Our writers predict Premier League title winners, top four, relegation and more

Usually I start Mirror Football's annual predictions piece by exclaiming "It's back!" or something similar. But did it every really go away?

The Premier League returns on Saturday as newly-promoted Fulham host Arsenal in an all-London lunchtime extravaganza to get us back into the swing of things.

Alas, things still aren't normal. There'll be no crowds to greet the players, the same players who will conduct pre and post-match interviews at a safe, social distance.

But, football is football.

So, who will win the title? Who will finish in the top four? Who will be relegated? Who will have success in the domestic cups? Will there be an English Champions League winner?

We asked out esteemed team of reporters to get their thinking caps on and look into their crystal balls to predict what might happen over the course of the next nine months.

David McDonnell

Title winners:Manchester City

Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United

Bottom three:Crystal Palace, West Brom, Fulham

FA Cup winners:Tottenham

Carabao Cup winners: Chelsea

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

James Nursey

Title winners: Manchester City

I expect Pep Guardiola's men will want to get the title back. They were streets ahead of third place last season and i don't see Liverpool being as good this term.

Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea

United finished the previous domestic season in impressive fashion as they were unbeaten in 14 League games and Chelsea look to have done some decent transfer business so I expect them to be in the shake up at the top.

Bottom three: Fulham, Burnley, Crystal Palace

I think Scott Parker has done a superb job at Fulham and looks to have a bright managerial future but keeping the play-off winners up is always a hard task. Elsewhere, I can see Palace struggling as they finished last season so badly with seven defeats in their last eight games. They still lack firepower in my view and Burnley could find this season a lot tougher as boss Sean Dyche struggles to get transfers in amid issues with chairman Mike Garlick.

FA Cup winners: Tottenham

Jose Mourinho will be desperate to bring silverware to Tottenham and they finished the season well with an unbeaten six-game run. I still rate Mourinho and i expect he will take the Cup competitions seriously.

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Guardiola's men have won this competition the last three years so why bet against them doing it again?

Champions League winners: PSG

The French champions are making progress in the competition after reaching the final this year. There seems a determination at the Qatar owned outfit to lift the trophy and perhaps they will go one better in 2021.

Simon Mullock

Title winners: Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has the best squad in the Premier League – and will strengthen again before the transfer window closes.

Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United

None of the clubs outside last season's top four have improved enough to make me think the Champions League qualifiers will change.

Bottom three: Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham

Villa were fortunate to survive last season. West Brom and Fulham will find the gap between Championship and Premier League too wide to bridge.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool

I would expect Jurgen Klopp to place more emphasis on the knock-out competitions this year.

Carabao Cup winners:Wolves

Nuno Espirito Santo has got close in the FA Cup and Europa League. I have an inkling this could be his year.

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

Throw Leroy Sane into the mix and the Germans will have too much firepower for anyone, even if their defence does look a little creaky.

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Darren Wells

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United

Bottom three: Fulham, West Ham, West Brom

FA Cup winners: Chelsea

Carabao Cup winners: Tottenham

Champions League winners:Juventus

I expect Liverpool won't be quite as good this season, while City should be better, making for a closer title race, but I still fancy The Reds to just nick it.

Chelsea look well placed to mount a strong opposition but it might be too early for them, though Frank Lampard can get his first piece of silverware by lifting the FA Cup.

Jose Mourinho looks to be building something at Tottenham but their defence tells me they look more likely to win a cup than have a stab at the top four, which could be the Europa League if the Carabao Cup doesn't have their name on it, leaving United to nab fourth.

Down at the bottom West Ham's problems off the field have been going on for too long and they are on borrowed time in the top-flight, while Fulham and West Brom don't look strong enough to beat the drop.

The Champions League looks wide open this season and could be anyones. Liverpool and City should go far but I've plumped for Juventus to end their long wait with Ronaldo leading the charge.

Alex Richards

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal

Bottom three: West Brom, Fulham, West Ham

FA Cup winners: Man City

Carabao Cup winners: Arsenal

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

Liverpool are the team to beat once more.

Manchester City went backwards last season, and unless Kalidou Koulibaly arrives and has a major effect, then defensively they still look too flimsy; I do expect the gap between the pair to be much closer however.

Man Utd, with a full season of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in tandem will be closer to the pair too.

Arsenal, led by Mikel Arteta's savvy, can pip Chelsea to the top four too, despite the Blues' big spending. Wolves, without Europe and a lighter schedule should also be in the mix for the top six again as should Spurs.

At the bottom, West Brom will play good football but I'd worry about them in both boxes, while the heart of Fulham's defence remains a worry – although they won't be as bad as last time.

The third relegation spot looks likely to be a battle of claret and blue, with things again not well at West Ham.

With Jack Grealish still at Villa Park and Ollie Watkins giving them the kind of mobile centre-forward they badly lacked last season, David Moyes' men may be heading down.

In Europe, given the huge schedules facing teams, Bayern look well placed to retain the Champions League. When the knockout stages arrive, their squad depth and dominance in Germany will stand them in good stead.

John Cross

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea

Bottom three: Fulham, West Brom, Aston Villa

FA Cup winners:Southampton

Carabao Cup winners: Tottenham

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

Liverpool were so far ahead of the rest last year that, even without much in the transfer market, they'll still be ahead. I fancy Man United to push on again.

I'm torn over the bottom three to be honest. If West Brom and Villa get a couple more in then I think they'll be fine. But they probably need it. I'm going left field for the FA Cup… just like Southampton are doing.

Neil McLeman

Title winners: Manchester City

Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United

Bottom three: Fulham, West Brom, Leeds

FA Cup winners: Arsenal

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Champions League winners: PSG

Manchester City discovered last season how difficult it is to maintain momentum season after season. Liverpool will experience the same in this campaign.

