Month: March 2017
The international break is over and to make up for lost time, the league in its wisdom has two rounds of fixtures for the Premier League clubs in the space of the week. I am grateful for that. I missed Premier League football. International football is not really all that to me and in as much as Gareth Southgate looks to start his run as the permanent manager of the national team well, there is still something largely underwhelming about it all.
Thus we’re back to the domestic game. As we return to predicting fixtures, we need to have a look at how I did the last time I considered the games. There is a points system involved where should I predict a spot on scoreline I gain three points; if I get the right outcome alone, then i get a point and if I get everything wrong, I get nothing at all.
West Brom 1-2 Arsenal (0 points – actual score 3-1)
Crystal Palace 2-2 Watford (0 points – actual score 1-0)
Everton 3-1 Hull City (1 point – actual score 4-0)
Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea (1 point – actual score 1-2)
Sunderland 1-1 Burnley (1 point – actual score 0-0)
West Ham 3-1 Leicester (0 points – actual score 2-3)
Bournemouth 2-2 Swansea (0 points – actual score 2-0)
Middlesbrough 0-2 Man Utd (1 point – actual score 1-3)
Tottenham 2-1 Southampton (3 points)
Man City 2-2 Liverpool (1 point – actual score 1-1)
Hmmmmmmmmm … 8 points. It’s better than it has been in some weeks. It’s not hitting the sort of levels that I’ve reached before, but it’s slightly better. Not happy, but not miserable. In terms of the percentage of correct outcomes, again 60% is better than an average, but it’s not the target I set for myself when I make these predictions.
Therefore I head into this weekend’s fixtures determined to do better and so let’s consider what lies ahead with some predicting of scores.
Liverpool 2-1 Everton
Burnley 1-1 Tottenham
Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace
Hull City 1-1 West Ham
Leicester City 3-2 Stoke City
Man Utd 2-1 West Brom
Watford 3-1 Sunderland
Southampton 2-1 Bournemouth
Swansea 2-0 Middlesbrough
Arsenal 2-2 Man City
It’s a fascinating weekend of football action where the fortunes at the top and bottom of the table could still take another turn before the midweek action. The Merseyside derby is set to be one of the toughest for both sides in a number of years, the south-coast derby won’t be one to overlook either. Arsenal have some issues to resolve with a positive result against fellow top four challengers Man City. As to whether things will turn out the way I expect …
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
There may not have been that much in the way of Premier League football over the weekend, but there was still enough intriguing football over the week to keep the appetite satiated. Leicester City are England’s last hope in the Champions League as Manchester City manage to lose their tie on away goals because of their shocking approach to defending. Meanwhile their neighbours crash out of the FA Cup because of their specific targeting of Hazard and a referee intent to show everyone who the boss was. Hey ho, such is life in this funny old game.
With an international break almost upon us, there is enough time to consider the upcoming fixtures in the Premier League which is back up to full strength even if not all the teams in it are. Before that, let’s look back on what I thought would happen in the few league matches of last weekend and what actually happened. Points are at stake with these predictions – three points for a correct scoreline; one point for the correct outcome and zero points for getting everything wrong.
Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham (0 points – actual score 3-2)
Everton 2-1 West Brom (1 point – actual score 3-0)
Hull City 1-1 Swansea (0 points – actual score 2-1)
Liverpool 4-1 Burnley (1 point – actual score 2-1)
Two points is measly, especially when there was a potential 12 available. The fifty percent split in getting the right outcomes for two of the four is no consolation really. It’s another of those weeks where I just need to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment and take a lie down. Then get up again and see if I can put something better for the upcoming weekend’s action.
West Brom 1-2 Arsenal: You know I really want to predict a defeat for Arsenal. I really do. No club in the Premier League infuriates me like Arsenal. They are patently capable of being a successful trophy winning football team, but refuse to be that. Yet they are what they are and now that there’s no pressure on them to achieve that much, this is when they will start playing the necessarily clinical football. Sure they have a semi-final in the FA Cup, but that’s a chump’s game these days. Yeah they have a top four fight on their hands, but that’s a fight they don’t know how to lose. Wenger has them geared for that. Meanwhile their opponents are beginning to betray all the signs of a club who knows their job is done. West Brom know they won’t get relegated. They even know that at worst they’ll finish in the upper end of the second half of the table. They will enter this match wanting to be competitive in front of their home crowd. Pulis would love to get one over on Wenger with their contrasting football styles and Wenger’s open distaste for the ‘efficient’ methods of his counterpart. The home crowd won’t be that awed by the visitors whose form in recent weeks in games that matter has been appalling. Yet Arsenal should still have enough to pull a win out of the hat of this lunchtime kick-off.
