Round 5 – English Premier League

It’s getting upsetting that the Moose is still not present on the banner but I still haven’t updated the theme yet.  I promised I would do it after their first win so I should have a while.  This week one of the viral videos making the rounds is the Japanese goalkeeping dog.

This is pretty impressive stuff for a dog. It makes me wonder if it could replace Joe Hart as Citeh’s number 1.

To be fair, I was going to put in a Calamity James montage but I couldn’t find anything short enough.

On to the picks!

9/12/2015 Everton 1 2 Chelsea
9/12/2015 Watford 2 1 Swansea City
9/12/2015 Arsenal 2 0 Stoke City
9/12/2015 Crystal Palace 1 2 Manchester City
9/12/2015 Norwich City 2 0 AFC Bournemouth
9/12/2015 West Bromwich Albion 1 1 Southampton
9/12/2015 Manchester United 1 1 Liverpool
9/13/2015 Sunderland 1 2 Tottenham
9/13/2015 Leicester 2 1 Aston Villa
9/14/2015 West Ham 0 2 Newcastle

The team that did not really spend much improving over the Summer, Everton, playing a Chelsea who have not got off to the best start.  This week Jose “the Special One” Mourinho will have had  a while to “strategize” on how to make improvements and I expect to see them play better.  John Stones will prove where his loyalties lay with an accidental last minute deflected own goal after Radamel Falcao proves that his bad time at Manchester United may have more to do with the Turtle (LVG) than we thought.

I’ve been positive on Watford all year and I’m going to continue as long as Quique plays a system that employs a striker.  I don’t mean a system that employs a striker as a defender like last week but one that might actually threaten the opposition area.  Swansea are a high-performance open team so it’s a perfect opportunity to open things up.  Ighalo to score another and continue to have his sale price rise (it’s a given that good players leave) but Gomis will score in his fifth consecutive game.  That’s 5 games in a row.  A fistful.

As an aside, I imagine Watford training is like the Eddie Izzard skit: Ich habe ein kleine problemo avec le defensio de Watford.  I know Quique is multi-lingual but the team features an incredible variety of nationalities.

Quick Final Summary

Arsenal are still looking good and fancy them in a simple win over Stoke.  The Ox is finally playing well and despite their frailties, I’m sure they will manage to scrap 2 goals from the large number of opportunities.

Crystal Palace are frustratingly making Alan Pardew look like a genius – Newcastle fans must be looking at the Eagles and no knowingly that the imminent collapse will come soon.  At the same time the minority have not bought into the idea that Manchester City have transitioned to this solid Championship winning team and am expecting a slow down.  The slow down will come in the form of conceding a goal but Manchester City are too solid to be rocked this year.

Norwich and Bournemouth are two beginners trying to stay up so I’m going with the home team.  West Brom and Southampton deserve a draw (not sure why I dropped the weekly 2-2 pick for the Baggies).  Leicester are playing better than Tim can tactic (yes, I made that a verb) so they will win.  West Ham will be in the valley of their bipolar performances and Newcastle prove that there is life after Pardew.

Spurs? What can we say about Spurs?  They are underachieving?  That they don’t know how to win? That Harry-Kane is more of a Harry Light Breeze.  That they laid their hopes on a Korean, Son Heung-min?  Well this week they will win because all Sunderland did in the transfer window was finally convince Borini that playing at Sunderland really wasn’t as bad as sitting on the bench at Liverpool.  The Sun is has the “Nice One, Sun”  headline penciled in … but this is the week that Harry scores and breaks his duck.

And that leaves the big game:  Liverpool playing Manchester at the old toilet
Old_toilet_by_sebasoul.jpg

This is a massive game for Brendan Rodgers, who’s team got off to a decent start but had a big let down.   He’s under pressure to succeed and it has to hurt seeing JonJo being such a huge and impressive success at Swansea.  I was told to write down Firmino last week and I did and nothing happened.  I’m going to guess it had something to do with the fact that I spelled it incorrectly.

I’ll do it again this week to see if something happens:  Firmino.

