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
Let me see, it’s July. Now there’s no more a summer month than July. Don’t get me wrong August is a very long month and all, but at least with football starting it’s a good hint that summer is about to nip off.
Here we are in the wasteland that is July. I am not a fan of the summer at all. I am certainly not a fan of July – Dr Who is over, no football is really happening and there’s nothing but cricket and tennis – what a wasteland.
Although the blog has been somewhat dormant in June – obviously recovering from the season’s exertions – the desire is to pick up a somewhat regular routine of blogging during these summer months. There’s certainly a fair bit to blog about among friends.
There’s the Premier League Predictions season to wrap up as well as those long held thoughts on what I the season that’s finished before the new one begins. There’s tons of football stuff to consider as well as pre-season gets up and running.
Speaking of seasons there’s my comments on the tenth season of Doctor Who that’s finished. That also sees the completion of Peter Capaldi’s third season in the lead role and it’s a good time to review how things have gone for him and for the programme. Lots of writing there, I can tell you!
There’s also my views on the latest seasons of Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow to share on here. The Arrowverse is more or less well established and it will be intriguing to just leave a thought. Meanwhile Netflix have built a strong Marvel output and with The Defenders about to bring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist together, it’s an opportune time to drop a word on how I found those programmes.
There is no guarantee that I will be able to write about all of that before the summer is through, but that’s certainly the plan. In all of that I also hope to be posting intriguing or hilarious videos that I might come across, as well as the soundtrack of my life as I come across it to share.
So although summer is by no means my favourite season of the year, I am still looking to make the most of it with the input on here among friends.
C. L. J. Dryden
Well. Here we are. 34 prediction weeks, 38 Premier League games. From August 2016 to May 2017. The end of the league season is here. I will save my thoughts on the season for another post after the play off finals. What I will say now, though, is that this season has been better than last season with great promise for next season.
There is one more day of Premier League action for me to apply my prediction skills. Before that, there is the review of the previous set of fixtures. Usual points apply, three points for a spot on prediction, one point for just the right outcome and zero points for getting it wrong.
Man City 3-1 Leicester (1 point – actual score 2-1)
Bournemouth 2-2 Burnley (0 points – actual score 2-1)
Middlesbrough 0-1 Southampton (1 point – actual score 1-2)
Sunderland 1-2 Swansea (1 point – actual score 0-2)
Stoke 0-2 Arsenal (1 point – actual score 1-4)
Crystal Palace 2-2 Hull City (0 points – actual score 4-0)
West Ham 2-1 Liverpool (0 points – actual score 0-4)
Tottenham 1-1 Man Utd (0 points – actual score 2-1)
Chelsea 2-1 Watford (1 point – actual score 4-3)
Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Man City 3-1 West Brom (3 points)
Southampton 1-1 Man Utd (1 point – actual score 0-0)
Leicester 1-2 Tottenham (1 point – actual score 1-6)
13 ties in total, 4 completely wrong outcomes, so 9 out of 13 correct outcomes is cool. 11 points in it all. Not great, but at least it’s better than nothing.
One more time for the 16/17 to see if I can do well at this prediction gig.
Arsenal 3-1 Everton
Burnley 2-1 West Ham
Chelsea 4-0 Sunderland
Hull 1-3 Tottenham
Leicester 2-2 Bournemouth
Liverpool 5-0 Middlesbrough
Man Utd 0-0 Crystal Palace
Southampton 1-1 Stoke
Swansea 2-1 West Brom
Watford 1-4 Man City
There is little for teams to fight for in the games today. I hope that won’t make for a boring lady day of the season. Whether that will turn out to be the case, though.
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
Congratulations to Chelsea, worthy winners of the Premier League in 2016-17. Did I see this coming? Nope. Was it common knowledge they would win at the start of the season? Nope. But this is not a fluke win like Leicester’s last season. This is one built on a team playing to their level and structured and motivated well by a manager who has done well with what he was given even if it was not what he wanted.
Although the Champions are known and two of the three relegated are also decided, there are still places to be decided and final games to be played. Before we consider the penultimate set of fixtures, let’s just review how I did in predicting the games I looked at last week.
Man City 2-2 Crystal Palace (0 points – actual score 5-0)
Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City (0 points – actual score 2-2)
Burnley 2-0 West Brom (0 points – actual score 2-2)
Hull City 2-1 Sunderland (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Leicester 3-1 Watford (1 point – actual score 3-0)
Swansea 1-2 Everton (0 points – actual score 1-0)
Liverpool 1-1 Southampton (1 point – actual score 0-0)
Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd (0 points – actual score 2-0)
Chelsea 4-0 Middlesbrough (1 point – actual score 3-0)
Three measly points. Just three points. Not the greatest week of predictions for me. Not the greatest at all. By a long shot.
