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Football is picking up the pace. European action in midweek is followed by league action this weekend and then league cup action next midweek before another set of league games. Lovely.
Something else that would be lovely would be doing well in the predictions. Let’s see how I did in the recent set of fixtures. As ever the points system is the same as the league – three points for a correct prediction, one point for just getting the right outcome and zero points for missing everything.
Man City 2-2 Liverpool (0 points – actual score 5-0)
Arsenal 3-1 Bournemouth (1 point – actual score 3-0)
Brighton 1-2 West Brom (0 points – actual score 3-1)
Everton 2-2 Spurs (0 points – actual score 0-3)
Leicester 0-3 Chelsea (1 point – actual score 1-2)
Southampton 1-1 Watford (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Stoke City 0-3 Man Utd (0 points – actual score 2-2)
Burnley 2-0 Crystal Palace (1 point – actual score 1-0)
Swansea 3-3 Newcastle (0 points – actual score 0-1)
West Ham 2-1 Huddersfield (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Four lonely points picked up. 40% correct outcome percentage is under the barely acceptable standard. Oooohhhh it’s not been a good start to the season for my predictions after a promising first week. Only Crystal Palace have had a worse time of it than my predictions.
Nevertheless, the season is young there are plenty of points yet to pick up. So let’s consider the upcoming set of fixtures starting with the tonight’s B-team clash.
Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton
Crystal Palace 1-1 Southampton
Huddersfield 1-2 Leicester
Liverpool 3-1 Burnley
Newcastle 2-2 Stoke
Watford 1-4 Man City
West Brom 1-1 West Ham
Tottenham 4-0 Swansea
Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal
Man Utd 3-0 Everton
The Sunday fixtures look a real treat and it’s something that will be a good indicator of the aspirations of the teams involved. Can things work out for the home favourites or is there a surprise in store?
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
OK international football, if you’re quite finished for the time being, we can resume with the football that really matters!
The transfer window is shut. The teams have to settle with their Premier League squads for the time being. There are winners and losers in it all and now we may get a glimpse of how things may pan out. Before that, though, let us briefly reflect on the last time I put the predictions on here and what I got for my troubles. Points system is like the league table – three points for a spot on prediction, one point for a correct outcome and zero points for nothing right at all.
Bournemouth 0-2 Man City (1 point – actual score 1-2)
Crystal Palace 1-1 Swansea (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Huddersfield 1-1 Southampton (1 point – actual score 0-0)
Newcastle 2-2 (0 points – actual score 3-0)
Watford 2-1 Brighton (0 points – actual score 0-0)
Man Utd 3-0 Leicester (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Chelsea 2-1 (1 point – actual score 2-0)
West Brom 2-1 Stoke City (0 points – actual score 1-1)
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (0 points – actual score 4-0)
Spurs 3-1 Burnley (0 points – actual score 1-1)
Four lonely points. 40% correct outcome. It’s poor. No point beating around the bush. This ain’t the work of a very good predictor of football. This is not, however, the end of the matter. This is just the spark to pick up the business and go on and improve. I will not be defeated!
So onwards to this weekend’s fixtures. It may not have much in the way of stand out matches, but there are one or two especially on Saturday that should be cause for interest. Here’s my take on how it will turn out.
Man City 2-2 Liverpool
Arsenal 3-1 Bournemouth
Brighton 1-2 West Brom
Everton 2-2 Spurs
Leicester 0-3 Chelsea
Southampton 1-1 Watford
Stoke City 0-3 Man Utd
Burnley 2-0 Crystal Palace
Swansea 3-3 Newcastle
West Ham 2-1 Huddersfield
This should be the sort of fixture list where it’s easier to get a few more points on the board. That really would be splendid right about now. I wonder if this will be the occasion where that happens. As ever, it’s just for us to …
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
No sooner has the football returned at the domestic level than it’s off again for the internationals! Internationals – what’s that all about??
In any case, we’re left with this weekend before the ten days or so of the far less interesting stuff. There are some corkers this weekend as well!
But first there is the small matter of seeing how my predictions from last week turned out. The points system has not changed – three points for a spot on prediction, one point for a correct outcome and zero points for getting it all wrong.
