To point out that the Premier League, so far, has been nothing short of entertaining is an understatement.
It’s a crying shame that we’ve already hit October and it’s even worse that it’s now the International break. Although, even that is entertaining, as all five home nations could still qualify for the European Championship in France next year.
To pass the time and maintain the focus on domestic football, an October-ly review is in order to reflect upon my previous pre-season predictions.
Despite there still being a heck of a long way to go, the predictions haven’t been too inaccurate so far. I believe that I speak on behalf of at least 95% of football bloggers that I can be rightly excused for placing Chelsea in the top two or three – nobody expected the disastrous beginning that they have suffered.
So, with Chelsea out the way, let’s get this show on the road!
Click on your team to reveal my updated Premier League 2015/16 predictions:
Pre-season predicted finish: 2nd
Current position: 2nd
100% start thus far in terms of predictions. Arsenal have started brightly this term, in contrast to seasons gone by when they normally start poorly, only to come good after Christmas, which is always too little, too late to mount a genuine title charge.
A shock 3-0 home defeat to West Ham on the opening day and a controversial 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge have been Arsenal’s only two defeats so far in the league, having won four of their last five. It’s still far too tough to call where Arsenal will end up, but right now it is only them and Manchester City that appear capable of lifting the title. Even then, there is still a big gulf between the two teams.
Having only brought in Petr Cech over the summer, Arsene Wenger has shown that he has faith in his current squad, but if results start going against Arsenal at a worrying rate, that faith will soon be heavily questioned.
Over the weekend, Arsenal tore Manchester United apart in the first 20 minutes to wrap the game up with a 3-0 scoreline. The Gunners held out solidly for the remaining 70 minutes to proved their title credentials. For 20 minutes, Arsenal played some of the most beautiful football you’ll witness all season, as Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez carved out an injury-plagued United defence to grab the decisive goals.
Theo Walcott, ever since the FA Cup final against Aston Villa last season, has regularly started ahead of Olivier Giroud as a make-shift striker, which raises doubts over whether the Gunners have enough depth to call upon should they require it.
Although, at the moment, so far, so good for Arsenal, and the momentous result against United will have been incredibly satisfying heading into the international break. The Arsenal camp should be a happy one when they resume their campaign away at Watford on October 17th.
Do they have the depth to be consistent, and can they start picking up more points against the bigger teams to finally clinch their first title in over a decade?
I don’t think so.
Updated predicted position: (still) 2nd
[accordion title=’Aston Villa’]
Pre-season predicted finish: 20th
Current position: 18th
One of the three sides I tipped to be relegated next May already find themselves in a tough position so early on in the season.
Aston Villa haven’t had the toughest of starts, in terms of opposition, by any means – their only real tests being at home to Manchester United and away at Liverpool – both of which they lost.
Villa’s sole win so far was on the opening day of the season, in a smash-and-grab win at new-boys AFC Bournemouth. Since then it’s been poor result after poor result, accompanied by blunt honesty from manager Tim Sherwood in his post-match interviews.
You have to give Sherwood a shred of credit for openly admitting to his team’s mistakes, and he has regularly asked for all criticism, from both the media and the Villains, to be directed at him, and him alone. However, despite his best efforts to deflect the negativity being driven his team’s way, there is no denying that the players he has at his disposal aren’t quite good enough.
From a glance, it appeared that Villa had done well in the transfer market this summer, bringing in the three Jordans (Veretout, Ayew and Amavi), as well as Idrissa Gueye, Micah Richards and Rudy Gestede. To be fair to the club, the board had backed their manager financially and there were already some half-decent players in the squad prior to the aforementioned players’ arrivals.
Nevertheless, Villa are having a torrid time of it so far and have already lost crucial games against sides who they could have, on paper, beaten. Three defeats to Midlands rivals, 1-0 home losses to both West Brom and Stoke City and a devastating 3-2 loss at Leicester, have already left Villa four points adrift of 17th placed-side West Brom.
The lack of goals from Aston Villa has been a recurring issue over the last few seasons. This season, they have only scored eight times in eight matches, while shipping 13. It’s by no means the worst record in the league, especially when compared to Newcastle or Sunderland, but they just cannot seem to threaten opponents frequently enough, especially at home.