Crystal Palace 2-2 Watford: Allardyce knows full well that Palace are nowhere near out of the woods yet. Some of their recent results have eased them above the drop zone, but with Hull beating Swansea the gap between Palace and the bottom three is miniscule. The onus will be on them to show up and be brave enough to go for goals and strong enough to resist conceding. It’s pretty silly looking at the playing personnel and reaching that conclusion, but there we are. Meanwhile Watford still need to be very careful of slipping into that mess of a fight for survival. There’s no evidence that their football has really improved since last season, but then again the football last season was good enough to keep them up which is still what the Hornets should be grateful for. There is little to suggest the visitors will have much to be able to get a win at Selhurst Park., but being who they are, they may still have a sting in the tail where this fixture is concerned. They might just well prove to be a frustrating thorn in the side of the London team.
Everton 3-1 Hull City: Koeman’s first season in charge of Everton is going fairly well. Nothing breathtaking as it was when Martinez had a dazzling season in charge a few seasons ago. It’s steady progress. There is clear evidence of that. They are at the right end of the table, looking to see if they can pounce on any sign of weakness from the top six clubs. They are staying in the hunt. Not the best time to hear their top striker suggest that there’s not enough at the club to get him to commit to a contract extension. Hull City could take advantage of that. They certainly know there’s much to play for in going for the three points. It could be another priceless step in the right direction as far as this team is concerned. There is something about their commitment and organisation that suggests they are no way going to come to Goodison Park just to make up the numbers. Yet there is also something about the way Koeman wants this Everton side to play that indicates this tie will come to the quality on display and should it come to that the home side should have enough to wrap up all the points on offer.
Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea: Stoke are a strange team. Once they were just happy to be in the Premier League, but that was a fair few seasons ago. They are an established Premier League side and the question becomes one of what next. They don’t have the resources of the top six, so their next thing is midtable security, but they have been hitting that average comfortably for the last few seasons too. So they’re in an odd place. So fans may well criticise some of the decisions that Hughes has made regarding team selection and recruitment, but there is a legitimate question of who could come to the club and really do better? Not that those questions will in any way bother Chelsea who are far more concerned with continuing their relentless drive for the Premier League title. This game won’t be a walkover for them because playing Stoke in the Potteries is never easy. Yet the abundant quality throughout this team from back to front should assure the victory.
Sunderland 1-1 Burnley: It’s almost like a prerequisite for Burnley away from home. Play well, be tight, give everything, unsettle the opposition and still come away with nothing. Their last game away from home played to type. This fixture, however, gives them a real chance for something more. Sunderland are looking increasingly likely to get relegated. Even the recent return of Defoe to the England squad does nothing to get rid of that sense of the inevitable. They might take courage from Burnley’s away form, but that will be cold comfort if they don’t convert their chances and win this game. Three points would be more welcome for the home side than the visitors, but I think Dyche has enough about him to eek out a more positive result.
West Ham 3-1 Leicester City:
Bournemouth 2-2 Swansea City:
Middlesbrough 0-2 Man Utd:
Tottenham 2-1 Southampton:
Man City 2-2 Liverpool:
The weekend’s football isn’t looking that bad especially with the big game at the Etihad. The scores are not actually that straightforward to predict especially with a number of clubs having a lot to fight for in escaping from the clutches of the relegation zone. Yet I remain confident for a decent turnout of points. As ever …
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
Recently I was reminded of this song. Over twenty years ago I had the privilege of playing a cover version of this for a school swing band. My music teacher at the time encouraged me to listen to some jazz and I really enjoyed listening to Ella Fitzgerald. What a talented vocalist.
This is such a sweet piece that I am glad I was reminded of it. Hence me being delighted to share it with you.
C. L. J. Dryden
Oh you can almost see the finishing line in sight now. The FA Cup is reaching its quarter final stage this weekend. We are inching ever closer to game 30 for the teams. Things are beginning to get ready for the final push for points and places. Meanwhile poor Arsenal have a week to forget quickly that is thankfully off the top talking point after the amazing comeback of Barcelona to win their tie against PSG after being four goals down in the away leg having not scored even one away goal AND conceding an away goal in their fixture this week. What an amazing tie and what a way for others to casually overlook Arsenal’s collapse to Bayern for the third game in a row.
The game goes on, though, and with the games in the league come the predictions, so let us first see how I got on with the last set of fixtures. Points as ever being three for a correct prediction, one point for just the right outcome and zero for nothing being right at all.
