This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
In part two of our Premier League previews we're assessing the hopes of Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City and Leicester City. (Spoiler alert: Hull have no hope). You can read part one here.
Crystal Palace look set to play 38 league matches this season, but nobody really cares about that. They'll be top 10 at Christmas, go on a three-month losing run, and probably end up finishing 15th. That's the football out of the way, then, and we can get on to taking the piss out of Alan Pardew. See, nobody is interested in Crystal Palace as a football club. It is now a mere vehicle for Pardew's dance moves, a vessel to be filled by his liquid gyrations.
Please, Christ, we beseech thee Lord, please inspire Alan Pardew to dance once more. We want to see Pardew shimmying out of the tunnel for every game, moonwalking up and down the touchline, wearing full-body catsuits on match day, rotating his snake hips at a profoundly uncomfortable David Moyes. We want to see Pards go full Saturday Night Fever, thrusting his way around Selhurst Park like some sort of hypersexualised demon dad. We want to catch a glimpse of Wilfried Zaha, Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie physically cringing as their manager cha-cha-chas around his technical area, undulating to the rhythm of the universe as they concede a late equaliser to West Brom.
Whatever Palace achieve on the pitch in the coming months, this season is going to be little more than a loop of Alan Pardew's Wembley dance. It will feature on Match of the Day after each and every victory, it will flood social media after every goal, it will be beamed directly into our brains by every possible means. What's more, we're okay with that.
Godspeed, sweet Pards, and boogie on.
It's hard to know what to make of Everton's Ronald Koeman revolution. In truth, hiring the doughy-but-efficient Dutchman doesn't represent a revolution as such, more a slight alteration to the wallpaper. It's a safe choice, one that may not excite Toffees fans but also won't have them tearing their hair out after another 4-3 defeat.
One of their biggest additions this summer has been Steve Walsh, the man credited with taking the magic trio of Mahrez, Vardy and Kante to Leicester City. Everton's most significant playing acquisition looks set to be Ashley Williams, who at the time of writing is on the verge of joining the club from Swansea. For a team that needed to improve at the back – and with John Stones departing for Man City – the Welsh skipper is a welcome addition.
But then the Toffees already had a good squad, which made last season's travails feel very strange and left the club with no option but to show Roberto Martinez the door. With the steady hand of Koeman at the wheel they should be able to produce a very solid season – Europe must be their aim – but it's still bloody difficult to feel certain about them. Neither sixth nor 14th would feel wholly unsurprising at the season's end.
Still, if all goes wrong for Koeman, he can be consoled by the fact that his predecessor – a man sacked for badly underachieving – has just walked into one of the most coveted national jobs in world football. What are you like, Roberto?
That's right, it's 'Hull City'. We're not having any of this 'Hull Tigers' shite. Hull are back in the Premier League courtesy of the Championship play-off final, and we are backing the fans all the way when it comes to the everlasting wrangle over the club's name. When it comes to their ability to survive in the top flight, however, our backing must be regretfully withdrawn.
If Hull had managed to hang on to Steve Bruce this summer, we'd have given them a fighting chance of staying up. Unfortunately, their sweet and noble Geordie champion has departed, leaving them managerless and without a hope in hell. With long-term injuries to Michael Dawson, Moses Odubajo, Allan McGregor and Alex Bruce, the squad looks seriously light on its feet. Meanwhile, their summer transfer business has been practically non-existent. All in all, it's the perfect recipe for an immediate return to the second tier.
With their owners losing interest in the club, these are worrying times for Hull all round. If they manage to survive this season, it will be a minor miracle. Still, at least they won't be renamed 'Hull Tigers' any time soon.
Hey, not sure if you noticed at the time, but Leicester City actually won the Premier League last season. The media were pretty low-key about it – didn't hear a peep from the BBC – so you'd be forgiven for having missed the news. But yeah, Claudio Ranieri's men head into this season as defending champions. What the fuck, right?
Last term it became clear that you should never, ever write Leicester off, but this is a fresh campaign and we'll be damned if we're going to let history inform our decisions. Having lost the crucial N'Golo Kante – and with the likes of City, United and Chelsea all upping their game – it's fair to suggest Leicester will not be back among the top-four this term. Consider this our foolhardy prediction: the Foxes' title was the level of one-off usually reserved for boozy colleagues at the office Christmas party. They were drunk on Vardy, high on Mahrez, and Kante was the mistletoe.
Fortunately, Leicester have only lost the Frenchman thus far, with either Vardy or his weird lookalike telling Arsenal to shove it, and Mahrez being linked with so many clubs that he can't face leaving the house. They've been spending their winnings, too, with Ahmed Musa (£16m, CSKA Moscow) and Nampalys Mendy (£13m, Nice) joining Ranieri's crew.
What would count for a decent season at the King Power? Honestly, finishing in the top 10 would be no disaster, particularly given the fact they'll be playing Champions League football come September. Getting beyond the group stages of the Big One would be some achievement, but they're not going to win the thing, are they? Jesus, imagine the sort of depraved act Gary Lineker would be forced to perform on TV if they did…
Next up: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Middlesbrough