Premier League 2017-18: BBC Sport pundits pick their champions

You can follow the new season on Match of the Day, Final Score, Football Focus, Radio 5 live and Match of the Day 2

We have seen six different champions since the Premier League started 25 years ago, but will someone different win it this time?

Liverpool and Tottenham are among the teams hoping that will be the case or, at the very least, that they can finish in the top four.

But will Chelsea defend their title? Can Pep Guardiola conquer England with Manchester City? Are Arsenal contenders... or will Manchester United come good?

We asked 40 BBC TV and radio pundits, presenters, journalists and commentators for their one-two-three-four and an explanation of their selection.

The predictions were made on the basis of how each squad shaped up on Friday, 11 August, before the opening weekend but with three weeks to go before the transfer window shuts on Friday 1 September, and the potential of further signings - or departures.

Predictor1st2nd3rd4th
Chris WaddleTottenhamMan CityMan UtdChelsea
Jo CurrieChelseaMan CityMan UtdTottenham
Alan ShearerMan UtdMan CityLiverpoolChelsea
Mark SchwarzerMan UtdMan CityLiverpoolChelsea
Phil NevilleMan UtdMan CityChelseaArsenal
Garth CrooksMan UtdMan CityChelsea Arsenal
Danny MurphyMan UtdMan City ChelseaLiverpool
Caroline BarkerMan UtdMan CityChelseaTottenham
Ruud GullitMan UtdMan CityTottenhamLiverpool
Danny WebberMan UtdMan CityTottenham Chelsea
Rachel Brown-FinnisMan UtdChelseaMan CityLiverpool
Jason MohammadMan UtdChelseaMan CityTottenham
Jonathan PearceMan UtdChelseaMan CityArsenal
Lindsay JohnsonMan UtdChelseaTottenhamMan City
Dion DublinMan UtdChelseaTottenhamMan City
Gabby LoganMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
Ian WrightMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
Jacqui OatleyMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
Leon OsmanMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
John MurrayMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
Ian DennisMan CityMan UtdChelseaArsenal
Chris SuttonMan CityMan UtdChelseaLiverpool
Simon MundieMan CityMan UtdChelseaLiverpool
Mark LawrensonMan CityMan UtdChelseaLiverpool
Steve BowerMan CityMan UtdChelseaLiverpool
Manish BhasinMan CityMan UtdChelseaLiverpool
Pat NevinMan CityMan UtdChelseaTottenham
Dan WalkerMan CityMan UtdChelseaTottenham
Jermaine JenasMan CityChelseaMan UtdTottenham
Guy MowbrayMan CityChelseaMan UtdTottenham
Trevor SinclairMan CityChelseaMan UtdArsenal
Kevin KilbaneMan CityChelseaMan UtdLiverpool
Juliette FerringtonMan CityChelseaMan UtdLiverpool
Conor McNamaraMan CityChelseaMan UtdLiverpool
Alistair MannMan CityChelseaMan UtdLiverpool
Steve WilsonMan CityChelseaMan UtdArsenal
John MotsonMan CityLiverpoolMan UtdChelsea
John HartsonMan CityLiverpoolChelseaTottenham
Matt UpsonMan CityLiverpoolChelseaArsenal
Alistair Bruce-BallMan CityTottenhamMan UtdChelsea

Six teams feature in the forecasted top fours, and only Manchester City feature in all 40.

In terms of who will win it, Manchester City are favourites, with 25 votes. Manchester United get 13 votes, with defending champions Chelsea and last season's runners-up Tottenham getting one apiece.

Overall predicted ranking, using all BBC predictions
(using system of 4 pts for a 1st place, 3 pts for 2nd, 2 pts for 3rd and 1 pt for 4th)
1. Man City2. Man Utd3. Chelsea4. Liverpool5. Tottenham6. Arsenal
138 pts115 pts87 pts25 pts23 pts12 pts

Chelsea won't be champions again - or will they challenge?

