FA Premier League Predictions

So the Premier League kick is getting closer and this season I will be providing weekly predictions for the 2017/18. The new season is certainly going to be an interesting one especially with the transfer window still open until the end of August. With players being bought and sold during the summer, it will be interesting to see how things move along the coming weeks.

It will be entertaining to see how my predictions turn out each week, but you can only predict what’s ahead. The Premier League season kicks off on Friday night at the Emirates where Arsenal entertain Leicester City, Watford host Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime, whilst newly promoted Brighton host Manchester City on the Saturday tea time. The Sunday fixtures see a visit to Newcastle United who host a  Tottenham side not only looking to go one step further this season by winning the league. The only down side is playing away from the Lane. The opening weekend is completed when West Ham travel to Manchester United. West Ham travel to Old Trafford with the likes of Joe Hart and former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez.

Week One

  1. Arsenal      3-1 Leicester City
  2. Watford     0-3 Liverpool
  3. Chelsea      2-1 Burnley
  4. C.Palace     1-1 Huddersfield Town
  5. Everton      2-2 Stoke City
  6. Soton          3-1 Swansea City
  7. WBA           1-1 AFC Bournemouth
  8. Brighton    0-4 Manchester City
  9. Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham
  10. Man Utd    2-2 West Ham United.

Im sure there will be differing opinions and thoughts on the opening weekend but be free to share your predictions. Come Tuesday will I be wishing I had put money on or be looking like the least likeliest person to do your lottery numbers.

 

Football Fixtures release review

It doesn’t seem so long ago that the domestic football season came to an end, but here we are yet again with the release of the Premier League fixtures. No doubt some will be happy with the opening few games whilst others will be looking towards the run ins their respective clubs will have to get through to either stay in the league, qualify for Champions League/Europa League and the grand prize of the Premier League title.

The opening set of fixtures sees Premier League Champions Chelsea kick off their defence with a home game against Burnley. It’s a repeat of last seasons opener and the blues will be hoping to have a repeat the same which saw a 3-0 win. The Blues find themselves though with a mix of the top six thrown in. Following Burnley it’s a trip to Wembley in the London derby at Spurs. By the end of September, they would have hosted four of last seasons top seven. Chelsea have a relatively good Christmas period as they have back to back home games where they face Brighton & Stoke City with the return trip to Everton just before Christmas. If Chelsea are in the hunt for the title come April, it will be a good run seeing how tricky March is. Trips to the Etihad and Turf Moor are mixed in with games at home against Palace and Tottenham. April brings West Ham and Huddersfield to the Bridge alongside trips to Southampton and Swansea. The final two games see a visit from Liverpool and a trip to Newcastle Utd.  Liverpool have started are currently unbeaten in the league against Chelsea since 2014. Results between Conte’s men and Newcastle have been even with a mix of wins and losses although United fans will be keen to forget their last visit to the Bridge.

Staying with Newcastle Utd, their return to Premier League football sees them host runners up Tottenham. It will be interesting to see how Spurs line up in the coming season, will players join or even leave, one thing is for sure is that the Magpies wont be fussed and will be looking to open their return with three points and Premier League security under the managerial guidance of Rafa Bentez. they follow that up with a trip to fellow promoted club Huddersfield Town. The Magpies will be looking to repeat the victory that they managed in the Championship last season. Newcastle Utd see a mixed bag affair for the Christmas fixtures. Pre Christmas Eve fixture sees a trip to West Ham, where the visitors will be hoping that they grab three points at the London stadium. Boxing Day and the final fixture of the year sees two home games in the shape of Manchester City and last seasons Championship runners up Brighton. A couple of juicy fixtures no doubt as many enjoy the festive period. Their  New Years Day fixture sees a trip to Stoke, possibly not the best journey for anyone with sore heads.

New boys Brighton kick off their top flight return with the hosting of Manchester City, not the easiest start for the club but as the old addage goes, everyone has to play each other at some point in the season. It’s a double dose on the road as they travel to Leicester City and Watford. These are certainly winnable games in the league. Christmas and New Year looks challenging as the Seagulls have the return  fixtures against Watford pre Christmas Eve, a trip to defending Champions Chelsea and a return against Newcastle Utd.

Their run in mind you is a bit trickier, they host Tottenham and Man Utd, before going to Anfield on the final game of the season. Certainly not the best run in if looking for Premier League survival.

Manchester City have a mixed start in terms of opponents. Having faced Brighton on the opening day, they find themselves facing Everton and Liverpool at home with Bournemouth sandwiched inbetween. Finishing wise Man City have a reasonable run in. Only Tottenham from the top five are in City’s possible title push. Finishing with newly promoted Huddersfield, who could be battling relegation or even securing mid table safety.