After Chelsea's summer of spending, I think their season is the great unknown: could be title contenders or struggle to gel with so many new faces

Like Jurgen Klopp's team, PSG will return from losing the Champions League final to win the following season.

Andy Dunn

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal

Bottom three: Aston Villa, Fulham, Crystal Palace

FA Cup winners: Manchester City

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

They were so far ahead in every sense last season, there is no reason to see anything other than a repeat, seen as though no-one of any note has left Liverpool.

With Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres the only notable arrivals, Manchester City – unless more materialise – might struggle to finish ahead of an improving United.

Palace were awful during Project Restart and confidence will hardly be high, Aston Villa have made a couple of decent signings but will still struggle and Fulham will find it tough.

I fancy City for the cups and it is hard to see Bayern not proving to be the outstanding team in Europe again.

David Anderson

Title winners:  Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United

Bottom three: West Brom, Fulham, West Ham

FA Cup winners: Chelsea

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

Mike Walters

Title winners: Chelsea

Top four: Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United

Bottom three: Fulham, Crystal Palace, West Brom

FA Cup winners: Manchester United

Carabao Cup winners: Tottenham

Champions League winners: Manchester City

Most of the 'smart' money will be on City and Liverpool for the Premier League title, but Roman Abramovich has not dipped into the petty cash tin for £230 million worth of new signings just to make up the numbers.

It would be easy to jump on the Pep bandwagon again, or tip Liverpool to collect 90-odd points for the third season running, but life's too short to run with the crowd every time.

If Frank Lampard's new signings are as exciting together as they look individually, Chelsea should be worth watching.

I don't see Arsenal or Tottenham breaking back into the top four, but if Jose Mourinho is going to make any headway at Spurs, he needs to deliver the club's first trophy for 13 years – the Carabao Cup is not the biggest prize out there, but it's a start.

Mark Jones

Title winners: Liverpool

I understand the slight concerns over a lack of fresh faces, but people seem to be forgetting just how far ahead the Reds were last season. The title was done by Boxing Day, and I wouldn't really read anything into post-lockdown form given that the trophy had been mathematically secured in record time. City are still the only side capable of catching them, and while it will be closer I'm not really buying that they've improved all that much. People seem to be putting an awful lot of stock in Nathan Ake.

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United

Chelsea's improvement is clear to see, and while it might be a while before all of their new faces gel they should still have enough to be a consistent force in the second half of the season, more consistent than the teams around them anyway. United would then appear to be the best of the rest, and with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having now got himself into a position where top four is going to be required if he's going to keep his job, their firepower in attack should be enough for them with Anthony Martial having another good season. Arsenal and Tottenham will improve, but just miss out.

Bottom three: West Ham, West Brom, Fulham

Two of the promoted sides returning to the Championship won't be that much of a shock, but I can see West Ham joining them as the pressure of a full campaign tolls on David Moyes. The Hammers did look a little better post-lockdown as they cobbled together enough points to survive, but their style of football doesn't really seem to be anything that is all too difficult to stop, and with things typically uncertain behind the scenes then Moyes could struggle. Eddie Howe by November?

FA Cup winners: Tottenham

Jose Mourinho will see the cup as a perfect chance to end the Spurs trophy drought, and with a little luck in the draw they can go the whole way.

Carabao Cup winners: Man City

Obviously.

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

The new European champions looked imperious at times last season, and the addition of Leroy Sane will only make them better.

Jake Murtagh

Title winners: Manchester City

Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United

Bottom three: Fulham, West Brom, Brighton

FA Cup winners: Man City

Carabao Cup winners: Tottenham

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

I think Man City will pip Liverpool to the title as I can't see Pep Guardiola's side performing as badly as they did last season, plus it will be a big ask for Liverpool to replicate their stunning winning streak.

Chelsea and Manchester United have both strengthened significantly meaning they should be good for the other top four spots.

Fulham and West Brom may struggle while Brighton and Crystal Palace will find the going tough.

James Whaling

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea

Bottom three: West Ham, Fulham, West Brom

FA Cup winners: Tottenham

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich

Can Liverpool hit the heights of last season? Almost certainly not. But are the arrivals of Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres enough to make up the 18-point gap for Manchester City? I don't think so.

But you'd still expect City to be the Reds' closest challengers, and I reckon Manchester United might just pip a strengthened Chelsea side to third. But if the Blues gel quickly, they could be a serious force.

I think it's difficult to see Fulham and West Brom surviving, but Leeds will probably have enough. That leaves a spare relegation spot, and I fear for West Ham.

FA Cup? I've watched All or Nothing. I'm a believer. Jose to bring some long-awaited silverware to Tottenham. Manchester City will win the Carabao Cup because Manchester City always win the Carabao Cup.

Bayern Munich showed they are the best team in Europe following the season restart, and with the addition of Leroy Sane, they are – in my eyes – the team to beat once again.

Conor Mummery

Title winners: Liverpool

Top four: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester Utd, Tottenham

Bottom three: West Brom, Brighton, Crystal Palace

FA Cup winners: Manchester City

Carabao Cup winners: Manchester City

Champions League winners:Barcelona

Liverpool won the league by 18 points last season, and it should've been more but for a couple of rogue post-lockdown results.

It'd require a monumental swing for Man City to pip them this year, but I think Liverpool will make it two in two, albeit after a closer race this time out.

Lionel Messi will ignore everything Ronald Koeman says and lead Barcelona to the Champions League and end up staying at the club (as if he was ever really leaving). So long as someone else knocks Bayern Munich out, that is.

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