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.

 

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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.

Premier League Preview – Part One

Well here we are Saturday 8th August and the football lovers around the country see the return of league football in England, although the Championship opened up with Brighton v Nottingham Forest yesterday evening. Noticeably, the 2015-16 season starts a little earlier in August. and this is to enable the domestic season to be completed with a gap to the European Championship finals in France next Summer ( is that a sigh from the partners who done like football?)

The Premier League season looks certain to be exciting with various teams having made various changes over the last few weeks. Will the likes of Norwich, Watford and Premier League debut boys Bournemouth cause and upset the odds, will Chelsea retain the title or can Arsenal bring the title home. Can Manchester United push forward from their fourth place last season. Can Manchester City jump back. Will Liverpool’s new signings turn out better and see the Reds push forward in a future without Steven Gerrard. Can Tottenham finally break into the top four and stay there. Can Crystal Palace push further up the table.

Current Champions Chelsea will look to successfully defend their title being the first club to successfully defend the title since Manchester United retained the title in 2008. A fairly quiet summer for Jose Mourinho in the transfer market in regards to players coming in. The West London club signed Asimir Begovic, Nathan and probably what will be a big gamble, signing Radamel Falcao on loan. Chelsea fans either took in great gulps at the prospect of a struggling striker or were rubbing their hands at the opportunity of seeing the player finally come good.

Several players left the Bridge, notably Petr Cech who moved north to Arsenal and Didier Drogba who bid farewell to the Premier League once more, this time to sign for Montreal Impact, Filip Luis’ short stay in the Premier League came to an end as he joined Atletico Madrid.

The Blues will naturally start as favourites after their dominant season and will hope to continue to rule the roost once more over the coming nine months. I think though that the quest for Champions League glory, may overtake their quest for defending the title and see them miss out on successfully retaining the title.

Staying in London, its Arsenal next. There is much enthusiasm and positivity around the Emirates, it seems to stem from the signing of Petr Cech. Whilst he may have struggled to keep Courtois out the first team at the Bridge, the Czech goalkeeper can bring a certain consistency and confidence at the back. With Arsenal known for their form not kicking in till the latter half of the season, with the addition of a player with such a presence (there may still be others to come in) it will not only give fans hope and players confidence at the back. With various players signing new deals, they will though be hoping that the one backroom team less required this season will be the medical staff and physio. A full fit Arsenal side that Wenger can consistently rely up on will give much belief to the Gooners, who would love to add the Premier League title to the recent FA Cup victories.

I think Arsenal will kick off the season and start early and generally maintain their form and win the Premier League, although it will be tight.

Manchester City will look to forget about the disappointing surrender of their title defence and be hot on the heels of Chelsea and dealing with the threat of Arsenal and derby rivals Manchester United. They certainly made their intentions known with the signing of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, for a fee that could rise to £49 million. Questions were asked about the fee involved. Liverpool fans probably relieved to see the back of the youngster who had not exactly excelled himself in the weeks leading up to his departure. Many including Liverpool fans were thinking that he wasnt worth the big money, especially for someone so young, but when you have a player who doesnt want to stay and a club willing to offer big money for him. Any club would be foolish to say no. There were plenty of comings and goings at the Etihad over the early part of the transfer window and I imagine that there will be plenty more to come before the window shuts once again.

The big question though is whether the club can bounce back. Depending on what happens between now and the end of August, it will take a great effort to overhaul Chelsea or Arsenal. Third place I reckon.

Manchester United will be hoping their summer signings. Having spent just over £83 million, Van Gaal will be hoping that his side can get back into the swing of things. Several players have arrived at the Theatre of Dreams, mostly of an midfield and forward nature. There were many questions asked about the Manchester United defensive frailties at times and despite the signing of Darmian and a goalkeeper, it seems doubtful whether those issues at the back will be fixed. With the ongoing saga involving the future of David De Gea, this is not likely to go away anytime soon. Saying that though, the attacking options are a little on the thin side what with the departure of Robin Van Persie to Turkey and the disappointing Radamel Falcao’s loan ending. Chiqarito maybe back, but with James Wilson shipped out on loan, an injury to Rooney could throw a spanner in the works for United’s attacking options. I would imagine though that before the deadline arrives, another striker will find himself donning the red devils shirt.

This season squad depth may come back to haunt United and with a place back in Europe, they may struggle to repeat the fourth place of last season. I see them finish fifth.

