Category Archives: Barclays Premier League

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.

2016-17 Premier League Predictions

premier league logo

The day is August 12th, the year 2016. The year of the fairytale has come to an end and in just one day’s time the roller coaster ride that is the Premier League season will be underway. For many fans this is an exciting time of year that is full of promise especially after last year’s success for Leicester City which proved that anyone has a shot at lifting the trophy if they make pull the right strings. Will anyone there be another shock at the end of the season or will one of the perennial powers walk away with another trophy?

Starting from the bottom of the table these are my picks for the 2016-2017 Premier League season.


Relegated

20- Hull City

With only a few weeks left before the season started Manager Steve Bruce resigned after being overlooked for the England Managerial position which left the team in a bit of a bind. Not only did the team lose it’s manager, but it has yet to make a significant signing which will make it hard for the club to stay up this season.

19- Burnley

Last season’s second tier Champions will struggle to replicate the same success this year as they have yet to make a top midfield signing to replace their leader Joey Barton who left the club for Celtic. The team under Sean Dyche plays very defensively which is the same way it favored during the 2014-15 season which saw the club relegated back to the second tier. Even with the goal scoring prowess of Andre Gray, this season will end the same way that year did with Burnley unlikely to avoid a quick return  trip to the Championship.

18-West Bromwich Albion

Last season ended with the Baggies stumbling across the finish line with three losses and two draws in their final five matches. As of right now the team has held on to promising young striker Saido Berahino and he will be the team’s key player as they look to avoid the drop. However with the lack of signings the club will find themselves on the wrong side of the relegation dogfight at the end of the season and back in the Football League Championship for the first time since the 2009-10 season.


Safe From Relegation

17- Swansea City

This season will be a struggle for the Welsh club as they look to avoid taking the plunge back to the second division in English Football. After selling two of their better players from last season in Centre back Ashley Williams and forward Andre Ayew the club is turning the team over to some younger players like Mike van der Hoorn and Borja Baston who were brought in to help usher the team to higher levels. In the end these players will take some time to adapt to the style of play in the Premier League, but they will figure it out in enough time to save the season and live to fight for at least one more season in the English top flight.

16- Sunderland

This season will be an adventure for the Black Cats as they have another new manager this season after Sam Allardyce left to take charge of the English national team. Replacing Big Sam at the Stadium of Light is veteran Premier League manager David Moyes. He has experience at Everton and Manchester United and will give the team strong leadership that will see them stay up. Since being announced only a couple of weeks ago the team has solidified their defense with the signings of Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea and Paddy McNair from Manchester United. He also landed left midfield player Adnan Januzaj who excelled when Moyes was in charge at United but has struggled to find playing time since. With all this Sunderland will still be involved in the relegation dogfight, but not as much as in previous seasons.

15- Crystal Palace

This season will likely be similar to last year as the North London club has made one key signing in winger Andros Townsend, but are in need of a new defender and striker before they can challenge for a top ten finish. After spending most of the summer linked to Liverpool striker Christian Benteke there is still no deal in place, however if they can land the Belgian their season could finish better than this. For now it appears they should be solidly safe as a mid-table club.

14- Middlesbrough

The final of the newly promoted sides has had a much better summer than their counterparts Burnley and Hull. Signing veteran striker Negredo on loan and promising forward Viktor Fischer will help lead the line for the team, while signing former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes and American Brad Guzan to lead from the back the team looks to have made the right moves to make their stay in the top flight last longer than one season.

13- AFC Bournemouth

After finishing the season in poor form, the team has a healthy Callum Wilson at striker and last season’s record signing Max Gradel on the wing so they can almost be counted as new signings from last year. They added winger Jordan Ibe from Liverpool to help complete their front three while bringing Leeds youngster Lewis Cook in to bring some depth to the midfield. This along with the continuity among the staff will help the club achieve a better finish this year.

12- Southampton

One team that will be a disappointment this year is Southampton. After finishing 6th last season the Saints let three of their top players leave this summer and they will all be missed this season. However they may be in better shape for the future as they spent the money on some top young players this season. They still have a solid team, but with a new manager they will struggle to make the top ten this season and ultimately fail and finish 12th.

