It's hard to get a group of people from all around North America together in one place to have a discussion about Newcastle United. Executing a plan that involved black vans and shady movie bad guys, we've managed just that. We sequestered 9 writers in a locked room at CHN Headquarters. The contents of this room: A round table (because of course), a whiteboard with 14 questions written upon it, a shipping box full of Cheez-its and a tape-recorder. In the grandest of Mission: Impossible traditions, when played the tape said: Greetings, CHN team. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to foresee the future." Then the tape... well, the tape essentially just sat there because I couldn't figure out the self-destruct thing.
Weighing in from nearly all corners of the United States as well as Canada, you CHN team has prognosticated and flat out wild-assed-guessed what we might see during the 2015-16 Premier League season. The contributors (with twitter handle):
@CHNOSotP - Jim McMeachin, Managing Editor CHN; @sniderjadam - Adam Snider; @CParryETFS - Chris Parry; @writerryan - Ryan Ptomey; @jonhudsonian - Jon Hudson; @RobertLBishop - Robert Bishop, Editor Emeritus; @alanhoffmann - Alan Hoffmann; @AlfieBCC - Alfie Crow; @adultcereal - Rachel, more internet famous than you.
This is gonna stretch out a bit, so without further ado, questions! Answers! Excitement!
Who will finish in the Top 6? (Feel free to expand on your answer , or not. It's your life. Do what you want.)
1) Chelsea - They still have all the right pieces in place to defend their title
2) Arsenal - They're a strong squad, but they will find a way to self-destruct on themselves like they have in years past.
3) Man City - Bony and Aguero will come good this season. If Sterling can shed his Liverpool ways, this could push them to 2nd or even 1st
4) Man United - Van Gaal doesn't quite have a grasp on this whole "winning trophies" thing yet at Man United. This will not be their year
5) Spurs - They have not lost a considerable amount to a team that was already good, but their rivals ahead of them in the table are using their deep pockets to reload
6) Southampton - They keep churning out quality players and selling at a profit, like Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool. They have spent well this summer by acquiring Juanmi from Malaga and Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea.
The top six will certainly include the currently standard top four of Chelsea, Arsenal, and the two Manchesters. As for the other two spots, Liverpool should be there having strengthened the most, and the final spot will go to Tottenham or Southampton. Southampton will struggle having to play in Europe for the first time, so I'll take the unsurprising pick of Tottenham. 1. Chelsea 2. Arsenal 3. Manchester United 4. Manchester City 5. Liverpool 6. Tottenham
1. Chelsea 2. Manchester United 3. Arsenal 4. Manchester City 5. Liverpool 6. Tottenham Looks like I've just rearranged last year's top 6, which you can read as me being lazy, or that I'm so cynical that I'm simply condemning football fans to another season of the same old junk. Take your pick.
Who will be relegated?
Sunderland -- Mackems will not get 6 points from Newcastle this season. Bournemouth Norwich
I'll take Leicester (sorry, Arlo White), Watford and Sunderland. In my dream world, it would be Crystal Palace, Sunderland, and Aston Villa.
Leicester City and Bournemouth seem to be popular answers, and I'll not disagree that they seem to be favorites to go down. I'd really like to pick the mackems here, and I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility, but it's also bad juju. So...how about West Brom? Everybody seems to think that Tony Pulis = safety, but I'm not convinced. Also, Callum McManaman has a history of being relegated. I'm not saying karma has anything to do with it; I'm just saying that ever since that tackle on Massadio Haïdara, every Premier League team he's played for has been relegated.
Bournemouth, Watford, Aston Villa (and hopefully we can put the nail in the coffin for Villa so everyone will shut up about 2009 already.)
Pick one team that will surprise in a good way and one that will surprise in a bad way.
Optimism speaking here, but I'm hoping Newcastle will buck the trend of the last 2 years and have great form in the second half of the season. Crystal Palace will have a solid start but then plunge straight to relegation after December.
Alan: Good surprise: Bournemouth. I think they'll do fairly well in the first season up. Bad surprise: Is it really a bad surprise if Liverpool don't make it back to the top 6?
I think Stoke will surprise in a good way, they've had two solid seasons now under Hughes and now have the platform to kick on a bit to the next level. Marco van Ginkel is a very good signing for them, and him linking up with a fit Bojan could take them to the Europa League spots if luck goes their way. Southampton and West Ham will both disappoint after last season. The Europa League is a cruel mistress, and both will find it hard to replicate last year's success. (You know, unless you just flat out punt the EL and crash out to a little-known Romanian side - ed.)
Norwich City will be safe by March. They've got a solid core and Alex Neil is for real. On the other side, I'm picking West Ham. I don't think they'll really be threatened by relegation, but too many people are assuming they'll be in the top ten. They've got the Europa League to contend with, and I'm not sure that the switch from Sam Allardyce to Slaven Bilic is going to result in a significant bump in scoring.
Good way - Stoke City, it seems they're changing how they're playing and it's not just beat 'em up hoof ball. They have a solid squad so I think they'll surprise a few teams. Bad Way - Liverpool - This might be a trendy pick here, but I just have a feeling they're going to be a huge disappointment.
Who will win the Premier League Player of the Year?
Only two players have won POY twice in the PL era... I can see Eden Hazard being the third.
Ugh, it's totally going to be Eden Hazard. Aguero and Costa won't be fit enough to mount a genuine challenge, but Alexis Sanchez and Wayne Rooney might just be able to do it. Particularly Rooney. In his preferred role as the lone man up top he could very well score 20+ goals and make 10+ assists this season.
Olivier Giroud because he's handsome and I'm a girl.
Who will win the Golden Boot?
This will be another season where we see Aguero and Diego Costa duke it out. I think that Diego Costa's league-leading goal tally will lead Chelsea to successive titles.
Charlie Austin - but not for Newcastle.
Who wins the cups?
The thrill is gone. Arsenal won the FA Cup last year, Chelsea the League Cup... so let's say the faces stay the same, just backwards. Chelsea win the FA Cup and Arsenal the League Cup because romance is dead and I hate life.
League Cup - Southampton. I do not think they have what it takes break into the top 5 this season, and they will focus on hardware in this tournament FA Cup - Manchester United. If their season is not going as planned to win the title, expect them to fully prioritize winning this competition down the stretch.
My standard answer is "not Newcastle", but I'll take Chelsea and Manchester City
Not Newcastle. We'll do better than years prior, but I'll be shocked if we're anywhere near a cup final. Arsenal will take one, because winning a cup is the new finishing fourth, and the other will go to someone like Stoke or (ugh) Crystal Palace.
Are teams bothered about cups? What is that like? Arsenal is going to take the FA Cup three-peat. More leagues need to use the word "three-peat." Who doesn't love a good portmanteau? We'll give Manchester United the Corporate Sponsorship Cup because they're bound to win something with Schweinsteiger, but it won't be the Premier League.