It’s not that much better on the Manchester United side.  Given the amount of money invested by LVG and the fact that he seems to  end up being reliant on David Moyes’s desperation signing of Fellaini (in his better position up front) and more so on Juan Mata than ever, you have to wonder what he’s actually achieved.  He let the most talented player he bought go for a loss and you have to wonder if his personality is getting more in the way than helping.   The big question is obviously going to be when will Martial play as LVG says he’s going to “ease” him into the game.

I think that while LVG might prove to be a success in the long run, it’s clear he doesn’t know how to moderate the market.  His spending is and management of players is extraordinarily bad as he tips his hand on everything.  But I digress.  A disappointing 1-1 draw leaves the media and fans with one more week of disappointment and chatter about lowered expectations as they continue to find themselves below Leicester in the table.

 

Round 4 – English Premier League

Newcastle looked promising but have yet to win. Arsenal are as inconsistent as you can be in three games L-W-D which is particularly surprising as most of the Summer talk has been about how Arsene has not changed the team formation or look.  Arsenal still have quality in all positions and it’s probably about time that the Ox gets let loose again.  Arsenal will dominate one half and score 2 Newcastle will take over the other half and keep it interesting.

Aston Villa have been better than their record and Sunderland are a rather poor looking outfit and I expect their bad run of form to continue because if I know one thing, it’s that Tactics Time can even coach a team to victory against a team that is giving up.  Poor old Mr Advocaat should have retired.

Who’s the more effective coach this year?

advocaat

 

8/29/2015 Newcastle 1 2 Arsenal
8/29/2015 Aston Villa 1 0 Sunderland
8/29/2015 Bournemouth 2 2 Leicester
8/29/2015 Chelsea 3 1 Crystal Palace
8/29/2015 Liverpool 2 0 West Ham
8/29/2015 Manchester City 2 0 Watford
8/29/2015 Stoke 1 0 West Brom
8/29/2015 Tottenham 2 1 Everton
8/30/2015 Southampton 1 1 Norwich
8/30/2015 Swansea 2 1 Manchester United

Bournemouth have kicked off well and are putting in goals.  The Walkers Crisps outfit have also been over-achieving (according to me) under the crazy coach so it should be a thriller and what small crowd can fit in that teensy stadium should be all excited.

It appears that Chelsea have been playing with 10 men to make the games more even.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Great One has threatened anyone who gets sent off with being sent into exile at the New York team to play with Fat Frank.  Sure, it’s a London derby and anything can happen but when one side is Chelsea and one is Crystal Palace it’s too one side for the rivalry to make a difference.  Costa gets sent off.

Liverpool will keep another clean sheet through a great defensive display.  The back four and Mignolet will keep everything tight and in control while West Ham waste all of their chances through ineptitude up front.  Sakho will not hit the netto.  I think Jordan Henderson the captain is out injured but I doubt that will hurt Liverpool much.  I was told to write down Firminho’s name so here we are and I’m going to write it down.  Firminho.  I hope he scores or something or it’s going to feel like a waste of time !

Manchester City are top of the table.  Even Quique Flores says Aguero is the best striker in the league so what hope do we have?   Sterling looks upbeat and better than Milner who at Liverpool is, ironically, probably better than Sterling.  Sami “whyamisounderappreciated” Nasri will come on and score to prove some point about being i the team late on after YaYa proves that this year he’s back on form by slotting in Aguero who thumps the ball so hard the ball threatens to break the net.

Here’s Quique – is is just me that thinks he looks like the love child of House and Clint Dempsey.

Lovechild
If House and Clint Dempsey had a Love child

 

And now the quick finish.

Stoke will win because they are playing West Brom who have a striker that basically doesn’t want to be there.

Tottenham finally manage to win a game they should win and Martinez gets to again be in “next fired coach” discussions alongside the eggy dutch drink mentioned previously.  Southampton have lost something from last year (mostly players) and they will do well enough against the Canaries who don’t look too bad.

Man United are coming off a hattrick and I’m convinced that he’s one who uses up his goal count on unneeded goals.  Sure, he scored in the week but he should have saved one for the Swansea match.  Swansea are a decent team and the young manager has them playing well.  It’s nice to see the Reds lose.