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There’s something 'brewing at Chelsea that isn’t nice' - Shearer

Three out of 33 BBC experts picked Chelsea to win the title last year - Trevor Sinclair, Steve Wilson and John Motson. This season, only one person out of 40 thinks they will defend their title - women's football reporter Jo Currie - but only one person thinks they will finish outside the top four - former Blues player and boss Ruud Gullit.

Pat Nevin: Looking at defensive-minded players alone, Chelsea have lost Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake, John Terry and Nemanja Matic, and they have bought in Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko, who is not fit.

They need to buy a centre-back and a central midfielder, and sort out the Diego Costa situation up front.

If they get rid of him and get someone to replace him, and that someone was Alexis Sanchez, then I would be tempted to say Chelsea would win the league, but as things stand, they are miles away from being able to cope with the Premier League and the Champions League this season.

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Diego Costa: 5 great goals for Chelsea

Mark Schwarzer: They have lost a massive player in Matic. Bakayoko is a different type of player and it is going to take him time to settle in. I think Costa, if he goes, is arguably an even bigger loss. I don't doubt that Alvaro Morata is a very good player, but he does not have the same presence as Costa up front.

Garth Crooks: What has Conte gone and done? Never tell your top goal scorer his services are no longer required until you have signed and delivered his replacement. Having missed out on Romelu Lukaku, and told Costa in a text that he was no longer needed at the club, the Italian coach lost two players at a stroke in the most monumental managerial gaffe I've seen in years. I've seen managers sacked for less.

See the BBC website on Sunday for Garth's first Team of the Week for the new season - and pick your own line-up from the opening weekend of the season.

John Hartson: I know the manager doesn't see eye to eye with him but I can't understand why Conte can't make it work with Costa - why not just put an arm round him and put up with his nonsense - his back-chat and even him being a little bit disruptive. I really can't believe he is so willing to get rid of an incredibly important player for them.

Antonio Conte and Diego Costa
Diego Costa scored 20 goals in 35 Premier League games for champions Chelsea last season

Ruud Gullit: They have not bought anyone to strengthen the team and you can already see the frustration of Conte.

They need new players to keep people on their toes and also to keep the opposition guessing. The most difficult part of this situation for Chelsea is because there are five other teams who can become champions - that is why they need to keep trying to improve, and why they cannot sit still.

Jo Currie: While the likes of City and United have undergone some serious rebuilding in the last season, Chelsea have retained their core team under Conte. The champions will prove hard to dislodge.

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Antonio Conte - We need to improve our squad and the quality

Jermaine Jenas: I still think Chelsea are going to be up there - they were champions for a reason and they are still going to be difficult to play against. They are still very well equipped and something drastic has to happen in the relationship between their players and the manager for the things that Conte has built up to break down.

MOTD commentator Guy Mowbray: The first choice team and subs ought to be just as strong as ever. Much could depend on the sort of start they manage without the injured Eden Hazard.

Why Man City are the 'hottest ticket in town'

Like last year, City are the only team to feature in everyone's forecasted top four for this season. In fact, only two people we asked thinks Pep Guardiola's side will finish lower than third.

Kevin Kilbane: If you look at it from a negative point of view then, defensively, City might be a little wide open at times but it is made up for by the fact that they are a brilliant attacking side that is going to go out and play exciting football. For any neutrals, they will be the team to watch this season - the hottest ticket in town.

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Premier League title-defining moments

John Hartson: The reason I am backing City is that I think Gabriel Jesus will form a great strike partnership with Sergio Aguero - I think we might see City play with two up front a lot more next season, and they are going to be very hard to stop.

Leon Osman: Man City were a force with the team they had in place already and on top of that their buys have strengthened their defence. Vincent Kompany looks like he is over his injury problems and John Stones is now settled in, so they are going to be really difficult to beat.

Gabby Logan: With a fit Kompany and Stones together at the back, and new signing Bernardo Silva increasing their attacking threat, I fancy Pep to get to grips with the Premier League at the second time of asking.

