Soccer

English Premier League Preview Pt. 2

Onto Part 2 of the Season Preview — let’s not waste any time:

Manchester City:

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2017: 3rd- 78 points

City are in the midst of a massive rebuild in their squad under coach Pep Guardiola. Gone are many of the players that were so crucial in City’s 2014 title season.  The great thing about rebuilding at City is money.  They have the money to buy pretty much any fucking player they want.  They’ve retooled their outside defenders by purchasing Kyle Walker from Tottenham, Danilo from Real Madrid, and Benjamin Mendy from AS Monaco.  They also splashed money on goalkeeper Ederson Moraes and young winger Bernardo Silva.

There are a lot of new faces to be inserted into City’s starting XI this season.  Pep Guardiola will be able to rely on world class veterans such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, and David Silva to compliment the new signings.  Look for City to push hard for a league title in 2018 — coming up just shy.

Predicted Finish: 2nd


Manchester United: 

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2017: 6th- 69 points (nice)

Gone are the glory days for Manchester United — since manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, they have struggled mightily.   They’ve gone through 3 managers in that time (David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho) and have not legitimately competed for a title.

The second year for highly controversial manager Jose Mourinho hopes to be more of a success than his first.  Last season, United never threatened for the league title and finished just outside the Champions League spots.  However, United won the Europa League competition which grants the winner a spot in the Champions League.  They will have to win a playoff round prior to the group stage, but the Red Devils will most likely push through.

Mourinho has brought in a few signings this summer to bolster an already strong squad on paper.  They signed Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton for £90m, defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica for £31m, and Chelsea defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic for £40m.

Look for United to have a bolstered offense and improved defense in 2018.  I still think this is a squad that is fragile.  The spotlight and pressure will prove too much for them to handle.  They’ll have to avoid the bad stretch of results that sink their season every year. It’s no wonder why they are on their 3rd manager in 4 years.  I think United will finish outside the Champions League again — leading to the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Predicted Finish: 6th


Newcastle United: 

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Welcome back Toon Army!  Last time we saw Newcastle, they were being relegated in 2015. Last season, Newcastle was able to win the Championship outright and be promoted back into the Premier League. Newcastle have always had a solid side that can compete with very best of the top division.  They have a nice mix of solid young pieces and savvy veterans. Rafa Benitez, the current manager of Newcastle, is a world renowned coach leading the charge.

Last season, the Geordies ran through EFL Championship division without much trouble. I look for Newcastle to compete and ultimately survive comfortably in the Premier League this season.

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Predicted Finish: 12th


Southampton FC:

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2017: 8th-46 Points

Southampton FC are coming off a campaign in which they finished a very solid 8th in the Premier League.   Every year they compete at high level — and every year their young star players leave for bigger clubs such as Manchester United or Liverpool.  There is always so much turnover but they develop players to compete with the very best.

I look for another solid campaign from the Saints.  They have very good players at each position group.  They’ve got Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini, English winger Nathan Redmond, Dutch centerback Virgil van Dijk, and English goalkeeper Fraser Forster.  Now, Virgil van Dijk has made it clear he would like to leave the club for a bigger team but so far there have been no updates on his move.  Even if he is lost, I am 100% confident they will fill his void.

Image result for manolo gabbiadini southampton

Predicted Finish: 9th


Stoke City FC:

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2017:  13th- 44 points

Stoke City are the perpetual middle of the pack finishers.  They are not going to push for a title —  but are not bad enough to be considered relegation candidates.  They have some crafty midfielders in Xherdan Shaqiri,  Joe Allen, and Ibrahim Afellay.  They have got England #1 goalkeeper Jack Butland and solid centerbacks in Ryan Shawcross, and Marc Muniesa.  However, they lack strength in the offensive end.  They have three strikers in Peter Crouch, Mame Diouf, and Saido Berahino.  None of these three are going to win any goal scoring titles.