Go Moose

Moose!! Moose!!

Off to look for a new theme…and start the migration project.

 

Round 3 – English Premier League

I haven’t updated the banner yet – it’s still not showing Watford which is a shame for I am a Watford fan. The update of the theme and banner is on my list of to-do’s but I’ve decided that I have the transfer window to work the changes to the site in. So be patient.
On the bright side I’ve finally created my spreadsheet that will compare my results to Mark Lawrenson and the actual table in an automated fashion.  Although I’ve not got off to the best start I think Mark will be extremely disappointed with where he is with his picks so far; of course there have been a number of surprises in the league already – Arsenal getting hammered (pun intended), Liverpool beating Stoke… 🙂

Here’s my table (based on picks) and indication of how far I diverge from the actual table.

Table Based on Picks
Table Based on Picks

I think I’m going to have to start re-assessing my Watford picks as I have them pretty high up the table there!

As I’m working in the spreadsheet the scores will be in a new format.  This is so much easier than using TablePress to manage the scores.  I did appreciate that it stored the tables in an easily accessible JSON format as I could extract the data nicely.  But it’s a new year and a new method.

8/22/2015 Manchester United 1 0 Newcastle
8/22/2015 Crystal Palace 2 1 Aston Villa
8/22/2015 Leicester 1 1 Tottenham
8/22/2015 Norwich 1 1 Stoke
8/22/2015 Sunderland 1 2 Swansea
8/22/2015 West Ham 2 1 Bournemouth
8/23/2015 West Brom 1 1 Chelsea
8/23/2015 Everton 1 2 Manchester City
8/23/2015 Watford 1 0 Southampton
8/24/2015 Arsenal 2 1 Liverpool

Manchester United are at home against the team I still don’t feel anyone really has a handle on.  Conversely, I think we know far more about Manchester United that we needed to – I’m not sure I needed to know about LVGs man crush on Memphis Depay.  There’s probably a sense of frustration around the team given that Chelsea have stepped in to steal Pedro so I expect them to look slightly disorganized, not all that good but someone force Newcastle to allow the ball to get into their net on the only shot on goal.

Talking of Chelsea stealing Pedro (who is not good enough for Barcelona apparently), this is much like their successful effort to steal Willian and Spurs.  Does the great one not know how to do his own scouting?

Crystal Palace are doing well and are building on their season ending run.  Alan Pardew is in danger of improving his win percentage and I have an instinct to bet against him but I’m just not too sure where Tactics Tim is with Villa.  Here he is with all active Villa fans.

Tactics Tim

They wear the same colors so I hope they don’t get confused!  Look for Zaha to score the winner.

 

Harry Kane has to score this week because they’re already talking about his “drought” (2 games this year so far media, 2 gamses..) I can’t in good conscience go against Leicester again when they’ve done nothing but disappoint me so far by not losing!.

Norwich are boring. Stoke are boring.  This game will be boring.

Swansea have been impressive and Sunderland are a team that considers a short term assignment in charge is actually strategic.  I boring draw.   West Ham are one of those teams that both impresses you and then lets you down with some mediocrity just when you think they should be pushed up the table.

I’m going out on limb picking Watford at home because they’re my team and we need to pick up some points in what is a relatively easy start to the season and West Brom because Chelsea have looked dodgy and Diego Costa spends more time appealing for fouls and grabbing people than trying to score.  Finally, Liverpool and Arsenal.  Liverpool are passing the ball around, defending well, and not scoring.  Arsenal are as inconsistent as you can be in two games.  All in all this makes the game unpredictable and like all the other picks I’m just going to guess.

Leicester
8/22/2015 West Ham 2 1 Bournemouth
8/23/2015 West Brom 1 1 Chelsea
8/23/2015 Everton 1 2 Manchester City
8/23/2015 Watford 1 0 Southampton
8/24/2015 Arsenal 2 1 Liverpool

 

Round 2 – English Premier League

I have better things to do on a Thursday night than make picks for a game that is going to happen on a Friday night, seriously.  Who wants to watch games on Friday? Who can watch games on a Friday? Why are we taking cues from the NFL in all that is wrong and duplicating it ? If you have an answer other than “money” I’d love to hear what it is.

