Promotion on the Horizon for Udinese B?

Impressive start to the campaign for Watford (4W 0D 1L). This all looks good and it looks like we’re ready to get rolled over in the premier league but as everyone in St Albans knows, the season always starts better than it ends with the Hornet Moose.

Four wins in the Championship! But within them is a 3-0 loss to a top contender in Norwich and a disappointing Milk Cup (aka Capital One Cup aka Coca Cola Cup aka Littlewoods Cup…) to a third tier Doncaster. But this year could be different as the dreaded draw column has a 0! Under normal rules Watford carve out enough draws to be considered a for a degree in cabinetry (homonym joke for the win!).

Go on you Hornet Moose! Prove me wrong – make it a good season, wire-to-wire.

Week of August 30, 2014 – Premier League Picks

This week feels like I could be well off the mark on many fronts.  I’ve not been keeping in touch with the news as I should being busy spending too much time outside getting sun.  I feel like maybe a little over-exposure has me making the wrong choices.  I feel like a drunk guy accidentally walking into a brothel – pretty sure that every decision is a bad one.

30-Aug-14  
Burnley1-2Manchester United
West Ham0-3Southampton
Swansea City2-2West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United1-1Crystal Palace
Manchester City2-0Stoke City
QPR0-1Sunderland
Everton1-2Chelsea

Manchester United are not good and now they’re 60 million pounds poorer and not much better.  Money should have been spent shoring up a team and building some stability.  Not enough quality with pace – RVP and Rooney don’t have the burst.  Ashley Young continues to be a liability and poor old Danny Welbeck and Juan Mata must be wondering where their careers are going (while Cleverly must still be wondering how his career is even still around.  Welbeck deserves a move to become a first eleven player but with an unwillingness to sell him to a Top 6 team (which is really any one of about 9 teams) and everyone below that not able to afford his 80,000 a week salary it looks like Danny will see more bench time.  Mata, I feel for you..  you knew when to fold them at Chelsea but the next hand you’re drawing dead.   Burnley, not good enough though and the United will finally win.

Southampton are not great, they’re certainly not 3-0 away from home great, but I want West Ham to be 3-0 at home bad.

It’s a theme.  I like the Albion, I really do.   I have had a soft spot for them since big Cyrill was their best player.   I always have them playing great football in my mind, able to score but then conceding.  Looking back over the last couple of seasons of picks I probably have them drawing 2-2 every week.   Odds are I’m going to get it right at least once.

Newcastle are the team that you never know who might show.   They are simultaneously fun and exciting, and piss poor.   Neil Warnock is in the euphemistically titled “technical area” – which basically means shouting box for the northerner.  It is also that area that Pardew should continue to stay away from.  Both teams are hit and miss, both managers are hit and sometimes connect…. but both are overrated.  Don’t expect either to last the season but my gamble for the week:  Warnock to be gone by Christmas.   Fairly fun draw will be had.

After a good win against the Liverpool (a team with higher hopes than they’ve had since … wow, it’s been that long….) the team from Manchester can be expected to put in a dire performance and not win.  Against Stoke, I fully see the dire performance happening – luckily, it’s Stoke and that’s still good enough for a 3 pointer.  These are the games that will make the difference at the end of the year (sorry, I need on sports cliche per week to be taken seriously).

A good start to the season will see Sunderland avoiding the need for late season magic again.  QPR should enable anyone playing them a small contribution to that good start – who saw Spurs top of the table?  Still, it will not be as easy for the stripes as it was for the Y*d Army last week.

I really want Everton to win against Chelsea.  I really want Lukaku to score a great pair of goals and run around shirt off pumping his chest in front of the chosen one.  I also want Watford to be consistent, Manchester City and Liverpool to get a typical Chelsea draw in the Champions league and it’s not going to happen.   Hate that Chelsea will win but they will win.

31-Aug-14  
Aston Villa1-2Hull City
Tottenham Hotspurs2-1Liverpool
Leicester City1-3Arsenal

I will continue to pick against Aston Villa until it becomes clear they are not as bad as I want them to be.   I will continue to overrate Hull until they prove that they are worse.