To wash out that shower of rubbish, let’s look at the fixtures from now to Thursday.
Man City 3-1 Leicester – The home side has more to play for. Leicester may be on their hols mentally by now.
Bournemouth 2-2 Burnley – Burnley have won a game away from home finally, but that doesn’t mean they will be a threat from now on. Bournemouth still want to finish the season well.
Middlesbrough 0-1 Southampton – Boro are down, primarily because they don’t know how to score. They might want to finish their last home game well, but Puel somehow knows how to bore opposition away from home.
Sunderland 1-2 Swansea – The home side might have pride to play for, but the Swans can still stay up with a win. That might be enough to give them the incentive to get the precious three points.
Stoke 0-2 Arsenal – At this time of the season, it’s about who has the character and quality to edge games. Over the season both have lacked in these matters, but Arsenal are in form at just the right time, so should get an unusual three points from their trip to the Potteries.
Crystal Palace 2-2 Hull City – This game is the toughest to call and arguably the biggest game of the weekend. Palace can’t afford to lose. Hull must win. It’s set up for a fascinating clash.
West Ham 2-1 Liverpool – The Hammers beating Spurs to ruin their title hopes would have made the home fans very happy and if they finish the season well can feel hopeful. Liverpool will struggle against inferior opposition again.
Tottenham 1-1 Man Utd – There’s not as much riding on this game as there was a week ago. It’s still a clash of two big clubs with two great managers. I see a stalemate.
Chelsea 2-1 Watford – It would be churlish for the Champions not to lift the trophy in front of their own fans. Don’t expect the Hertfordshire side to just make up the numbers though.
Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland – Are Sunderland really going to stop the good run of the Gooners? Don’t be silly.
Man City 3-1 West Brom – Pulis doesn’t want his season to peter out like this, but there’s little to suggest that his side will stop the home side from picking up the three points they need to confirm their top four finish.
Southampton 1-1 Man Utd – People complain about Mourinho complaining about the number of games his team has to play. Is he wrong, though? Would any other club excel with the rate of fixtures they’ve faced? So don’t expect a festival of football here.
Leicester 1-2 Tottenham – The ultimate in games that mean nothing and for which managers talk about doing a professional job and playing for the fans. It will be intriguing to see the approach both teams have. Spurs should win, but that’s not straightforward.
Back to back, wall to wall Premier League football from now to Thursday as those fixtures left outstanding are sorted. All before the end of the season beckons with the games a week on Sunday. Might as well make the most of it while we have it. I know all the scores won’t go as I predicted, but how many will I get right?
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden
As the end of the season draws ever closer so the points become more important at both ends of the table. Those with something to play for have their wits sharpened, but do they have enough to get enough to achieve their aims at the business end of the season?
Before exploring this weekend’s fixtures, let us review my predictions from last week. Like the league, points are at stake. Three points for a spot on prediction, one point for the correct outcome and zero points for getting it wrong.
Southampton 1-1 Hull City (1 point – actual score 0-0)
Stoke City 2-2 West Ham (1 point – actual score 0-0)
Sunderland 1-1 Bournemouth (0 points – actual score 0-1)
West Brom 1-2 Leicester (1 point – actual score 0-1)
Crystal Palace 2-1 Burnley (0 points – actual score 0-2)
Man Utd 2-1 Swansea (0 points – actual score 1-1)
Everton 2-2 Chelsea (0 points – actual score 0-3)
Middlesbrough 1-3 Man City (0 points – actual score 2-2)
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal (1 point – actual score 2-0)
Watford 1-1 Liverpool (0 points – actual score 0-1)
Wowsers. Just 4 points. Not even a 50% correct outcome percentage in which to find refuge. That’s bleak. I definitely need to wash that out of the system pretty quickly.
So to the upcoming fixtures and although I missed the West Ham v Spurs match, I have to count that as zero points anyway as I wouldn’t have said this West Ham side would beat Spurs the way they have played through the season. Here is what I reckon the outcome will be for the other weekend fixtures.
Man City 2-2 Crystal Palace
Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City
Burnley 2-0 West Brom
Hull City 2-1 Sunderland
Leicester 3-1 Watford
Swansea 1-2 Everton
Liverpool 1-1 Southampton
Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd
Chelsea 4-0 Middlesbrough
Chelsea should relish the opportunity to take on Boro to further strengthen their pole position. Meanwhile points dropped by United and Arsenal will only underline just how disappointing this season in the league has been for both of them. That of course is if things go as I predict. Will it? Well as ever all we can do is wait and …
Let’s see how it goes.
C. L. J. Dryden