Premier League pundits' predictions: Will Liverpool win the title? Who are the best and worst players & teams so far?

Read what the Soccer Saturday pundits make of the season so far
Read what the Soccer Saturday pundits make of the season so far

The Soccer Saturday panel give their verdicts on the title race and their picks for the best and worst of the Premier League season so far.

Should we just give Liverpool the title now? Who has been the best player in the Premier League so far and who has been the biggest disappointment?

Our pundits give us their verdicts....


Charlie Nicholas

Is the title race over?

I don’t think the title race is over. Liverpool have a vulnerability at the back that wasn’t evident last season. They stumbled against Leicester and Sheffield United. That luck balances out over the course of a season. They are not playing as close to the efficiency of last year, but that is not to say they can’t - anybody, at any given time, can beat anybody. This is the Premier League. Last season, although Liverpool were ahead, Pep Guardiola had a really good go at his team and was angry with them for about three weeks and he got a reaction. I think Liverpool will drop points along the way and Man City will close the gap at some point. They have tough places to go.

Player of the season so far…

It has to be Tammy Abraham for me. I did not see his goals coming as regularly as what they are. I see a young Emmanuel Adebayor in him, with his long stretching legs but amazing ability to finish. After a game or two, people said he would never make it at Chelsea. I liked what I saw when he was on loan at Aston Villa, so he is the player that has caught my eye the most. Mason Mount and James Maddison are close but it has been a breathtaking start to the season for Abraham.

Tammy Abraham: Chelsea ace celebrates his goal against Lille - his first in the Champions League
Tammy Abraham: Chelsea ace celebrates his goal against Lille - his first in the Champions League

Team of the season so far…

I think Leicester have caught my attention the most. It is a weird one because they lost at Old Trafford and Anfield but could have easily won both. It says a lot that you can walk away and say this from both of these grounds. It may be a strange choice in some people’s opinion, but they took on the big guns and should have got something out of it. I think they are the real deal to challenge for the top four. I don’t care about the deficiencies of Tottenham and Manchester United - that is nothing to do with Leicester. They are playing some great football with Brendan Rodgers, as everyone expected. They are challenging for the top four now and people are believing that they may be able to break the ‘big six’ trend.

Biggest surprise…

I would say Tottenham on the whole. When we look back to the start of the season, we looked at Liverpool and Man City to lead by a distance, but thought Tottenham would be next. They spent a lot of money, got the stadium behind them, had a lot of players signing contracts and held on to Mauricio Pochettino too. It was a statement, but that has fallen dramatically. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld used to have one of the best partnerships in the Premier League, and now is one of the worst in the Premier League. They want to get out in January, as does Christian Eriksen. The whole collapse of Tottenham has been the biggest surprise of the season for me. If this continues, while the Man Utd situation is ongoing, Pochettino could make that deadly switch. We know Sir Alex Ferguson is a big fan of the Tottenham manager, and United cannot afford to get it wrong again. The fallout at Tottenham is the biggest surprise for me.

Listen to the latest Premier League podcast as we focus on the troubles at Manchester United
Listen to the latest Premier League podcast as we focus on the troubles at Manchester United

Biggest disappointment…

I am not surprised by Man Utd’s start, but it was Newcastle for me. I can’t work out what it is. I tipped them to win at United. They started to love Rafael Benitez but Steve Bruce has started better and he does not have the same impact upon the fans. The most engrossing thing for me is how the Newcastle situation has played out. They have been awful in three of those games, but they have played well in the rest. They got a win at Tottenham and they got a win against Manchester United, but it is as if they are still unhappy. I don’t blame them for being unhappy with Mike Ashley, but they are one of the best sets of fans in England at getting behind their team, and even more so in backing their manager. Bruce added three players - this may not have been of any significance, but he has given it a good go thus far. The most intriguing thing is the disappointment surrounding Newcastle. Bruce is doing a very good job, but some are hoping he doesn’t. I never quite understand the animosity towards him. Somewhere along the line, they have to give their manager a pat-on-the-back.


Matt Le Tissier

Is the title race over?

I don’t think it is over just yet - after eight games, it would be ludicrous to suggest that. Liverpool have become quite strong favourites in the title race, but they let a seven-point gap slip in much less time than this last season, so we cannot write it off just yet.

Player of the season so far?

This is a good question. I think there are a few contenders. Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Tammy Abraham have all made strong starts to the season - most of the Liverpool players are in the same boat too! In terms of outplaying your expectation level, I would say Tammy Abraham would have to be right up there. Nobody would have put him alongside Aguero in the scoring charts after eight games, so in that view he has to be right in the mix.

Team of the season so far…

I would go with Liverpool, as they have won eight from eight. Leicester have been pretty good, with the only two games they have lost coming from penalties. They have been very impressive, but you cannot go with anyone else when they have won all of their eight Premier League matches. Crystal Palace and Burnley have also overachieved.

