The 2021/22 Premier League season is now just a few days away from commencing.
It's always an exciting time in the footballing calendar as supporters rub their hands together in anticipation of the next nine months of goals, drama, entertainment and controversy galore.
And it also happens to mark the time of year where football fans take on the infinitely-impossible task of trying to predict exactly how the Premier League season will unfold.
2021/22 Premier League
From fantasy football to accumulator betting and everything in between, there's a certain allure that comes with wildly attempting to forecast exactly how an entire campaign of football will play out.
Besides, you either get to parade around as the second coming of Nostradamus for getting it spot on or poke fun at yourself for messing things up when everything goes against you.
And that's exactly why your humble GIVEMESPORT writer is embarking on the doomed task of predicting what the final Premier League table for the 2021/22 season will look like in May.
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Premier League predictions
Obviously, I will be calling upon statistics, history, form, transfers and my general footballing instincts to make my decisions, but there will also be an element of trusting one's gut.
Besides, if there is one thing we can predict about the Premier League, it's the fact that it is so unpredictable and therefore, you won't get anywhere without making some renegade predictions.
But trust me just a little bit here because you're talking to a man who correctly predicted the entire Premier League top four last season before a single ball had been kicked.
Predicted 2021/22 Premier League table
However, enough waffling and disclaimers aside, let's get into the nitty-gritty of a Premier League prediction that will either look like pure genius or foolishness when we revisit it next year.
Expect the swashbuckling football of Xisco Munoz to inspire a few unexpected victories with Ismaïla Sarr taking centre stage, but don't be surprised if the trigger-happy Hornets go astray in the winter months.
It's hard to see Munoz surviving the entire season and without an out-and-out goalscorer to bail them out in do-or-die games, I reluctantly foresee a swift return to the Championship for Ben Foster and co.
19. Crystal Palace
Stripped of the stability provided by Roy Hodgson and freshly gambling on Patrick Vieira without Eberechi Eze until the winter, it's easy to see why Palace could be in for a tough season.
Call me a pessimist, but I've been looking at the Eagles as a relegation waiting to happen for a few years now and it feels as though their foray into a more risky brand of football could finally prove me right.
With the second-worst defence in the league last season and without the 12-goal Danny Ings leading their line, I have a sneaky suspicion that Ralph Hasenhüttl could be sacked before Christmas.
Barring inspired seasons from either Jannik Vestergaard or Che Adams, I foresee the very inconsistency that has plagued their recent campaigns devolving into the type of winless streaks that risk relegation.
17. Norwich City
The Canaries are back in the big time and they're bringing with them all the lessons learned from that woeful 2019/20 campaign - and that's exactly why I'm tipping them to narrowly avoid the drop.
With Daniel Farke, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki all far better prepared for life in the top-flight, as well as wholesale improvements to their defence, don't be surprised if Norwich halt their yo-yoing.
16. Brighton & Hove Albion
It's simple: Brighton don't win much, but they don't lose too often either. Graham Potter's expansive and exciting football can only go so far now that Ben White has left and they haven't invested in a new striker.
I'll be the first person to admit that this arguably-brazen prediction is largely dependant on Ivan Toney enjoying a strong season, but I think Brentford will take a lot of people by surprise in 2021/22.
The shrewd signings of Frank Onyeka and Kristoffer Ajer were exactly what the doctor ordered, so I fully expect the Bees to be the furthest away from the relegation zone of the three promoted clubs.
Sean Dyche keeps Burnley in the Premier League, it's a fact of life. Expect the Clarets to flit between rotten spells and unexpected unbeaten streaks, inevitably inspired by Chris Wood, to stumble their way to survival.
13. Newcastle United
While, yes, this might seem a little cushy for Steve Bruce's Newcastle, lest we forget that these mid-table sections can often be decided by just a few points, so they're incredibly tough to call.
Like it or not, Mike Ashley's unerring faith in Bruce will provide a level of stability compared to the clubs around them and they can only decline so much when Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are on song.
12. Leeds United
I don't think for one second that Leeds will do a Sheffield United, especially when you consider they actually got better as the 2020/21 season went on, but I do anticipate a minor slump nonetheless.
Second-season-syndrome happens to the best of teams, but it just happens that Leeds will deal with it better than most with Marcelo Biesla at the helm, even if their transfer business hasn't exactly been inspiring.