Vincent Kompany and John Stones
Kompany and Stones started only two Premier League games together in 2016-17

Trevor Sinclair: Full backs are a huge part of Pep's teams and they've recruited very well while weakening a rival by getting Kyle Walker from Tottenham, plus strengthened at goalkeeper which was a position that hurt them last season.

MOTD commentator Steve Wilson: This is a group of players and coaches designed not only to win the domestic title but to break into Europe's elite too. City should win the title, if they don't I expect Guardiola's reign to end.

Pat Nevin: City have not bought a centre-back yet but if they got, say, Virgil van Dijk, or someone else dependable then I would back them to win the league without hesitation. As things stand, it might be a lot closer.

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Working with Guardiola 'big attraction' for Walker

John Motson: They have spent an awful lot of money and they have got two good players for every position - Guardiola is bound to do better in his second season than he did in his first and I just think they are destined to add to his collection of trophies.

Dan Walker: I keep coming back to the fact that the two Manchester sides can't be as inconsistent as they were last season and both have strengthened. I have gone for City to win it, and look forward to getting shouted at and pilloried next May.

Are Manchester United back at last?

Romelu Lukaku Premier League goals 2012-17

11 out of 33 people thought United would win the title last season - they finished sixth. This time 13 out of 40 people back them to become champions but two think they will miss out on the Champions League places again.

Phil Neville: The signing of Romelu Lukaku is a big part of the reason why I have gone for Manchester United to win the title - basically because, for them to win the league, they will have to score a lot more goals.

That was always United's strength under Sir Alex Ferguson, when they frequently scored more than 80 league goals in a season, and their attack was the biggest factor in them winning the title.

But they only managed 54 goals last season, and 49 the year before that - their lowest totals of the Premier League era. That needs to change and they need to start beating teams by big margins again.

If you destroy someone 4-0 then that sends out a message out and brings in a fear factor you don't get by beating teams 1-0. That is what I want to see more of from United, and Lukaku can help them do it.

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The best of Romelu Lukaku's Premier League goals in 2016-17

MOTD commentator Jonathan Pearce: The signing of Lukaku provides Mourinho with the missing piece in his jigsaw. The £75m striker has grabbed 104 goals in 204 games for West Brom and Everton since being shown the door by "The Special One" at Stamford Bridge. Then he had flaws. Now the 6ft 3in centre-forward will score the goals to convert last season's draws into wins. They were held 15 times. Only Tottenham conceded fewer goals in the top six. No-one scored fewer.

Chris Sutton: Even if United don't win it, they have to challenge for the title because they have not done that since they last won it in 2013.

Where Lukaku is different to Zlatan Ibrahimovic is that he is a target player too, but he can also run in behind because he is quick enough to be a threat with balls over the top. That is a massive strength so I am backing Lukaku to have a big season at United if he stays clear of injury.

Alan Shearer: Nemanja Matic is another excellent signing. I was amazed that Chelsea let him join one of their rivals - a team that is trying to catch them up.

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New Man Utd signing Matic scores thunderbolt for Chelsea

Garth Crooks: Mourinho's summer purchases have been nothing short of phenomenal. To take Lukaku from under the noses of Chelsea was the snatch of the century but then to lure Matic from the champions was just unbelievable business.

If Mourinho can get his hands on Gareth Bale he could be bringing the Champions League trophy, along with the title, back to Manchester sooner than we think.

Final Score presenter Jason Mohammad: I tipped United last year suggesting that Jose loved winning silverware. So, OK they did not win the Premier League but they did pick up two trophies with a side that was satisfactory - but is much better this year.

You can hear more from Jason and Garth on the title race on Final Score which is live online and on the red button from 14:30 BST on Saturday, and on BBC One from 16:00 BST.

Danny Murphy: United have got such strength in depth, if you look at the forward positions then they have got six or seven players who would get in most teams. They will definitely be in the top four, and I fancy them to win it.