Wrapping up this first part with Liverpool. Last season was one to forget for the clubs fans. Injuries, disappointment, humilation, squad depth issues, the Gerrard contract debacle. This season it’s all change. Rodgers who is very much on borrowed time, strengthened his attacking option with Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Brazilian youngster Roberto Firminho. The attacking element was greatly necessary after the major decrease in goals scored. The Irishman having seen the departure of Glen Johnson has also brought in defensive options in the form of another player from Southampton. Nathaniel Clyne will give the side not only a good defensive option, but the ability to provide good attacking lines, something that Glen Johnson would often disappoint. There is some definite good news for Rodgers though and that is the return of Daniel Sturridge, who was injury hit for most of the season.

With several disappointments leaving the club over the summer, it will free up money for signings that can make decent headway. Looking at the players such as Benteke and Ings, with previously having not so strong support, it is very possible that they can improve on last season.

With fewer distractions and more goal opportunities, I think that Liverpool will put the disappointment of last season behind them and finish fourth. If things are looking bleak by Christmas, I imagine Rodgers maybe looking towards the end of his time at Liverpool.

Race for the Premier League – Down to the wire

So the penultimate week saw make and break time for those looking to reach the Premier League. Watford in the early kick off did their bit with a 2-0 win on the south coast at Brighton. Middlesbrough had to travel to struggling Fulham. In theory it should have been three points to the northerners but it seemed they were doing their best to throw it away. Fulham went 2-0 up before Boro pulled one back. Joy was short lived as the promotion chasers promptly found themselved down to ten men. This led to a penalty and the home side 3-1 up. It looked all over. Two goals in the last twenty minutes brought them level. At 3-3, a point for Middlesbrough looked enough to deny Bournemouth the chance to seal promotion. With little time remaining the visitors goalkeeper went up for a corner and a gamble that completely failed. Fulham cleared the ball and netted a win. Middlesbrough fans must have been pulling their hair out at the clubs inability to stay in the game. It confirmed though Watford’s automatic promotion to the Premier League.

On the Monday night Bournemouth had the task of hosting Bolton. The visitors had nothing really to play for, they were safe from relegation and it was mostly pride. The first half looked like heading to a goalless conclusion. Two goals in six minutes just before half time turned the game. Goals from Pugh and Ritchie sent the home fans into jubilation. They had one hand on Premier League promotion. When the third goal went in, the home fans were in raptures. With the Cherries far superior goal difference, it would mean Charlton having to win 19-0…..That is certainly not going to happen.

The title race wasnt the only thing that was still all to play for. There was the small matter of the Play off spot chase. With Middlesbrough and Norwich securing two of the play off spots, it was down to four teams battling out for the remaining two spots. Ipswich Town, Derby County, Brentford and Wolves all hoping to get the chance of a Wembley win and the third promotion spot. Ipswich Town were home to Nottingham Forest, Derby travelled to relegation threatened Millwall, Brentford travelled to Reading and Wolves also were away to a relegation threatened side in the form of Wigan.

Ipswich scored a 2-1 win with a goal in the last ten minutes to edge closer to play off security. Derby County found themselves facing a battle against relegation threatened Millwall. The Londoners playing for their Championship place found themselves pushing themselves to a 2-0 lead. Derby County reduced the deficit to 2-1 at half time, but not long into the second half, the lead was extended. Millwall fans seemed hopeful of Championship survival. Derby were in trouble it would seem a 70th minute penalty pulled it back to 3-2 but it was still looking bleak. It was game on again for Derby as they levelled with 5 minutes to go.

Brentford scored a 2-0 victory to keep the hopes of a play off place alive into the final game. A goal in each half was enough to give the London club a slim chance of a shot at Wembley. Wolves looking to make a return to the Premier League had what could have been a banana skin trip to Wigan. It took a single goal but it was enough to keep them in touch.

Notable observation is goal difference. Derby County hold the sway with a plus 32 goal difference which could equate to an extra point. In theory County only require a point at home to Reading, but the fans and the club will want to finish off the season at home with all three points. Ipswich travel to Blackburn knowing they too only require a point to take a playoff place. They will need to aim for three points as their goal difference is only three more than Brentford and seven more than Wolves. Brentford will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the game at Brentford which was a goalless draw. This would end their playoff hopes.

Whatever happens it’s going to be an interesting finish to the Championship.