after their promotion



Allan Saint-Maximin – Age: 23, Position: Winger

When I look at Newcastle, the one thing I believe their fans need more than anything is a hero, someone they can idolise and who will fill them with excitement. Saint-Maximin is the man who can rise to that challenge and I know from working with Steve Bruce that his manager will give him every opportunity to succeed. 

He showed flashes in the second half of last season that he has ability. Let’s see him do it consistently.

THE GAFFER – Steve Bruce

Kept the club up with games to spare amid the distracting on-off Saudi takeover. Significant room for improvement, though. Entertainment has been in short supply — they only scored 20 goals at home and no team averaged less possession last season.  

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Kelland Watts, 20

The academy product made his senior debut on the final day of the season against Liverpool having spent part of the campaign on loan at Stevenage. Capped by England U19s, Watts is a left-sided centre-back who appears to have it all — good on the ball, quick and strong in the air.


Steve Bruce will be looking to Allan Saint-Maximin to provide the magic for Newcastle



Adam Lallana – Age: 32, Position: Midfielder

I loved Lallana at Southampton and knew he would do well for Liverpool. He enjoyed six great years at Anfield but the time is right for a new challenge and he has the skill set to make his presence felt at the Amex Stadium. 

He has overcome his injury problems and has plenty to give — great news for Brighton as they look to further establish themselves as a Premier League club. If he does well, his team will too.

THE GAFFER – Graham Potter

One of the Premier League’s sharpest managers — he even has a Masters degree in leadership, personal and professional development. Brighton survived with a game to spare last time — you could say it was Potter magic. Another fight for survival is expected and he’d love to repeat the trick. 

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Tariq Lamptey, 19

A surprise January signing from Chelsea, the defender turned down a deal at Stamford Bridge in search of regular football. He then shone after making his Brighton debut in June. Fleet of foot and mind, he looks assured at the back and a danger going forward.


If Adam Lallana can do well at Brighton, then Graham Potter’s side will to next season



Dwight McNeil – Age: 20, Position: Winger 

When a team plays in the functional way Burnley do, it is hard for attackers to stand out. I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful to Sean Dyche, who has worked wonders to keep his team around the top half of the Premier League. 

McNeil, though, did that regularly last season and he is well on his way to being regarded as his club’s best player. He’s an England U21 international with a big future.

THE GAFFER – Sean Dyche

Burnley missed out on European football but perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise, given the size of the squad. But after eight years in the hotseat, you do wonder where Dyche goes from here. He would like nothing more than to be backed but money is notoriously tight at Burnley.  

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Lewis Richardson, 17

The England U16 striker made the Burnley bench at the end of last season and is the shining light in their fledgling academy. Only 17 but a permanent fixture in the club’s U23 team, he bagged a hat-trick on debut in a Lancashire Senior Cup tie with Rochdale.


Young winger Dwight McNeil is well on his way to being regarded as Burnley’s best player



Kalvin Phillips – Age: 24, Position: Midfielder

He is known as a defensive midfielder, for tackling and hard work and stuff like that, but don’t put him in that bracket. There is far more to his game. 

He is composed, good on the ball and, like so many players, flourished under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa. It is hard to get on the ball and play in the Championship but he did it brilliantly. He can go up another level.  

THE GAFFER – Marcelo Bielsa

Even when talking through a translator, you hang on his every word. Pep Guardiola considers the 65-year-old from Argentina to be the best manager in the world. Now it will be fascinating to see how Bielsa fares battling against the Premier League big boys.  


The left back started two EFL Cup matches last season and made a few league appearances as a substitute before a knee injury. He made his debut in 2018 and has waited patiently. His pace could offer Leeds something different — particularly off the bench.


Kalvin Phillips and his Leeds team-mates will look to take the Premier League by storm



John McGinn – Age: 25, Position: Midfielder

There was a point last season when it seemed Aston Villa were finding their feet in the Premier League but then their star midfielder got injured and results tailed off. 

It was a big blow for Dean Smith’s side and when McGinn did return to the side, he struggled to recapture his best form. With a good pre-season behind him, he will rediscover his excellent levels.

THE GAFFER – Dean Smith

Villa survived with a draw at West Ham on the final day of last season and Smith, who will continue to have John Terry in his coaching set-up for the new campaign, does not want it to go to the wire again. Needs to strengthen his squad if they are to get the results they want.  

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Indiana Vassilev, 19  

The United States U20 forward, also eligible for Bulgaria, was brought into the first-team picture by Dean Smith last season and although he did not score, he impressed with his work ethic and willingness to learn. Can expect to feature more, particularly in the cups.


Dean Smith will be desperate for John McGinn to stay fit for Aston Villa in the top-flight



Jordan Ayew – Age: 28, Position: Forward

He was a young lad when I first came across him at Aston Villa five years ago. He found things difficult at first but he has gone on to have a solid career. He got nine goals last season and really needs to improve on that tally. 

There will be pressure on his shoulders to score enough to keep Palace away from the wrong end of the table.  

THE GAFFER – Roy Hodgson

The Premier League’s oldest-ever manager. Now 73 and entering the final year of his contract, this could be his last campaign before retirement. Palace ended 2019-20 with seven defeats and a draw and the ex-England boss needs to inspire them if they are to avoid a relegation scrap. 

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Tyrick Mitchell, 20 

With Crystal Palace planning to go younger next season, more opportunities are likely for the attacking left-back. Made four league appearances after the restart and Palace believe he can push first-choice Patrick van Aanholt. Came through Brentford’s ranks before joining in 2016.  


It could be a very tough season for Wilfried Zaha and Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park



Matheus Pereira – Age: 24, Position: Winger

I don’t want to put undue pressure on a young lad but when I saw him play for West Brom I thought: ‘There’s a little magician’. How did so many clubs let him go under the radar? 

He scored eight goals and provided 16 assists to help West Brom win promotion, he can play as a No 10 or a No 8, he is technically superb and has a wonderful left foot. Watch him closely.

THE GAFFER – Slaven Bilic

Bilic was last seen in the Premier League with West Ham, who sacked him in 2017 for not being ‘in line with our ambition’. West Brom will anticipate a battle for survival. You can see why players like playing for him and he will realise the challenge ahead.


A tall full-back who can play on either flank, O’Shea forced his way into Slaven Bilic’s starting XI at the turn of the year and never looked back. His ability to overlap gives West Brom a handy attacking option. Positional sense needs work, but should improve while learning under Bilic.


Fans should watch Matheus Pereira closely – he s technically superb and has a great left foot



Tom Cairney – Age: 29, Position: Midfielder

When Fulham were in the Premier League two seasons ago, I expected so much from him. He had scored the goal against Aston Villa to win the play-off final 1-0 but, for whatever reason, it just never happened for him last time. 

Cairney is cultured and elegant on the ball and if Fulham are going to stay up this season, their captain is going to have a vital role to play.

THE GAFFER – Scott Parker

Parker was played a hospital pass when installed as caretaker manager in February 2019, when they were 19th. They dropped down but he brought them straight back up, courtesy of a play-off final win over Brentford which highlighted his tactical nous. A very likeable coach.

BEST YOUNG PROSPECT – Steven Sessegnon, 20

Three years have passed since the defender won the U17 World Cup with England but only last season did Sessegnon break through at Craven Cottage. He made his first 14 league appearances last season as Scott Parker’s side earned promotion once more.  


Tom Cairney will have to play a vital role if Fulham are to stay in the English top-flight

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article