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Clubs are creating 'strange and out of control' market - Mourinho

MOTD commentator Guy Mowbray: There'll surely be an improvement on last season's disappointing league showing, but not quite to the levels Chelsea went up to win the title last season.

Matt Upson: I think United will finish outside the top four again. I don't think they will be far away but I am not sure it will click for them enough for them to get back in there.

Ruud Gullit: The most important thing you need to win the Premier League title, is that when you don't play well, then at least you don't lose - or even win 'dirty' by 1-0. Mourinho can do that, and that is the key to United edging out City for the title.

Dion Dublin: Jose Mourinho has now had enough time to evaluate his squad. It is time for United to get back on top.

Can Liverpool continue progress with or without Coutinho?

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Keeping Liverpool squad together makes sense - Klopp

Liverpool made it into just one top-four prediction in 2015. Last year, 13/33 BBC experts correctly thought they would crack the Champions League places. This year, 17/40 people think they will finish at least fourth, but only 5/40 think they will be higher than third.

Matt Upson: I've put Liverpool second, based on Philippe Coutinho staying, but I would fancy them to win the league if he stayed and they signed a couple of players - say if Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk goes there, and a holding midfield like Leipzig's Naby Keita.

Danny Murphy: It would be huge for Liverpool if they got Van Dijk, in terms of a) his quality and b) the fact it shows their ambition. Coutinho, as things stand is still their player, but if he goes to Barcelona then they will get £100m for him and if they spend that well on two or even three players then that could make them even stronger.

Mark Lawrenson: I would keep him if you could because he is a very good player but I honestly don't see Coutinho as indispensable, certainly not in the way that Luis Suarez was for Liverpool. If they sold him, as well as getting Van Dijk and Keita they could go and put in a bid for Alexis Sanchez as well.

Premier League top six head-to-head 2016-17

John Hartson: I like the look of their new signing Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane is going to be a massive player for them with no African Cup of Nations halfway through the season this time, which is one of the reasons they came off the rails last season.

Ian Wright: Liverpool were in the title race until January and I don't think you can discount them this time either if they can repeat their results against the other top sides - but so much for them depends on further acquisitions and who stays at the club.

BBC Radio 5 live football correspondent John Murray: I have to confess I am heavily influenced in my leaving Liverpool and Tottenham out of the top four by their transfer activity, such as it isn't, thus far. Particularly when they will have - if Liverpool can see off Hoffenheim - Champions League commitments.

Newsbeat sports reporter Simon Mundie: They look brilliant going forward but huge issues at the back will be their undoing. In goal, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius are uninspiring and they have problems at left-back and at centre-back, if they can address those, they'll be a threat but I don't think they will so it is on that basis I don't think they'll be near the title. Great fun to watch though!

Will Tottenham tumble out of the top four?

Total Premier League points in the past two seasons

Last year, 22 out of 33 people thought Spurs would finish lower than fourth - they were runners-up. This year, Chris Waddle again picks them to be champions but 24/40 think they will end up outside the top four.

Chris Waddle: I know Spurs haven't signed anybody yet but I think there is plenty of time to get in what they need. The squad they have already got came very close last year, and they proved they could beat the big teams when they had to.

The only thing that can set in now is complacency, but I don't think that will happen with the manager they have got - Mauricio Pochettino is a very talented manager, and I don't think he is frightened to fire the bullets if he needs to.

Jermaine Jenas: In that Spurs dressing room, a few players will be thinking 'well, we have just sold our best right-back Kyle Walker to a competitor who are going crazy in the transfer market, and we haven't bought anyone in yet'.

Yes I am fully on board with this kind of 'Pochettino Way' of bringing through the youngsters and developing the academy talent, but it is crazy that Spurs have just had two years where they have had a run at the title and fallen short and they have not improved their squad.

Their players will be thinking how are they going to make that next step if they have not improved our squad and that squad wasn't good enough to get the job done anyway?

