My alarm will be set to wake early to watch pre-game tomorrow and catch the first two matches of the new English Premier League season. I’ve been pouring most of my sports attention the last few years into soccer, so this weekend will be an exciting return to live action after a few months of combing through online editions of Welsh and English news media to follow the comings, goings, hopes, and dreams of the clubs.
I think my wife has been laughing at me. There has been soccer on tv all summer, of course. Sometimes when she is channel surfing, I will get notice of something. And I respond with less interest … MLS but not the Sounders … Mexican league … “practice games” (my term for friendlies). I did follow Wales and Iceland in Euro 2016. That tournament was a satisfying one for underdogs, mostly.
Even though it was only three years ago that I began to follow Swansea City, I still can’t recall the exact start of my awareness of the team. I might have even noticed Cardiff City first (because of the Doctor Who connection). But I was intrigued by two underdog teams from Wales competing in the English League. And I can’t resist a sporting underdog. So my home pc has bookmarks for about a half-dozen Swans outlets. Still, I’m a bit worried and confess I’m sad to pick them 12th. Compared to British pundits, that’s optimism.
I also get to root against the rich and powerful teams. It seems the top four are getting slotted into most predictors’ top four. But I’m picking them 1, 2, 5, and 8.
- Man City, but I suspect this will be a lot tougher for their first-year manager than leagues where there aren’t a dozen dangerous teams.
- Arsenal, because this seems where they always belong.
- Spurs, because I think the team might be better than last year and finishing below Arsenal must still sting.
- West Ham, because I think some team from the middle is due to rise up.
- Man United, because I don’t think as much of their manager, and even less of their defending. Goalkeeping has kept this side afloat for the past three years.
- Leicester, because I think they are good enough not to fall too far.
- Liverpool, because they don’t seem to have improved much.
- Chelsea, because it’s a long way up from the middle.
- Everton, because they have a better manager and have scooped up one of my favorite Swans.
- Stoke, because this is about where they were last year.
- Crystal Palace, because they’ve made enough improvements and I don’t think the second half of last season was a true barometer.
- Swansea, because I’m still worried about the additions being an overall improvement.
- Southampton, because losing so many players over the past few seasons has to take its toll sometime.
- Bournemouth, because I like their energy to stay above the rest of the relegation-endangered teams.
- West Brom, because defending might not be enough.
- Sunderland, but they will be scraping near-bottom for most of the year.
- Burnley, because they might have just enough drive to stay up this time.
- Watford, because they’ve lost their best asset, a good manager, and haven’t made enough acquisitions.
- Hull, same as Watford
- Middlesbrough, because I have to pick some team for the basement.
David, any revisions to this?