Sunday, 20 May 2018

Last season’s predictions – how did…


..I do?



As I often do, I did a season prediction piece after last summer’s transfer window closed to include the whole league table, ‘win, draw & lose’ predictions for us in the league and how I thought we might do in the cups.  

 

Here’s how I did…


The league finishing positions against my predictions


1st Manchester City (predicted 2nd – just 1 place out)
2nd Manyoo (predicted 1st – just 1 place out)
3rd Tottenham Hotspur (predicted 5th just 2 places out)
4th Liverpool (predicted 3rd – just 1 place out)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5th Chelsea (predicted 4th – just 1 place out)
6th Arsenal (predicted (7th – just 1 place out)
7th Burnley (predicted 15th – a whopping 8 places out)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8th Everton (predicted 6th – just 2 places out)
9th Leicester City (predicted 11th - just 2 places out)
10th Newcastle United (predicted 20th – a HUGE 10 places out)
11th Crystal Palace (predicted 19th – a gaping 8 places out)
12th AFC Bournemouth (predicted 16th – 4 places out)
13th West Ham United (predicted 18th – 5 places out)
14th Watford (predicted 8th – a considerable 6 places out)
15th Brighton & Hove Albion (predicted 17th - just 2 places out)
16th Huddersfield Town (predicted 13th – 3 places out)
17th Southampton (predicted 9th – a yawning 8 places out)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
18th Swansea City (predicted 10th – a cavernous 8 places out)
19th Stoke City (predicted 14th – 5 places out)
20th West Bromwich Albion (predicted 12th – a wide 8 places out)

I’ve not done as good as in previous seasons but, then again, if there were prizes for being just 1 or 2 places out then I suppose 9 isn’t bad!

Explanation time…


So why did I predict that City would NOT win the league and also dared to suggest that our neighbours from Trafford would? Well, putting it simply, I just felt that they had strengthened some of the areas that they were both ‘desperate for’ and ‘fell well short of’ the previous season and although we had most certainly improved our keeper situation with the purchase of Ederson; had massively added quality to our left & right-back slots with Benjamin Mendy & Kyle Walker and even added to our creativity with Bernardo Silva, I felt also that we were leaving ourselves short, yet again, in the out & out striker department.

And we did…in a way.

Predictably, Sergio Aguero (still achieving an excellent 30 goals / 7 assists) suffered the occasional niggle as well as a seemingly ‘season standard’ length of time out or two and Gabriel Jesus (17 goals / 3 assists) continues to be unlucky in-taking a couple of hefty season knocks that, once again, kept him out for many weeks of the season too.

But what I didn’t predict (come on, be honest…did YOU expect our midfield & wing departments to ‘pitch in’ with SO many goals last season?) was just how lethal the “support players” would be in front of goal.

-       Raheem Sterling: Despite still not being able to score when he has too long to think about it, he scored a very impressive 23 and got 12 assists

-       Leroy Sane: An excellent return of 14 goals & 17 assists

-       Kevin De Bruyne: 12 goals and a crackin’ 21 assists

-       David Silva: The ever-inspiring and seemingly improving Spaniard even found his shooting boots with 10 goals (the only part of his game you could have seriously criticised in the past) and chucked in 11 assists.

Then you’ve got the likes of Bernardo Silva with 9 goals / 10 assists; Ilkay Gundogan with 6 goals and 3 assists and Fernandinho with 5 goals and 3 assists…with the defence chucking in 14 goals and 5 assists between them.

I also had some central defence concerns but that’s all it was, really; I think I just felt that we were going to suffer a little of what we did the previous season in not being able to finish teams off. How VERY wrong I was, thankfully…and I resisted the urge, in the end, to stick 10-quid on Manyoo to win the league!

Percentage of league results correct?

 

Pre-season: 68.42%
Pre-match: 71.05%
   

Surprises for me in the league?


Despite me going for low-spending Burnley to not-only stay up but improve their league position from the previous season by 1 place to 15th, I just could not envisage them doing so very well to finish 7th and into a Europa League slot by 5 points and 11 goals difference on the team in 8th.

