Month: July 2016

2016–17 Premier League Predictions

Last year, my Premier League predictions were pretty good, and the end result of the season even better. I haven’t quite been put off giving Premier League premonitions another stab – so without further ado here are my fully unqualified assessments of all 20 clubs.

Arsenal

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Last season: 2nd
Bookies’ prediction: 4th
Random prediction for season: Fans at the Emirates to hold at least one half-hearted “Wenger Out” protest. 

Once more, Arsenal failed to meaningfully challenge for the Premier League title, after apparently winning it with a late winner against 10-man Leicester in February. The Gunners pinned all of their joy on their accidental triumph Spurs last term instead. It seems to be a never-ending case of deja vu with Arsene Wenger, once again he has failed to make any game-changing signings in the transfer window, meaning they’re unlikely to scoop the title. As has become customary, I predict Arsenal settling for a place on the podium without ever really looking close to gold. 3rd. 

Bournemouth

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Last season: 16th
Bookies’ prediction: 14th
Random prediction for season: Eddie Howe to win a Manager of the Month award.

There is no doubt that Bournemouth have one of the country’s most capable managers in Eddie Howe, and after a promising first season in the top-flight, avoiding “Second Season Syndrome” will be the Cherries main aim. I expect next season to be tougher for the South Coast Side but shrewd signings in Lewis Cook and Jordan Ibe should add to a squad capable of keeping their necks above water. 16th.

Burnley

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Last season: 1st (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 19th
Random prediction for season: Sean Dyche to bemoan a lack of transfer funds following a defeat to a wealthy side.

The Clarets’ main asset is their togetherness. Sean Dyche has been able to instill a great work ethic and stability to what is, on paper at least, an extremely modest squad. Burnley have done tremendously well in the last three seasons but they don’t seem to have learned from their errors two years ago. Even great teams need quality additions following promotion to the top-flight, and we know given the value of that promotion, Burnley aren’t lacking in cash. Dyche needs to put his money where his mouth is or the Clarets are doomed. 19th.

Chelsea

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Last season: 10th
Bookies’ prediction: 3rd
Random prediction for season: Jose Mourinho to win at the home of his former club.

There is little doubt that last season’s placing belied Chelsea’s actual quality. The Blues have made a good appointment in Antonio Conte and their flagship signing of N’Golo Kanté will prove to be a very good one. That being said, there is little to suggest that any changes this Summer at Stamford Bridge have done enough to eradicate the gap between them and last season’s front runners. A season of rebuilding for Chelsea. 4th.

Crystal Palace

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Last season: 15th
Bookies’ prediction: 12th
Random prediction for season: Alan Pardew to be the first manager sacked.

The Eagles crashed at the end of last season, winning just two league games after Christmas. Alan Pardew is no stranger when it comes to overseeing calamitous spells of form following an extended purple patch. In truth, I fear the second Crystal Palace we saw last season will be a fairer reflection of them this term. They’ve made smart signings in Andros Townsend and Steve Mandanda but their season rests on Pardew’s ability to get them out of a rut. 17th.

Everton

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Last season: 11th
Bookies’ prediction: 9th
Random prediction for season: Romelu Lukaku to score 15+ goals again

Despite their being major upheaval at the senior level of Everton Football Club, the on pitch-personnel remains much the same. Whilst I expect the Toffees’ new found wealth and appointment of Steve Walsh as Director of Football to pay dividends in the long run, their crucial appointment for the next campaign will be Ronald Koeman as manager. He’s a man who possesses the ability to get an underachieving side producing more acceptable results. 9th.

Hull City

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Last season: 4th (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 20th
Random prediction for season: Hull to scalp Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium

Hull have seemingly mirrored Burnley’s conservative approach to transfers following their return to the Premier League. That alone would have been enough to make a case for Hull to go straight back down, given how unprepared the looked for the top-flight in the second half of last season. But, as we have learned in the last few days, manager Steve Bruce, who has been integral to their recent success has departed. Things are looking weary on Humberside. 20th.

Leicester City

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Last season: 1st
Bookies’ prediction: 7th
Random prediction for season: Leicester to reach the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

The Champions of England (that feels so good to type) shocked the footballing world last term with their stunning domestic triumph. Whilst, the ‘experts’ are ready to knock the Foxes down a peg or eight, there is little to suggest that Leicester have depreciated as a side. Losing Kanté will be a big blow but the Foxes have recruited well and Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell can come to the forefront next term too. Leicester’s test this term won’t be maintaining their standards but will be balancing their title defence against an extremely testing schedule and a bigger pool of competition. 5th.

Liverpool

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Last season: 8th
Bookies’ prediction: 5th
Random prediction for season: Liverpool to beat Manchester United at least once.

Despite being lauded by football hipsters the nation over, Jurgen Klopp’s appointment in October 2015 did little to boost Liverpool’s prospects. Of course this is Klopp’s first chance at shaping a side at Anfield from the very start of a campaign and the signings of Sadio Mané, Joel Matip and Georginio Wijnaldum are intriguing but do little to convince me that the Kop will have anything great to shout about this time next season. 7th.

Manchester City

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Last season: 4th
Bookies’ prediction: 1st
Random prediction for season: Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to have a touchline row. 

Chelsea aside, Manchester City were the most disappointing of all the ‘big boys’ last season. A squad that has delivered so much in recent years was reduced to a damp squib with the Citizens barely keeping pace until February. Pep Guardiola’s appointment should prove to be a masterstroke. He’s the man in management with the Midas touch, if anyone can reinvigorate this side then it is him – and I predict he will do just that. 1st.

