More Predictions (Ours Are Out Friday)
Petr Cech to show why Courtois took his spot: Cech has had a year out pretty much and is joining a team that seems to break keepers. If is poor judgement on Sunday had cost a goal then seen plenty of gunners questioning his ability and confidence.
Benteke to have a ‘meh’ season: Won’t score more than 12 goals(out of 30 games), will show that he is more than just a target man but will often be isolated and will have the new Liverpool signing curse of missing penalties. He will have 1 game where he is unstoppable, probably against Spurs
Man Utd to play good football, at a cost: Fellani will play less than last year and United will enjoy more possession. Schweini will start very well but will struggle for fitness from Christmas on and Fellani will ruin all possession stats. Rooney will have his lowest goals return at striker and Mata and Herrera won’t play enough unless every other midfielder gets injured for large parts of the season.Will struggle in Europe and in league matches around Europe.
Sterling to prove his worth: Obviously this is what us Liverpool fans don’t want to admit, he will be brilliant. At Liverpool, he was the main threat and man marked from minute 1. At City, he is just 1 player who can win a game on his own. With less focus on him (from the opposition that is), he will thrive. If Aguero stays fit, City will win the league. He’ll teach Raheem to finish too and they will both get plenty of goals. Kompany will sort his head out and be a beast again, rather than the clumsy oaf from last year.
Liverpool to struggle from set-pieces at both ends: Liverpool conceding from corners and free-kicks is nothing new, but without Gerrard out attacking set-pieces will be awful. Coutinho is brilliant but his set-pieces are bang average and no one else in the squad is any better. With such a big squad, it will be a struggle to keep everyone happy. We really have far too many attacking midfielders. Entertaining to watch but will struggle in big games and against physical opposition(as usual)
Southampton to struggle: I just think they can’t keep selling their best player and improving. This time a lot of people are saying how good they are replacing people and expecting to get even better. This is a recipe for disaster. Koeman will be sacked this year.
Fergus, Galway, LFC
…Champions: (Chelsea) People keep talking about potential injuries to key players, but I just don’t see it mattering too much. Mourinho is a master of swatting aside the lower teams and the must-not-lose attitude towards big games will see them through. I can see it being much closer than last year though.
Rest of top four in order: (Arsenal, City, United) Another season of progress for Arsenal and a genuine title challenge. So many options up top and a settled backline with Cech in goal will stop them Arsenalling up as frequently, but I still expect them to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory at home to Norwich or something. City will be like Liverpool circa 2013/14, a wonderful front-line that leaves an average defence exposed. Guaranteed top scorers, but an ageing Toure with an average Delph/Fernando/inho, out of form Zabaleta and Kompany and an out on his arse Mangala will be exposed. They may realise how much they miss Milner’s industry. United to be as erratic as last year. Their approach to building a team is akin to repairing the Golden Gate Bridge, finishing one section while the other falls into disrepair.
Europa League: (Liverpool, Spurs) I think Liverpool and Spurs will run it close, but ultimately miss out. Brendan’s still not bolted the back door (sensing a theme here) and that horror start will leave them with too much ground to make up while the new team is still gelling. Spurs have actually invested well on their defence but have placed too much faith in Harry Kane’s fairy-tale. I have a feeling they’ll go far in the cups and it may cost them.
FA Cup: (Spurs) Just because I feel like they deserve a proper trophy. Eriksen to score a delicious free-kick in every round.
League Cup: (Derby) I live in London and wanted to see my team at Wembley without going via the playoffs. Please god not the playoffs.
Champions League: (Barcelona) SNM too much for everyone again.
Relegation: (Leicester, Norwich, Watford) Villa to stay up by a point. Leicester and Ranieri are too much of an odd couple, Norwich are too weak throughout the team and Watford are a completely unknown entity but I’m 83% certain they’ll be shite.
Player of the Year: (Sanchez) There is no part of his game that isn’t world class. He is lightning in a bottle and I love him dearly.
Young Player of the Year: (Sterling) First step on the road to redemption, before he cocks up at the Euro’s when he’s flanked by Rooney and Welbeck instead of Silva and Aguero.
Team that everyone forgets about: (Swansea) Will comfortably finish in the top 10 again with minimal fuss and an occasional “Jonjo Shelvey is Zinedine Zidane reincarnate” game
Goal of the season: (Aguero) to score a screamer to cap off a wonderful team move.
First manager to go: (Quique Flores) 5 managers in 12 months already? Easy pick.
Top Scorer: (Aguero) Though if he’s out for any long period of time someone like Rooney may catch him.