Man United 3-1 Bournemouth (0 points – actual score 1-1)
Leicester 2-2 Hull City (0 points – actual score 3-1)
Stoke City 1-0 Middlesbrough (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Swansea 2-1 Burnley (1 point – actual score 3-2)
Watford 2-1 Southampton (0 points – actual score 3-4)
West Brom 2-0 Crystal Palace (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal (0 points – actual score 3-1)
Tottenham 3-1 Everton (1 point – actual score 3-2)
Sunderland 1-4 Man City (1 point – actual score 0-2)
West Ham 0-2 Chelsea (1 point – actual score 1-2)
Yeesh. That was not a good set of result in line with my predictions – I may have scraped the 50% correct outcome figure, which is disappointing in itself, but to only get single points from those leaving an overall score of 5 points is pitiful to be fair. It’s not an Arsenal thrashing, but it is disappointing.
So let’s see if I can pick things up with the set of league fixtures that we are about to receive. This will cover the limited number of league fixtures so there won’t be that much to get wrong, surely.
Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham: Both teams have not had the greatest of runs at the moment and it’s hard to see which team will lift themselves most for the fixture. There is an argument to say the home side are in a better position to take advantage of their home comforts, yet West ham have been alright more often than not, so there’s little reason to count them out of this game.
Everton 2-1 West Brom: Of the two teams, Everton have the most to fight for. By that, I mean they have a higher league position to aspire to, whereas for West Brom, there is something about them that doesn’t strike me as being particularly aspirational for anything other than a comfortable league position. One they already have and might have gone to some way of explaining their defeat against Palace. This is a Pulis side, though so their should be a considerable degree of discomfort for the home side to impose their game. However Koeman has ambitions that should see the Toffeemen pull out the victor in a very tight game.
Hull City 1-1 Swansea: The Swans have made good steps forward under Clement, but they also know full well that they are not out of the woods just yet They need to pick up points and they need to be winning rather than losing these close encounters of the relegation kind. That will not be easy at all, because although the promising start of the new guy at Hull has subsided, they are still a relatively competent team in terms of making things difficult for the opponents. A win here will be a shot in the arm for their hopes of an incredulous escape. Not sure they will have enough to see it come about.
Liverpool 4-1 Burnley: Klopp does not strike me as the kind of guy who deals in revenge. He seems far too preoccupied with the preparation of his team and ensuring that everyone is ready to fire on all cylinders. It would not have escaped him, however, that Burnley were the first team to beat Liverpool in the league this season. It would not have escaped him either that the defeat came after they had bombarded the team and did everything but score. Question marks remain over Liverpool’s ability over teams in the lower half of the table, but with the poor away form of Burnley there is the promise of being able to win a game for change against the lesser teams for the home side.
Just the four games to consider this weekend, but a number of the teams nearer the bottom are in action so results could mean everything here. It’s all about if things will go in the favour of the teams that need it the most.
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
This was broadcast over 30 years ago, giving a comedic representation of a system that was in place for decades previously. I wonder if that much has changed at all …
C. L. J. Dryden
Not much to get the pulses races in the world of football this week. Maybe the most important thing was the interesting decision of Luis Enrique to announce his departure from Barcelona at the end of the season. I don’t have a problem with the decision, it’s a good one to make especially if you are tired. Three years at the club, that’s not a bad run at all. I’m always intrigued at the timing of the announcement. How does that change the dynamic in the club and how do they rise to the occasion to be competitive?
That’s all going to come out in the wash. Meanwhile, here in England, there’s a full quota of Premier League football, which is good. Before we get that far, let’s review how I did in the eight games that took place last weekend. As ever the points system is exactly like the game itself – three points for a spot on prediction; one point for just the correct outcome and zero points for getting everything wrong.
Chelsea 4-1 Swansea (1 point – actual score 3-1)
Crystal Palace 0-0 Middlesbrough (0 points – actual score 1-0)
Everton 3-1 Sunderland (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Hull 2-0 Burnley (0 points – actual score 1-1)
West Brom 2-0 Bournemouth (1 point – actual score 2-1)
Watford 1-1 West Ham (3 points)
Tottenham 2-1 Stoke City (1 point – actual score 4-0)
Leicester 1-3 Liverpool (0 points – actual score 3-1)
Five correct outcomes, one glorious correct scoreline gives a total of 7 points, which is not shabby considering the number of games. Five out of eight is not a shabby return either for the correct versus incorrect. It’s not shabby. It could be better, but it’s not shabby.
Now to consider the next three days worth of Premier League football and see if Chelsea can further extend their lead at the top of the table.
Man Utd 3-1 Bournemouth
Leicester 2-2 Hull City
Stoke City 1-0 Middlesbrough
Swansea 2-1 Burnley
Watford 2-1 Southampton
West Brom 2-0 Crystal Palace
Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal
Tottenham 3-1 Everton
Sunderland 1-4 Man City
West Ham 0-2 Chelsea
No doubt the game at Anfield will be the one to watch this weekend. The result of that could do wonders for United who could be at least one place closer to the top four by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile
Let’s see how it goes
C. L. J. Dryden