It has been another poor start, and with Villa’s next six league matches coming against Chelsea (A), Swansea (H), Southampton (A), Spurs (A), Man City (H) and Everton (A), they’re unlikely to start racking up points any time soon. They will likely find themselves cut adrift a little too far by the time Christmas is upon us, leaving them with a mountain and a half to climb if they are to avoid the drop.
Updated predicted position: 20th (Relegated)
Pre-season predicted finish: 15th
Current position: 15th
Didn’t do too badly here – I’m giving Mystic Meg a run for her money.
Bournemouth have started off how most would have expected – strong, playing entertaining football, with a few goals to show, yet a few too many conceded too.
Two 1-0 losses to Aston Villa and Liverpool proved Bournemouth just lack that finishing touch on a semi-consistent basis. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson, the club’s top scorer so far, picked up a cruciate ligament injury away to Stoke last week and has been forecast to be out for up to six months, if not longer.
Luckily, Bournemouth had a contingency plan for what seemed like a total disaster, in the form of smart summer purchase Glenn Murray. The former-Palace striker netted in the Cherries’ 1-1 draw with Watford over the weekend and, despite missing a last-gasp penalty, is a fantastic back-up striker for Eddie Howe to have at his disposal.
I had high hopes for Bournemouth prior to the start of the season, and hoped that they would stay up, as I would like to believe most neutrals did. There have been some slightly worrying occasions, but, with the lack of quality among the three sides occupying the relegation zone – Newcastle, Sunderland and Villa – the Cherries have more than enough going forward to outscore their way to safety.
Updated predicted finish: 17th
Pre-season predicted finish: 1st
Current position: 16th
Keep the blue flag flying high is the chant of choice from the Chelsea fans… Right now they could do with hoisting a white flag above the Bridge.
While the mood is certainly low among the Chelsea crowd, the rest of the footballing world is having a little chuckle at the Blues’ dreadful start to the season, which has already left the current champions 10 points adrift of Manchester City, and 8 off of both Arsenal and Manchester United.
It’s easy to say that Chelsea will come good as the season progresses, given the quality that they possess, but when you’re chasing the title, these early results are just as relevant as results in March, April and May, when the league reaches its ‘squeaky-bum time’ period.
From minute go, Chelsea have looked poor across the park. They began their season fortunate enough not to fall victim to a home defeat against a reinvigorated Swansea City side, in a game that hosted the infamous incident involving former Blues doctor Eva Carneiro. A week later, an early title decider saw them beaten comfortably by Man City in a game that ended 3-0. Ever since, the poor results have continued to pile up, with their only victories coming away to West Brom and at home to Arsenal, in a game that was all about Diego Costa (for all the wrong reasons, of course).
Many big teams suffer false starts, with their season coming alive four or five games into the campaign, but as we enter the second international break of the season, eight games in, things don’t seem to be improving at Stamford Bridge. A 3-1 home defeat to Southampton really raised eyebrows, especially as they were so easily outplayed and well beaten.
Next up, Mourinho’s side face Aston Villa at the Bridge, in a game that they should expect nothing less than three points from. Even if they comfortably beat Villa, their next few games, based on their current form, will have Chelsea supporters biting their nails, with West Ham (A), Liverpool (H), Stoke (A), Norwich (H) and Spurs (A) making up their next five fixtures.
It’s impossible to say when this barren run with reach its timely conclusion for Chelsea, but I do believe that it is a case of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’. Although, no side has finished higher than 5th after suffering a start similar to Chelsea’s.
The next five games, including the home ties, throw up plenty more danger signs, and Chelsea will do well to be in the top six come the end of November.
Updated predicted finish: 4th
[accordion title=’Crystal Palace’]
Pre-season predicted finish: 10th
Current position: 4th
Who wouldn’t want to have been Alan Pardew this calendar year? After the gritty end to his Tyneside reign, the former Palace player took over at Selhurst Park, replacing Neil Warnock, in early January, and he currently has the more wins than any other Premier League manager this year – 15 to be exact.
Pardew has transformed the club from relegation candidates into Europa League chasers, and he currently has the Eagles sitting pretty in a Champions League spot going into the international break.
Newcastle fans won’t be pleased with Pardew’s brilliance, and the club rubbed salt in their wounds by snapping up former Magpies favourite Yohan Cabaye from PSG over the summer. The Frenchman’s move signalled a milestone for Palace, proving that they aren’t a small side with small ambitions anymore, and Cabaye has already made a fine addition to an already exciting Palace team.