Manchester United

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Last season: 5th
Bookies’ prediction: 2nd
Random prediction for season: Ibrahimovic to be United’s top goalscorer.

It will be intriguing to see how Jose Mourinho’s managerial prowess has been affected by the calamitous form that led to his Chelsea exit. Whilst there is no doubt Mourinho is a world class manager and that are United are one of the world’s great clubs, both have known better times. Mourinho should be able to get Manchester United to loftier heights than his predecessor, particularly if his big-money motormouth can score goals. 2nd.

Middlesbrough

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Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 18th
Random prediction for season: Middlesbrough to beat Sunderland home and away.

It’s been a fair old while since Premier League football graced Teeside, and it’s never been readier for it’s return than right now. Thanks to excellent facilities and a top-class manager, Middlesbrough have arguably done the best transfer business pound for pound. The recruitment of Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes are statements of real intent. I would have made a real case for Boro surviving without these marquee signings but with these star turns included, I’d say their survival is near certain. 12th. 

Southampton

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Last season: 6th
Bookies’ prediction: 10th
Random prediction for season: Southampton to beat Koeman’s Everton at home.

When will people learn? There is nothing Southampton do better than rebuilding. Sadio Mané, Graziano Pellé and, of course, Ronald Koeman are the big names out the door this Summer but there core of a squad that broke the top 6 last term remains. The Saints will continue to make the smart recruitments and rebuild once more. It’s not like Claude Puel is a bad appointment either. In other words, Southampton are far from panic stations but equally far from progressing. 10th. 

Stoke City

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Last season: 9th
Bookies’ prediction: 11th
Random prediction for season: Stoke to lose at home on a cold Tuesday night.

Stoke City are without doubt the most stagnant club in the Premier League. Mark Hughes’ men have remained virtually unchanged but there were early signs last season that this Stoke side’s best days were behind them. There are too many teams in the division worse than Stoke for them to fall in to any real trouble this term, but it could be a precursor of what is to come if the Potters continue to rest on their laurels.  13th. 

Sunderland

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Last season: 17th
Bookies’ prediction: 16th
Random prediction for season: Sunderland to be relegated on the final day of the season.

Things looked rosy for Sunderland at the end of May, with yet another great escape accomplished and bitter rivals Newcastle dumped out of the division in the process. In fact, Sam Allardyce’s side look buoyed by survival, in part, spearheaded by their January signings. Now, Big Sam has taken over the national helm and David Moyes has taken post back in England. Things may play out all too familiarly for the Black Cats but Moyes’ more conservative approach directly opposes the gutsy displays Allardyce had managed to instill in his former side. That attitude suited Sunderland and reversing that could be their downfall.  18th. 

Swansea City

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Last season: 12th
Bookies’ prediction: 13th
Random prediction for season: Swansea to resign Wilfried Bony before the end of Summer.

I ambitiously tipped Swansea to break the top six last season, and let’s face it, I was very wrong. However, I still believe that Swansea are a tidy side, and one that improved under Francesco Guidolin. If the Swans can keep hold of their best players and snag Wilfried Bony back from Manchester City, then there is every reason to believe they will be comfortable this season.  11th. 

Tottenham Hotspur

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Last season: 3rd
Bookies’ prediction: 6th
Random prediction for season: Harry Kane to score less than 20 goals next season.

I’m in two minds about this Spurs side. There is clearly an abundance of young talent in the squad, and a manager capable of nurturing it. But last season’s capitulation is psychologically crucial, when sides experience these dramatic dips they go one of two ways – it makes them stronger, or it hits them for six. Given how Harry Kane and Dele Alli performed in the Euros, it seems as if things may need to get worse at Spurs before they get a whole lot better. Contenders in waiting, but not now. 6th. 

Watford

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Last season: 13th
Bookies’ prediction: 17th
Random prediction for season: Watford to survive an entire season without a managerial swap.

The Hornets looked sharp following their return to the Premier League, in fact, had it not been for Leicester, they would have been the story of the early party of the season by keeping the pace with the top six. Watford have done well to keep hold of their captain Troy Deeney but it’s their trigger happy approach to managers that concerns me. We often see that stability breeds success in the modern game, and Watford’s set up is anything but stable. 15th. 

West Bromwich Albion

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Last season: 14th
Bookies’ prediction: 15th
Random prediction for season: Tony Pulis to leave his post by the end of the season.

The Baggies are at a similar crossroads to their West Midlands rivals, Stoke. They’re comfortable in mid-table – so do they stick or twist? Just like the Potters they’ve chosen the former. Under Pulis, West Brom have been moulded in to a sturdy outfit, assured defensively and resolute, there is little progression to be seen in this squad, and that should worry those at the Hawthorns. It is well documented that Tony Pulis has never led a side to relegation from the top-flight but that record is in great danger. 14th. 

West Ham United

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Last season: 7th
Bookies’ prediction: 8th
Random prediction for season: The Hammers to win their opening game at the Olympic Stadium.

West Ham are a side I criminally under-rated last term, I expected them to struggle following Sam Allardyce’s departure but instead they came on leaps and bounds. Again, if it wasn’t for my own club’s exploits, West Ham would have adourned many more plaudits last season. If Slaven Bilic can keep hold of Dimitri Payet, who is the focal point of the Hammers’ exhilarating attack then expect them to have another exciting season, this time in a new home. 8th. 

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