We can almost taste it, folks. Send your excited thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s here. It’s here. It’s here.
Bloody hell, I’m excited!
Aidan, EFC, Redditch (It won’t last)
Stu (football tomorrow!), London
Anybody else ridiculously excited by what’s cooking in the premier league kitchen? I know I am.
Over in Knightsbridge the Manchester clubs have spent the day shopping in Harrods buying rare and wonderful ingredients, white truffle, perfectly aged wagyu beef and vintage bottles of Bordeaux. At home two of the worlds greatest chefs wait to cook up a storm, one temperamental and brittle but brilliant the other has reinvented modern cuisine, Amazing results seem guaranteed and fans are slavering at the thought.
Meanwhile down the road in M n S Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs have bought well but wisely all day. Their masterchef hopeful homecooks are hoping to sprinkle their own magic over their dishes to elevate them to the highest levels. All elements need to sing on the plate, fans are hungry and hopeful, will the results be what they expect?
Down in tesco the middle classes have assembled: Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Stoke have been making sensible but uninspiring purchases all week, building up their freezer for the hard winter, do they have the supplies to serve a good meal every week, will visitors be impressed with the results or will it all be a bit meh, time will tell.
Palace, Swansea, west brom and Bournemouth have been flirting between lidl and aldi picking up bargains while wondering should they blow all their social welfare dosh on a crate of designer beer to liven up the party, win or bust, the day is approaching.
Meanwhile the rest (apologies have to go to work) haven’t really given much thought it seems to the big meal approaching, a late spin to kfc or maccy d’s looks the order of the day, who knows, it might just be enough.
And Leicester? Last year they scored an absolute winner reinventing an old well loved dished with some of the freshest ingredients from the local market. Can they do it again? Why bloody not?
I for one can’t wait to see what’s been cooking, my tummy is growling, my mouth watering and I’m parched for a drink or ten.
Bring it on.
The summer’s biggest news
Big Weekend is back! I’ve not felt such immense relief since being discharged from hospital and having my first w**k in 2 months. Welcome back.
Other games to watch
Although one rarely learns much from the opening weekend, here’s my pick for the three most interesting games:
Burnley – Swansea. With five of their first seven matches at home, Burnley absolutely have to hit the ground running. The relative lack of transfer activity means their squad looks Championship-level, with the exception of keeper Tom Heaton, loan fullback Jon Flanagan, and (hopefully) striker André Gray. Reinforcements may eventually arrive, but there’s little margin for error. Swansea needed strikers and bought two from Spain, Fernando Llorente and Borja Bastón, shedding André Ayew in the process. The Ashley Williams saga has to have unsettled the defense, besides leaving them without much quality. Modou Barrow may be ready to grab a starting spot on the wing, but there’s very little depth in the squad, and no one knows how well Llorente and Baston will adapt. Although Francesco Guidolin got them over the line last year, the side rarely impressed. A slow start and the Swans could find themselves in a hole very quickly.
Southampton – Watford. Two new managers, so we get to see some tactics. Walter Mazzarri likes to play 3-5-2, but there’s some question whether Miguel Britos and Sebastian Prödl can be effective as outside centre-halves. (There’s a chance Craig Cathcart will miss the game, in which case a 4-man back line is likely.) There’s still very little creativity in midfield, and it’ll be interesting to see to what extent they go direct to Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. Claude Puel has been playing a possession-oriented diamond in preseason, which might suit Nathan Redmond up front, but maybe not Shane Long and Charlie Austin. The system requires the fullbacks to get forward regularly, and we’ll see what kind of depth the Saints have at that position, since Ryan Bertrand and maybe Cedric Soares will miss the opener. Since neither manager has had their system tested in league play, a chance for both sides to grab early points.
Chelsea — West Ham. Our first look at the new “passionate” Chelsea. A chance for Bertrand Traoré and Ola Aina to make their marks, and we’ll see how the Kanté/Matic business starts out. West Ham have injury and fitness problems, a dodgy defense, and the distraction of Europa League revenge against Astra Giurgiu. Last year the Hammers would have pulled off a draw in a game like this, but all the stat people will tell you the club overachieved last year. The bookies have Chelsea as the second biggest favorite of the weekend, behind Manchester City. A result for West Ham will say a lot about their character.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (HOW much for Yannick Bolasie???)
Is not winning the league a failure for Klopp?
I’m a Saints fan who just wants a quick ruminate on Liverpool.
In the last couple of seasons, Liverpool have bought a load of our players. Joking and fees aside, given the chance, they were the players I would have bought from our squad. We can all laugh at Brendon, but the fees paid for Lallana and Lovren will in time look like value for money. Clyne was a steel. Mane may well go on to be the best African to play in Europe, he’s that good – I genuinely believe that he is better than Samuel Eto’o and Drogba.
Here is the problem though. All the players that Liverpool acquired from Southampton, were amongst the most gifted we ever had, but all were streaky. Somehow they performed like Titans against the big teams, in front of the cameras, and then became anonymous when nobody was looking.
