Revised Premier League Predictions

A few match weeks have commenced since the end of the January transfer window and there are quite a few surprises on the table right now. This season has taken a few unexpected turns for quite a few teams. Starting from the bottom of the table I will run through my prediction on the final table for the 2016-17 season. Parenthesis are around current place on table.


Relegation

20. Sunderland (20)

Poor side with another horrid transfer window. Before the season I thought highly enough of David Moyes to be able to pull out another season of Premier League football. Unfortunately he spent the winter window bringing in even mre of his former players, many of which haven’t been starters since they last played under him. Due to the lack of quality players I believe they will be going down and may not be coming back up for a while.

19. Leicester City (17)

What a difference a year makes. They only lost one of their key players from last season’s title run, however N’Golo Kante’s presence is missed greatly. On top of that they also have to deal with at least two more fixtures in the Champions League which will put even more strain on the players in the coming weeks. With a center back partnership that are showing their age and no cover in front of them this will be a costly and historic relegation for sure. Only the Manchester City has been relegated the year after winning the top flight title and that happened way back in 1937 when they finished 21st in a 22 team league.

18. Hull City (18)

This is a team that is much better suited for the quality of play found in the Championship. Even with some solid signings during January they will still be going back to the second tier. Still a better finish than I had anticipated before the season had begun.


Safe

17. Crystal Palace (19)

Can Sam Allardyce pull this side together in time to save the season? He certainly has the talent at his disposal as well as the experience with successful relegation battles. I think his experience will see the South London club maintain their top flight status for another season.

16. Swansea City (15)

What Paul Clement has been able to do since coming on as manager has been nothing short of incredible. While the Welsh club were unable to significantly upgrade their defense during January, they now have a manager who has the tam playing with some confidence which can go a long way staving off relegation for another year.

15. Middlesbrough (16)

Aitor Karanka has his side sliding down the table, however with the quality of players he has at his disposal he should be able to right the ship before the end of the season.


Mid-Table

14. Watford (13)

Watford have spent the season as a fairly quiet mid-table club. They should see this continue the rest of the way and earn their third consecutive top flight season.

13. Bournemouth (14)

There have been periods this season and there have been poor periods, but that is the life of a mid-table team. Still Eddie Howe has a team that can still be successful even without the help of star striker Callum Wilson who will again miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee.

12. Burnley (12)

Sean Dyche is doing a masterful job of proving that defensive football can not only win games, but be overall successful in the Premier League. Burnley stuck by their manager after they were relegated two seasons ago and he responded by bringing them back up in the first time. This year’s team has been strengthened during January and they look poised to be on a top half hunt for next season.

11. Stoke City (9)

A solid team under Mark Hughes will just miss out on a top ten finish even with the goal-scoring efforts of Peter Crouch. The team will compete, but this team is not one that appears able to win enough points to stay in the top 10.

10. West Ham (10)

With their early season struggles behind them they appear poised to finish inside the top 10. The sale of disgruntled midfielder Dimitri Payet will only assist with the congealing of the dressing room for the battle that will be the rest of the season for Wes Ham.

9. Southampton (11)

Good club that will miss the influence of center back  Virgil Van Dijk who will miss the rest of the season through injury. Still a solid team, however the points gap between them and West Brom may be too much to overcome in the last 13 games of the season.


Upper Half

8. West Bromwich Albion (8)

On of the biggest positive surprises of the season has been the play of West Brom. At the start of the season I thought that Tony Pulis’ side were to be relegated, however they are over-achieving this season and could realistically finish a place higher if Everton falters even a little.

7. Everton (7)

Top 10 is almost guaranteed for the toffees as they continue to impress under Ronald Koeman. There is not much more room for improvement despite the scoring heroics of Romelu Lukaku the depth at midfield of trusted players is just not there. Added the fact that Everton currently have a seven point gap between them and sixth place Manchester United and it seems seventh is the highest they can climb this year.


European Qualifiers

6. Liverpool (4)

January has seen them go from top title contenders to  a side that should be hopeful to see the Europa League next season without a playoff match. With their title challenge all but over, Liverpool’s sights should be set on securing a top 4 finish so they can use the allure of Champions league football to bring in a top striker and center back.