Liverpool kick off their campaign with a trip to Watford. Bogey team Crystal Palace are at Anfield next in back to back home games which sees Arsenal heading up next. It’s first of two games running which see top team clashes. Last season Liverpool came out top and unbeaten against Utd Chelsea Arsenal Spurs and City. This season they will look to repeat it once again. Pre Christmas sees a trip to Arsenal following home games against Swansea and Leicester City. Liverpool, hoping to be challengers once again for the title will see visits to Chelsea with home games against Stoke and a final game at home to Brighton. It will be interesting to see if  any summer signings make a huge impact during the season.

Manchester United will be hoping to go better than last season, where draws proved the end to United’s title and top four challenge. This season West Ham, Swansea, Leicester and Stoke are the opening opponents for the Europa League champions. Christmas looks certain to bring festive cheer, although a new look Everton might be a bit more tricky for United, who could be seeing the return of Ronaldo, if reports are to be believed. Whilst May might be easy, April could be tricky. Man City and Arsenal stand in the way together with Bournemouth and West Brom.

Tottenham will find themselves having to deal with a different stadium for their home games. With the renovation of White Hart Lane,  last seasons runners up will be hosting their games at Wembley.  Champions League is one thing, but 19 games might have an effect on their title aspirations. Chelsea, Burnley and Swansea are the first three visitors to Spurs temporary home. It’s natural to think that Spurs might struggle, but there is no guarantee that their opposition will necessarily have any advantage. Christmas for Spurs is Burnley, Southampton and West Ham. It will be interesting to see what presents they get.  Tottenham’s run in sees Watford, West Brom and Leicester in the run in.

Finally its Arsenal, who this season will be having Thursday night football. Having played Leicester and Stoke, it’s the tricky visit to Liverpool followed by a visit from Bournemouth and a trip to defending champions Chelsea. West Brom and Brighton are next. Christmas sees more return trips for the Gunners who will be hoping to have a happy Christmas. Arsenal’s run in, which could see them either challenging for the title or a top four place looks fairly easy as Man Utd look the strongest of the opponents Huddersfield and Stoke.

It is looking very interesting in the coming season, especially with the chase for Champions League football. There will be no worries about top four spots as they will all be automatically qualifying for the group stages.

Two into one – Chase for the Champions League

With both Arsenal and Manchester City both winning their games in hand, the chase for the final two Champions League spots looks like going from three into two to two into one. As it currently stands, Manchester City have all but  sealed their Champions League in third with on 78 points and a goal difference of plus 36, fourth place sees Liverpool on 73 and plus 33 together with Arsenal on 72 points and plus 31 goal difference.

After a roller coaster season for the three sides, City look odds on to finish third. Only Liverpool can overtake the Manchester club should City lose to away to Watford. Say a 1-0 defeat for Man City and a Liverpool win of 3-0 and its City drop down into fourth. It wouldn’t matter on the Arsenal result unless the Gunners give the home fans some joy and spank the toffees 4-0, which would then Arsenal would go into the Champions League and Man City finish fifth. How interesting would that be to see.

Realistically Manchester City should finish the game Sunday knowing that they can put their feet up with regards to Champions League football. The only thing they need to worry about is if they say for example 4-4 and Liverpool win 4-1. In these set of circumstances you would see a playoff match at a neutral ground.  The likelihood of that though is very slim. I imagine though should that happen, come Sunday evening there would be a large number of nervous Liverpool and City fans.

For Liverpool, it is Champions League playoff if they win. Should they draw or lose to Middlesbrough, not only will it be typical of the season, but all eyes will be on the Emirates hoping that their neighbours Everton can do them a favour. Should Liverpool lose and Arsenal draw, then that is when it becomes interesting. Should Liverpool lose 2-1 and Arsenal win 2-1 then both teams would have a record of 76-44 and plus 32. Under the Premier League rules, this would require a play off to distinguish who would finish in 4th and 5th place. Im sure neither team would want to go through a play off given their post season activities. As a Liverpool fan like others, I doubt there will be much hunger for 90 minutes at a neutral ground. I guess the same for Arsenal fans.

Not since 1989 when Arsenal won at Anfield to take the title, have either Liverpool or Arsenal gone to the wire in deciding league placings. Personally I dont want to relive that moment any time soon.

Love the One You’re With – Dan Raywood blog


February -Premier League review

When I left for Australia, the Premier League looked quite reasonable, Chelsea were strolling, the chasing pack were still chasing and the teams at the bottom were still battling although some more than others. During the time away however, it seemed to all go a bit mad.