Attempting to place Palace is tough, given their surprising early-season form. It’s unlikely that they will hang on to fourth place, but the league is much wider open than years gone by. I firmly believe that they will remain in the top ten, but with Stoke, Spurs, Everton, Swansea, Southampton and Liverpool all aiming for the Europa League spots, it’s a complete lottery as to who will take sixth and seventh.
Updated predicted position: 8th
Pre-season predicted position: 9th
Current position: 7th
Just like Palace, Everton have started very brightly and will have been disappointed to only take a point from the Merseyside derby. Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku once again proved his worth, as he notched the equaliser against their rivals over the weekend, adding to his tally of five goals so far.
Attacking wise, Everton didn’t quite have the cutting-edge to see off Liverpool, and their victories so far this season have been both easy on the eye (notably their 3-0 away win at Southampton) and gritty (the 3-2 win at West Brom). Roberto Martinez is assembling a tidy squad, but with only Ross Barkley being the only proven, creative central midfielder in their ranks, Everton still leave a lot to be desired.
With no Europa League to distract them from the league, Everton will be eager to start far stronger than last season, which even brought up talks of relegation – rumours which were eventually quashed with a strong finish to the 2014/15 season.
With the introduction of youth full-backs Tyias Browning and Bandon Galloway to fill the void left by injuries to both Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, this season withholds plenty of promise for the club’s future stars, much like the 2013/14 season, when the Blues finished 5th.
However, it’s still unclear what this season’s objectives are for Everton. Without question, the Europa League or a domestic cup will be at the top of their list, but whether Everton will utilise this season to try and snatch fourth spot, given the stuttering starts made by Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, remains a mystery.
Updated predicted finish: 7th
[accordion title=’Leicester City’]
Pre-season predicted finish: 17th
Current position: 5th
Leicester are another side that have started brilliantly, and the last six months of domestic football (excluding the summer) have been nothing short of stunning from the Foxes.
After the questionable sacking of Nigel Pearson in the summer, Claudio Ranieri has picked up the baton and guided Leicester throughout an incredible start, giving them an early advantage in what seems like a relegation battle unlikely to occur.
This summer shaped up to be a unique transfer window where internationally-proven players were making their way to so-called ‘smaller clubs’ in the Premier League. Xherdan Shaqiri to Stoke, Yohan Cabaye to Palace, Solomon Rondon to West Brom and now Gokhan Inler to Leicester City.
There’s a real, pleasant aura that these so-called smaller sides are making up lost ground on the top six, and it certainly seems to have opened up the Europa League chase. Even the three promoted sides, Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford, haven’t struggled to find their feet in what’s shaping up to be the most competitive Premier League season yet.
Despite a ‘back down to Earth’ 5-2 home defeat to Arsenal last week, Leicester picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and found themselves heading back from Norwich with three more valuable points over the weekend. To return from a demoralising defeat the previous week to win at a tough ground in the form of Carrow Road proves the Foxes have plenty of grit and a strong mentality, and with Jamie Vardy scoring goals for fun, Leicester could well find themselves among the Europa League contenders.
Updated predicted position: 12th (could easily be higher)
Pre-season predicted position: 4th
Current position: 10th
Accompanied shortly after by the big news that Brendan Rodgers had departed Anfield, Liverpool will have found themselves pleased with a point at neighbours Everton on Sunday, having put in a surprisingly good defensive shift.
Up front, Liverpool have invested far too much in Rodgers’ reign, without enough goals scored to show for it. The 2014/15 season was incomprehensibly different to their 2013/14 season, which almost saw them lift the title, as they slumped to a flat 7th placed finish, having splashed money on Alberto Moreno, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Mario Ballotelli, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana among others from previous seasons.
Some transfers have paid off, others haven’t. That, as well as his habit of playing players out of their natural positions, was a large contributor to Rodgers’ downfall, and it seems Liverpool owners FSG have simply had enough.