11- Stoke City

A 9th place finish season last year was a good result for a team that works hard for manager Mark Hughes. Hughes solidified the midfield by bringing in Welsh star Joe Allen to fight for a position in the side. A similar season appears on the cards for the Potters as they really have not improved in any position from last year.

10- Watford

One of last year’s newcomers Watford avoided the drop with a 13th place finish. Their acquisition of young attackers Isaac Success and Jerome Sinclair will allow them to rest stars Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney in some of the cup competitions which will leave them fresher for league games. This will help propel the team to their first ever top ten finish in the Premier League.

9- Everton

Last season’s 11th place team has managed to hang on to star man Romelu Lukaku and brought in new manager Ronald Koeman who has had previous success with Southampton the last two years. Despite not bringing in a new keeper, Everton still has a solid back line and managed to replace John Stones, who had yet to break into the starting 11, with Swansea captain Ashley Williams to challenge for a spot in Koeman’s back four.

8- Leicester City

Last season’s fairytale champion’s will come to a crash landing this season as they add another competition to the schedule. The team lost the engine of their midfield when N’Golo Kante signed for Chelsea after the Euros. However the team has brought in  some solid payers, but the fact that the team is not deep enough means that a grueling schedule will leave the reigning champions with too much ground to make up in the latter stages of the season leaving them just outside of European competition for next year.

7- West Ham United

A very well balanced side that has improved in every way from last season except in their final placement on the table. Slaven Bilic’s side will challenge for an automatic Europe spot but ultimately fall short, although cup competition success could be a possibility for the Hammers. They will ultimately finish 7th again this season.

6- Liverpool

The first full season under Jurgen Klopp will feature a side with more confidence offensively especially with the signing of Georginio Wijanaldum joining with their creative players. The focus will be on defense which looks to feature newcomer Joel Matip in place of the departed Martin Skirtel, but new keeper Lorius Karius will miss the beginning of the season after breaking a hand which will place the success of the team in the unsure hands of Simon Mignolet. That will be enough to keep Liverpool out of the top five at the end of the year.


Automatic European Qualifiers

5- Tottenham

Last season’s third place finisher is due for a little drop this year as some of the top team’s are back with improved rosters, while Spurs only brought in a backup striker and a defensive minded midfielder who may not be able to break into the Mauricio Pochettino’s league starting 11. That along with having to add Champions League fixtures to the schedule will leave the North London just outside the top 4 when al is said and done.

4- Manchester United

He’s back! No I am not talking about Paul Pogba, I am referring to  Manager Jose Mourinho, who after a disastrous first half of last season at Chelsea is back in the Premier League with Manchester United. While he has spent a boatload of money on players, his preference to have a small squad will bite this team in the butt as he has quite a few players that find themselves injured just as much as they are healthy. This will leave the team in the top four which will qualify them for the playoff rounds of the 2017-18 Champions League.

3- Chelsea

After a disappointing season new manager Antonio Conte will look to change the formation of the team. He has brought in Leicester engine N’Golo Kante who looks to be a key piece in the middle of the Blues 4-2-4 formation. New signing Michy Batshuayi should push striker Diego Costa and fill in nicely when the Spaniard is unavailable through injury or suspension. This should see Chelsea return to the Champions League after a season without European competition.

2- Arsenal

This season should see Arsenal finish in a very familiar position after failing to bring in a striker for yet another season. They did address the issue at holding midfield by signing Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach. They will start the season with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as their only centre backs, however if they can weather the storm then they will finish near the top in what could be Arsene Wenger’s final campaign with the Gunners.


Champions

1- Manchester City

At the end of the season there is one team that has improved even more than the rest of the competition and that is Manchester City. They replaced solid manager Manuel Pellegrini with world class manager Pep Guardiola. A flurry of top signings will see the Citizens celebrating another title as they have a manager and the depth to be successful in all the competitions they will be participating in.