Swansea 1-3 Man Utd (1 point – actual score 0-4)
Bournemouth 2-1 Watford (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Burnley 2-1 West Brom (0 points – actual score 0-1)
Leicester 1-0 Brighton (1 point – actual score)
Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace (1 point – actual score 1-0)
Southampton 2-2 West Ham (0 points – actual score 3-2)
Stoke 1-3 Arsenal (0 points – actual score 1-0)
Huddersfield 1-1 Newcastle (0 points – actual score 1-0)
Tottenham 2-2 Chelsea (0 points – actual score 1-2)
Man City 2-1 Everton (0 points – actual score 1-1)
Wowsers. That was awful. That was shockingly poor. 3 points. Just three points. Whaaaaaaaat. 3/10 correct outcomes is miserably poor. Wowsers. That’s … just … wowsers … something I want to forget in a hurry.
So moving swiftly on, let’s see if I have more of a pulse for the beat of the Premier League with this week’s set of fixtures.
Bournemouth 0-2 Man City: OK. It’s time for City to stop messing around. The Brighton match was nothing to be too pleased with and they stumbled at home albeit with a contentious decision that saw them play with ten men for most of the match against Everton on Monday. But now all that mucking about malarkey has to stop and they must start playing as though they are worthy of being called among the favourites to win the league. Bournemouth as well could do with shaking up already with two games not to put down in the history books. Yet if things go as they should, the home side might be waiting a bit longer to really get their season started.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Swansea: Fans can be impatient sometimes. There are already grumblings going on about De Boer’s start at Palace. You have got to give him a little more time, though. He has only just turned up and his style is markedly different to his predecessor. That needs time. Time is something that Clement knows all about. He didn’t get that time at Derby, but he did well with the time he had at Swansea when he joined. He is still relatively new to management in the Premier League and the loss of some key players to injury or to Everton is a test of his patience too. Not to much between the two teams to tell, really.
Huddersfield 1-1 Southampton: All aboard the Huddersfield Express to Premier League safety. Two games, maximum points, better than even their manager expected. Now their home fans have a dose of a more established league outfit who can give them an example of how to settle in the Premier. Southampton are no mugs. They don’t dice around with relegation too much. They are steady and know how to pick up the points they need to. They could indeed be the first to collect three points at Huddersfield’s expense. Yet it would be foolish to dismiss the home side’s chances with such a bright start to their campaign.
Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
Watford 2-1 Brighton
Man Utd 3-0 Leicester: Mourinho is rightly playing down the start United have made to the season. Despite others raving about records being broken with eight goals in two matches, nothing is won in August. Leicester should prove to offer more than Swansea and West Ham have in all areas of the pitch. Shakespeare should prepare his side not to be intimidated by the Old Trafford faithful getting a whiff of a dominance arising. In as much as they are capable, Leicester, however, should submit to the irresistible force of United.
Chelsea 2-1 Everton: Everton will have mixed feelings after their last game. A point from the Etihad is no mean feat. A point having lead and with a man advantage doesn’t look as impressive especially if you have pretensions to challenge City in the near future. Well no sooner have their European excursions taken their toll than there is another stern test of their credentials as they visit the reigning Champions. The positive in this is at least two of arguably their toughest league fixtures will be out of the way. But will it see them emerge unscathed? Conte, having seen how his team outwitted Spurs n their last encounter will expect his side to display their superiority.
West Brom 2-1 Stoke City
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal: Got to be the match of the weekend. These two teams are committed to attacking football. Despite last week’s blank, Arsenal are set up to score goals and score lots of them. Their attacking options have been significantly strengthened with the availability of Sanchez. The prospect of Sanchez, Lacazette, Ozil and company bearing down on any defence would be daunting. Considering Liverpool notoriously don’t believe in defence, makes that prospect all the more nerve-wracking for the home fan. It’s just a mercy for the Reds that the Gunners are also somewhat susceptible to a good attack and if there’s one thing this Liverpool team have shown thus far is that they have a good attack. Do not expect a goalless affair.
Spurs 3-1 Burnley
Some tasty, tasty, very, very tasty fixtures in there. Let’s hope I can at least reach the standard set last week as opposed to the standard I succumbed to this week. Will it work out that way? Will those scorelines begin to come in just like I said they would?
Let’s see how it goes
C. L. J. Dryden
Yes, it’s good to have the football back.