So it’s Friday and I fully expect Manchester United to win.  Not because they looked in any way dominant last week but because I’m still not 100% convinced tactics Tim has his team all together and playing like a team.   I fancy them to struggle early and come on towards the end and free themselves from the thread of relegation.

August 14, 2015
Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United

Meanwhile in the 1st leg of the Supercup we had this goal.  What a nice clean strike!  Hopefully we’ll see similar goals in the EPL this week…..

https://vine.co/v/edLQXYuFZH7

 

The beloved Hornet Moose of Watford played quite well last week and earned a good away from home draw; however, one wonders if the result had more to do with Everton’s apparent lack of class and the fear I have that Roberto Martinez will be fired first this  year.  As good as he is an analyst and as good as Everton were two seasons ago, we should remember he didn’t take Wigan out of the premier league (which is not as hard as it sounds).   Can Southampton surprise as all by playing solid football and staying on the high and dry side of the premier league table?  I fancy them to start the season well.

Allegedly Spurs could have beaten the Reds last week; unfortunately, that kind of discussion leads to a mediocre season.  It’s winning the games that you don’t dominate that makes the difference.  Spurs will be fighting with Liverpool for one of the top five spots and while one had a wonder strike to seal an unlikely win…. the Spuds had a calamitous own-goal that sent them down in flames.  Spurs need Harry to score and to win the games they look like they shouldn’t.  This week they turn it around and outshine Liverpool’s performance of last week in a victory over Stoke.

Sunderland and Norwich reads like a Championship feature game.
Watford and West Brom also seems like  a Championship game but I support the Golden Mooses so I care!

Last week Tony Pullis setup a terrible defensive posture against Chelsea and based on his interview I don’t expect him to try the same.  Hopefully, a great open game to enjoy with the Hornets stinging the Baggies with a later winner through the substitute Ighalo who made Mr Stones look like an amateur last week.

Swansea looked great against Chelsea, and that was before the incident that might lead to one of my predictions being true (Begovic being the starter this year ahead of Courtois) so I fully expect them to beat a surprisingly better looking Newcastle.

West Ham started and played fantastic last year and then dramatically tapered off.  Was last week a fluke?  Good time to find out as they play a lower class team at home.  I fully expect the Hammers to make light work of Leicester.   The other way to determine if it was a fluke?  To see whether Arsenal rebound or start to take off a little.  I’d like to think they could beat Crystal Palace at home or away but for all of the talent that Arsenal has you still look at the final forward position and wonder if Giroud is good enough.  Arsenal will win, West Ham will win so we’ll have to reserve judgement on the ‘Ammers.

Early season gets a major fixture with Chelsea who haven’t looked good so far against a Man City team that won one game and are all of a sudden everyone’s favorite again.  I think the team from the rainy North will beat Chelski.  It won’t be pretty but it’s time that Manchester City prove that without injuries they can dominate.  Aguero is fit. Kompany is fit.  Silva is fit. I think everyone is fit.  Time to put Chelsea into the relegation zone, even if’ts just for a couple of weeks.

Liverpool won a game that Stoke didn’t deserve to lose so this week I predict that they will win a game they deserve to win… and moreover, Rodgers will teach his team how to actually get Benteke involved.  For the amount of money he cost, I would hope sooner or later he will play in a style that supports the big man, or he might find himself looking for a new gig before Roberto Martinez.

August 15, 2015
Southampton 1-0 Everton
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Stoke City
Sunderland 1-0 Norwich City
Watford 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Swansea City 2-1 Newcastle United
West Ham United 2-0 Leicester City
August 16, 2015
Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal
Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
August 17, 2015
Liverpool 1-0 AFC Bournemouth

Round 1 – English Premier League

Note: Picks are made prior to kick off.

