How do Villa finish this season?
Phil Vogel: I really want to say 9. But I just can’t be that optimistic. So 14.
Jake Fenicle: I’ll say optimistically top half of the table. But realistically (still optimistic) I’ll give us 12th. I think there’s more than a handful of teams we’re better than
Corbin Conover: It could be anywhere from 16th to 8th, depending on who comes in the rest of the window and which teams regress due to a lack of incomings. I predict 13th with all things considered.
Sean Evans: It seems that three we’ve brought in already have led many pundits to believe we have improved and will kick on after that great escape. I hope they’re right, but I am with Phil in terms of the optimism as well as finish. Perhaps a comfortable 14th for me and I’d be just fine with that.
Alex Carson: Villa could finish anywhere from 9th to 19th and I wouldn’t be shocked; ultimately, I don’t expect them to tear the world apart, so I’ll go for a tidy 15th with survival more or less in the bag by the end of April.
Since none of us have picked Villa, who goes down?
JF: Brighton. West Brom. Fulham. Not that order, I don’t know all that.
PV: Fulham, West Ham, West Brom.
CC: Fulham, West Brom, West Ham. In that order. Fulham is too yo-yo and their best player is a card magnet, West Brom is in a similar situation to us last year around the same time but didn’t spend enough to form a complete squad, and West Ham has a shambolic defense coupled with a tough starting run which could kill morale.
SE: It really is currently hard to look past Fulham, West Brom and West Ham at the moment. I too will go with those three as the favorites. However — perhaps I’ll look foolish at the end of the season — I think Sheffield United could struggle and go down. If we get three points over them Monday night, their start is also pretty difficult.
AC: I like the Blades shout, though I’m not sure I’ll go so far as to pick them. While I don’t necessarily expect both to go down, individually, it’s really hard to pick against Fulham and West Brom, simply on talent and squad composition. Give me Burnley as the third, if they defend like they did at Leicester all season. By the way, I don’t think they’ll go down, but Leeds are getting way too much of a free pass from the public right now.
Who wins the league?
JF: I’ll give it back to City. I think Liverpool slip up too often this season.
CC: I think Man City will win but the title race will be much closer than previous years.
PV: I’ll take Liverpool to repeat since they finished the Thiago transfer. I think Klopp will be able to motive the group saying everyone is putting an asterisk to last year’s title because of the break.
SE: I like Liverpool as well. Diogo Jota and Thiago are quality signings.
AC: I’m taking Manchester City, I still think they’re the best team in England (though I do think Chelsea are a decent shout at 10/1 odds).
Who’s Villa’s top scorer?
PV: Watkins. Not sure there is much doubt. If he doesn’t something went wrong.... or very right.
JF: Has to be Ollie Watkins.
SE: Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, Oi Oi Oi! A very good clip from him thus far.
AC: Yeah, I mean, I think you have to expect Watkins, but it’ll be interesting to see how Villa play tactically in the long run; the striker position wasn’t really expected to bag the goals in Dean Smith’s 4-3-3 last year, but I expect it’ll be different this year.
Who’s Villa’s breakout player?
JF: Breakout player I’ll go with Douglas. He broke out in the restart but I think he’ll keep shining.
PV: I like your idea of Douglas Luiz. He may breakout to the general public — but I think every Villa fan who watched the club after the lockdown knows just how good he is. I’ll take Matty Targett. I think he will absolutely love crossing the ball to a player like Watkins.
CC: I think Martinez will have a great season, our defensive stats were fantastic after restart and he is a far better keeper than Reina.
SE: I’m with Corbin on this one. There seem to be a lot of Arsenal supporters who think Martinez has the ability to be a top keeper in the league. He’ll get his chance to prove them right at the start of the season.
AC: I’ll take the latest guy in, Bertrand Traoré. There’s a player there, as he showed especially early in his time at Lyon, and I think he could jive really well with Watkins in attack.
Which team is the Prem’s surprise package?
JF: Everton is the easy answer. Those signings have been something else.
CC: Besides Villa? I guess I would say Crystal Palace, Zaha looks good as a striker and Eze should create more on the wing than we’re used to for that side.
PV: Hopefully it is Villa. But I agree with Jake. Everton seem to have changed the trajectory of their squad with this summer’s transfers, so if you aren’t paying attention they will surprise you.
SE: After what I watched in their first match against Spurs, it is really is hard to look past Everton. If that squad stays healthy, they look to have it in them to consistently be in European places.
AC: Everton might be too trendy of a pick to be a surprise at this point; what about Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion? I’ll admit they didn’t look too good for large stretches of last year, but think they could turn a corner this season and push for a top-half finish.
Who’s the first manager sacked?
PV: Roy Hodgson, I think. Palace have made some good moves. Expectations are raised and I’m not sure things will go great for him early.
JF: Slaven Bilić. Really could see (and hope) West Brom struggle.
AC: The worst part of Watford going down is that the easy answer to this question is gone. I’ll go for Scott Parker, though — the Fulham supporters on my timeline weren’t thrilled with him last year, and I think they could really struggle.
JF: Ooooo I’ll change my answer that’s a good shout Alex. Bailed out with the high of promotion but a couple of flat 3-0 performances like they had against Arsenal and he could be out early. I’m going Scott Parker out first. But I’ll still take Bilić to go too.
PV: I thought about Parker — but he may have enough cache with the club that he could remain their manager if they go back down.
CC: David Moyes, West Ham have a history of sacking the managers and Moyes hasn’t been backed in the market either. Also, that opening run is horrendous.
SE: The situation around West Ham appears to be a bit toxic. You’ve got their captain, and club legend, publicly questioning the sale of Diangana as well as new owners circling — poor David Moyes for me. Especially if Rice also goes.
PV: If Rice goes — especially late enough that the money can’t be used. You may be right. But it will be interesting to watch the pressure on managers without the fans in the stands to express it directly.
Champions League winner?
JF: Bayern back to back.
CC: Chelsea for me, they’ll miss out on the league due to the squad settling late and dropping points but I figure they’ll be in good shape come knockout rounds.
PV: Liverpool to do the double. If you can’t tell I really like the Thiago move.
SE: I’m with Jake. Hansi seems to have flicked some switch last year and they are rather impressive at the moment.
AC: Yeah, I’m not sure how I could pick against Bayern right now, to be fair. They’re the best team in the world right now and I’m not sure it’s particularly close.
What’s a team you’re watching outside of England?
PV: Sadly it is DC United. They aren’t very good at soccer.
JF: Vamos United Phil!!!!! DC United here too. And basically anywhere there’s a young American.
AC: If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m watching Union Berlin again — but I’ve got an eye on Ligue 1 and, given the start, if anyone can make a real title push against PSG.
CC: Barcelona, the team could crumble in on itself or be a fairly successful year. Either way it’s reality TV at its finest.
SE: Barcelona is definitely an intriguing shout. However, with the television deal that now exists for the Bundesliga in the States, I will be watching a lot of Dortmund. They’ve seemingly become a destination for top young talent across Europe and I want to see if they can push Bayern deeper into the campaign with it.