Rodgers provided Kop fans with one of the most exciting seasons in recent history with their 2013/14 title run-in, beating Arsenal 5-1, Tottenham 5-0 away and 4-0 at home, 3-0 away at Man United and 4-0 against Everton, just to name a few select matches that produced some of the best football ever played by a Liverpool team. Despite that, with Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank De Boer hovering precariously over the Anfield hot seat, Rodgers’ dismissal appeared imminent.
On the pitch, this season has more-or-less picked up from where Liverpool left off last season – average. Not brilliant, but not awful. Three wins, three draws and two defeats have led to a relatively balanced start, which can only be fixed if the Reds stop conceding such unnecessary goals.
In the first half of the Everton game, Liverpool were by far the superior team and any side riding on confidence would have put their rivals away there and then. Instead, despite taking the lead through Danny Ings, only for it to be cancelled out by Lukaku minutes later, Liverpool spent the second-half clinging on for a point. In truth, it was a solid defensive display, but not only is the defence an issue, their inability to kill off games is playing the role of the Reds’ Achilles heel.
Liverpool have had five 1-1 draws in their last six games in all competitions, the worst being an embarrassing 1-1 draw at home to League Two side Carlisle after extra-time in the League Cup, only to eventually win on penalties.
When Liverpool confirm their new manager, he will have an exciting set of players to work with, but he will also need to work on either conceding fewer goals, or scoring more. Both would be ideal, but this Liverpool side don’t boast pure quality all over the pitch just yet.
Updated predicted position: 9th
[accordion title=’Manchester City’]
Pre-season predicted position: 3rd
Current position: 1st
City have begun the season in irresistible form, with another slice of the pie being served up in their 6-1 demolition of strugglers Newcastle over the weekend. Sergio Aguero became only the 6th player in Premier League history to score five goals in a single game, as he did during a 20 minute period of poetry at the Etihad on Saturday.
City were unbeaten for their first five games, before suffering three defeats – a shock 2-1 home defeat to West Ham and a 4-1 loss at Spurs, either side of a 2-1 home loss to Juventus in the Champions League. Since then, City have picked themselves up and put their European woes aside, temporarily, with a narrow victory at Borussia Monchengladbach, followed by the aforementioned thrashing of Newcastle.
Since Chelsea’s decline in form, City have been heavily tipped by critics and pundits alike as the team to beat for the title this season. Their city rivals United have also got off to a positive start, but when the two sides clash at Old Trafford later this month, City will be likely favourites for the victory.
City, as expected these days, splashed the big bucks over the summer, welcoming Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph, Enes Unal and Patrick Roberts. All have been good signings in their own right, though a recurring hamstring injury for Delph will leave him out of the equation for a good few months.
Even without him, City have plenty of strength in depth, and there’s simply no seeing past Manchester City to lift the title once again, for the third time in five seasons.
Updated predicted position: 1st (Champions)
[accordion title=’Manchester United’]
Pre-season predicted position: 5th
Current position: 3rd
With Louis van Gaal now in his second season in charge, and the accompanying dust having settled, United have displayed shades of their older selves this season, with some decent, free-flowing football, despite Van Gaal’s natural preference for possession football.
Pace has been restored to the side with Memphis Depay on the left wing, and new signing Anthony Martial, who has settled in to the United squad elegantly, with four goals so far, up front. Martial’s presence has been desperately needed at Old Trafford, with the only other out-and-out forward at the club being academy graduate James Wilson, with Rooney playing as a centre-attacking midfielder, and occasionally having games where he plays a peripheral role.
With the extra additions of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the centre of midfield, it is only the defence left to be attended to. United did indeed recruit full-back Matteo Darmian from Serie A outfit Torino, yet the team has been gravely in need of a proven centre-back for a number of years. Some United fans will argue that they haven’t had a quality centre-back pairing since the days of Vidic and Ferdinand. With the absence of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind have been given the go-ahead as a make-shift defensive pairing of late, and were pulled to-and-fro in the first-half at the Emirates on Sunday.
From an offensive perspective, United have covered all departments with good, solid and proven signings, which will elevate them up the league table and give them a fighting chance in the title race. However, their defence is likely to be their downfall as the season progresses.
The Manchester derby later this month will provide a much clearer idea of where both of the Manchester sides will eventually finish.
Updated predicted position: 3rd
[accordion title=’Newcastle United’]
Pre-season predicted position: 19th
Current position: 20th
To say that the situation at Newcastle is utterly baffling doesn’t even skim the surface of the events that have been going on at St. James Park in the last year or so.
