Sunday, 4 September 2016

Window closed – it’s prediction time…

As always, I leave my season’s predictions until after the summer transfer window closes – I personally think it makes no sense whatsoever during an ever-changing period of time to try 'n' say, with any accuracy, who’s gonna finish where / do what when teams are ‘in flux’ of strengthening or being weakened by losing players.

To start with…

Next up is…

And now for this season…

1st Manchester City               -           Up 3 on last season
2nd Manyoo                            -           Up 3 on last season
3rd Chelsea                             -           Up 7 on last season
4th Tottenham Hotspur         -           Down 1 on last season
5th Leicester City                   -           Down 4 on last season
6th Liverpool                          -           Up 2 on last season
7th Arsenal                             -           Down 5 on last season
8th Everton                             -           Up 3 on last season
9th West Ham United             -           Down 2 on last season
10th Southampton                 -           Down 4 on last season
11th Crystal Palace                -           Up 4 on last season
12th Middlesbrough              -           Last season’s place N/A
13th Stoke City                       -           Down 4 on last season
14th Swansea City                 -           Down 2 on last season
15th Watford                           -           Down 2 on last season
16th Sunderland                     -           Up 1 on last season
17th AFC Bournemouth        -           Down 1 on last season
18th West Bromwich Albion -           Down 4 on last season
19th Burnley                           -           Last season’s place N/A
20th Hull City                          -           Last season’s place N/A

And having combed through the fixtures one by one - and being as fair / level-headed as possible - I’ve come up with a final Won, Drawn & Lost record of…

W30 D7 L1  Pts 97

It’s worth noting at this point that last season’s points achievement was a mere 66; whilst league winners, Leicester, managed 81 and so if I’m right…WOW!

Our only defeat? I’ve gone for away at Chelsea, with draws away at Manyoo, Spurs, Leicester, Liverpool, often bogy-ground Everton, West Ham & Arsenal. If correct, that’ll leave us with a 100% home record in the league at least.

Please note: Pre-match predictions may well change as form, playing conditions, unexpected fixture congestions, injuries & suspensions etc. come into play as the season unfolds.

Notable movements.

Biggest climbers:
Chelsea, who leap into an automatic Champions League slot.

Biggest fallers:
Arsenal. Just one season too many for Arsene Wenger I think - minimal squad strengthening in the summer, Champions League matches to ‘factor in’ again and with teams around them strengthening SO much; I think we’ll see the French boss head out of the Emirates on a low.

Last season’s promoted sides.

I think it’s ‘straight up & back down’ for Hull City & Burnley…and that’s despite Hull’s unexpected and, indeed, amazing start to the season ‘all things considered’ and Burnley’s incredible fighting spirit and, more often than not, defensive-shape discipline.

For me Middlesbrough will do, as I correctly predicted last season, ‘a Watford’; although they’ll be hoping, I'm sure, to do it without copying The Hornet’s alarming dip in form & slide in the second half of the season.

Other notable achievements…and disappointments.

Only if correct, of course, you’ve gotta give Bournemouth credit for surviving two back-to-back seasons; boosted by the totally unexpected season-long loan signing of Jack Wilshere (if he can stay fit). I get the feeling, however, that this could be Eddie Howe’s last season before being ‘plucked’ by a club with bigger resources, not least a bigger ground capacity.

Leicester. Second season, following a league win, is always the hardest - we found that to be the case twice recently and it’s a fact generally considered by many ex-pros who have been in that position. Therefore, perhaps Leicester City won’t feel that a 4-place slip to a-still automatic Europa League position is a complete disaster; especially considering their unprecedented club achievement last season and how much those around them have improved their squads and managerial situations over the summer. The Foxes have strengthened too, though, and have not lost too much in terms of quality; managing to retain some very key players. And, I have to add, whilst we’ve been given Barcelona again; the Midlands outfit have been given a Champions League group that they can very-well progress from at their first attempt and might not, therefore, test their Premier League focus too much. I have to say that these are my biggest doubt, prediction-wise, and they might just pip Spurs to 4th place.

West Brom’s failure to strengthen in the summer and failing to off-load troublesome Saido Berahino all seems too much for Manager Tony Pulis; who may now be heading out of the door in the next few days. If the board manage to smooth things over for now, I’m sure they’ll still be left with an unhappy camp and I think, therefore either way, this’ll be their undoing this season.

Back to us…

Champions League?
Final…and then who knows!

Final…and then who knows!

Quarter Final

If correct, I’ll take that in Pep’s first season!

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