From Friday to Sunday the ten Premier League matches produced a decent range of intriguing encounters. Of course some were going to react to the events like the league was won and lost, while others were overly cautious about reading too much into the fixtures.
Yet again, however, I put it out there that I could predict which way the fixtures would turn out, so let’s see how successful or not, I was. The points system, despite some consideration, won’t be changed from last season. So there’s three points for getting the whole thing spot on. There’s just the one point for getting just the right outcome. Finally there’s the not so sweet nothing for getting it wrong all over.
Arsenal 3-1 Leicester (1 point – actual score 4-3)
Watford 1-3 Liverpool (0 points – actual score 3=3)
Chelsea 2-1 Burnley (0 points – actual score 2-3)
Crystal Palace 2-2 Huddersfield (0 points – actual score 0-3)
Everton 3-0 Stoke (1 point – actual score 1-0)
Southampton 1-1 Swansea (1 point – actual score 0-0)
West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth (3 points)
Brighton 0-5 Man City (1 point – actual score 0-2)
Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham (1 point – actual score 0-2)
Man Utd 2-1 West Ham (1 point – actual score 4-0)
In terms of getting the right outcome – 7/10 is pretty good. Regarding the points actually accumulated – 9 points from a possible 30 looks bad on paper, but getting the right scoreline is a higher form of prediction, so being one off the double figures this early in the season is no reason for feeling glum.
However it is a standard set – and hopefully a standard I will surpass more often than not. So it’s on to this weekend’s fixtures.
Swansea 1-3 Man Utd – This will not be as comfortable a game for United as their first one. Swansea will be a lot more competitive. Under Clement they already are developing into something much more akin to the side that was a breathe of fresh air to the Premier League, that should cause some issues for the visitors. But the class of the Old Trafford should see them collect another three points.
Bournemouth 2-1 Watford – These clubs had mixed fortunes in their first fixtures. One thing Watford showed was a never die attitude to keep fighting until the last kick of the game. The challenge will be if they can do it away from home at a Bournemouth keen to get the taste of defeat out of their mouths.
Burnley 2-1 West Brom – Undoubtedly the result of the first weekend was Burnley going to the home of the champions and emerging with all three points. Not even they could have hoped for that. Now there is an opportunity to start their home games the right way, West Brom may prove to be stubborn opposition.
Leicester 1-0 Brighton – This game isn’t actually that easy to predict. The Leicester that played against Arsenal should win this game. Yet there’s more to Leicester than that performance and if plucky Brighton catches them on a good day, it might work in their favour.
Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace – A lot of attention has been drawn again to the suspect defence of Liverpool, this overlooks the fact that in the final third of last season, the defence as a unit played well. Their first home game sees them take on a Palace side still getting used to their new manager’s ways, that may impact the result in the home side’s favour.
Southampton 2-2 West Ham – West Ham will not have like their performance at Old Trafford at all and will be keen to show they are much more than that. This game against the Saints might prove to be just the tonic if they can get their act together. Meanwhile the home side will be looking to start scoring goals against a defence that doesn’t convince.
Stoke 1-3 Arsenal – This is usually a tough fixture for Arsenal. Stoke also tend to enjoy this fixture more than most. Yet there is the sense that the away side are in the better position in terms of squad development. There is also the feeling that Stoke have not improved much from last season and are in danger already of stagnating further unless reinforcements freshen things up.
Huddersfield 1-1 Newcastle – The first match between two teams who came up from the Championship. That means to a degree they know each other well and to another degree it also means they are in a position to cancel each other out. Huddersfield not only have the home advantage but also the boost of already winning a game in the Premier League, but will that be enough to overcome the canny Benitez?
Tottenham 2-2 Chelsea – Spurs could not have asked for a trickier first home game. What makes the game intriguing though, is that they face a wounded animal in Chelsea. Their transfer window that appears to leave them weaker than when they started and a horrific first game of the season including two key players suspended, This game is full of conflicting factors as to who will emerge the victors.
Man City 2-1 Everton – The Toffees get to test out their new line-up with the possible new signing Sigurdsson in the area against the big spenders of the transfer window. The attacking threat of City will be a good test as well. Last season these were the sort of games City struggled to impose themselves on, so it’s just as much a test of their credentials.
