Chris Sutton has predicted the final Premier League table this season, tipping Chelsea to win the title and Newcastle United to suffer relegation to the Championship.
After 13 games of the 2021-22 campaign, European champions Chelsea, domestic champions Manchester City and recent title winners Liverpool have opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table.
David Moyes’ West Ham currently occupy fourth spot, level on points with Arsenal who recovered from a dismal start to the season to climb above the likes of Manchester United and north London rivals Tottenham.
Leicester City are tenth but just six points separates the Foxes and 17th-placed Leeds United, who are three points clear of the relegation zone, currently occupied by Burnley, Norwich City and Newcastle.
Sutton says ‘anything can happen’ between now and the end of the season but is confident Chelsea will lift the title and believes Newcastle will suffer relegation along with Brentford and Leeds.
On the title race, Sutton told the Daily Mail: ‘At the start of the season, I tipped Manchester City to win the Premier League, but that came with an asterisk.
‘It was provided they completed the signing of Harry Kane which, at the time, looked likely.
Chris Sutton’s Premier League table prediction
2) Man City
4) Man United
6) West Ham
9) Aston Villa
12) Crystal Palace
‘Now that a third of the season has passed, I’m leaning towards Chelsea, who did sign Romelu Lukaku. But let’s be honest, any one of Chelsea, City and Liverpool could win it.
‘Those three are on another level to everyone else and I’d be surprised if any of these horses fell out of the race. For the neutral, the prospect of them making this a scrap to the bitter end is exciting.
‘Even without a striker, City are capable of being crowned champions. Their performance at Chelsea in September was one of complete control.
‘But I sense that this will end up being a special season for Thomas Tuchel and that it will be dark blue ribbons getting tied to that trophy in May.’
Sutton has backed Manchester United to secure a top-four finish under interim manager Ralf Rangnick and says Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal can finish fifth having impressed in recent weeks.
‘We’ve got the three-horse race and bringing up the rear, although they look like a donkey right now, I’m saying Manchester United will finish fourth,’ Sutton said.
‘The fact that Arsenal don’t have Europe this season is a massive advantage for them. Mikel Arteta and his players have got no excuses – no Thursday night games in Baku to hide behind.
‘They’re even on the verge of having Arsene Wenger back at the club, and he knows a thing or two about finishing fourth.
‘But Ralf Rangnick is a super-manager, a visionary of the game, the godfather of gegenpressing, and I believe United are capable of sneaking into the Champions League places at the expense of fellow European hopefuls Arsenal and West Ham.’
Newcastle United were taken over by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium last month, with the Magpies now believed to be the richest club in world football.
But Sutton believes Eddie Howe’s side could be dropping into the second tier of English football next season and says fans across the country will be ‘laughing’ at their demise.
He added: ‘I don’t think it’s too soon to say Newcastle are entering “must-win” territory. They can try to hang on until the January window opens but even that will present its own problems.
- ‘They will get the mercenary mob in, because which big-name talents are going to agree to join the club marooned at the bottom of the Premier League?
‘Right now, Newcastle have a Championship back line with a couple of talented forwards in Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.
‘It’s nice having all the money in the world but if the XI you name on a Saturday can’t put in a performance then you’re up a certain creek without a paddle.
‘Eddie Howe’s players have to be looking at tonight’s game against Norwich as a must win, and the same goes for Burnley on Saturday.
‘They can’t get away from the fact that most fans across the country would be laughing if Newcastle go down. That adds to the pressure on Howe.’
Explaining why he expects Brentford and Leeds to join Newcastle in the Championship, Sutton said: ‘Former Norwich striker says his old club will survive. Shock horror! But the hiring of Dean Smith gives them such a chance.
‘He’s an excellent coach who’s already extracting good performances. With that in mind, I’ll say they can get themselves out of trouble.
‘The three clubs who I’ll say are going to drop down to the Championship, with apologies, are Leeds, Newcastle and Brentford.
‘But it’s a very open race right now, both at the top of the Premier League and the bottom. Anything can happen.’