So this week will see the key fixture be held in London as Spurs host Liverpool.    It’s early season but these are the games that will make the difference at the end of they year (recycling cliches is efficient).   I think Liverpool are still looking for that edge, that confident spark they had last year.  Finding it against the new Spurs team will be difficult.  Two of the best managers in the league right now will make this an interesting discussion on tactics but it’s the 11 on the field that make the difference.   In this game it will be Lloris making saves and Adebayor showing up.  The result will be in the favour of the home team despite a mostly dominating performance by the Liverpool midfield – who will once again fail to capitalise on possession.   It’s goals that win….  missing Suarez? That will be the question asked even though Sturridge nets yet another.

Leicester at home is a good fixture for anyone looking for an away win.  Arsenal have been hit or miss this year but Alexis (he’s called that now?) scored midweek so maybe he might be better than a new Theo.  Expect Ramsay to be on form again.  Domination has everyone talking about a possible London 1-2-3 in Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs (conveniently forgetting Man City and a Liverpool team that will make up ground).

Bet of the Week:  Warnock to be fired by Christmas.  West Brom to finally draw 2-2.   Check Paddy Power for odds.

Week of August 16, 2014 – Premier League Picks

16-Aug-14  
Arsenal3-1Crystal Palace
Leicester City1-1Everton
Manchester United0-2Swansea City
Queens Park Rangers2-2Hull City
Stoke City2-1Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion1-1Sunderland
West Ham United0-1Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal come into the new season looking like the same old Arsenal. Good but no good enough. In this game they have a great advantage – they have the same manager before the game that they had 3 days ago. Not sure what “mutual consent” means in the case of a departure but I’m assuming that it has something to do with two people agreeing a mutual lack of friendship. The only risk in predicting such a lop-sided victory is that Arsenal are likely to start YaYa… and that’s Sanogo, not Toure. Expect Alexis to be the new Walcott – fast and with a crap final delivery. Aaron Ramsey will start the campaign as their best player because he is and will be for the next few years.

Everton were better under Martinez than Moyes because he’s a better analyst of the game. Unfortunately, that means he spent most of his summer watching the world cup for ESPN. Expect a slow start from the Everton team that lost their young phenom and only added a player they already had. Leicester just game up – always a lot of heart at the start of the campaign.

The turtle, LVG, or whatever you want to call him. He’s a task master and that’s what Moyes was. Why there is an expectation that one taskmaster is better than another is strange. The 3-5-2 formation may work early on but will break down so the first game should be a breeze against the Swans but it won’t be. Garry Monk has been at Swansea for over a decade and has seen how to play. The team will be rampant the first half of the season and probably get their manager fired early 2015.

QPR are terrible and run by an owner who doesn’t really care about football. Hull are not bad and run by an owner who doesn’t seem to care about the City his team play in. Should be an easy win for the “Tigers” but Hull City will find a way to not win.

The Potters are good. Aston Villa are my pick to go down. Aston Villa should not be a bottom 3 team but they insist on underperforming. Nervous on this one because last year Villa opened with a win against the Gunners before going on to be a bad team.

Love West Brom and hate Sunderland – it seems a match of good football played averagely vs bad football played well. Likely a good draw or bad draw depending on who you like.

Spurs have the best signing of the year in their new manager. He will take them well into the Top 6 if he can find a way to replace Soldano with someone who can score, get Adebayor to care, and get Dembele to focus. The Hammers are going to be awful this year. Or, I should say, AWFUL with a capital A-W-F-U and L. I’m giving Spurs only one goal because no doubt there will be some antisemitic chanting going on and that might be distracting to all their non-jewish players.

17-Aug-14  
Liverpool3-1Southampton
Newcastle United1-2Manchester City

Southampton are the Liverpool bogey team and always cause problems for the Reds. I think this was the previous coaching that allowed for open play, counter attacking which works against the opposition that wants to play as well. This year things will be different as Southampton have had an exodus of talent. Sturridge is the pick for top scorer and will get off to a good start. Coutinho will add one from the middle.
Gerrard tries to stay out of trouble because one bad tackle and he may not be able to get up – give the old man a life-alert.

Newcastle are either good or bad and you never can tell. Manchester City are either really good or good. I have a feeling this will be two “good” teams kicking off. This YaYa will score more than the Arsenal YaYa… but not as many as last year as he’s still miffed by not getting a birthday cake. Dzeko won’t score because he’s still in shock that he is still there. Aguero and Jovetic will score.

