The 2021-22 Premier League season's first week has kicked off. After an insane summer transfer window -- with more moves still possible -- this should be a crazy EPL campaign. Here's our look at five bold predictions for the season.
Manchester City repeats as champions
Is this particularly bold? Certainly not, but it is a prediction. If anything, City looks better than last season when it ran away with the championship and was 12 points clear of the field. Sure, Sergio Aguero is gone, but $139 million transfer Jack Grealish is in from Aston Villa. The 25-year-old is a playmaker who can create scoring chances out of nothing and should fit right into the starting lineup.
Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the best player in the EPL, Ilkay Gundogan broke out as an elite midfielder in 2021, defender Ruben Dias may have had the best season of any player in the world, midfielder Phil Foden was the best young player in the Premier League last year and keeper Ederson won his second consecutive Golden Glove award. There are no holes in the lineup, and there's still a chance the Sky Blues add Harry Kane.
City is incredibly deep and talented, and has the best manager in the world in Pep Guardiola. Don't expect any drop-off this season.
N'Golo Kante wins Premier League Player of the Season
Kante might be the best midfielder in the world, but largly stays under the radar because he doesn't score goals -- nine in his 157 league matches at Chelsea. But he's the best box-to-box midfielder on the planet and covers more ground than any player in the world.
The French stalwart's defensive ability is second-to-none and his ability to tackle and read, then intercept passes is unmatched. He's a tackling machine despite his lack of stature -- he checks in at 5-foot-6 -- and has a relentless motor that doesn't have an "off" switch.
Kante won the award for the 2016-17 season, but hasn't even made the PFA Team of the Year since. After a stellar performance at Euro 2020, there is buzz around the 30-year-old again and if Chelsea finishes second on the table -- as I believe it will -- he will wind up getting recognized at the end of the season.
Mo Salah wins the Golden Boot
Harry Kane is a shoo-in to win his fourth Golden Boot, but given his uncertain club status he may fall behind early and find it hard to overcome his deficit. Kane wants out of Tottenham, but the price for his services may be too high for top suitor Manchester City. If he stays at Tottenham, he'll be disgruntled and his play could suffer, if he goes to City he'll be adjusting to new teammates and a new style.
Meanwhile, Salah is plugging along at Liverpool. He was the runner up to Kane last year by a single goal (23 to 22), and has won the award twice. Salah is incredibly consistent, bagging 32, 22, 19 and 22 goals in his four seasons at Anfield. There's no reason to expect anything less from the 29-year-old. Given Kane's situation, Salah is the smart bet.
Jadon Sancho will struggle to find his footing
Sancho is a superstar in the making and his $100 million transfer for Borussia Dortmund was greeted with glee from Manchester United fans. But with so much hype surrounding the 21-year-old and the immense pressure he'll be under, it won't be shocking if he struggles during his first stretch of EPL action. Especially coming off the devastating way Euro 2020 ended.
While I expect some growing pains early, eventually Sancho should round into form and turn into the star winger United fans are expecting. In 104 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund, Sancho bagged 38 goals, and had 50 in 137 total appearances. He's been a regular in the lineup over the past three seasons, so he's fully acclimated to top-level soccer.
Give Sancho time and he'll shine, but a rough start won't be shocking.
Christian Pulisic leaves Chelsea in January window
Thomas Tuchel doesn't seem to be a huge fan of Christian Pulisic, mostly relegating the American star to super-sub status in the latter-half of last season. If that continues it's hard to see the 22-year-old continuing at Chelsea. Pulisic far too talented to be getting 15 minutes a match.
Pulisic has struggled through injuries over the past two seasons, but when healthy under Tuchel he only started 13 of 26 competitive matches. The German manager largely rotated Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount with Pulisic, and the American has gotten the short end of the stick more often than not.
If that continues over the first few months of this season, it wouldn't be shocking for Pulisic to try and find a starting spot elsewhere during the January transfer window.