August 8, 2015
Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Everton 0-0 Watford
Leicester City 0-1 Sunderland
Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace
AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Aston Villa
Chelsea 2-0 Swansea City
August 9, 2015
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
Newcastle United 2-1 Southampton
Stoke City 2-2 Liverpool
August 10, 2015
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Manchester City

The End of Summer Came Too Quickly

Turns out the end of Summer took me by surprise.  I have not posted my summary from last year and comparison to Mark Lawrenson aka Lawro  (he did better than me I think), my banner still has Burnley and QPR and is missing Norwich and Watford.  These are all things that should have been done but were not.

That said, if a team like Manchester United can’t take care of business properly, why should I?

 

(And please no sexual jokes or puns related to the post title which clearly is wide open for comments – you know, one swallow a summer does not make etc..)

A New Season of Useless Predictions

It’s a new season and once again it starts with things moving so much that I have no idea how to rate the new year.  Last year I predicted André Schürrle would be the young player to watch.  I would argue he was for the 14 games he played (enough to win a medal).  Worse? I predicted that 2 of the 3 top scorers would be Daniel Sturridge and Van Persie – that’s almost enough to make anyone second guess even doing predictions this year.  Worst of all? I predicted that Spurs would win the F.A. Cup!  And that was before “My Name’s Kane, Harry Kane” joined the squad.

I have no right to try this again this year!  But yet here I am.

I tried to keep track of who was moving in the transfer market to help me start the season strong but it quickly became clear that scouting is a full time job. There is no way I can watch 3 premier league matches on a Saturday, another on a Sunday, work a full time job and live, and still know that Alessandro Diamanti is a good signing?   Liverpool helped by focusing on Premier League signings with Clyne, Milner, Ings and Benteke but what am I supposed to know about Yohan Benalouane, Enes Unai, or even Memphis Depay.  Of course, if you read the Manchester United comments on the various forums they all can tell you what Memphis eats for breakfast and why this is a better signing than Newcastle getting Georginio Wijnaldum or Stoke picking up Jakob Haugaard from FC Midtjylland.  Me though, quite honestly? I didn’t even know that was a team.

Young Player of the Year

As I get older the players seem to get younger.  I’m sure Raheem Sterling should be considered a front-runner, Hazard will be good again but I read someone say that Aleksandar Mitrovic is brilliant on Football Manager and that has me sold.  This despite the failings of Darren Caskey, Daren Edie and Nii Lamptey (early 90s were good for games).

My pick is thus:

1st ,Raheem Sterling

2nd, Hazard (again)

3rd, Aleksandar Mitrovic

Goalkeeper of the Year

I actually played in goal once for a school team. Didn’t have the ability to pull it off but I’ve always had a fondness for the position and so I wanted to have a review of who I thought was worthwhile.   I thought the best goalkeepers last year were De Gea, Begovic, and Lloris.  I thought Cech was, despite getting up in age, still playing well (and not starting).  But things have changed a lot – De Gea won’t play for Manchester United, Begovic trading in being the most important player for Stoke to being on the bench at Chelsea and Cech probably moved in one the better summer signings to Arsenal.  The England #1 is not on the list because he’s not good enough to be on the list.

1st ,Hugo Lloris

2nd, Asmir Begovic

3rd, Petr Cech

Hugo is obviously going to have the most practice and is the most directly a positive impact on his team.  I think that Begovic is the best goalkeeper and will eventually win over his place from Thibaut Courtois who is just too tall and made a couple of blunders Mourinho won’t allow to happen too often.

Top Goalscorer

Sergio Aguero, when healthy, packs a powerful strike and the best first touch in the league.  Between 6-12 yards out he’s deadly and while Manchester City aren’t necessarily going to dominate the league it’s clear that they intend to score a boat load of goals.  It’s clear that Arsenal will put them away but I’m not actually sure who will be dominant in the count as I expect to see them shared.  That leaves me with Harry Kane (even I’m tired of the “he can’t keep doing this can he” argument) and the most dirty player Diego Costa.

1st,Sergio Aguero

2nd, Diego Costa

3rd, Benteke

I didn’t contradict myself there.  I just don’t believe Harry Kane can keep doing this and someone has to score for Liverpool this year and I think while he’s no Drogba, a strong central striker who can finish will push the ball over the line 20+ times.