In truth, I’m not a big fan of Mike Ashley, and I never will be, but there’s no question that the Magpies convinced some proven players to sign on the dotted line this summer. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Chancel Mbemba are very respectable purchases and all participated in either the Champions League or Europa League for their former clubs last season.
So what exactly is the cause for what has arguably been the worst calendar year for the club since their relegation to the Championship in 2009? Well, with such good pedigree on the pitch, my second guess is to rear your head towards the manager.
With the eventual departure of John Carver at the end of last season, Newcastle needed a proven and exciting manager who could get this Magpies side playing good, attractive football.
So, was Steve McClaren the right appointment? In truth, not a chance. What Mike Ashley saw in a manager who took Derby County from the seemingly inevitable clutches of automatic promotion to missing out on a play-off place on the final day of the season is bewildering. Such pessimism has been proven true, as Newcastle sit rock-bottom after a heavy defeat to Manchester City.
With no wins so far, alarm bells are already ringing loudly, despite their three draws being against good opposition in Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester United.
With the departures of Dick Advocaat from Sunderland and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, the next odds-on manager to leave is surely McClaren, should results not pick up immediately after the international break. Of course, it’s early days yet, and it’s far too premature to confidently say whether a side like Newcastle will seriously face the drop, but the signs aren’t looking promising.
Updated predicted position: 19th (with gritted teeth)
[accordion title=’Norwich City’]
Pre-season predicted position: 14th
Current position: 13th
You can’t really go wrong with Norwich this season – they have essentially exceeded every expectation. They are a solid outfit, but they aren’t quite in the Palace, Stoke and Southampton category just yet. Alex Neil has done an applaudable job at Carrow Road, and I hope that he goes on to have a long and successful career, whether at Norwich or somewhere else.
Norwich were unfortunate not to gain at least a point in their home tie against Leicester, but that goes to show just how well Leicester are playing at the minute. Norwich have more than matched the teams that they have faced this season and it doesn’t look like they are in peril of fighting a relegation battle later this season.
Nathan Redmond and Wes Hoolahan have been stand-out players in midfielder, as the Canaries have netted 12 times so far, with new signings Graham Dorrans and Robby Brady also bedding in nicely.
A season of consolidation will likely be the order of the day as far as Norwich fans are concerned, before aiming higher next season.
Updated predicted position: 15th
Pre-season predicted position: 7th
Current position: 9th
With a 2-2 draw at Newcastle, a 3-0 home loss to Everton and a disappointing Europa League exit to Danish side FC Midtjylland commencing the Saints’ new season, it almost felt as if Ronald Koeman’s side would become the victims of their own success from last season.
However, the world has been put to rights, as Southampton’s only defeat since was a 3-2 home loss to Manchester United. They have since beaten Swansea, Norwich, MK Dons and Chelsea, to restore the Southampton we’ve all come to know, conceding only four times in the process.
At one stage I was seriously considering raising the Saints to fourth, but that seemed a little too optimistic, instead going for sixth, as Southampton will almost certainly take points against the bigger teams again this season.
Whether Koeman will be nominated for the ‘Manager of the Season’ award, as he was last year, it a debate for another day, but he will face some serious competition. Koeman’s calm and collective manner has helped Southampton to recover when they’ve been down before, and I have no doubts that his side will lift themselves in to, at the very least, the top eight.
Southampton bought sensibly and clinically in the summer, bringing in mostly defensive-minded players who shore up the back. A forward wasn’t a necessity, with Graziano Pelle earning himself a call-up to the Italian national team, and both Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane providing the service. Instead, Southampton only really needed another centre-back – so they brought in three. Cuco Martina, Steven Caulker and rumoured target Virgil Van Dijk all signed on the dotted line to join Maya Yoshida and Jose Fonte, adding to the club’s impressive defensive options.
Southampton are going to be a tough unit for any side to break down this season and with a host of attacking options to book, they will likely earn themselves another Europa League place.
Updated predicted position: 6th
[accordion title=’Stoke City’]
Pre-season predicted position: 8th
Current position: 14th
But can they do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke? Well apparently ex-Bayern Munich attacker Xherdan Shaqiri and ex-Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay can.
