Premier League Predictions 2018/19

As the 2018/19 Premier League season is about to get underway – I go through each team and give my thoughts on where I think they will finish in the league this season.

20th – Cardiff City

The team who finished second in the Championship last season, I think will last just one season in the top flight before they go straight back down. They will not go down without a fight, as is the norm with all Neil Warnock teams, but will go down nonetheless.

19th – Huddersfield Town

David Wagner’s team had a great season last time out, their first in the Premier League, and at times played some hugely entertaining football. They had some brilliant results at The John Smith’s Stadium, and will be looking to build on that this time around. Unfortunately, I think they will end up dropping back down into the Championship.

18th – Watford

With the departure of Richarlison, and not much else coming into the football club, I think Watford are going to struggle this season, and with the board liking management changes, who knows who will be in charge come the end of the Season, and in my opinion, into the Championship next season.

17th – Fulham

I believe Fulham have strengthened significantly to stay up this season, they’ve made some fantastic additions to the squad with Mitrovic and Schurrle coming in. I feel they will just have enough to stay up… Just.

16th – Newcastle United

Depending on whether Rafa Benitez gets the players he is after in the remainder of this window in my opinion will determine Newcastle’s season. The squad is largely unchanged from last season, but I feel that turmoil off the pitch will have some consequences on it, and the team will suffer as a result. It could be a rocky road for Newcastle this season, they may flirt with relegation, but will be fine.

15th – Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton had a decent first season in the Premier League, and I feel that Chris Houghton’s astute business in the transfer market has been enough for Brighton to be save again this season.

14th – Crystal Palace

Some brilliant signings from Roy Hodgson, and a great team togetherness along with a manager with a wealth of experience, I can see a decent season for Palace, with some big results and a decent finish between the bottom and mid table.

13th – Bournemouth

Eddie Howe’s men have so far given a great account of themselves in the first two seasons in the Premier League. This season I see no different, If they can turn The Vitality into a fortress, and keep the likes of Defoe, Ibe and Wilson banging in goals, they will be just fine.

12th – Southampton

Mark Hughes has not done a great deal of business in the transfer window so far, but the addition of Jannick Vestergaard to the back line will help to fill some of the void left by Virgil Van Dijk. I think a mid-table finish will be a pretty good season for The Saints.

11th – Leicester City

Premier League Champions two seasons ago, Leicester haven’t looked the same team since, but with some of the quality they have they will have a good mid table finish, if as expected, Harry Maguire is to join Man United, then Leicester will need to bring in another Centre-Half to replace him, I feel this uncertainty will mean they fall to 11th.

10th – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Some fantastic business from Wolves, bringing in the likes of Portugal internationals Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho. The way they strolled to the Championship Title last season was frightening, and there is no reason why they can’t build on that and have a fantastic season by finishing Halfway up the table come May.

9th – Burnley

The Europa League could hamper Burnley, and as they don’t have the biggest of squads, this could come back to bite Burnley, I don’t think they will be anywhere near the bottom of the table, but I also don’t think they will be as high as they finished last season, I feel that the further they go in Europe, the further they will fall down the league, however the signings of Joe Hart and Ben Gibson looks like some good business from Sean Dyche.

8th – West Ham United

Wow! What a transfer window, some absolutely superb additions to the West Ham team from Manuel Pellegrini, building on the squad that Slaven Bilic, and then David Moyes had assembled, he will get the best out of the players he already had there and has added a sprinkling of quality in the form of Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmelenko, West Ham could be set for one of their best seasons in a long time, possibly a good Cup run, they could well sneak into Europe via that route, and I believe will just miss out on league position.

7th – Everton

Marco Silva has picked up the scraps left by Sam Allardyce and Ronald Koeman/David Unsworth before him. He has added to the squad bringing Richarlison in from Watford and Lucas Digne to provide competition at Full-Back. I believe that Everton will have enough quality to have a fantastic season, and with a very ambitious manager, I don’t think this will be a short term project, a solid seventh place finish will be a great start.