The 50-50 signing: (Marko van Ginkel) Was tipped for huge things a few years back, can he rediscover that potential? Same for Afellay and most of Stoke’s purchases to be honest.
Worst signing: If Villa do sign Adebayor I’ll put all my eggs in this basket. Otherwise I’ll go £7m for Robbie Brady.
Funniest moment of the season: Villa beat West Brom with a last minute winner in the West Midlands derby due to an incredibly soft penalty, Sherwood goes ballistic and Pulis enters a rage so powerful he has to be pulled off him by the combined efforts of the entire Villa and West Brom benches, as well as few stewards and players.
Andy Burridge (DCFC)
Biting On Chelsea
Okay Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London, I’ll bite.
– Over-reliance on Costa: Surely this still remains? All 3 strikers have injury problems and it is far from certain that Falcao’s form will return. The only way he’ll get regular game time will be because of injuries. I’ll admit that on paper it is a very strong strike force but they’re probably all fighting for one place so will rarely play together. I know Costa and Falcao played together at Atletico but Costa won’t be so happy to play second fiddle and two strikers doesn’t suit Mourinho’s style of play.
– Over-reliance on Matic: not buying that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the second coming. Jose has a poor record bringing through youth and don’t see him trusting someone thats played only 3 times in the league. Manchester United had an over-reliance on Carrick last season so signed Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin. That’s how to stregthen a squad.
– Over-reliance on Hazard: Haven’t seen anything from Moses or Cuadrado that hints at adequate support and Oscar and Willian have been turned into workhorses. All creativity in the team is firmly on the shoulders of Hazard and Fabregas, the latter of which has a habit of weakening in the second half of the season.
– Risk of injuries: Anything said here is pretty speculative but surely the risk goes up with a tighter title race where points dropped are more damaging and Chelsea actually progress to the latter stages of the FA Cup and Champions League.
– At least you admit you’re weaker in defence. I don’t know a lot about Baba Rahman but he surely isn’t an upgrade on Luis who was part of the Atletico side that won the league and made the Champions League final playing a gritty style similar to Mourinho’s. Terry will turn 35 and Ivanovic’s form has declined. John Stones would be a good addition but at the moment he is still just potential and currently behind Phil Jones and Chris Smalling for England.
– Squad Depth:
Goalkeepers, very strong but Begovic is a downgrade on Cech.
Defenders, currently only 5 although I admit that at least one more will be signed. Still doesn’t leave much room for problems with form or fitness.
Central midfielders. Probably fine although Ramires, Mikel and Loftus-Cheek are a big step down from Fabregas and Matic.
Attacking Midfielders: Cuadrado, Ramires and Moses have not proved themselves to be title winning back-up as shown by Mourinho’s reluctance to integrate them into the team at the end of last season. Fabregas can play further forward but that leaves a whole behind him.
Strikers: see first point.
It seems to me that Chelsea are hoping the same players maintain their form while also not getting injured over a 60-game season. And as you say, all your rivals have strengthened.
Yudi, MUFC, Wales
No, They WILL Win League
Sarah Winterburn was rather damming of my beloved blues in her piece regarding the top table. I get that most fans will probably be wishing her opinions ring some truth however unbalanced they are.
Eden Hazard was indeed the stand out player in the league by a country mile last season. He may not be able to emulate that form this season but what’s to say he can’t be even better this time around? Another year older and more experienced, still with his ‘peak years’ ahead of him and ever growing in confidence. There is more evidence to suggest he will continue to improve as a player, as much as everyone hopes not.
Also, has anyone actually considered that there might be a reason why Chelsea’s players manage to stay injury free, where other teams often struggle in this area. Chelsea played the same starting 11 more than any other team last season yet still managed to keep their star players fit. To dismiss this as luck is extremely single minded.
Other teams have indeed strengthened but there are many different variables involved with large overhauls in squads. Chelsea have excellent balance in theirs and a outrageously successful manager. Interestingly Arsenal have been tipped for a major improvement this season despite an equal lack of additions. This is based purely on a togetherness and balance within their squad; why does this warrant the opposite opinion of Chelsea’s chances?
Everyone is of course entitled to an opinion, but it could at least be based on something other than the hope of a team’s failure.
I cannot wait for Saturday!
Sean, CFC, London
United Are On The Up, Enjoy It
I keep reading a lot of people writing in questioning Van Gaal and his methods, be it the Di Maria situation, his handling of youth team products or the high turnover of players. I assume these are younger fans who don’t remember his Ajax team of the mid nineties, most of who were youth team products and conquered all before them.
Firstly on Di Maria, was it a failure of management? I don’t think so, it’s no secret United were not his preferred destination so when it became clear to him that he’d be able to go there this summer he clearly became distracted. This would have happened under any manager.