Footballers are humans, and most humans find it very hard to break a routine.
So here’s the thing. If Klopp is half as good as his reputation suggests, he has the tools to win the league (I think he will). If he doesn’t though, with the players they have taken from Southampton, does it constitute a failure? For me, it absolutely does.
Alternative opinions welcome?
Balotelli to Arsenal
I just noticed that Super Mario is still only 25…
Now ignoring the “screw loose” part for a minute, we have a player with a big game temperament, good foot skills, strength, speed, can shoot with both feet, head the ball – basically an all round, skillful No.9.
In the meantime, Arsenal have been talking a big game (transfer-wise) and as usual, are now on the point of going home alone and having a nice cuppa.
Could there be a match ?
Obviously, Mario is damaged goods, madder than a cut snake, etc. but maybe, with the right supportive manager and non threatening environment he could succeed.
Specifically, an environment that completely supported Lord Bendtner and Diaby well past their sell by date, but also got the best out of Le Sulk Anelka, the totally non mercenary Adebayor, and the perma-crocked Van Persie to name but a few.
Added to which; 1) the price would be right – almost nothing at this point – probably a game by game contract, 2) he’s still basically a kid with some growing up to do (Wilshire, Ox, Walcott, etc), 3) whilst Giroud will never score 20 goals in a season, Balotelli is at least capable of it, and 4) we all think he’s great, and want to see him in the Premier League (albeit, not at our team).
Food for thought…
More predictions (ours are better)
1) These “tough” new respect rules will be applied against Jordan Rhodes but will be quietly dropped when not applied against Jordan Henderson.
2) Jose to manufacture a controversy, mailbox compiler has a breakdown from manyoo fans writing in declaring it the latest fa bias against them.
3) Arsenal to have 2 bad spells and 427 crisis’s according to the newspapers. They will win 9/10 after champions league elimination and finish 4th.
4) City to lose to a lower league team in a cup competition, instantly ego of manager goes through roof, gets his team relegated while still conducting interviews about how he beat the best.
5) Everton to keep a clean sheets, be last on motd as without comical concessions there’s no entertainment and all is well with the world again.
EFCraig (6 Gary Linekers pants will cause alan shearer to prove himself as some sort of genius on an interactive tv)
(This one includes Jordon Ibe as top scorer…)
Wow! The new season is here and we are going to have one of the most competitive seasons ever due to the influx of top managers in the league.
I’m going to make an unlikely prediction. It’s so unlikely to happen but nothing could be ruled out in light of what happened last season with Vardy scoring consecutively and Leicester winning the title. Not that I believe this but the prediction has to be crazy and unbelievable.
Here I go ;
Jordon Ibe to be top scorer at the end of the season. I know you are all laughing but no one gave Vardy a chance last season but he was thereabouts in the scorers list.
Middlesbrough will have scored the most goals at the end of the season. They have made a lot of decent signings.
Arsene Wenger to be sacked before the end of the season and LVG to replace him.
Wayne Rooney and Lingard to have a great season and Mkhitaryan to struggle in both Central attacking and RW positions and benched as a result.
John Stones to end up justifying being the most expensive defender of all time and becoming a better player under Pep’s management.
Kane to score less than 10 PL goals by the end of the campaign.
Stoke city to win either of the domestic cups.
West Brom and Crystal Palace to get relegated! Yeah I know Pulis never gets relegated.
Everton to finish 5th.
Smith (not that I believe any of these. Just some crazy predictions that might probably never happen)
Different season predictions…
Rather than boldly guessing an order for the 20 teams in the league to finish, as if anyone would ever read them and scream “He’s got it, lets put our mortgage on it Sharon!”, I have decided to lay bare some other predictions. In true modern punditry style, I am going to try and be as controversial as possible – in spite of whether I truly believe in my claims.
The part media – part self created ego is not going to take the Premier League by storm.
I have seen mails claiming that Zlatan will score 30+ goals this season and play all 38 games. This strikes me as a claim that has bought into the image of Zlatan rather than what Ibrahimovic has achieved in his career. Last season Ibrahimovic played in 31 league games. He scored 38 goals. However, those 38 goals came in 23 games, with Ibrahimovic scoring more than one goal in a massive 12 of those games – or 52% for those who prefer statistics. In comparison, Jamie Vardy (who scored in the most Premier League games last season – 19) only scored more than one goal in 4 of those games – 21%. This suggests buses are less common in the English league than the French. Admittedly, Vardy played in more games, but if Ibrahimovic plays 38 games in the Premier League I’ll eat my hat.
Secondly, it is easily forgotten how hard it is to score 30+ goals in a Premier League season. It has only been done 8 times, by 7 different players (Wor Al 94-5 & 95-96), and 2 of those times came in 40+ games. To think that a man who has only ever scored 30+ goals twice (first and last seasons at PSG) in a 15 season career, at far better teams, in less competitive leagues than Manchester United in the Premier League, will be a world beater is lunacy.