Chelsea’s charge to the title continued with seven from nine, only a draw at Burnley denied the league leaders a 100% February record, that also included a 3-1 home in against Arsenal. Come the end of the month they were able to maintain a lead at the top of 11 points. It was Burnley’s first dropped points in four games and first goal conceded at home in the same four games as they look to cement their Premier League status.

Manchester City, having put that wobble against Everton in January firmly behind them, were back on the chase in February with three wins from three. The blue half of Manchester will know having over come a similar points difference to steal the title in 2011-12 with six games to go, they can take some comfort that they have a few more to try and pull off another storming late run to victory. They will need a confident looking Chelsea to have a bit of a melt down, but as we all know watching football anything can happen.

Having dropped four points in January, February looked like being much kinder with their three games, although their title aspirations were dented a little further with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield, that said Stoke were made to pay as they were thrashed 4-0. The only thing that can derail their top four place are injuries and the FA Cup run albeit with two games that can affect them given that the FA Cup final is back in its right place as the end of season fixture. Given the FA Cup and international fixtures, the coming month will not make it easier for Tottenham.

Given the spending at Old Trafford, you would think they could be doing a tad better than what they are. This season, whilst on a long unbeaten run, they have failed to kill off games when needed or nabbed a draw to rescue a point. February looked to be a 3 from three, but Hull denied them at the start by holding them to a scoreless draw. They could though get back on the winning run with victories over Leicester and Watford. With games to rearrange and two cup runs, it will be interesting to see if this unbeaten run continues, or whether the wind in the sails changes direction as they chase a top four spot.

Liverpool, oh Liverpool. Having sped a long nicely, 2017 seems to have thrown a curveball. Out of both domestic cups, the league was the main focus although that seemed to be a mare for them. A home game against Spurs finally snapped the winless run. The joy was shortlived, managerless Leicester City seemingly annoyed some of their own fans as they scored a 3-1 win against Liverpool. Liverpool’s top four chase is going to be tricky especially if they drop points, even more with some of the clubs around with games in hand, but of course a game in hand is only worth the final result and if the club doesnt win, that all counts for nothing.

 For Arsenal, well I think they have had enough over the last few weeks but never rule anything out with the Gunners even if they have had a bit of a mare.

Of course it’s not all about the top, there is the crucial battle for survival and in February that realisation of relegation can become all too real.

Crystal Palace fans thought seeing the back of Pardew might bring a better future, then of course that future was with Sam Allardyce. February hasnt been kind to the Eagles. A 4-0 pasting at home to fellow strugglers Sunderland was followed up by a narrow defeat at Stoke. The final game of the month saw them net a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Middlesbrough. Things can only get better said a certain music group just over 20 years ago…

Sunderland’s hopes for the great escape seem all but dead, having take two points in January with draws against Liverpool and Spurs, February had promise. Well it did on February 4th but that’s where it ended. Having stuffed Crystal Palace 4-0 in London, Southampton did exactly to them as they had given out. A trip to Everton was never going to end well as the home side extended their winning run with a 2-0 victory. They have a testing March, which if they can get a run together they might just have a chance on the final game of the season to survive.

Champions League – Last 16

The Champions League draw took place this morning and England’s three remaining representatives were hoping for a easier start to a possible run to the final. For Arsenal and Man City it was familiar ground but for Premier League champions Leicester, this was still new ground. In fact for the Foxes, they were the only debutants in the knock out stages in this rounds competition.

Having snatched the group on the final round of group games, Arsenal found them meeting their Champions League nemesis, Bayern Munich. Having lost to them at the same stage in 2013 and 2014, Arsene Wenger will hope it’s third time lucky for the Gunners. Bayern, who finished second in their group will look to progress to the final having lost to runners up Atletico Madrid.

Leicester City find themselves in at the deep end as they face Spanish club Sevilla, who won last seasons Europa League final against Liverpool. The Spaniards came second to Juventus in their group and in their domestic league are flying in third place. The fortunate thing for Leicester is that they will be at home in the second leg and if they are yet again flying in Champions League form and still within a shout, it could make all the difference.

Man City will hope to make it to the Semi finals again and will see their chance of progression the easiest out of the three home clubs Whilst they face French club Monaco beat Tottenham twice, they wont be easy. City will hope that their form has turned round by the time the two clubs meet.