 

 

Out Foxing the League

Leicester

Back in August when the English Premier League season had just started most fans as well as the media had one of about four teams as their next champions of the league. As the season has played out and March rolled around there was no Chelsea, no Arsenal, no Manchester United, and no Manchester City atop the league table. Nope, the leaders for the majority of the year has been one of the most extreme underdogs. At 3000-1 odds before the season, Leicester City now has the greatest chance to win the league with a five point lead over Tottenham Hotspurs with only eight games remaining.

How did this happen? This time last year the team was one of the worst in the league and in the process of performing their great escape from relegation under manager Nigel Pearson. Then over the summer while the team was in preseason camp in Thailand three players were involved in a sex scandal which resulted in their dismissal as well as the dismissal of Pearson. The Foxes then hired manager Claudio Ranieri, previously of Chelsea and Greece, who brought in a more counter attacking style of play. Ranieri brought in some signings what would prove to make the difference in the form of N’golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez, who only cost the team $400,000, and they have combined to make the team into a fantastic side. Mahrez is actually the most productive player in the league so far this term because he has the most combined goals and assists out of everyone in the EPL. This has had rumors of a possible summer sale to include prices in the $30 million range.

One of the biggest reason they are top of the table at this point in the season is because of the goal scoring prowess of far travelled striker Jaime Vardy. His pace is what makes him perfect for Ranieri’s system and when he gets in the box he has the calm nature to place the ball into the back of the net. He displayed this so well over the beginning of the season that he actually broke the record for most consecutive games with a goal, 12, that was set by former Manchester United player Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

These are just a couple of the reasons why Leicester City are in front of the Premier League and will remain there until they lift the winners trophy at the end of the year.

Feeling Blue

Chelsea

Another game, another loss. This has left Stamford Bridge blue for the wrong reasons. For the eighth time in only fifteen chances in the Premier League, Chelsea have lost. This time to Premier League newcomers AFC Bournemouth. The current Champions now sit at 15 points through as many games which is very unfamiliar territory for the team. This loss leaves them in a staggering 14th place in the league and only 3 points above the relegation zone, the bottom 3 teams in the division at the end of the season get sent down to the league below. At this point last season this same team, almost all the same starters are the same from last year, was just enduring their first loss of the season at the hands of Newcastle United. Now the team that so easily wrapped up the league at the beginning of May is struggling to win more than once in an entire month.

After this most recent loss the owner of Chelsea, Russian Tycoon Roman Abramovich, will have to rethink keeping manager Jose Mourinho in his current position. While Mourinho was been very good through his first two years, in this his second tenure with the team, the tires have completely fallen off this year. The main reason that I believe that he has remained at his post so long this year has been because of the lack of quality managers available. However, at this point in the season with the current record one must wonder if there is any possible way that Mourinho’s team can dig themselves out of this hole. If not then now is the best time to sack (fire) him. This would give a new manager the ebtter part of a month to try out the players on the roster and to make plans for the January transfer window.

In the event that Chelsea decides to sack Mourinho, there are only a few people who I believe would be good fits for the team:

Carlo

The first is former Chelsea manager, 2009-2011, Carlo Ancelotti. The former Chelsea manager has had successful spells at clubs Paris St. Germain (France) and Real Madrid (Spain) since leaving Stamford Bridge. He has been out of a job since being sacked at the end of Real Madrid’s campaign in late May.

Rodgers

The second potential replacement is former Swansea and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. He has been out of a job since being sacked on October 4th. He also has ties to Chelsea, as he was the youth manager from 2004 until he was promoted to reserve manager in 2006. He coached Swansea City to the Premier League, 1st Welsh team to ever play in the league.

Zola

The final person that I believe could be a potential replacement is Gianfranco Zola. The former striker is a Chelsea legend and has said that he would love to coach the team one day. Currently he is coaching Al-Arabi in Saudi Arabia, but he has also taken time to coach at West Ham United (Premier League), Watford (England 2nd Tier), and Cagliari (Italian Serie A).

Due to their ties to Chelsea, and their managerial experiance, these are the top three people I could see replace Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.