The Coming Season

After having a break from writing due to not having enough time to fit it in, I have finally got around to sitting down and putting something together!

I will start with my Premier League predictions for the new season.

I shall start alphabetically with my team Arsenal. Predicted finish: 1st

Yes I understand that I said this last season, but we looked dangerous last season and broke the ‘hoodoo’ of not being able to beat anyone in the top 5. Beating both Manchester clubs & Liverpool last season we jumped along in strides and also collected a consecutive FA Cup. This team is going places and is in a winning mindset. On top of that making a shrewd acquisition in Petr Cech, who is already making a contribution to the team with his wealth of knowledge, experience and prowess. He looked right at home in his debut against Everton and despite being beaten by a thundering shot from Ross Barkley, made a crucial save and commanded the area well. First big test will be against Chelsea in the Community shield. That being said, over the course of the season we will look safer at the back and deadlier up front. My side prediction of Alexis Sanchez getting the Golden Boot should also be mentioned. All this being said i think Chelsea will really push us for the title and think it could go down to the last game of the season. Arsenal should finish with 83 points.

Aston Villa: Predicted finish 15th

Aston Villa look to be saved under Tim Sherwood, I was impressed with what I saw of Villa after he took over. He now has a chance of getting a pre season with the team and bringing in his own players and also after just selling Benteke will be able to sign a big(ish) name to fill his boots. They have made 3 good additions so far and not to mention they battled hard to get to the FA Cup final last season, that is no easy going. I still think they will struggle to crack the Top 10 but this is a work in progress and will take a few years to get Villa back to what I remember of them up in Europa League spots.

Bournemouth: Predicted Finish 17th

This is a big gamble saying they will stay up. I have doubts they will, as the sheer number of players coming in and not having a chance to settle and integrate properly in a new league to them. That being said I think they have got some good players in with a mix of experience and fresh talent. Sylvain Distin & Artur Boruc have Premier League experience and will bring that to the back 4. Also Tyrone Mings is the next big thing and should develop well if playing next to an experienced player like Distin. They will struggle to get points but I see them as this year’s Leicester and sort themselves out near the end of the season.

Chelsea: Predicted finish 2nd

We are all aware what Chelsea are capable of. They will look to replicate what they had last year, yet I don’t believe it’s the same story. Losing Cech will of rocked them and Mourinho in a big way. Yes they have a great replacement in Courtois, yet losing such a big player can have a negative impact on a team. Look at Arsenal when the Invincibles started to melt away. We were never the same again. They will push and challenge but you know the saying, when you’re on top you’re a target to get picked off. I think if Arsenal beat them at the Emirates, which isn’t likely if we’re honest. If they do though, like when they beat City last season and get over the hoodoo, then we shall see the swing towards Arsenal and the vital point swing that will come in handy at the end of the season. Chelsea should finish with 82 points.

Crystal Palace: Predicted finish 11th

Crystal Palace have made a cracking signing with Yohan Cabaye, you see teams signing lots of players but sometimes all you need is the right signing to make the difference. I think he will shine under Pardew again. I think Bolasie will be their key player like he was at the tail end of last season, yet again I was quite impressed with what I saw of Palace last season and expect good things from them.

Everton: Predicted finish 9th

I know this sounds low and it’s nothing against Everton, I genuinely think they play attractive attacking football under Martinez, but I think it’s the teams around them that have improved more and will finish higher. Europa League spots will be hotly contested this year. I see them getting wrapped up with Man City, Stoke, Spurs & Swansea/Southampton. Leaving little room for Everton, I just think they’ll lose out to these others, whilst keeping a good home record but falling short away from home to those around them.

Leicester: Predicted finish 16th

I think Claudio Ranieri is a good choice in taking over from Pearson, he’s done well in the past in the Premier League, admittedly he had millions to spend under Chelsea and already had a good team around him at the time as it was the beginning of the Abramovich era. This is a different challenge for him and it all hinges on how they start the season. If they get off to a flyer like last year they will greatly appreciate the points at the end of the season and will keep them clear of relegation.

Liverpool: Predicted finish 4th

Another gamble considering they have pretty much bought Southampton and it didn’t work amazingly last season. Yet I think if Benteke can get firing under Rodgers then he will push the team back into the Top 4. The players and talent are there it’s just whether they can work together and I think now the shadow of Stevie G has left they can start a new clean slate under Henderson, who I don’t dislike completely and think that he’ll step up and be a good successor. Plus they don’t have that Sterling drama hanging around their neck anymore. Coutinho will be there key player, I know we only saw glimpses of his brilliance (Liverpool fans claim it was in every game) I feel he will have his breakthrough season this year and really make an impact. It will be interesting to see what Rodgers does with him and Firmino.

Man City: Predicted finish 5th

City fans won’t believe me obviously but hear me out. They are in a transition period, though they are addressing the ageing squad problem by buying young English talent, it doesn’t automatically fix the problem. The only consistent player will be Sergio Aguero, who is still the best striker in the league in my eyes. He will carry the team this year, his goals will be vital in keeping them in contention. I hope to see David Silva return to his best also. Let’s just hope they don’t forget Yaya’s birthday this time around either!