6th – Tottenham

The only London team in the Champions League also have a new home to get used to. Pochettino has not yet added to his squad, and there are more linked with leaving the club than arriving. Tottenham could struggle, but I think they’re too good to finish below 6th.

5th – Chelsea

Once shoo-ins to win the league every season, it’s my opinion that Chelsea will struggle this season, as it brings another new manager, another new set of tactics, and another few additions to the squad.  Keeping Eden Hazard is important for them to finish fifth, without him, they may struggle massively. There is also the goalkeeping situation with Courtois going AWOL, leaving only Willy Caballero and veteran Rob Green as the recognised senior keepers. Don’t be surprised for another to join them.

4th – Arsenal

New manager, same story, Unai Emery’s first season at Arsenal I think will end in a fourth place finish, and once again dine at Europe’s top table next season. The additions to the backline looks to have solidified their defence somewhat. I think, with the addition of Europa League football this season, Fourth and a good European campaign, will be seen as a great season

3rd – Man United

The current United squad have enough quality to challenge for a Champions League spot, but I think will finish a fair way behind their two biggest rivals. I can see Mourinho being a managerial casualty before the January window, and the new man could well propel United up the table and into third.

2nd – Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp did his business early, and with no nonsence, he pinpointed his targets, and he got his men! He just needs to get them to gel on the pitch, with a fantastic depth to his squad, there is no reason that Liverpool cannot finish as the closest challengers to Man City, and even go on a good FA Cup run. But I still think they will end the season with just the eighteen league titles to their name.

CHAMPIONS – Man City

I can’t see anyone getting close to City, they haven’t done much to the squad since last season, the addition of new record signing Riyad Mahrez from Leicester will only benefit the rest of their squad. Don’t be surprised to see City breaking more records this season.

 

Keep checking back at the halfway point in the season to see how my predictions are going.

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John Terry to leave Chelsea at the end of the Season

Chelsea FC have announced that their longest serving player will be leaving the club at the end of the season. John Terry joined The Blues in 1995 as a Youth player before joining the Senior ranks in 1998 and since then has become one of the greatest ever to play for the London club having captained the team for a record 578 times.

It doesn’t seem like this is a retirement move either as the former England Captain said “I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me” when talking about his departure from the club, but the club have stated that he could return to the club in a “non-playing capacity” sometime in the near future.

Terry has won 14 major honours with Chelsea including a Champions League, four Premier League titles, the Europa League, five FA Cups and three League cups during the clubs most successful period in their history.

Chelsea Blues Snapback Cap

Chelsea Blues snapback cap available from RN Shop


Premier League 2016/17 Mid Season Review

So we’re exactly halfway through the 2016/17 Premier League season – 19 games played and 19 to go. A good time to review the campaign so far then – who’s overachieved, who’s underachieved and who finds themselves somewhere in between?

The Overachievers

Where better to start than at the top. With the arrivals of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in the summer, the appointment of Antonio Conte at Chelsea was perhaps a little quieter than it otherwise would have been. And when September saw defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal follow a draw against Swansea, Chelsea’s fans weren’t making much noise either. Their team’s response, however, has been emphatic. A run of 12 league wins has been achieved by combining a tight defence (the cliche of an Italian manager) and the form, in particular, of their two best attacking players – Eden Hazard and the rejuvenated Diego Costa. With no European fixtures to contend with and a healthy 6 point lead, they’ve got themselves into a very strong position going into the second half of the season.

It was a different story with Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp – many predicted they would push on in their second season under the charismatic German’s leadership. However, there were question marks over whether they could perform consistently and tighten up at the back. They still seem prone to the occasional shaky defensive display (see the last 20 minutes at Bournemouth) but the system and style of play they have settled into has been largely effective and undeniably entertaining. Sadio Mane has turned out to be a fantastic signing and despite spells on the sidelines for a number of key players, they have delivered a level of consistency that sees them deservedly sitting 2nd in the table.

