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


Week of Jan 10, 2015 Premier League Picks

Starting with this year’s first major disappointment: there’s no more Alan Pardew Project.  Alan left “the club” and has joined another “the club” in a move that benefits him more than anyone.  There are many questions that will remain unanswered: Why did Crystal Palace paid £3.5 million for a manager on the brink of being fired?  Why didn’t Newcastle have a replacement lined up for when he was fired?  What has Alan Pardew ever done in the Premier League?

Actually, that last one I can answer:

Matches W D L GF GA Pts Win %
155 58 34 63 198 238 208 37

But even a losing manager gets to drive to his new club in a nice ride.  Look what fancy car being a 37% winning manager can earn you.

Nice Car

To be fair, as a winning percentage that’s better than his time at Charlton or West Ham.   Call be a prognosticator extraordinaire but I have a feeling that his winning percentage won’t be going up at Crystal Palace… in the Premier League anyway.

10-Jan 2015  
Swansea City1-1West Ham
West Bromwich Albion2-1Hull City
Leicester City1-0Aston Villa
Everton0-1Manchester City
Chelsea 2-1Newcastle United
Crystal Palace1-2Tottenham Hotspur

Sunderland will be looking for a draw about as hard as Liverpool are looking for striker, defence, and a goalkeeper who doesn’t have an issue with his feet.  I’m not sure why Brendan Rodgers insists on bashing his players but after putting Balotelli on the bench and informing him he needed to “get used to it” it seems that the hard-nosed, no-nonsense, father-figure tactic is in play.  I hope he doesn’t play hardball with Raheem’s new contract because he’s one of the few bright spots for the team.  With Gerrard finally admitting to being too old for the premier league ready for a trip to the retirement franchises of the MLS things can only look up for Liverpool. It’s his senior send-off so the team should be up for the game and ready grooming younger players to take over. It’s a positive to have him start his retirement track. Some will say that he scored twice last week and is still a valuable player. To those people I say? I say that even Balotelli would have converted one penalty.

It will be 0-0 with Sunderland hanging on until a late goal from someone unexpected will turn the game – the unexpected player? Someone in a Liverpool shirt.

Swansea are  a decent team sitting around the middle of the table.  West Ham are a decent team sitting on the low end of the upper tier of the table. Two equally matched teams? This can only be a draw.

West Brom are better than their position and Hull are, according to the form books, not very good.  The difference maker is that Tony Pulis has had a chance to teach the team the ways of survival for over a week behind closed doors.   What makes Pulis refreshing is that he says what he says and he means what he means: “Saido Berahino is for sale”.  Unlike most new managers, like say Pardew, that insist they are some major purchases away from being good, Pulis says their goal-scoring machine is available if the price is right.  In other words, if you offer a team like WBA enough money they have to say yes.  Tony Pulis 2-1 Hull – we’ll give him full credit for the points.

Leicester City are bottom, basement, one place from the Championship.  This will change as they face an inept Aston Villa who can’t score.. and worse, will be without defensive player of the year Ron Vlaar with injury.  That hole in the back will make all the difference as the Foxes break through the defensive unit who just haven’t had the time to gel.

Roberto Marinez needs to channel his inner David Moyes and start looking for creative ways to play boring and winning football.  Manchester have been disappointing in recent wins but maybe someone other than Lampard will score and free us from having to listen to NYFC fans complain about how they bought tickets just to see Frankie.  Is the MLS so dearth of talent that Lampard sells tickets?   City will scrape it.

I did analysis of my picks this year so far (not good – lower percentage than Lawro by some margin, though more perfect results) and did learn that over the course of the season so far I had not picked Burnley to do anything at all!  Not even 6 points.  This pick is rectifying that situation.   They should have a decent shot at Turf Moor against QPR.  Maybe they will have two decent shots? and let’s suppose both of them results in goals? Could happen.

Chelsea are playing Newcastle in a revenge match.  Newcastle seemed to turn it on whenever their manager looked like he was close to leaving, saving him from the end.  The question becomes, what will they do when their manager has left?  You could say the players will play to impress the new manager; however, there isn’t one yet.  Maybe Newcastle will play for their caretaker coach John Carver.  Then again, maybe not.   It will be a flattering score-line for Newcastle as Chelsea will pepper their goal all afternoon and just fail to put anything away.

I’m riding the Harry Kane train until it gets derailed.  He’s young and talented but no one can put forward the effort he does for the long term.  He has been clocked traveling 8 miles during a game!

11-Jan 2015  
Manchester United1-2Southampton

One of the other items I learned is that I have seriously overrated Arsenal.  This does nothing to improve my reputation as a closet Arsenal fan.  But nothing changes here as I pick Arsenal once again to get a victory over Stoke.  Pete Crouch will maintain his recent scoring record.  To fuel his fire, Monreal said “Peter Crouch is slow and bad at dribbling… but Arsenal fear his ‘dangerous’ aerial prowess”.  I believe that means he can reach the high branches at lunch time because I think he a player with two left feet and a poor header of the ball.

Eyes Wide Shut
Eyes Wide Shut

Next up, a quick mid year round up.

Southampton proved over the winter break they are, as the pundits say, “for real”.  Buying Victor Valdes shows me that the turtle featured LVG doesn’t know as much as people claim (unless DeGea has said he’s leaving and nothing can change his mind).. and that the Barcelona implosion is almost complete.  I suspect that soon we’ll hear Rooney is off because he’s not one to take his marching orders well.