18-Aug-14  
Burnley0-3Chelsea

Burnley start against one of the odds on favorites to go down and because they aren’t good Mourinho will put the bus in 2nd gear. It will be an easy victory and we will hear about Burnley struggling this year and Chelsea being unbeatable – neither is true as it will be mostly up from this point for the Turf Moor newcomers. Eden and Cesc spend much of the game passing the ball to each other once they go up by 3. Yawn.

BET OF THE WEEK:

Tim Sherwood 16-1 as next West Ham manager.

Pre-Season Cups and Awards

Top Scorers

Daniel Sturridge 26
Sergio Aguero 24
Robin Van Persie 23

Lukaku might be worth a punt at 20/1

FA Cup

cup

Winner will be Tottenham Hotspurs.  Too good a manager to not deserve something.

PFA Player of the Year

Daniel Sturridge

Wouldn’t be surprised to see Mesut Ozil in the mix now that he’s had time to adjust (if he’s not lazy).

PFA Young Player of the Year

Andre Schurrle

Wouldn’t surprise me to see Aaron Ramsey there again as well.

 

 

Picks for the EPL 2014-15

At the Top

Last time Manchester City set about defending their title they disappointingly allowed the competition from just outside the city win comfortable.  This year with Aguero being healthy it’s hard to see them not banging in another 100 goals.

Arsenal have made moves.  Aaron Ramsey is at full strength and is the key to them maintaining a good showing through the year.  New signings are about speed and flair – but do they have the grit to win the big games? They’ll probably lose to Liverpool, Manchester teams but will pick off more than most against the lower teams.  Arsene keeps his job for one more year.

Everyone’s favorite and my second favorite… team to hate.  If Schurrle leaves I think they’re done.  Fabregas is not as good as Mata so its hard to see how Mourinho will work him into the team.  Will he repeat his old Arsenal form?  Well he was also too slow off the ball for me so I don’t see the impact like others do.  Chelsea are still too good to fall.

Liverpool without Suarez.  It’s hard to know what to think – Sturridge will be a real break out, Sterling will improve and Brendan Rogers has built some depth… they can’t keep Gerrard too long – send him to a team he can help not hinder.   Enough pieces to finish high but could surprise as again by making a title run.  Would that be a surprise?

Manchester United are relying on another old seasoned manager with a young Giggsy in-waiting.  The turtle, LVG, already throwing his weight around and I’m unsure how that will work with the likes of Rooney who has enough poundage to shove back.  If they’re still playing Cleverly it’s hard to see them doing much… and with the wingback system it’s asking a lot of a few.. can they maintain that for the entire season?

Spurs made the best off season move of all. Pochettino is one of the best managers in the country- I love how he defends the deep free kicks and he likes to play the classic game.  Has a lot of talent at Spurs but a lot of dead weight.. can they pull themselves higher up the table?  Hard to know.

At the Bottom

The table is a right old mess of junk and pieces that we can be sure about.  Crystal Palace are favored my many to go down with no manager but then the have the big Scot Malky ready to step up.    Could be a good race to the bottom and an exciting finish like last year.

West Ham – I just don’t like West Ham.  They are newly promoted and have the most overrated brown paper bag collector of all time in Big Sam.

Aston Villa – in Kieran Richardson, Joe Cole.  Enough said.  I know QPR have Rio Ferdinand.. but the Villains have to run out of luck.

Leicester – not good enough.  Leicester are a small team and should be playing other small teams… like Burnley and Hull… oh wait… erm Watford, then.

# Team
1 Manchester  City  mancity
2 Arsenal  arsenal
3 Chelsea  chelsea
4 Liverpool  liverpool
5 Manchester United  manutd
6 Tottenham Hotspur  westbrom
7 Everton
8 Newcastle United
9 Swansea City  
10 Sunderland
11 Burnley
12 Stoke City
13 Hull City
14 West Bromwich Albion
15 Crystal Palace
16 Southampton
17 Queens Park Rangers
18 West Ham United  westham
19 Aston Villa  astonvilla
20 Leicester City  leicester