5. Manchester United (6)

After finally finding form for top players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan Jose Mourinho’s side just miss out on Champions League yet again as too many questions remain about defensive quality and consistency among the attackers.

4. Arsenal (3)

This position should feel familiar for Gunnars fans. In what almost seems to be his swan song, Arsene Wenger seems to be guiding his team to the Champions League, but too far from the title race for the fans liking.

3. Tottenham (2)

The attacking quality is there, but if they have an off night like they did against Liverpool the defense has to step up. With injuries to Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld that seem to pop up at the worst times it seems their title race is all but run. Qualifying for Champions League again will be a good consolation with sights on performing better than this year.

2. Manchester City (5)

The addition of young Gabriel Jesus, a summer signing from Brazilian side Palmieras who finished the Brazilian season with the club, has gone a long way with his goals being instrumental in securing points for a side that is currently fifth. They play their 25th game Monday and a win would see them jump up to second. The way they have played recently the Citizens could easily maintain this position the rest of the way.


Champions

1. Chelsea (1)
The turning point of the season would be the 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal. After which the club has gone on a tear that has seen them climb from mid-table to having a 10 point cushion, with Manchester City still to play it could go to 8. The incredible play of N’Golo Kante in the midfield has gone a long way to bringing the title back to London.

Atlanta is United!

It’s finally here! The opening game of the Atlanta United FC preseason schedule. Taking on 4th division side Chattanooga FC away gives the AUFC players a chance to play on turf for the first time which is important as that is the surface they will play on in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opens in July.

First ever Atlanta United starting 11The fans did not have to wait very long to see the first goal in Atlanta United history! Six minutes in Hector ‘Tito’ Villalba finished off a fast break after striker Kenwyne Jones successfully defended a corner from CFC.

After the first half of play there were a few things that were plain to see. The first is that Chris McCann is going to have a key role in the heart of the Atlanta United midfield this season. The Irishman was the key facilitator to playing the ball from the back line up to the attacking players as well as being a solid force when possession is given up. The other thing that is good to see is the play of young winger Yamil Asad. The young Argentine was able to score the second goal of the half by curling the ball into the upper right corner from outside the box at the end of an impressive passage of play by Atlanta United.

Throughout the first half Chris McCann has played an instrumental role in Atlanta United’s 2-0 halftime lead to be the player of the half for the first half.

The start of the second half sees Atlanta United make wholesale changes with only 33′ substitutions Josef Martinez and Carlos Carmona being the only holdovers from the first half. Included in these changes is the kit that Atlanta United has been wearing as they come out in their white tops and red bottoms after wearing their primary kits for the first half.

Draft picks Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel were among the halftime subs along with 16 year old homegrown midfield talent Andrew Carleton and young Tottenham defender Anton Walkes.

Carmona comes off for Harrison Heath in the 64′ minute after a fairly quiet half an hour for the Chilean international who was  signed less than a week ago.

The 68′ goal by Josef Martinez off a quick corner seemed to have caught CFC unaware as Andrew Carlton played the ball short to Julian Gressel who whipped a ball into the 6 yard box where Martinez was completely unmarked. Lead up to this goal was a long period of possession by Atlanta United.

Andrew Carleton gets his first Atlanta United goal in the 74′ off a rebound! Well deserved goal for the youngster as he has been playing very well on the right side of the midfield for the opening part of this half.

Post goal sees Josef Martinez taken off for 18 year old US Youth International Brandon Vasquez and Chris Goslin coming on for halftime sub Kevin Kratz.

While not playing in the middle of the field as McCann did during the first half,  young Andrew Carleton has been the main facilitator for Atlanta United in the second half. He spent the entire second half causing a considerable amount of stress for the CFC left back. He has definitely had a half worthy of being the player of the second half for Atlanta United.

An incredible 12,494 packed into Fort Finlay Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee to watch Atlanta United collect a 4-0 win in their first preseason match of 2017! A good showing by the club as they try to find their legs for the first match of the MLS season that is coming up in less than a month!