Best Signings

I don’t know much about many of the players signed but Petr Cech looks like a good and solid improvement for Arsenal.  Not as young as he was, he’s a goalkeeper and experience and confidence goes a long way.  James Milner was one of the most ordinary of players that repeatedly stood out as quality.  He seems to have player at a good level for a long time but he’s only 29 years old.  He’s a perfectly adequate player for any system.   I will also say Pailinho was a great signing – that Spurs recouped anything for that guy was a miracle.

First Firing

First manager to be fired is a close call between Brendan Rodgers (who will not be given much leeway this year) and Tactics Tim at Aston Villa.  Tim Sherwood took over at the end of the season and turned things around; however, the summer would have been spent building up a coaching stuff and scout team and watching the man who saved Villa travel up the motorway to Liverpool.

And finally…..The Table

1 ,Arsenal (this is more hope than a real prediction)
2, Chelsea
3 ,Manchester City
4, Manchester United
5, Liverpool
6 ,Tottenham Hotspur
7, Everton
8, Crystal Palace
9, Stoke City
10, Newcastle United
11 ,Swansea City
12 ,West Bromwich Albion
13 ,Southampton
14 ,AFC Bournemouth
15, Aston Villa
16, West Ham United
17 ,Watford
18 ,Sunderland
19, Leicester City
20, Norwich City

 

The Finale!

So today is the official last day of the season and it ends with the grand old trophy, the F.A. Cup, being played for at the historic Wembley.

Tradition built on Tradition

Some say it has lost its prestige as the advertisers force us to focus on the Premier League and the new improved Champions League cup. To hear people talk you would think that the knock-out challenge events are old hat and without magic.

But let’s look at tradition.

The Cup is old, really old.  It was hand crafted by the finest silversmiths in London back in ’14.  Wembley is iconic and has seen a number of finals and events since ’07.  That’s right, the stadium is steeped in 7 years of tradition and handed out the new cup at least once.

But let’s look at history, though.

In 1981 over 100,000 people watched Man City play Spurs to a draw and over 90,000 paid for the extra replay that featured Ricky going walkabout through the defense.  It’s a classic moment cherished by lots of people that remember when shorts were short.

Spurs won something?

Then there was just a few years later the final where Andy Gray cheated Watford out of a Cinderella cup.  Everton were favorites to win but it was the F.A. Cup where anything was possible!  Everton won.

Foul! Andy Gray’s attack on Sherwood… and his opinion on things

Then there were the finals that no one would ever forget.   Kevin Moran being the first player sent off in a Final for a professional foul against a strong Everton team… it looked all over until a young Norman Whiteside scored a classic curler in extra time down a man.

I’m Twice the Player you are so we’re even strength!

Then in 1987 the heavily favored Spurs played the small Coventry city who featured such stars as Dave Bennett, Trevor Peake, and Keith Houchen?  Probably the big O (Ogrizovic) in goal was their most famous player along with big Cyrille (Regis) up front.  The game was a classic featuring 5 goals including the tying, extra-time producing, diving header by Keith (who relived winning the holy grail with the Daily Fail. )  But it will always be famous for the perfect own goal by Gary Mabbutt to win the game for the opposition and historically being the first two score a goal for two teams in one final.

The Judges Give this a 10 out of 10

1988 Featured the “Crazy Gang” of Wimbledon in what some called the most shocking final result ever.  I don’t think it really was that surprising:  Wimbledon were crazy but organized and people forget they finished in the top 10 that year (I think).

But it was still memorable for the moment when a lanky mop or a skinny goalkeeper with a perm was the first to save a regular time penalty.

2 feet off the ground…. No Goalkeeper can get to that!

Since then there have been many more finals including a Crystal Palace versus Manchester United final and replay, Arsenal, Chelsea winning a few and the impressive fixture of Portsmouth against Cardiff.  Then there was Wigan beating Citeh….

So the F.A.Cup is important!