It’s another intriguing set of fixtures that’s for sure. On the one hand there is nothing to say that the sides who did poorly last week will continue it. There’s also pressure for those who did well to continue it. There are points to be gained and I reckon this is how they will pan out. As to whether it will …
Let’s see how it goes.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden
Ahhhh the wait is over, the Premier League is back and what better way to get going than with a round of predictions for the opening games of the season. Preseason form can be completely useless as a team begins with hopes of success – all starting at the same level if not at the same time.
This being week one, no need to worry about anything other than the games and my predictions of the final score!
Arsenal 3-1 Leicester
Watford 1-3 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Burnley
Crystal Palace 2-2 Huddersfield
Everton 3-0 Stoke
Southampton 1-1 Swansea
West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth
Brighton 0-5 Man City
Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham
Man Utd 2-1 West Ham
The beauty of these fixtures is that there’s no immediate precedent on which to make predictions, clubs can experience all kinds of starts to seasons. So will things turn out as I imagine?
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
Like that the pre-season is virtually over.
I am not sad to see the back of it. From now to around mid-July 2018 there will be a lot of football to digest – league football, European football, World Cup qualifiers culminating in the World Cup next summer. There is a lot for anyone who loves football to look forward to.
The main focus here, however, will be about the Premier League. As with last season the plan is to post predictions on scores for the fixtures ahead. There’s also the desire to comment a little more on the goings on in the game I really love.
This time of the season is the time to be making the bigger predictions about how the league will turn out. I appreciate, however, that with the transfer window still open there’s still time for teams to change. So I will put on here now how I predict the league will end up and then review it again when the window is shut come the end of the window.
- Man Utd – This season is not going to be a cake-walk for whoever wins the league. All the top teams will have European commitments. So it will be down to the team that can deal with those challenges and are best equipped. There’s something about Mourinho and his approach to United that makes me believe they can edge it.
- Man City – Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in the world. He will not accept last season at all. They will be looking to be dominant on all fronts. That desire and an untried back four with question marks still hanging over their team approach to defending games is the reason why I think they will come up short.
- Chelsea – The league champions won’t struggle this season as they did the season after they last won the league. The big worry for the Blues, however, is that their squad is not stronger than it was last season at the time of writing. A few injuries, the extra fixtures and a frustrated manager suffering from the second season syndrome will make it a good season for them to finish in the top four.
- Arsenal – The top four will be more competitive than ever before with seven teams realistically competing to finish in it. Despite another season of underachievement, there is something about the Gunners that says that with a break from the top European competition they can really give more focus to succeeding in the league. Indeed for the third season in a row there are good arguments to be made that this is their best chance to win the league. But they won’t. But at least they can pick up their usual top four place again.
- Liverpool – Liverpool are not realistic title contenders this season, especially because of their European commitments. Their squad is not bigger than last season and there are questions as to whether overall it’s better. Yet with the signing of Salah and the promise of him alongside Mane haunting defences, their attack should still prove to be enough to keep them competing for the top four places, even if they are likely to just miss out.
- Spurs – It is misguided to overlook a big thing going against Spurs this season and that is their ‘home’ games taking place at Wembley. That is a factor that will affect their hopes of carrying on two very good seasons of progress under Pochettino. In as much as the manager is happy with the squad he has, the lack of freshening it up with quality signings will also hinder their hopes of continuing their development.
- Everton – Of the top seven sides, Everton have arguably been the most canny in their signings. Getting them in early, getting quality in certain positions and of course the return of their ‘prodigal son’ Rooney. It is all built for intentional progress where the side are concerned. But are they really better than the sides above them? Do they have a quality replacement to score the goals that Lukaku did? As long as they don’t though they should certainly be superior to those below them, they will have to fight hard to get a chance of going higher.
- West Ham – In the larger scheme of things there shouldn’t be that much in the way of disappointment for where they ended up in the league last season. But it was quite the horror show at times for those bubble blowers. They have made steps to address that in their summer signings, especially the signing of Chicharito. Having got over the hump of their new home, this season they can begin to impose themselves a lot more on a league with teams largely their inferior. If they do that and make the most of a good team – they should comfortably finish in the top half.