Stoke made huge leaps and strides two summers ago when they brought in Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic from Weder Bremen. The following summer they brought in Barcelona graduate Bojan Krkic and this summer they managed to convince both Swiss starlet Shaqiri and Dutch winger Afellay to join Mark Hughes’ men at the Britannia.
You can no longer claim that Stoke are an unfashionable side – gone are the days of Rory Delap’s long throw-ins to Ricardo Fuller.
Despite their glamorous acquisitions, Stoke have had a stuttering start to their season, but two wins from two over the last week have lifted the side to 14th, entering the internationals with a solid 1-0 away win at Aston Villa, piling more pressure on Tim Sherwood’s side.
One aspect of Stoke’s game that has been consistent since their promotion to the top flight in 2008 has been their home form – especially against the bigger sides. Unfortunately for them, they were on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day, but have been solid since then. When Chelsea arrive at the Britannia for their League Cup clash in a few weeks time, you wouldn’t back against a fully-fit Stoke side.
The new arrivals, also including Joselu and Marco van Ginkel (on loan from Chelsea) will need a bit of time to gel and find their feet, but once this Potters team are firing on all cylinders, they’ll be a team to watch. While they could realistically finish anywhere between 6th and 12th, I’ll place Stoke directly in mid-table, given the indifferent start that they have had.
Updated predicted position: 10th
Pre-season predicted position: 18th (relegated)
Current position: 19th
Just like Aston Villa and north-east rivals Newcastle, I simply cannot see any redemption for Sunderland, who had a torrid season last year and, just like the other two, were rather fortunate not to have fallen through the relegation trap door.
Despite these failings, Sunderland did very well to recruit Dutchman Jeremain Lens and Frenchman Yann M’Vila to the club, which futher proves that the Premier League is an extremely attractive proposition, regardless of which side you join. Sadly for the Black Cats, I think both players will be on their way out of the exit door in less than 12 months, as Sunderland look favourites to be relegated.
With ex-manager Dick Advocaat resigning from his post, Sunderland need to swiftly appoint a new manager to bring some stability and calmness back to the club. Experience and serenity need to be key traits for whoever may be appointed. Both Sam Allardyce and Sean Dyche have been tipped for the role.
As previously mentioned, it’s very early days, but poor results against those around them are costing the club dearly. The international break will provide some time for a new manager to be brought and settled in, with fans awaiting the appointment eagerly.
Updated predicted position: 18th
[accordion title=’Swansea City’]
Pre-season predicted position: 11th
Current position: 11th
Along with Southampton, it was near impossible to call which side had over-achieved more last season.
Swansea looked likely to carry that form in to the new season, as they began their campaign with only a point away at Chelsea – a result on reflection they would have been slightly disappointed with. Since then, it has been relatively stop and start, with two wins, four draws and two losses making for a balanced start to the season for Gary Monk’s men, one of those four draws coming at home to Spurs in a respectable 2-2 result.
Along with Palace, Stoke, Leicester and West Ham, it’s tough to put Swansea anywhere, as the season is currently looking like a complete lottery.
Swansea’s main capture was Andre Ayew, brother of Villa new-boy Jordan. Ayew has fitted in perfectly to this Swansea side and notched the Swans’ first goal of the afternoon of Sunday. At just 25, Ayew is consistently praised for being a mature, head-on-his-shoulders type player, who appears to have been around for the past 15 years.
Despite having not notched for the Swans in his last five games, Bafetimbi Gomis will be the man the club turn to if they want to repeat their heroics of last season, having already bagged four goals in the league so far.
Updated predicted position: 11th
[accordion title=’Tottenham Hotspur’]
Pre-season predicted position: 6th
Current position: 8th
Frustratingly for Spurs fans, it’s shaping up to be another ‘one of those seasons’, with a finish of either 5th, 6th or 7th in the pipeline. For a club like Spurs, it’s simply not good enough.
There are plenty of similarities between the North London club and Liverpool – both have spent a mass amount of money, both frequently fail to reach the top four and both tend to under-achieve in European competitions. While the Whites are only five points from the top, they desperately need to take advantage of the ‘every man for himself’ type opening to the season – especially given Chelsea and Liverpool’s sutttering starts.
Last season’s star striker Harry Kane hasn’t quite resumed his clinical finishing this term, despite notching over the weekend.. Into his own net, that is.