Secondly on the youth team players, his record throughout his career, not just at Ajax, proves that he is a man who will give young players a break but only if they’re of the required standard, Welbeck is a decent player but is he good enough to lead the line for a side chasing the title? Absolutely not, he’s a mid table striker at best, I’ve shed no tears at his departure. Cleverly is better than he appeared under Moyes but again, is he good enough? No.
Thirdly, yes there have been big changes to the squad but as I see it that’s exactly what the squad needed. Fergie in his latter years was coasting and as a result the squad fell into disrepair, he was then replaced by a man who didn’t know what to do so did virtually nothing to help things. I expect only slight tweaks from now on, if I’m wrong I will be concerned but for now.
I don’t see the club finally spending some of the colossal amounts of cash it has on the squad rather than on the Glazers as a bad thing.
We’re on the up, enjoy it!
Pedro Is The Answer
I thought I would write in in the vain hope that I know what is going on in the iron tulips head aside from mentally punching Valdes and secretly wishing that Muller confesses his love for him and everything Manchester United.
Currently it seems that he has decided to go with Depay in at number 10 with a front three of Young, Rooney and Mata. This is how i would assume we are going to line up our attacking options against Spurs. Now Van Gaal’s very open flirtation with anything rapid is bewildering everyone who has seen Depay play or even just youtube clips as the boy is a monster across the ground, we are talking Ronaldo-esque speed. (before everyone jumps down my throat comparing there speed not saying they are as good as one another.)
I am trying to work out why the manager obviously, and correctly in my opinion, highlights speed and yet want play our faster player in his best position and then plays Mata on the wing when he is the perfect number 10 instead.
This bring us to Pedro, I think that Van Gaal enjoyed Young’s commitment to his Philosophy and is therefor reluctant to drop him, or shift him to the right hand side, because of his lack of left foot, it negates his ability to come inside. I think once Pedro or another option to play on the right hand side of the front 3 comes in we will see Mata come into the number 10 role and a front 3 of Depay, Rooney and Pedro. Suddenly the attack is now the fastest in the league, As much as people laugh at fat Rooney he records some of the fastest top speeds in the league and with matt to make the intelligent passes we could see a blistering and creative attack.
That is what van Gaal is definitely planning! or you know he is isn’t, and he is going to replace de Gea with Fellaini and Romero is going to be put up front, in a David James style move.
Alex MUFC (trying to work out van Gaal is actually harder than my degree)
Did anyone else watch the Thierry Henry Premier League Legends programme on Sky? It was so good to hear it straight from the horses mouth. Dispelling so many rumours about the relationship between the him and Wenger.
In his own words. “I chose to leave Juve to work with Wenger. I wasn’t playing badly or struggling in any to way to adapt. I was playing well and helping the team but I wanted to work with Wenger”. So it’s hardly the same story as Wenger plucking him from Juve reserves and turning him into a great striker. He played almost every game for Juve and was playing well he just wanted to work with Wenger again.
The second point that I loved. “Wenger didn’t turn me from a winger to a striker. I had always played as striker my whole career. He gave me belief I was good but all he done was play me in the position I have always played”. So basically another load of rubbish to tell us just how good Wenger is. pahaha. He did also say “can you actually call me a striker as I was never in the box” which is maybe why people think he was changed from a winger.
Anyway Can you all please now stop talking rubbish about how Wenger made Henry this striker out of nowhere. Straight from Thierry’s mouth himself the truth is a lot different.
I was watching the video of Robert Lewandowski’s bullet goal in a friendly and noticed something in the comments. There was this debate that who of Lewa and Luis Suarez is a better number 9.
There wasn’t even a mention of My Chelsea’s Diego Costa. Why? The man has scored more goals than the Uruguayan and The Pole in the past two seasons despite leading a team that has significantly less creativity in attack than Bayern or Barca.
He is feisty and has an unfortunate mug so are those things counted against him? It surely can’t be his goal scoring. I mean what has a guy got to do to at least be in the running for the best targetman?
The Real Quiz
1st November. Southampton v Bournemouth.
You heard it here first.
Blue Tim (I nicked it from my sister anyway)
Is it sycophancy to propose ’40 year old urgin” for headline of the day?
Strong work that man / woman.
“Goal of the season: Got a real hunch this could be Hector Bellarin…don’t know why.”
Wacko Jacko, London let me solve that mystery for you. It might be something to do with your Arsenal bias sneaking into your predictions of Bellerin GOS, Arsenal second, Chelsea fourth and Sanchez as top goalscorer.
Next time you have a “hunch” try looking beyond your Carl Jenkinson-esque bedroom mate.