Pat Nevin: There is an argument that 1-11, Spurs are the best team but you cannot go through a season with 11 players.

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Spurs excited for Wembley - Pochettino

Ian Wright: I am a big admirer of Spurs and there are not many players in their team who I dislike - it is not like when I played against them, I disliked them then! But now they have got a lot of good young English players who are playing exciting football.

I like Pochettino too but if Harry Kane goes missing for any amount of time, they are going to struggle. It's the same with Toby Alderweireld or Danny Rose.

Ian Wright joins Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer on Match of the Day at 22:30 BST on Saturday night on BBC One and the BBC Sport website for highlights of eight Premier League games.

Danny Murphy: Having to play their home games at Wembley comes into play for Tottenham - with most teams, when they change stadiums it takes some time for them to adapt. I think it might mean they struggle a bit and miss out on the top four.

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Tottenham Hotspur are due to move into their new stadium next year

MOTD commentator Conor McNamara: The hardest decision for me in these predictions was leaving Tottenham out of the top four. Is Pochettino *choosing* to keep faith in his current squad? Or is Tottenham's construction bill on their new stadium the real reason they have not yet spent in this window?

BBC Radio 5 live's senior football reporter Ian Dennis: When fit, Kieran Trippier is an ideal replacement for Walker but Spurs are yet to add to their squad while Arsenal have Lacazette and, crucially in the race for the top four, appear to be retaining Alexis Sanchez.

You can listen to Ian - and all the Premier League goals as they go in around the grounds - every Saturday afternoon on BBC Radio 5 live.

Is fourth the best Arsenal can hope for?

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Highlights: Arsenal beat Chelsea after penalty shootout

In 2015, all 30 BBC experts that were asked backed Arsenal to finish in the top four, and they finished second. In 2016, 14/33 people thought they would miss out on the Champions League places, and they ended up in fifth. This time, 28/40 think they will finish outside the top four and nobody thinks they will finish higher than fourth.

Ian Wright: I think Arsenal are right to keep hold of Sanchez, because if he plays then you would never question his commitment no matter what is going on with his contract. He is in the final year of his current deal and to me it does not look like he will sign another one but we need his goals and we also need him because you do not want to put too much pressure on Alexandre Lacazette.

Arsenal will challenge - it is sustaining that challenge that is usually their Achilles heel. So, I don't think they can take it for granted that they are going to finish in the Champions League places like they did so frequently for 20 years. If that is the case, I think they have got to have a blast at trying to win the Europa League too.

Gabby Logan: They looked good towards the end of the season and I don't think they will give the Europa League too much time - the Premier League top four is too important to Wenger. Not enough buying, though, to put them any higher.

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Watch Arsenal lift record 13th FA Cup

Chris Sutton: At the moment I would rule Arsenal out, with Wenger staying on. It was a positive that they won the FA Cup but I don't think anything will change until Wenger goes, so that is my position on them.

Women's Football Show pundit and BBC Sport columnist Rachel Brown-Finnis: Arsenal will lose Sanchez and with that will go their top-four hopes.

Pat Nevin: I have no idea if Arsenal will keep Sanchez and buy four more players. If they do that they could get back in the top four but, at the moment, they are miles away - and they might lose Sanchez too.

I think Everton will be involved in the top six too. They are in that pack alongside Arsenal and Liverpool now and if they edged one of them out of the top six then I would not be utterly shocked either.

Leon Osman: I am hoping Everton can challenge for the top six again - that will be a good progression for them with Europa League football this season. Ronald Koeman is still building his squad, and there will be more new players coming in, so any kind of silverware would be great - that is the next step for the club.

Final Score and 606 presenter Jason Mohammad: There is no Arsenal or Liverpool in my top four. I just don't think the squads match up - but I fully expect fans of both sides to engage in full and frank debate on 606 soon!

Join Jason and Robbie Savage for 606 at 18:06 BST on 5 live on Saturday.

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