Looking forward to a new season of English football. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the tech guy from the cable/internet company out till tomorrow afternoon. So all the EPL players will be tucked in their beds by the time I catch up on the action.
Usually I dislike sports punditry, but even I can’t resist wondering about what a new season of athletic competition will bring. So with some guesswork and hopefulness, here are my bottom-to-top predictions: 20 Watford, 19 Leicester, 18 Sunderland, 17 Norwich, 16 Bournemouth, 15 Newcastle, 14 West Ham, 13 West Brom, 12 Villa, 11 Stoke, 10 Palace, 9 Everton, 8 Southampton, 7 Liverpool, 6 Swansea, 5 Spurs, 4 Man City, 3 Man Utd, 2 Chelsea, 1 Arsenal.
20, 19, 15, and 14 because of new management of which commentators seem to be doubtful. 17 and 16 because of good management and just that I’d like to see a few promoted teams stay up. 12 and 10 also because of good management in place for a whole season. 9 because I don’t think all the problems are solved for the young miss’s 2nd favorite team. 11 and 8 because of new pressure when a team overachieves the first time. 6 ahead of 7 not just because of personal loyalty, but because I would expect a team that gave away so many points from late goals to have matured even without important player acquisitions. 4 because I’ve yet to be convinced that team can manage all its money wisely. No idea why I picked 3, because without stellar goalkeeping that team would have been mid-table last season. 2 and 1 because it seems hard to repeat as champions and these are the only two teams with a realistic chance to top the table in May.
The overall spread of teams: 1 and 2 close at the top; 3 through 7 close to each other but 15-25 points behind the leaders; another bunch at 8 through 12 just around 50 points; 13-16 above relegation pretty comfortably by the end of April; 17-19 struggling for 17th; 20 in the deep basement.
” 6 ahead of 7 not just because of personal loyalty, but because I would expect a team that gave away so many points from late goals to have matured even without important player acquisitions”
That’s quite optimistic. Even the gaffer thinks so.
““I’m ambitious, the players are ambitious, the club’s ambitious and the fans are ambitious. For sure, I’m going to push the players to take a step forward again. That is my sole aim for next season. But realistically it will be extremely hard to top what we’ve done this season, in terms of points, where we are in the league and how we’ve done it, and I think people need to understand and realise that.”
Most everyone respects how Swans do their business but let’s not get carried away. This still was a team with a minus 3 GD.
They did take much of today’s match to the Blues. If Ki or Montero had stayed in, I think they would have beaten Chelsea. I think they will finish above one of the teams they finished behind in May 2015. Ayew looks like a very dynamic player. And this side didn’t lose any player that was a #1 in his position. The question is: do they have enough quality on the bench beyond midfield when the injuries and card suspensions begin mounting up.
But I think Liverpool should stick with Rodgers no matter what.
“I think they will finish above one of the teams they finished behind in May 2015.”
I imagine that Stoke supporters might be saying the same thing. It will be interesting to see if Southampton can get it done again especially given the added stress of European football. But the consensus seems to be that Liverpool did well with the proceeds from Sterling’s exit – Firmino and Benteke in particular – especially as compared to last year’s return on Suarez. Nevertheless, another good opening day result and indeed Montero was Man of the Match. Thanks for getting Courtois suspended for next week’s match at the Etihad.
Don’t forget, the transfer window is open for another three weeks with quite a bit of business to be done. City appear to be finally closing in on last year’s Bundesliga player of the year. Outside of Real, Barca and Bayern, a front four of Sterling, Silva, DeBruyne and Aquero (assuming a 4-2-3-1 setup) would be about as good as its gets. By the way, for all the criticism (jealousy?), City manages its money just fine. The club have pumped a ton of investment into player development and its academy (http://dailym.ai/1qiAPJo). The dividends are just starting to trickle in and there is a lot of talent in the pipeline. Now that the ridiculous and illegal FFP sanctions have been lifted, things will only get better.
Stoke and Southampton have reason to be hopeful, too, yes. What a league it would be if those two and Swansea were able to mount season-long challenges to the top 6/7. After Swansea rose to that 9th place a few years ago, it took a few seasons to consolidate and take the next step. Southampton I rooted for to a degree, but maybe they overachieved last year. Stoke I’m just not sure about.
As for Liverpool, maybe I’m not convinced by Benteke, what I saw of him last season. I don’t know. Liverpool had to make that signing, and perhaps it will work out. I think leadership like Gerrard’s is hard to put a value on, and more, to replace.
Aguero, yes. I suppose I do feel bitter about them taking Bony and not really using him. But Gomis looked like a clone today, and even Gylfi seemed a little more physical than I remember him. Maybe Man U will be the one to drop to 7th. I suppose I should pick Man City for 3rd at least. But I stirred my pot, I’ll stand with it.
Anyway, an exciting first day. Looking forward to an entertaining season, even if the Swans do get pinned back a few places.
At the end of the day, you took a point a Stamford Bridge. Sufficient unto to the day are the pleasures thereof