A special mention to West Brom and Bournemouth who have earned themselves a place in the top half of the table. ‘The Baggies‘ have managed to consistently pick up points home and away, occasional breaking free from the Tony Pulis defensive mould we’ve got so used too, while ‘The Cherries‘ have picked up good results while continuing to deliver Eddie Howe’s brand of entertaining football.

The Underachievers

It’s easy to say with hindsight but Leicester were always going to have a tough time following up the fairytale of last season. The loss of N’Golo Kante has been massive and they’ve struggled to match the solidarity in defence that their title success was built on and their potency in attack, with the form of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez disappointing.

If an award was to be given for the worst season so far it would have to go to Swansea. Lying bottom of the table and having sacked two managers,’The Swans are really struggling. Their new manager (when appointed) will have little time to make an impact if they are to survive relegation.

Another team to have changed manager is Crystal Palace after a very disappointing calendar year of results under Alan Pardew. It would take a brave man, however, to bet on them being relegated with ‘Big Sam‘ now in charge, his first job in football again since his dramatic exist as England manager last year.

The Rest

The top 6 have pulled away to create their own mini league. In a year of surprises (Leicester City, ‘Brexit‘ and Donald Trump) Arsenal appear to again be just short of a genuine title challenge, sitting 3rd in the table. Admittedly, a few weeks ago things were looking a lot better and there is still time for it to swing back in their favour.

Tottenham (4th), Man City (5th) and Man Utd (6th) may all like to be a position or two higher but they will all feel that is still achievable. The two Manchester clubs have been a little patchy under their new big name managers but we can expect them to push on in the new year. Tottenham have particularly impressed me, although it’s perhaps unsurprising with the lack of activity in the summer that their well drilled and settled team have produced such consistent performances week in week out.

Outside the top 6, the table is extremely tight with just 11 points separating 7th to 17th. This means positions are likely to change quickly and often over the coming weeks and months. The positions of the remaining teams (I’ve not mentioned) do not surprise me at this stage – some will hope to cement a top half or mid table finish, while others will be happy as long as they remain in the division come the end of May:

Southampton (9th), Burnley (11th), West Ham (12th), Stoke (14th), Middlesbrough (16th), Sunderland (18th), Hull (19th).

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Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement from football

The former Liverpool legend and captain has announced his retirement from football. Steven Gerrard captained the reds to many trophies including the 2005 UEFA Champions League and also captained England for a number of years. Gerrard joined the MLS in 2015 when he completed a move to LA Galaxy which ended when the midfielder left the club last month. The rumours about his future have been flowing ever since his departure from the American club, which included rumours of a managerial role at MK Dons, but the former player has said that the managerial role had come “a bit too soon” for him.

Steven Gerrard had a prolific career, especially at his boyhood club and was considered one of the best of his generation by many of his peers. Gerrard retires as the only player to this day to have scored in the FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup final, a feat that will be hard to top.

Speaking of his time as a player, Steven said “As a teenager I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the famous red shirt of Liverpool, and when I made my debut against Blackburn Rovers in November 1998 I could never have imagined what would then follow over the next 18 years”.

Rumours of Gerrard heading back to Liverpool have been circulating for a while with Manager Jurgen Klopp recently stating that the club would always have space for the club legend. Now that the retirement has been officially announced the rumours have picked up again with suggestion that he will take up a role in the clubs academy.

When Klopp was asked about this he said “When there is something to announce, we will announce it. We’ve talked, that’s clear” and went on to add that “One day in the future, there will be something to announce—I’m pretty sure”.

What the future holds for Steven Gerrard is currently unknown to the public, but one thing for sure is his magnificent career for both club and country, whilst Gerrard may not have won any major tournaments for England (The again, How many fantastic English players have missed out since 1966?) he captained the ‘Three Lions’ at three major tournaments and his club and personal accomplishments sure do tell a tale of a fantastic player.

Take a bow Stevie G.