At least to the 1980s when football was played by men in short shorts for a good income, pride and for the fans.  In the days of Subbuteo and Panini stickers. Back in the days where the playground had supporters of lots of teams: Oxford, Leicester, Liverpool, Wolves, Forest, Liverpool, Aston Villa and we didn’t just worry about Chelski, Man Cetihad or follow success and money.

This week we get Grandpa Wenger taking on Tactic Tim in the final and the biggest topic of conversation is… whether Liverpool will get to the group stages in the Europa League automatically.  Yes the F.A.Cup has lost the magic for the young kids of today but to me it is still magic… I still get a smile thinking of the aforementioned Coventry win.

Maybe I just don’t like new magic.  I watch the French Open wishing Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah were still playing (and Lendl losing).  I watch Wimbledon and wish Becker and Edberg were dueling it out.  Sometimes I listen to Duran Duran but to the pick.

My pick is Arsenal to win 4-1 with this trophy being enough to keep the old man for one more year.

I picked them every round and haven’t been wrong on that front so far!   Tactic Tim will go looking for heart and guts… he will look into the crowd and see the empty seats given to 17,000 Wembley members.  He’ll find the slightly under 20,000 Spurs fans and similar number of Villains.  He’ll even see a disappointed Prince William in the stands and realize the game is about the wealthy, the kickbacks, and not the fans.

Kicker Conspiracy!

Note:

Prince William allegedly didn’t like that all his Etonian friends supported the big clubs so he scoured the map looking for an area that might have a team with which he could kindle an emotional relationship… on his map he discovered that there was an area to the North known as “the midlands” and deep in the this area was another city that many of the common people would support.  Birmingham City would have been the obvious choice but “claret and blue” sounded at least a little less “blue” collar and it was a match made in fake sincerity ever since.

Championship Week 2015

This is it.  We’ve reached the end. And NBC is trying to live up to their mission statement by broadcasting all 10 games simultaneously so we can see who will win the league, who will go to the Champions League and who will be relegated.  Oh, and I guess some people care who might go to the Europa League.

The Commitment

How disappointing it must be to the executives at NBC that this year’s Soccer Superbowl broadcast over 10 stations is all about a USA Networks Newcastle game and another Manchester United fixture (I’m not going to pretend that people are wanting to watch Hull City)

So here are my predictions for the week:

  • Chelsea will win the league
  • Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester will qualify for Champions League
  • West Ham will qualify for Europa League and two of Liverpool, Spurs, and Southampton (pending the F.A. Cup result)
  • QPR and Burnley will be relegated – and one of Hull or Newcastle

But seriously, here is the week in football according to someone who has not done very well this year making predictions.   I will provide a full breakdown soon as I prepare my strategy for next year.

23-May 2015  
Leicester City 1-0Queens Park Rangers
Manchester City 2-1Southampton
Newcastle United2-0West Ham United
Stoke City2-1Liverpool
Hull City1-0Manchester United
Everton2-0Tottenham Hotspur
Aston Villa2-1Burnley
Chelsea3-0Sunderland
Crystal Palace 1-1Swansea City
Arsenal 2-0West Bromwich Albion

A few weeks ago it seemed like it as going to be a last weekend nail-biter but then Leicester started playing like they thought they were still in the running for a title! Leicester’s end of season relegation saving run finally runs out at the same time that the old start at Q.P.R. turn up for their paycheck.  Leicester are still stronger and Q.P.R. fail to get a shot on goal in the second half.

Manchester City finish a solid 2nd.  Southampton a solid no-man’s land.

Newcastle are facing a West Ham team that have fallen off a cliff since Christmas where they were challenging for a Champions League spot.  It’s great timing for the Geordies who will finally win.  When all is said and done the fans should look at each other and admit that they only reason they stayed up is because Alan Pardew got them points in November and Sam Allardyce has been collecting his brown paper bags and looking to move back North.

It’s fair to say that one of the reasons this blog started is because a few years ago Stoke beat Liverpool.  I walked into the office and as I walked by the work cube of my Liverpool worshipping office chum I just muttered “Stoke” in a whisper.  I did this all day.  So yes, “Stoke”.