In the other last sixteen fixtures Real Madrid look favourites against Napoli, despite the defending champions finishing second in their group albeit behind Borussia Dortmund. Benfica face a tricky tie when they face Borussia Dortmund. The Portuguese club will need to be tight at the back against the strong German club. PSG’s failure to top the group with a final round draw sees them face Barcelona. The French club will host Barcelona in the first leg and travel to Spain for the second. It should prove to be a mouthwatering tie with both teams looking to reach the final.

Premier League -Week Nine

Another week in the Premier League is done and things are looking very close indeed so far. A single point separates teams from 1st to fifth and five more between leaders Man City and Everton. Not for a while have we seen teams so close after nine games.

Spurs went to Bournemouth looking to win and put themselves top after the lunch time kickoff, but they were held to a goalless draw by a home side looking difficult to beat at the Vitality stadium. Both sides had chances as well as testing the opposing goalkeepers. Lloris had to lively as he did well to keep out Charlie Daniels opportunity. Spurs themselve were unlucky not to break the deadlock as they tried and tried. Spurs  were also considered fortunate to not end up finishing with ten men after Sissoko’s elbow to Harry Arter’s face was missed by the referee.

As the game ended, Spurs would now hope that teams around them would drop points so they wouldnt drop away.

Arsenal found themselves cursing the inability to break through a difficult Middlesbrough who claimed a rare clean sheet in London. I guess Arsenal fans may have gone into the game with a healthy confidence following their European escapades, but it seemed a typical opposite.  They seem to barely test Victor Valdes in the Boro goal, but the home fans could be grateful for an alert Petr Cech. His saves kept the game level and a slightly better birthday for Arsene Wenger had they lost. Thanks to Cech, the only thing lost was a six game winning streak.

Everton found to their cost that having all the possession doesn’t bring the points if you dont convert the chances. They looked like securing a point at Turf Moor but with only eight shots out of twenty on target, it wasnt too be as Bolasie’s equaliser was too be for nothing as Scott Arfield bagged a 90th minute winner. It was the home sides third win of the season and second over Merseyside opposition.

When Liverpool kicked off on the Saturday tea time, they looked to get three points and secure top spot by scoring two goals or more goals against West Brom. The Baggies were never going to a rollover having previously come close to ending Tottenham’s unbeaten run. For the home side, the reds were graced with Coutinho,Firminho and Mane in the mix. It was a Firminho with a sweet cross that saw Mane on the end of it to give the Reds a deserved lead. The home side then went 2-0 up ten minutes before half time when Brazilian wonderkid Coutinho netted home. This scoreline would have sent Liverpool top, but a poorly defended corner allowed McAuley to pull one back. Visions of last seasons 2-2 draw may have caught the minds of Liverpool fans, but they were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the Reds held out to win 2-1 and take their unbeaten run to nine games.

Having taken a point at Anfield, Mourinho was now taking his first visit to Stamford Bridge since his time with Inter Milan. A victory for either side would keep them within touch of the top four. A big enough win for Chelsea could see them overtake Spurs, whilst a victory for Mourinho’s men would see them leapfrog Chelsea and move to within three points of City, Arsenal and Liverpool. A good start was needed by either side and it was the hosts who struck first. Defensive errors allowed Pedro to get through the back line and send the ball home. The game would get no better for United as a poorly cleared set piece saw Gary Cahill strike home.

Chelsea did ride some luck when a high tackle by David Luiz was only met with a yellow card. With them being 2-0 up it may have not affected the overall result, but it may have kept a lower scoreline. Arsenal fans watching the game may have felt a tad peeved at the card considering Granit Xhaka was given his marching orders against Swansea City for a lesser offence. Alas for United there were still goals to come. Eden Hazard struck from fifteen yards and Kante finished the rout eight minutes later. Having started so brightly, it is puzzling to see how United have had a little wobble.

At the other end of the table it’s looking bleak for Sunderland. A measly two points from twenty seven is not what any Mackem wants to see and especially not David Moyes.  I wonder if he regrets ever leaving Everton for Manchester United. The North West club who find themselves one point worse off than this time last season, travelled to West Ham who themselves also had a poor start to the season. It looked like it would finish with teams taking a point each, but a winner deep into second half stoppage time condemned the visitors to another defeat. They escaped last season but sadly for them it appears that time has run out.

It doesnt fair any better for Swansea who are one place above. The opening day win seems a distant memory and relegation looks certain to rear its ugly head for the Welsh club. Five points behind on what they were last season where they recovered to finish 12th doesnt look like happening any time soon. Close results against Liverpool and Arsenal could show promise but they may have a chance to take a step forward on Monday night when they play Stoke City. If they dont take a chance then it will definitely be good night Swansea.