11. West Ham United
It might sound cruel, but it's hard to see West Ham's achievements last season as anything other than the ceiling for this side, particularly when Michail Antonio remains their main asset up front.
David Moyes is a top, top manager with oodles of Premier League experience, so don't expect the proverbial to hit the fan, but I anticipate a season of ups and downs that balances out in mid-table.
10. Aston Villa
Losing Jack Grealish was a crushing blow, but a swift reaction in the transfer market with the arrivals of Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and Ings leads me to think that Villa will continue their upward trajectory.
9. Wolverhampton Wanderers
One of my more renegade selections, it must be said, because Wolves were nothing short of woeful at times last season and calling upon Bruno Lage in the dugout could go one of two ways.
However, I'm inclined to think that a fresh take on one of the strongest non-'big six' squads in the division will re-energise Wolves' push towards the European places, particularly with Raul Jimenez returning.
8. Tottenham Hotspur
Predicting where Spurs will finish was painstakingly difficult because so much depends on whether Harry Kane leaves or not.
Either way, though, I'm not convinced that Nuno Espírito Santo is the right man to elevate them back towards the top four places and it will take more than Cristian Romero to balance out their top-heavy assets.
Call me crazy, but I actually think that Rafa Benitez is better suited to Everton's ambitions than Carlo Ancelotti; leading me to think that the Toffees will make marginal gains without ever threatening the top four.
A more defence-minded approach with pragmatic tactics against the biggest clubs should breed the consistency that Everton crave, particularly if Dominic Calvert-Lewin can deliver the goods up front.
6. Leicester City
Look, Brendan Rodgers is one of the best managers in the world, so you just know that Leicester will be there or thereabouts, but the simple fact of the matter is that the teams around them are improving.
As such, I fully expect the Foxes to launch yet another assault on the top four, perhaps with Patson Daka smashing home the goals, only to fall five or six points short when they enter the spring months.
Let's bear in mind for one second that Arsenal are currently third in the Premier League table of 2021, so I fully expect them to keep progressing and enjoy their best season yet under Mikel Arteta.
Unshackled by their absence from European football and bolstered by White's arrival in defence, I can see a world where Arsenal challenge for the top four with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang firing on all cylinders again.
4. Manchester United
How can United sign Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but only finish fourth?! I know, I know, it's not a decision that I've taken lightly, but I just think that there are three teams who will outperform the Red Devils this season.
Sadly, I think that the misguided persistence with 'McFred' in midfield and the fact that much of their goalscoring will rely on Edinson Cavani keeping fit will ultimately see them fall short of making a title challenge.
Mark my words: Jurgen Klopp will come out swinging this season; hungry for revenge after all the misfortune of 2020/21 and ready to guide Liverpool to an assault on the Premier League crown.
Ultimately, I think their inferior squad depth will cap them around the 85-point mark, but don't be surprised if Virgil van Dijk's return sparks a chain reaction of resurgences amongst players like Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara.
2. Manchester City
Again, so much depends on whether Kane arrives at the Etihad Stadium or not, but with my gut telling me that a deal will be impossible to complete in just a few weeks, I can't see City retaining their title.
A Kane-less summer is one that leaves City with far fewer options going forward, both in terms of personnel and tactics, so I feel pretty confident that one club will be able to outmuscle Pep Guardiola...
Yes, that's right, I'm calling it. With Romelu Lukaku striding back to England as one of the most underrated Premier League strikers in history, Chelsea officially have the final piece in their puzzle.
With Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech inevitably getting better and Thomas Tuchel having Guardiola's number when it comes to tactics, the Blues have all the tools to win their first title since 2017.
I fully expect this prediction to live or die by the consistency that Tuchel can maintain through those crucial winter months, but I truly believe that Chelsea's squad is the most balanced and explosive in the entire division.
What are your predictions?
Woof. There's plenty of controversy for you to unpack there, but I'm satisfied that I've concocted a feasible prediction from both my footballing acumen and questionably-reliable sporting instincts.
No doubt Manchester United will go on to win the league and Wolves will go crashing down to the Championship to make me look a mug, but you can't knock a man for trying.
Anyhow, the one thing that we can all agree on is that predicting the Premier League table is bundles of fun, so be sure to let us know your own forecasts across our various social channels.