Ibrahimovic’s PR team deserves a huge bonus. He’s gone from the tall, long-haired Swede who couldn’t score in England and settle at clubs, to Zlatan – the best player in the world outside of Messi and Ronaldo – all by scoring lots at the richest and best team in a poor league.
Expect 15 goals this season.
Everton will finish in the top 4
At Southampton, who sold important players both summers before the season started, Koeman directed the team predicted for far worse things than in respective previous seasons, 7th with 60 points and 6th with 63 points.
He takes over a squad which should have done far far better than they did under Roberto Martinez, including Romelu Lukaku who I (and I imagine Daniel Storey) expect to score over 20 goals this year and Idrissa Gueye – the sole positive of Aston Villa’s dire season. In regard to ‘losing’ John Stones, by signing Ashley Williams Everton have made £35 million or 1 Andy Carroll – and significantly improved their defence.
Multiple teams vying for the top spots will see more dropped points across the board rather than a runaway four!
West Ham to fight off relegation
At the start of last season Hammers were being careful what they wished for by sacking the Sam ‘contractually obliged to call him England Manager’ Allardyce, and it all went rather well. New signing Payet was a revelation, Slaven Bilic did a great job, and West Ham left their home still in the Premier League. But when do good things ever last for West Ham United? For a whole season, at least, players will not feel as if they are playing at home. Different ground, different changing rooms, different fans. West Ham’s admirable position to gift cheap tickets and large away allocation will see tourist fans, and intimidating away fans. Add into this the lack of atmosphere that culminates in a souless bowl rather than a traditional home *cough Arsenal cough* and you’ve got yourself a ground that players don’t look forward to playing in every other week.
Injuries to Adrian, Ogbonna and Payet would destroy a team already missing Cresswell and Lanzini.
Will second season syndrome hit Bilic? Who knows…what is certain is they’ll stave off relegation due to the abundance of toilet in the league this year – Hull, Burnley, West Brom, Watford, Swansea…Games that should be won by every other team in the league, including Boro and Bournemouth!
Have I mentioned they’ve got Europe to think about too?
That’ll do for now, but if you can get odds on Zlatan 15 goals, Everton in top 4 and West Ham 14th let me know!
George (I also shouted my controversial predictions) UTA
And more chants
Mamadou…he’ll always be chasing after you. (Tune of Waterloo by Abba)
I’ll Never you like Emre Can Can Can (tune of love you like I can by Sam Smith)
Next to me…Ooorigggii (tune of next to me by Emily Sande) credit the brother on that one.
Cheer me up and pop me in the mailbox as the realisation that you in the UK have Rachel Riley and Jeff Stelling on Fridays, where I have Andy Gray and Richard Keys smashing it on my Friday’s.
To the tune of the Yaya and Kolo Toure chant:
‘Kante Kante Kante Kante Kante Kante Kante. Kante!
Conte Conte Conte Conte Conte Conte Conte. Conte!’
Sasank (2 more days) MUFC
Love for Sven
Just gotta say, I really enjoyed the “Quote unquote: Sven is celebrating life, Kaiser” article, great stuff.
Not only that but also the comments that accompany it at the bottom, hats off to Chris Whewell for his comment that stated Sven looks like “he should be wearing a white coat and having the time of his life, conducting horrific medical experiments.” Couldn’t agree more, throw in some maniacal laughter and you’ve got your next Hydra commander for an Avengers film.
As an aside, while in charge of Guangzhou R&F, he was seen regularly at restaurants and bars in Guangzhou, certainly wasn’t one to hide away from everyone and really pleasant bloke, he was seen a lot at places where there are a large number of expats so he did get stopped for pics and autographs quite a bit but never looked bothered by it.
My own personal story- I was in the Irish pub near my apartment, the charmingly named Hooleys, when I spotted Sven having dinner on the next table over. I have to say, as I always am when I see someone famous, I was totally awestruck and just kinda avoided eye contact, while quietly whispering (in hindsight probably wasn’t very quiet) to my wife that ‘that guy’ on the next table was indeed ex-England manager Sven. Without even looking, she simply asked me if he was handsome, I paused for a moment and kind of just shrugged and said that he does well with the ladies. She finally looked and simply replied, “Wow, he’s so old!” …. That was that.
…And this is why you shouldn’t share your excitement about a famous manager or footballer with ur mrs if she doesn’t follow football closely. You’re amazed and all of sudden acting like a 10 year-old, and she pisses on your chips by being so nonplussed by the whole situation.
As a footnote, I also met Marlon Harewood in Guangzhou while he was spending ill-advised time at a poor Shenzhen team. I told all my French mates who he was, they did a quick google image search- first result? Him posing naked for a WHU calendar. Second result? A lookalikey image of him and a Koopa from the Super Mario Bros. movie, starring the amazing Bob Hoskins. Anyway, Marlon must have overheard us laughin our proverbial tits off cuz when I finally went over and asked for an autograph, he pretty much signed it (on my bar bill btw) without looking at the paper, his eyes never looking away from the telly. It must be tough being a pro sometimes haha.
Jon (pls, pls, pls can we have a lookalikey feature?) NUFC, Guangzhou