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Pep Guardiola's Manchester City top early Premier League predictions

A number of new management teams are in place, and several major new signings are also in the offing. Next season's Premier League is already taking shape, with clean slates all round, so here are our definitely-way-too-early predictions for how things will shape up....

1. Manchester City

Most of the raw materials are there, and presumably heads will have cleared after the decline that accompanied news of Manuel Pellegrini's exit. It will not be by a margin sufficient to suggest Pep Guardiola is soon to dominate English football as he did the Bundesliga, and that might depend on the right additions in defence and to patrol the centre of midfield -- but the title will go to the Etihad.

2. Arsenal

The early signing of Granit Xhaka was a step in the right direction and Arsenal, who either missed a huge opportunity last term or ended with hopes high depending on your point of view, should find themselves positioned for a challenge with a couple of further additions -- and still find themselves ahead of several of their rivals in terms of stability.

3. Chelsea

Antonio Conte will knock Chelsea, who finished the season encouragingly after the toils that came before, into shape and has had several months to line up targets. He may have to fight Manchester United for Roma's combative midfielder Radja Nainggolan but Conte is a redoubtable motivator and will lead Chelsea's revival.

4. Manchester United

There is enough doubt about the true snugness of fit between Jose Mourinho and Manchester United to cause restraint when making a prediction about their short-term prospects. It would, though, be a surprise if he did not at least return them to the Champions League -- especially if Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrives and brings his star quality to bear.

5. Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham are, on one hand, positioned nicely for another challenge next season. On the other, they capitulated badly when their chance to seize the moment arose and a strong start is crucial if those demons are to be banished. Reinforcements are needed in the attack, especially, and this could prove a rather frustrating campaign.

6. Liverpool

Liverpool showed that they can be a thrilling prospect under Jurgen Klopp but there is a flakiness too, at both ends of the pitch, and it would take a big signing or two to alter the perception that they are still well short of a title tilt. Gonzalo Higuain has been linked and he is the calibre of player required to propel them into the top four.

7. Leicester

Not the anticlimax that it might seem for Leicester, who will have a whole new set of challenges next season and will know that others before them have flopped the year after success. Asking some of last season's side to repeat their form will be a stretch, but a top-seven finish will cement their place among those expected to challenge regularly for European spots.

8. Southampton

So much depends on whether the Saints, who were outstanding after Christmas in the 2015-16 campaign, can hold onto their best players this time -- not to mention their manager Ronald Koeman. Sadio Mane could well depart but Koeman, assuming he does not leave for a rival, has shown a canny eye on the transfer market and will keep the Saints competitive at worst. He will, however, be hoping for rather more.

9. West Ham United

On paper, a step back for West Ham, who begin a brave new future at the Olympic Stadium. But it is unlikely to replicate Upton Park's atmosphere and will not contain 60,000 diehard fans. Arsenal are among the clubs whose players have admitted teething problems after a stadium move in the past and, while the Hammers are still well set, they may find this to be a season of acclimatisation before they push on.

10. Stoke City

Stoke remain mid-table staples, able to bloody big-name noses on demand but never putting together the consistency to sustain a European challenge. Mark Hughes' job is safe, though, with their style of football generally pleasing; more signings with the calibre of winter addition Giannelli Imbula could yet transform their prospects.

11. Sunderland

Sam Allardyce might just have stabilised the Black Cats, who surely will not be confronted with their annual Houdini-esque relegation avoidance task this time. They will not pull up any trees, and Jermain Defoe will need support as he ages another year, but Allardyce has too much knowhow to let them slide on his watch.

12. Everton

Anyone who expects Everton to soar now that Roberto Martinez has been cut loose should exercise an element of caution; there will undoubtedly be changes to the squad and some of them, probably including the departure of Romelu Lukaku, will not be desirable. Whoever comes in will have a bulging to-do list and it would be some feat to form a side that can challenge for Europe this time.

13. Bournemouth

Surely Bournemouth cannot endure the same miserable fortune with injuries as they did last season, when Eddie Howe's achievement in keeping them up should perhaps have received more credit. With shrewd investment and a cleaner bill of health this time, the ever-impressive Howe will see them comfortably into mid-table.

14. Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew has shown himself to be something of a momentum manager during his career and Palace's FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United may prove a big opportunity spurned. They certainly cannot afford a repeat of last winter's terrible form but clever signings up front and at centre-back would keep them out of serious danger.

15. Middlesbrough

Aitor Karanka squeaked Boro to automatic ascent from the Championship and will doubtless be backed heavily as they seek to re-establish themselves in the top flight. There remain doubts about his temperament and some of his tactical tweaks but Boro seem stable, confident and should outdo their promoted peers by staying up.

16. West Bromwich Albion

Another regulation season of Tony Pulis-inspired survival for Albion, who will be relatively happy with their lot but might start making eyes at the more ambitious moves made by clubs of similar standing.

17. Watford

New manager Walter Mazzarri may prove a characteristically shrewd appointment by the Pozzos but can expect to oversee a high turnover of players and is unlikely to see Odion Ighalo repeat last season's goal haul. Watford will survive, but could struggle.

18. Burnley

Shaun Dyche showed again last season that he is an outstanding manager but Championship winners Burnley will probably have to open the purse strings rather wider than they did in their last top-flight spell two seasons ago. Even if they do, an experienced squad needs some freshening and this is not the ideal time for a revamp. They will give survival a very good go, but will fall just short.

19. Swansea City

The spectre of relegation abated last season under Francesco Guidolin but there was still a rather tired feel to Swansea, who eschewed some of their trademark attractive football in the process and, even though the wily Italian has agreed to stay on, no longer feel like a club with momentum. They could be in for a hard landing.

20. Hull City

Norwich showed last season how inconvenient the short timespan between playoff final and close-season can be; Hull, the final team to be promoted last season, have doubts over the futures of several players and, possibly, their manager Steve Bruce. With a fanbase still angry at some of owner Assem Allam's plans for the club, it does not make for adequate preparation.