Although, there’s no question about the England striker’s goalscoring abilities, having found the back of the net against Manchester City, albeit into an open net, last week and for England last month against Switzerland.
With the return of Christian Eriksen, who bagged himself a brace at Swansea, the improved form of Erik Lamela and new signing Son Heung-Min collectively making for an exciting Spurs midfield, Maurico Pochettino really needs to continue picking up points against the bigger sides, like they did against Manchester City, starting in two weeks at home to Liverpool.
Updated predicted position: 5th
Pre-season predicted position: 16th
Current position: 12th
The Hornets were by far the busiest side in the transfer market this summer, bringing in a whole host of players to give their team a new look. Valon Berhami is one of the 14 new faces, while FIFA players will of course be aware of the infamous Victor Ibarbo, who has also signed on at Vicarage Road – he who joined Gervinho, Aubameyang, Ramos and Doumbia in the most unoriginal attacking Ultimate Team line-up ever.
FIFA aside, Watford have started very promisingly under Quique Flores, despite having both scored and conceded the fewest amount of times in the league, with another draw at AFC Bournemouth over the weekend.
Some have compared the mass spending at Watford to that of QPR in their numerous seasons in the top flight, and it still feels a touch too early to say whether all these new signings will eventually pay-off.
Personally, I feel there is plenty of reason for pessimism after the team has been altered so dramatically, given the way the Hornets achieved promotion last season – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.
Of course, signings were necessary if they want to survive in the league, but the free-flowing football on show last season was on par with Bournemouth’s, and changing the fluidity over the summer was a bold move.
Regardless of speculation, Watford have started solidly and Odion Ighalo remains the third highest scorer in the league so far. With teams below them in a far worse position, I’m still confident that the Hertfordshire side will stay up comfortably.
Updated predicted position: 14th
[accordion title=’West Bromwich Albion’]
Pre-season predicted position: 12th
Current position: 17th
The Baggies seem to be plodding along at their own pace, with no real intent to push too far up the table so early on in the season.
The Midlands side engaged in some excellent business in the summer – their prime signing being Solomon Rondon from Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg. I would like to claim that he is joined by in-form Saido Berahino, but the last few months have seen plenty of off-field controversy concerning the England U-21 forward, after he stated via Twitter that he would ‘never play again’ under West Brom chairman Jeremy Pearce.
However, said issue seems to have been swifty swept under the rug, or away from the public eye at least, as he donned a Baggies shirt against Aston Villa two weeks ago, where he scored the winner, before notching again in a 3-2 defeat to Everton. Hopefully, for the sake of all parties involved, the issue has been firmly and maturely resolved, as Berahino has more than enough talent to make a top England striker in the near future.
As for the team itself, Albion have won two, drawn two and lost four in a start that few people will be all too surprised about. Tony Pulis’ team naturally set-up to be tough to break down, but his side could do with scoring a touch more frequently if they are to place some early breathing space between them and the relegation zone.
Updated prediction position: 16th
[accordion title=’West Ham United’]
Pre-season predicted position: 13th
Current position: 6th
I feel as if I’ve done West Ham a disservice by pre-predicting them to finish 13th, yet my updated prediction keeps them there. There’s a niggling feeling that their good start might ebb away.
13th isn’t bad, but given the start that they’ve had so far, it might be a little negative. Yet, with so many teams aiming for the Europa League places, it’s incredibly tough to call in the middle of the table. Sadly, some of them have to finish in 11th, 12th and 13th , which, when evaluating the season, looks pretty mundane and unflattering.
All credit goes to Slavan Bilic for his side’s heroics at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. It’s genuinely nice to see the Hammers having a real go at sides away from home, and playing some pretty football in the process – a sight never sought by Sam Allardyce.
Whether they can keep it up is one question, who cares is another. Even if they struggle for the remnants of the season, to have already beaten Arsenal, Liverpool and City away from home is an honourable achievement. Although, Bilic’s side will certainly want to beat the big sides at home too, in what is to be their final season at Upton Park before they move to the Olympic Stadium next season.
In truth, West Ham could end up finishing far higher than 13th, but I’ve been at this all afternoon, so it will simply have to do.
Updated prediction position: 13th
Do you agree with my predictions? How do you think the table will shape up? Let us know your thoughts below!