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Premier League knee-jerk reactions: Arsenal will surpass Spurs, only VAR can stop City

The 2019-20 Premier League season has had two games to show us what we can expect, so we have some wild predictions based on what we have learned so far.

Only VAR can stop Manchester City's title march

Permit us to jump ahead to the final day of the Premier League season on May 17: Manchester City have hogged 78% of the possession against Norwich, while raining in 30 shots on goal. Victory will seal them the title and they need it, with Liverpool cruising home against an already-relegated Newcastle.

City have done everything but score and the game seems up. But then, in the 95th minute, Sergio Aguero blasts in an exact replica of his title-winning moment from 2012. Shirts are removed, limbs flung around in ecstasy, strangers hugged; City have won their third league title in a row.

But hang on: two minutes later their joy turns to abject agony as VAR finds that the ball flicked off Raheem Sterling's thumb as he challenged Timm Klose in the buildup. None of the Norwich players appealed and to the naked eye Aguero's goal was good, but it doesn't matter: the super slow-mo says "No" and, high up in the stands at St James' Park, Liverpool's stunned supporters wildly celebrate a first title in 28 years.

If any of that sounds unrealistic, you haven't been watching the first two weeks of the season properly.

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Teemu Pukki will win the Golden Boot

Move over, Mo Salah; step aside, Aguero. There's a new gunslinger in town: it's the flying Finn from Norwich, Teemu Pukki, who will prove unstoppable in the race for the Golden Boot.

Pukki struggled in Scotland's top flight and barely made a dent in the Bundesliga; the Premier League is another matter, though, and the 29-year-old looks utterly lethal. He might have missed a couple of early opportunities against Newcastle but Norwich's free-flowing side create chances for fun, and the three he subsequently put away were worthy of the division's very best.

At 43 minutes per goal and with 73% of his shots hitting the target, only Raheem Sterling has a comparable record to the four-goal striker so far. Pukki and Norwich face a porous Chelsea next and, should he put further daylight between himself and his challengers on Saturday, the question will be whether any of them can possibly reel him in.

Arsenal will become kings of north London again

What was all the fuss about a power shift in north London? Arsenal are back in the driver's seat and there to stay, with the Premier League's most lethal centre-forward double-act (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette) backed up by a balanced, energetic midfield and a bolstered back line.

Unai Emery has turned his side from stodgy to sleek, introducing the excellent Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos -- whose tenacity set up  Aubameyang's winner against Burnley -- and showing faith in exciting homegrown midfielder Joe Willock.

It has given them a shot of energy that will surely create more chances for Aubameyang, who already has two goals to his name, and Lacazette. Given that £72m summer signing Nicolas Pepe is still being eased in, not to mention the fact that attacking left-back Kieran Tierney is still returning to fitness, Arsenal will only become more potent -- and the two-point gap they have already established over Spurs, whose attacking depth still seems light, will prove crucial by the end of the campaign.

Mike Ashley's luck at Newcastle will run out

Steve Bruce needed a good start at Newcastle to ensure that, through all the discord and backbiting, a "local hero" narrative might at least carry some goodwill for the new manager.

But they have begun with two tepid performances and their display at Norwich -- listless up front, joyless in midfield, desperately sloppy at the back -- bore all the hallmarks of relegation fodder.

With journeys to Spurs and Liverpool coming up in the next three-and-a-half weeks, things are unlikely to get better. For all of Bruce's experience, Newcastle don't have a top-class manager in Rafa Benitez to turn things around this time and it's hard to see anything but a third relegation under Sports Direct mogul Mike Ashley's tenure.

Ashley Barnes will make a £40m move in January

A bruising striker who menaces defenders and fits perfectly into Sean Dyche's aggressive brand of football would do nicely for the teams on the fringe of the Champions League and Europa League spots in January. Which is why many of them will do battle for Ashley Barnes' signature in an effort to land a "Plan B" option who can drag them over the line.

Leicester, Everton, Wolves and his old club Brighton will go as high as £40m and who can blame them? Barnes, who turns 30 in October, has for so long been derided, even if the tide turned slightly with a 12-goal haul last term.

But a flying start for Burnley, who look set to make the preseason predictions look foolish once again, means he is the obvious choice for anyone seeking a little more presence and know-how in their attack. This winter he will get the once-in-a-lifetime big-money move he deserves.

Brighton will sneak into the Europa League

Having stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season (in fact they should have been relegated according to the ESPN Luck Index), then sacked the cautious Chris Hughton days after the final game, Brighton look like a team liberated from self-doubt and are playing a brand of fresh, attacking football that will give anyone a game under new boss Graham Potter.

As a result, they will ride the wave of momentum from their 3-0 win over Watford on opening day and finish seventh to earn a spot in next season's Europa League qualifiers.

They will get a helping hand from one of the top four to claim the place usually given to the League Cup winners, but their early-season form suggests they will deserve it. Potter will of course then be linked with all the top-level jobs going -- including that of Chelsea, where Frank Lampard's rocky first season in charge will see them finish only just above Brighton, in sixth.

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