Man United: Predicted finish 3rd

Van Gaal will bring the best out of his team this year, after making proper additions of his own and starting a dynasty. Trying to replicate the whole ‘galacticos’ thing, I think Schweinstieger will be crucial if he can stay fit, which I highly doubt. He’ll have a good 8 weeks at either end of the season and that’ll be it. This being said I think that this is the year that we see the re-emergence of the Man United we used to see under Ferguson. I think they’ll finish on 80 points.

Newcastle: Predicted finish 16th

I’m not sure what to think of Steve McClaren, yes he’s got experience but i’m not sure he’ll do well this time around in the Premier League and I think Newcastle will suffer as a result and I don’t see him lasting the duration of the season. I’m not usually one to write someone off before i’ve seen what they can do but I just have a bad feeling about Newcastle. Wijnaldum is a good signing but I feel they already have good options in attacking players. Cabella should have a good season but Cisse’s inconsistency will prove to be the downfall of Newcastle this season.

Norwich: Predicted finish 20th

From what I saw in the playoffs, Norwich were a force to be reckoned with but this is a completely different kettle of fish and a massive step up. Nathan Redmond is a player i’ve always admired and I think he’ll be their key player but in the Premier League you can’t rely on just one player. I don’t think they have good enough options to compete properly in the league. They will scrap with Sunderland & Watford for survival but all 3 will go down. I think it will go down to the last day much like a few years ago when Qpr stayed even though they lost to Man City, with Norwich losing out and finishing bottom.

Southampton: Predicted finish 6th/7th

This is the toughest section, so tough that I can’t decide. I have been so impressed with Southampton, Stoke and Swansea and where they are going as clubs that it’s difficult to see who will prevail in the fight for the Europa League spots. I see Southampton coming close to Champions League football but missing out. They’ll be in the top part of the Europa League places though. I’m excited to see what Jordy Clasie is all about, not much to add as Southampton were the amazing surprise package last season.

Stoke: Predicted finish 7th/8th

Mark Hughes is working well at Stoke and I see a 5th/6th place finish next season. This season he will be just shy of that as this is a club on the up, trying to build something. I love seeing Bojan in this league and I feel if he can stay injury free he will really crack on this season and prove to be an amazing asset. Not much to add to this either.

Sunderland: Predicted finish 18th

Dick Advocaat did the unthinkable and saved Sunderland last season, now this could go either way, they could get relegated like I think or do what Southampton did and become a surprise package. I don’t think their new signings will add much to them this season. I don’t rate Sebastian Coates and obviously not fond of Kaboul. Jermain Lens is an unknown quantity and only time will tell if he’s up to the job, I can’t comment as I don’t know anything about him. I think it will be a slow finish for Sunderland, they will decline near the end of the season, get a surprise win and think they’re safe and drop back into relegation on the penultimate game of the season and have their fate sealed on the final day.

Swansea: Predicted finish 8th/9th

I can Swansea doing well this time out, they have made amazing additions to their squad so far and think that if they hit form at the right time they could achieve their highest ever finish. Yet this is unlikely and feel they will creep into Europa League with a string of top draw performances. Though I haven’t predicted Europa League spots properly as I haven’t vectored in Spurs, it really will be a massive scramble between Swansea & Stoke who both have so much to offer! Watch out for Andre Ayew.

Spurs: Predicted finish 6th-8th

Spurs will reach their customary Europa League spot and have periods of good performances and do the same thing they do every year and declare they will make Top 4, only to fail miserably. They will make a few shock wins against big opposition, maybe Man City & Arsenal (at White Hart Lane) but that will be the extent of their glory this season. Expect mediocrity from a team that should really be fighting for Top 4. They will really begin to suffer when the stadium move starts to begin.

Watford: Predicted finish 19th

Watford have made 3 strong signings in Capoue, Behrami & Vydra. Will it be enough to keep them up, probably not. Expect some spectacular performances against other lower half teams, but not reaching the grade points wise. I hope they prove me wrong but I just see them as one of those yoyo clubs that will fall back down to the Championship and keep a large chunk of TV money for their troubles.

West Brom: Predicted finish 13th

I like Tony Pulis and think he’s a good manager, very consistent and I believe he will do the job. Yet again mid table security though as I don’t think his team have the drive to push into the Top 10. Maybe a good cup run would lift them? It’s hard to tell which way they are heading. The bookies are slashing odds for them to be relegated, I don’t believe the hype on this occasion.

West Ham: Predicted finish 12th

Haven’t seen anything of Slaven Bilic so can’t judge, the club have made sound additions to an already good team. I feel they will do well this year but fear the manager might come under criticism as it’s all a big change from Big Sam and what people are used too. Nonetheless, they will finish strong yet short of what they are capable of.

As always thank you for reading! It’s just a bit of fun, don’t take it to heart.