- Crystal Palace – There is usually a wild card in the Premier League – a team that does better than expected. Crystal Palace, typically, don’t believe in finishing in the top ten. They did have a reputation for bouncing between the Championship and the Premier League. Surviving used to be their idea of a good season. Now, however, there’s a good reason to be confident that Palace will do more than just look to survive. If de Boer can translate his ideas effectively to his players, this team can do as well as see the side crop up in the top ten.
- Southampton – There are certain teams in this Premier League who will be set up to be grateful that there are worse teams than them this season. Southampton in recent years have done remarkably well in maintaining a top ten finish. They are designed to be a more progressive club who can deal with departures of top players and managers. This season, however, there is not that much in the way of signings or their new manager to suggest they are going to get moving in the right direction.
- Leicester – Some of the fans are hoping to return to Europe this season. They make me laugh. Leicester had one great season, which was a freak season. Their squad isn’t that strong. Their first team have been found out. Their manager is going to be properly tested after a pre-season to see if he has the nous to lift the players sufficiently. Really and truly they should be grateful to be in the mid-table places again when the final whistle blows at the end of the season.
- West Brom – Pulis, more than anyone, knows how important it is not to take anything for granted. West Brom aren’t that good a squad or a club, it is the ethos that Pulis has instilled at the club to be stubborn and resolute in their approach to the game that sees them having a competitive edge over their rivals. They overachieved last season and there maybe grumblings about how they tailed off once safety was assured, but there’s little to suggest they should expect much else this season.
- Newcastle United – If the Geordies can hang onto Benitez, they won’t be involved in a drawn out relegation battle. Not because of their squad, as such, more because of the manager who can make this club live up to the massive and loyal fanbase. They will take time to readjust to the rigours of the top league at first, but if they can nab a couple of quality signings before the window is shut, Benitez can see it as something to work with in the season of consolidation.
- Swansea – Paul Clement did well to keep the Swans up at the end of last season. Even if they lose their talisman Sigurdsson leaves, the game is set up more about the way they play under Clement and he appears to have enough savvy in him to let the system of play be bigger than an individual player. If they return to the progressive football they played a few seasons ago, they should be looking up more than looking down.
- Stoke City – Mark Hughes did not take Stoke City forward last season. They appeared to stagnate somewhat. Selling some players with little in the way of replacing with quality does not lend itself to a narrative of the Potters learning their lessons. They will be one of those teams who will breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the season because they know there are worse teams than them.
- Bournemouth – This position is no certainty. Howe has strengthened the squad with Defoe. If he can score the goals he was able to bang in even for Sunderland, then Bournemouth can have an optimistic approach to the season. Beyond hims, however, there is little I can see about the set up of the squad to suggest they should be aiming for another top half finish to the season.
- Watford – Despite the promising new manager, I just don’t think this will be an enjoyable season for the Hertfordshire outfit. There’s something about all the changes in the way the club is run that might catch up with itself this season. The look of the squad doesn’t augur something for which fans should be that excited. Now they need to prove observers like me that there’s more to them than what appears to be plucky players dicing ever so dangerously with relegation.
- Burnley – This might surprise a few people because they are a solid outfit. Last season they proved themselves worthy of staying the division with some outstanding results at home. Their way of playing has impressed those from outside the league wondering if they could survive. Despite additions to the squad, however, I think they peaked last season. The squad might be bigger, but not necessarily better. The ragtag collection of workmanlike types might find it harder to find the motivation to kick on.
- Huddersfield – It will be a miracle if the Yorkshire club stay in the Premier League. A miracle. If David Wagner manages it, this will be a massive achievement for what is still a very small club. Sure it has history – but that was a LONG time ago. They have done remarkably well making it to the promised land, but as many will inform them, it’s one thing to get here, it’s another to stay. I don’t see them having enough to stay, unless one of their rival capitulates.
- Brighton – Why these guys at the bottom? Aren’t they better than at least Huddersfield? They have a quality manager in Hughton who knows his way around the league, surely that will give them the advantage and make them competitive in what will undoubtedly be a fight to stay up. Well, that’s all well and good, but there’s just a feeling that their squad deficiencies will prove too much for them in the struggle even to make it above Huddersfield.
That’s how I see it at the moment, obviously subject to change. I reckon this season will be even more intriguing than last season because there are great managers who know their way around now as well as outfits who will have no problem taking on the role of spoiling things for the bigger clubs.
Will it all turn out as I’ve suggested? Well …
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden