In a new series of articles, Sportsweek.co.uk will be asking key and interesting questions across the sporting world, giving, via our headline writers Drew Farmer and Mark Rowbottom, our own opinions and then asking YOU, the reader, via an opinion poll on our Sportsweek Facebook page, a chance to give your answer and interact with us on the same topic.
Today, we ask:
Which team wins the 2019/20 Premier League – WITHOUT the top six (from last season)?
So that is – just for the avoidance of doubt – excluding Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United. It’s not, necessarily, who finishes seventh to 20th, rather it’s who would have the highest league placing taking away the above-named teams.
First up, Mark Rowbottom gives his opinion:
MARK ROWBOTTOM: EVERTON (Last season: 8th)
Despite serious inconsistencies and bewildering results, Everton still managed eighth place last season and only finished three points behind Wolves – but had the best goal difference outside the top six and only the top four had a better defensive record than the Toffees (albeit joint with Wolves).
Coach Marco Silva (above) has settled into the Goodison Park hotseat well and fans were generally supportive of the Portuguese manager after his arrival from Watford – but now in his second full season in charge will want to see some improvement – and I feel he can better the league position of last season and take the club into Europe in the 2020/21 season.
The arrival of Fabian Delph from Manchester City is an astute one. Delph is still only 29 and will give Everton the defensive midfield cover needed – as well as being able to play left-back should the need arise. For £8.5 million it is a great coup for a current England international and one that was established in the Manchester City line up for plenty of last season until injuries took their toll.
Goals shouldn’t be a problem – the mercurial Richarlison (above) can add to the 13 goals he notched for the Toffees last season, and more can be expected from Gylfi Sigurdsson who also tallied 13 goals. Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains an excellent prospect and will benefit from his ever-increasing Premier League experience whilst the likes of Andre Gomes, Bernard and Walcott can supply the ammunition and continue to be one of the more creative midfields in the Premier League.
To improve, Everton will need to cut out the sloppy performances that haunted them last season. At times they were superb – only Manchester City did the double over them. But Silva can take a team he has kept together and added to and get the Toffees back as the best team outside the top six – and who knows – maybe even into it.
Last seasons ‘next best’ Wolves have the Europa League to contend with – Leicester look promising but have question marks defensively about them and still could lose both Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell….so its Everton for me!!!
Now…Drew Farmer gives his verdict :
DREW FARMER: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Last season: 7th)
It isn’t just because my in-laws are Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters. I truly think Wolves are the best team outside the top six and if they were not competing in the Europa League qualifying rounds in early August, I believe they would challenge the top six this term.
Wolves have a brilliant manager in Nuno Espirito Santo and the backing of an ownership group not afraid to spend money. That said, unlike teams like West Ham or Everton, Wolves have a transfer strategy about them. Their biggest move this summer was to sign Raul Jimenez on a permanent deal. The Mexican international scored 13 goals in 38 Premier League appearances last season.
Wolverhampton haven’t lost anyone of significance this summer and Santo knows what it takes to win. Sure, Wolves didn’t score a lot of goals last term, just 47; yet, they only conceded 46 strikes. That figure was less than both Arsenal and Manchester United, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
As I wrote previously, Wolves will most likely have a fall off this season due to the Europa League qualifying rounds. Just look at Burnley last season. They didn’t make the group stage, but the four added fixtures greatly affected Sean Dyche’s team.
Wolverhampton Wanderers squad is stronger, more talented, and far more capable than Burnley’s from a year ago. So, perhaps they can deal with the added fixtures.
Diogo Jota, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Rui Patricio are all outstanding players and compared to the rest of the teams outside the top six, no other club can compare with the manager and the squad.
Like Mark, I like Leicester City’s chances this term, but not Everton’s. The Foxes were impressive after the arrival of Brendan Rodgers. Jamie Vardy (one-dimensional) works well Rodgers and James Maddison also returned to form tallying seven goals and seven assists. Although he went missing during the middle of the season.
Even if Harry Maguire leaves, Leicester City can get a good centre-back for a decent price to cover for him. I still believe Wolverhampton Wanderers are the better team than Leicester City, however.
Wolves took four points from six from Everton and three from Leicester City last term. In addition, Wolves took 16 points off of the top six teams from a possible 36 in 2018-19.
So what do YOU think? Is Mark correct with his prediction? Or do you favour Drew’s belief? Or maybe you disagree with them both and have your own ideas?!? Vote in our poll HERE and feel free to comment accordingly. Our guys may well be on hand to further debate your thoughts with you!