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No Longer A Beautiful Game

Here I go again, another football post. My last one got me thinking about things. I want to ask a question to people. Should we regulate football clubs and what they spend?

1. Wages – It has been revealed today that Wayne Rooney has signed a new deal at Manchester United, earning himself £300,000 a week, or £1.2M a month. I mean really? I understand world class players deserve to be paid a good wage because football careers are short and all that but still is he really worth that much? He’s not even world class anymore, in my opinion he never was. He was just England’s best striker, but in case you hadn’t noticed England aren’t amazing at international level. I think personally if you set a rate for wages, you’d get more quality footballers out there and bring the game alive again. Instead nowadays you just get athletes who can kick a ball and who are just after money and don’t care about the game. If you capped salaries, only people that were passionate about playing football as a career would play and you’d get real passion back on the pitch. There should be a wage structure in place for the big clubs much like in other companies and organisations. Everyone starts at the same wage, but you get bonuses for goals scored, clean sheets, wins & cups and like in a some jobs you get a raise every year of service for your club, encouraging players to stay at one club rather than going all over the place. Look at people like Steven Gerrard, Tony Adams, etc… one club men, something you don’t get anymore because people are lured away by big salaries. I don’t like that football as a game is run like a business now and it’s ALL about money.

 

2. Transfers – Transfer valuations are ridiculous. How do you value a player? I think they should reset valuations and the best players in the world should be valued at around £25 million. No player is worth more than that to a club. I mean I remember back when I was young, there was a player called Christian Vieri and he was sold for £28 million at the time and I literally couldn’t fathom the amount of money that is, but now that’s not really considered very much money, but just think about that number for a second. £28 million, in fact think of the number £1 million. A million pounds is a lot of money to normal people and after all football is ‘the working man’s game’. I just think that the big clubs ruin it for everyone treating it as a money game, yes Arsenal are included this also, I will happily put my hand up and admit that about my own club, but we aren’t that bad in comparison to some others. I will use the Gareth Bale sale as an example as well of course, do you really think that he is worth £86 million, that’s about the equivalent of 3 Juan Mata’s right? Is he three times the player of Mata, no. It could do with a serious overhaul.

 

3. Contracts – Contracts mean nothing anymore, they should just do away with a “4 year contract” and do a yearly contract with every player so there’s no confusion. What’s the point in having a contract when nowadays most players are bought before it even ends, there’s no loyalty anymore between players and clubs. You should trust the player and that he wants to stay at the club, so when it comes around to the end of the contract, he can decide to stay and sign an extension of a year again or he can move onto another club for a fee.

 

4. Nationality – I know they’ve tried to clamp down on it but it’s not an English game like it once was, I don’t know what percentage of the team has to be English but I don’t think it’s enough. Yes yet again I know Arsenal are bad for this and I know it makes the Premier League one of the best in the world for it’s diversity, but the reason we aren’t great on an international level might have something to do with the big clubs not having enough room for English talent. I’ll use Arsenal as an example as I know the team well, of the starting 11 how many are English (or potential starting 11)? Gibbs, Wilshere, Oxlade- Chamberlain and Walcott. So that’s 4 of 11. That’s not even half, this is where we are going wrong, if all the teams were made to have more English players at their clubs it would be so good for young English talent.

 

 

5. Tackling – I know this is off topic but I need to put it out there as this is a football post, but I miss a good strong tackle nowadays. If it’s one thing that needs to change about the current game is what is deemed as a good challenge. I’ll use that Wes Brown challenge on Charlie Adam a couple months back as a PERFECT example. Wes Brown committed to a strong sliding challenge and won the ball, which when I was growing up you were taught to do, as long as you got the ball it didn’t really matter too much about connecting with the other player, it’s a physical sport at the end of the day. However, he slightly clipped Charlie Adam in doing so, who didn’t even go to ground I might add, and Wes was sent off for the intent of the challenge, the intent of winning the ball?! It’s just too crazy all these rules that the FA come up with and it’s spoiling the game that I know and love, red cards should be left to an accumulation of yellow cards, violent conduct and straight red offenses like tackling from behind.

 

6. Diving – This needs to be stamped out in every sense. To start they need to change the term from “winning a free kick/penalty” to “being awarded a free kick/penalty” after all it is down to the referee to decide not the players to go out looking for them. If you are fouled whilst trying to play the ball then a foul is awarded, it’s shameful players look for any contact and go down just to get a free kick or penalty. We should be encouraging them to stay on their feet and carry on, then bring the play back and penalise the offender, for my example I shall use an Arsenal vs Liverpool game from my childhood, where Robbie Fowler was through on goal, tried to round David Seaman, Seaman tried to pull out of the way and Fowler lost his footing as he was clipped, instead of making a big deal of it, Fowler went to the referee and said it wasn’t a foul and play was resumed. You wouldn’t even dream of seeing that today, now they are told to win the penalty and go down if caught at all. I think it’s ridiculous.

 

 

Sorry for going so off topic on the last two but i’m passionate about football as a game and hate what has become of this amazing sport these days.