By, Kyle Gibson
Ahhh, English Premier League time is upon us. No more empty feeling, or meaningless weekends where we actually pay attention to our families. With no further ado, here are my predictions. Check back here in May to see that I got all 20 places right.
1.Manchester United (Last season, 4th): United finally signed a defender that could help. Many say Mattia Darmian was the best wing back in all of the Serie A. It also doesn’t hurt to shore up the midfield with Southampton star Morgan Scheiderlin and Bayern Munich and Germany legend Bastien Schweinsteiger. For this pick to hold, I think the club still needs to sign an attacker. Memphis Depay was an excellent addition, but Wayne Rooney can’t shoulder the load at striker all by himself. Signing Pedro away from Barcelona would really, really wrap up the title. The second season is usually make or break time for a Van Gaal coached side.
2.Arsenal (Last season, 3rd): Arsenal are everyone’s EPL darlings right now, which has me a bit nervous. Arsene Wenger is a great manager, but sometimes he and his team replace the need for defensive steel with the desire to spring forward and attack, leaving the back exposed. Petr Cech was one of the absolute signings of the summer and he will help, but I think this injury-prone club will falter around the middle point of the season, leaving the door open for Van Gaal’s men.
3.Chelsea (Last season, 1st): Jose Mourinho is the best manager in the EPL. Unfortunately, Jose also knows this all too well. His mind games and blunt honesty seem to wear with players over time and I think that will happen this season with CFC. Eden Hazard will shine as he always does, but I don’t know if John Terry can have such an amazing, relatively injury free season like last year. The same goes for Diego Costa. When the team was at its best last year, he was healthy and scoring bags full of goals. Chelsea’s lack of squad rotating will catch up to it.
4.Tottenham Hotspur (Last Season, 5th): Yes, you are reading this right. This spot does not belong to Liverpool or Manchester City. I’m operating on a hunch here, but I think Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino are more stable than the two former clubs. They also made solid, team building additions in defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier. Harry Kane may need help up front, but I think West Brom’s own Saido Berahino will be in to help before the transfer window shuts.
5.Manchester City (Last season, 2nd): Oh, how the mighty have fallen. No one is high on Manchester City right now after a sloppy close to last season and a disaster of a transfer window this summer. Raheem Sterling is the only big name brought in, but they paid nearly 50 million pounds for a 20 year old that hasn’t proven himself throughout a full campaign. Fabian Delph may have committed career suicide in leaving Aston Villa for here. Honestly, I can’t see him making more than 15 starts. What the team really needs is cover for aging defenders Martin Demichelis and Vincent Kompany. Also, the club needs an attitude overhaul. No one sees Manuel Pellegrini keeping the manager’s job. I can name the players who I think have heart: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero. The rest don’t seem to care. That is an indictment to your club and manager.
6.Liverpool (Last Season, 6): No more Sterling. No more Gerrard. But in comes James Milner from Manchester City. I think he was one of the shrewdest deals done this offseason, coming in on a free transfer. Up to him and Jordan Henderson (your new captain) now to right that midfield.
7.Swansea City (Last Season, 8): The Swans are part of the new guard that are going to be very present in this section of the table the next few years. Garry Monk is one hell of a manager and this is a good team to boot. Andre Ayew and Eder are quality signings that show this club’s ambition.
8.Stoke City (Last Season, 9): Stoke is part of this group as well. Solid, hard to beat and they just keep improving. Sure they lost Steven N’Zonzi and Asmir Begovic, but I think the guys they’re bringing in are more than quality. Mark Hughes is a very good manager and the Brittania Stadium is a fortress.
9.Crystal Palace (Last Season, 10): I predict another stellar year for the Crystals. Alan Pardew will have a chance to build over a full season and I can see this team really scoring some upset victories. Yohan Cabaye signing to play here from PSG was an all-star deal. I love watching this team.
10.Everton (Last Season, 11): If you aren’t a fan, you probably forgot about them over the summer. I think Roberto Martinez is a good manager. I think this team has some very talented guys. But still, there’s no excuse to not really bring in any star transfers after having an off season. They’ll be the folding point of the table and I think will have a lackluster year where we pretty much forget about them.
- Southampton (Last Season, 7): I predicted these guys to get relegated last year and they shocked the hell out of me. Ronald Koeman is a very good manager though and the team was strong. Here are my issues for this year. There’s no more Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin or Toby Alderweireld. They all moved to Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, respectively. With that being said, that’s nothing like what the lost last
- West Ham United (Last season, 12): If you’ve noticed over the last few predictions, no one is really moving a lot. West Ham scares me to death, though. I could easily see them going as high as seventh and as low as getting relegated. Slaven Bilic is a wild card of a manager who has shown no signs of being able to keep his temper in check during Europa League qualifying. This being said, I love the signing of Dimitri Payet from Marseille.
- Newcastle United (Last season, 15): New boss Steve McLaren will make sure this team stays away from relegation, but this is a broken team with a very loyal fan base. It deserves a new owner in the worst way.
- West Bromwich Albion (Last season, 13): Tony Pulis and his squad will stay exactly where they were last year. This is a club that is too deep to go down. Here is why I don’t think they will move forward, though. I think striker Saido Berahino will move in either this transfer window or the winter one. Without him, it gets rough trying to find a goal scorer.
- Sunderland (Last season, 16): Everyone from here on is always in danger of relegation. That’s how Sunderland lives. This may be a pick made with my heart, though, because I just like these guys.
- Aston Villa (Last Season, 17): They lost Fabian Delph and key goal scorer Christian Benteke, but I think Tim Sherwood (if he lasts the whole season) will rally the base and secure survival.
- Bournemouth AFC (Last Season, Promoted): They play in a stadium that fits only 11,700 people. For some perspective, my high school football stadium seats 10,000. However, they have a real fighting spirit and they’re the kind of team that can hang around.
- Norwich City (Last season, Promoted): They have EPL experience, but I don’t find them very convincing.
- Leicester City (Last Season, 17): Pulled off the greatest of great escapes last year, not so lucky this year.
- Watford (Last Season, Promoted): Sorry guys……I guess that’s why they call it the blues.
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