Sadio Mane gives Liverpool the lead against Chelsea
Sadio Mane gives Liverpool the lead against Chelsea

Biggest surprise - team…

I think Crystal Palace have surprised me the most. They are sat in sixth place when they would have expected them to be in the bottom six, considering the lack of goals they have in their side. Roy Hodgson is doing a cracking job at the moment.

Biggest surprise - player…

Teemu Pukki has slowed down now but has had an amazing start, as has Mason Mount, earning an England call-up off the back of that - he has been very good so far. They top the list from an individual perspective - both of them have been the strongest performers so far in terms of expectation levels. Sheffield United have had some good performers, especially at the back. They have all had solid starts to the Premier League.

Biggest surprise - result…

Given Manchester City’s record at home, I would have to go with the Wolves result at the weekend, and the fact they kept a clean sheet. This has to be the biggest shock. Brighton beating Tottenham was not as such a shock to me, particularly the way Tottenham have been playing. Norwich beating City was also a huge shock, but Wolves beating Man City at the Etihad takes it for me.

Biggest disappointment…

The biggest disappointment from my perspective is seeing Southampton in 17th! I think the manor of the performance against Bournemouth was poor. You cannot have complaints - we are where we should be. You could maybe point to the Liverpool game, where Danny Ings could have nicked a point, but in reality, you could not expect too many more points in the bag due to the performance levels. Equally, the performance levels of Manchester United, a club of that stature, have not been acceptable and you would expect more - they should not be in the bottom half after eight games.

Listen to the latest Premier League podcast
Listen to the latest Premier League podcast


Phil Thompson

Is the title race over?

It seems to be every other football fan of every other team that think it is over. Only Liverpool fans are playing this down. Only eight games have been played, with a long way to go yet. I do not see why the majority of football fans think it is over. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that, with 30 games to go, the title race can be over! I don’t care how good Liverpool are, and I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t think they have hit third gear yet. We have seen how great Manchester City have been and they have had a blip, but that could easily happen to Liverpool, even without any injuries. The injuries have affected Manchester City, but we could have injuries that disrupt how we play too, so there are so many differing issues which can affect the season, and people are not taking that into consideration.

Player of the season so far?

I think one sticks out more than anybody, and that is Kevin de Bruyne. He is playing for our main title rivals, but he has a proper star quality. It is the way he runs games for Manchester City and that is nothing short of sensational. He has been back to his best. It is a shame that he missed the last game for City, but he has been the player of the season so far, with eight assists already.

We look at the Premier League winners & losers so far this season
We look at the Premier League winners & losers so far this season

Team of the season so far…

Liverpool is the easiest one to say with eight wins on the trot, but I have to say Leicester have been the highlight from the Premier League sides. The players they have got are not too different from Claude Puel’s team, with Harry Maguire leaving too, yet they are playing some wonderful stuff. It is a loss but I am not going to say it is a massive loss as Caglar Soyuncu has been terrific. Individuals have all upped their game, and Brendan Rodgers has implemented slightly differing tactics, so they have been the surprise package. People were asking who was going to be the team that would disrupt the ‘big six’. The strides that Leicester have made have been incredible and I fancy them to do that.

Biggest surprise - team…

I will go with West Ham. They have always been a bit unpredictable. I really like the forward line if they can keep them fit. Sebastian Haller, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko are all threatening, and then you have to take into account Manuel Lanzini. It takes you back to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho - West Ham have Lanzini as their fourth, just like Liverpool did. It is an attacking and potent side. You also have Declan Rice and Mark Noble as the holding players which means it is quite an exciting side. Their results have been impressive.

Biggest surprise - player…

Tammy Abraham has surprised me. He has been out on-loan a few times and you knew he could score goals in the Championship, but there was always a doubt as to whether he could do it in the Premier League. He did alright against Manchester United and missed a penalty against Liverpool in the Supercup. People, myself included, doubted whether he could do it after just a short period of time. So many people have graced the Championship and scored, yet couldn’t do it in the Premier League, but he has done this and he has looked more confident in doing it as the season has progressed.

Biggest surprise - result…

Brighton 3-0 Tottenham has to be the biggest surprise for me. People are saying Tottenham are not in a good place at the moment - they got turned over 7-2 by Bayern Munich through the week leading up to the Brighton game. Teams like Bayern can rattle goals in quick succession, like they did in the last few minute, but it was the matter in which they rolled over and accepted defeat. This was the same against Brighton - they surrendered, while Brighton looked good for a 3-0 victory. It was like Wolves against Manchester City. City probably deserved to win the game and had the better chances, but it is one of the games that goes against you - this one wasn’t at Brighton.

Biggest disappointment…

I think the biggest disappointment has been Everton, but Manchester United have been close. They have both spent heavily and have expected much better returns. Everton were wanting to challenge for the top six and maybe even the top four. Nobody would have envisaged that they would have been sitting in the bottom three as we speak. This is being quite honest and open, while most Everton fans will be devastated with where they currently sit in the table.

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