Hull are bad (as evidenced by their end of year position) but Steve Bruce is friends with Ryan Giggs and called in a few favors so Manchester throw the game.

Everton have been disappointing.  Roberto has been disappointing as a manager .  Harry Kane has been banging in the goals.  I continue to rate Roberto and I’m still convinced Harry is over-achieving.  So Everton in an obvious pick.

A few weeks ago it seemed like it was going to be a last weekend nail-biter for Aston Villa but now it’s just a warm up for the FA Cup Final.  How Tim has turned the team around.  It will be interesting to see how Tim copes with the off-season activities that most of us fans take for granted (trips, training, signing, dropping, selling, scouting).  Oh the result is unimportant but I’m sure there is a result.

Chelsea lost to West Brom in a meaningless game.  They won’t lose the last home game.  They will prove they are deserving.

Crystal Palace have been made into a decent team.  Swansea are a decent team.  Draw.

Arsenal have more or less qualified for the Champions League’s automatic spot but they make sure of it with a win.  If it wasn’t a “gimme” on goal difference, I’m sure Manchester United would have played their best squad and beaten Hull.

The End.

Analytics coming soon that will prove how bad I’ve been.

May 16, 2015 Premier League Picks

Southampton have gone absent and all of a sudden Tim Sherwood is manager of the year and Benteke is the Aguero of Birmingham!  Technically, not yet safe it’s hard to see them pull a FA Cup and relegation double of Wigan.

Manager of the End of the Year?

West Ham and Everton have nothing to play for but pride and I’m not sure either team have any left, especially the underachieving team of Martin-ez. They’re at least safe but that’s falling short of  beginning of the year expectations.

Big Six pointer at Sunderland against Leicester city who are on an unbelievable run of seven wins in eight games.  While that should have left them safe they started so many points back that they are still in the thick of the relegation bubble.  A loss to Sunderland drops them back into the final day consideration for the drop.

Harry Kane and the rest of Spurs are absent and have been for a while … it’s hard to see them winning unless you are on the A503

Except Walthamstow

Burnley have been trying hard all year so it’s only fair that after the final bell and the fight is over they can collapse and take stock of how beaten up they have become.  They punched above their weight but the bigger men are always stronger but there’s a couple of minutes left so they’re going to go down swinging.
QPR are a mess that we can look forward to going down – overpaid, overprivileged, and looking around at each other trying to figure out what to do.  Last week their hammering came in part because no one on the team were ware that they wereon a team.

What is it we’re trying to do again?

Liverpool will win the last home game of Stevie G.  A loss would be inexcusable.

16-May 2015  
Southampton 1-2Aston Villa
West Ham United1-1Everton
Sunderland2-0Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1Hull City
Burnley2-1Stoke City
Queens Park Rangers1-2Newcastle United
Liverpool2-0Crystal Palace
17-May 2015  
Swansea City1-2Manchester City
Manchester United2-2Arsenal

Both Manchester City and Arsenal want to wrap up an automatic European spot for next year.  Aguero also wants to wrap up his scoring title and that should be easy (especially as Harry Kane is out of the purple and into the will it continue for him patch).

Arsenal were the best team in the country until they lost to Swansea.  You ever get the feeling that Arsene doesn’t want to feel comfortable in his job? I’ve got 2nd wrapped up but maybe the fans enjoy more if we finish 3rd?  A draw in the old toilet game makes the game in hand a must win but do you deserve Europe if you can’t get a must  win at home against Sunderland?   I don’t think so either but I still prefer the European cup old style- Champions in a knock out.  The fact that Stevie G has a European cup but not title doesn’t compute in my universe.

18-May 2015  
West Bromwich Albion1-0Chelsea

West Brom will beat Chelsea for the simple reason that it doesn’t matter.  Both have managers who like the defensive side of the ball when it’s not necessary to push so it should be 0-0 but I have this feeling West Brom want to win more.

20-May 2015  
Arsenal1-0Sunderland

It’s a game in hand that Arsenal win and  leaves Sunderland still looking down at the teams below them for the final week.