The big 'head scratcher' for me is seeing where Newcastle United finished. Despite a dodgy start to the season with a lot of pundits having condemned them to relegation around Christmas time and finishing it off with L L L L W, they SOMEHOW managed to finish 10th! I had ‘em down as finishing last, following not only having just come up but also a very poor, summer transfer window…

I’ve been a little shocked to see Swansea City’s slow implosion continue to the point of relegation – I thought they’d pull ‘emselves together this season and get back on course to where they were a few seasons ago. West Brom crashing out as bottom club despite a late scrap - where they got 10 points from the last 15 - raised my eyebrows also; I thought they too would stabilise. Watford also seemed to have lost momentum and have not pushed on as I expected.

City and the cups?


Champions League prediction: Quarter finals at best.
Outcome: Quarter finals (SPOT ON!)

F.A. Cup prediction: Final…and then who knows?
Outcome: 5th round (3 rounds off)

League Cup prediction: Quarter finals at least; possible final and then who knows?
Outcome: WINNERS! (it was a broad prediction that was sort of, mostly right really).

Reminder / if you didn’t know…


·         The fixtures are out on Thursday 14th June 2018

·        The Premier League summer transfer window has begun early (it started on Thursday 17th May 2018) and will also END early, following consultation with Premier League managers last season. It finishes on Thursday (what is it with that day?) 9th August, just a few days before the start of the 2018 / 19 season.



Next up: My player and other ratings for last season along with my usual 'empty seats' report...

Friday, 11 May 2018

100 up?


All sorts of records already broken in this fantastic season of ours and it’s great that we have another one to aim for in our final game of 2017 / 18.


Great send off!


I’ve spoken to other Blues since Wednesday night’s game v Brighton and all have said they enjoyed that game far more that the trophy-receiving game the previous Sunday v Huddersfield.

New kit and Yaya's last game.
The home fans were in better voice; the match was FAR better, we had a new home kit to view and the presentation at the end went far more smoothly and…just seemed more enjoyable for some reason. Strange…

I thought it was a really good “farewell” to our Ivorian ‘big man’; a great servant and such a pivotal figure over the majority of the last 8 seasons. I hope, if he feels he has it in him, he manages at least one more season in the Premier League with someone.

And…HAPPY 35th BIRTHDAY FOR TOMORROW FELLA!


 v Southampton

St. Mary's Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game which for me, Blog-wise, was the Huddersfield fixture: 10/11).

Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3:

____________________Jesus____________________







Sane__________________________________Sterling

___________D. Silva________De Bruyne__________

_________________Fernandinho_________________

Delph__________________________________Walker

____________Stones________Otamendi___________





___________________Ederson__________________


I think we’ll see a lot of rotation here from last Wednesday’s game and, also, some selections in the match-day squad with some medals in mind…

Ederson back in net following a night off in midweek.

An entire new back-4 from Wednesday to, I think, with Fabian, John, Nicholas & Kyle.

I think we’ll see Fernandinho go again; Leroy to ahead of him but joined tomorrow by rested David, Kevin & Raheem.

Gabriel the only other one of three to make another start, I’d say.

Claudio back on the side and joined by defensive replacement option in Benjamin, Danilo & Vincent (he’ll wanna be there or there abouts for a shot at 100 points…). With them being on 4 appearance and needing 5 for an automatic medal; I think we’ll see Pep make room for both Phil & Brahmin on the bench and joined by the ever-more-threatening Bernardo.

Notable absences:

-       Aymeric Laporte: Not selected despite a terrific performance against Brighton.
-       Ilkay Gundogan: Possible not selected / rested ahead of World Cup in order to fit Brahim Diaz on the bench for a 5th appearance, winners medal.
-       Yaya Toure: Given his last game for the club last Wednesday
-       Sergio Aguero: Injured.


Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?


Yes indeed.

Result? Well it would take something like us beating Southampton 5-0 and Swansea beating Stoke by the same scoreline to send our hosts down on Sunday and as free-scoring as we can be, I just can’t see both of those happening.

Therefore, we MIGHT face a side who is half on their holidays…or we might just face a team who just aren’t going to take any chances and give it their all.

Either way, I think we’ll have every gun trained on this 100-point mark and I think we’ll get it too. Should be a very good game.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Win
Result: Win

Expected weather conditions during the game: Very pleasant indeed at around 60F and mostly sunny.