Look for Stoke to finish around the middle of the pack as per usual.

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Predicted finish: 14th


Swansea City: 

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2017: 15th- 41 points

Swansea were on the brink last season.  They got off to a horrid start in the league, which led to them spending most of the first half of the season in the relegation zone.  They went through two managers in the span of 3 months.  Francesco Guidolin lasted until October 3rd and former USMNT’s manager Bob Bradley survived until December 27th. After hiring Paul Clement on January 3rd, the Swans managed to stave off relegation.

The only Welsh team in the premier league has some solid players at their disposal. Striker Fernando Llorente, midfielder Leon Britton, and defender Angel Rangel are all good enough pieces to compete with at a high level.  It is a matter of stability and coaching that seem to cause trouble for the Swans.  Star midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is linked to leave the club, but if he does they should have the tools to survive.  I look for a big bounce back season for the Welsh outfit.

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Predicted Finish: 13th


Tottenham Hotspur: 

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2017: 2nd- 86 points

The second largest North London club are on the brink of a title. Spurs have all the pieces in place for a deep title run.  Last year, a scorching hot Chelsea derailed any title hopes by the mid-way point of the season in January. They are one of the biggest clubs in England, but aren’t likely to spend a lot of money on players like Manchester United or Chelsea.  They develop their talent from within and let me tell you it is some world class fucking talent.

The main pieces to Tottenham’s title hopes are English striker Harry Kane, attacking midfield superstar Dele Alli, and midfielder Christian Eriksen.  This team is loaded top to bottom.  They have world class French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and quality central defenders in Toby Alderwield and Jan Vertonghen.  This is the year they will put it all together and end a title drought since 1961.

 

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Predicted Finish: 1st


Watford:

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2017: 17th- 40 points

Other than having the coolest crest in the Premier League, there is not much to say about Watford FC.   They survived relegation by 6 points in 2017, and I would expect another tight battle.

Other than standout striker Troy Deeney, not many players star for Watford.  There are some midfield options in ex-Manchester United youngster Tom Cleverly and Etienne Capoue.

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Predicted Finish: 16th


West Bromwich Albion:

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2017: 10th- 45 points

It was West Brom’s most successful season in the Premier League last year. They finished exactly mid-table, but at certain points they pushed for the 8th and 9th spot.

West Brom is not an exciting team.  They don’t have world class talent at any position but are able to work so well as a unit managed by Tony Pulis.  Look for striker Solomon Rondon to have a big year as he is the primary goal scorer for the Baggies.  Youngsters Jonathan Lek, and Sam Field look to be promising under-20 options in the midfield.

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Predicted Finish: 15th


West Ham United: 

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2017 Position: 11th- 45 points

It was a disastrous 2017 for the Hammers.  After stunning everyone in 2015 by qualifying for the Europa League, they crashed and burned last season.  French superstar midfielder Dmitri Payet forced a move away from the club in January.  After finishing 7th with 62 points in 2016, they finished 2017 with nearly 20 less points in the standings.

This summer, the Irons have spent a good deal of money looking to regain their form. They brought in Mexican superstar Javier Hernandez to play the striker role in a big time transfer move. They also brought in Marco Arnoutovic, a winger who spent the majority of his career at Stoke and also brought in former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Slaven Bilic was on the hot seat for most of the 2016-2017 campaign, and I would bet he will be in the same position this year.   The summer signings are a step in right direction and I expect a much more competitive campaign in 2017.

Image result for 2017 west ham disappoint

Predicted Finish: 10th


There we have it.  Just a small preview of what’s to come this year in the Premier League. Just to recap my final standings are:

Prem
Key: Green – Champions League, Yellow – Europa League, Red – Relegation

 

 

The Premier League is fucking crazy hard to predict as it can be so up and down.  I look forward to an exciting season.  As an Everton FC fan, I will continue to post about the team as the season goes on.  Come on you Toffee’s!!

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