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Rif’s Premier League Predictions (week 1)

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I never really do much football related blog on my site despite being a football fan. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Spencer FC and The True Geordie, I’ve decided to preview every game of the 2016/2017 Premier League season.

How crazy was last season? Leicester City winning the league has got to be my all-time favourite football related moment. I’m well made up for the Foxes. If you’re a Leicester City fan reading this I just want to send out my congratulations to you guys and wish you the best of luck in the Champion’s League (I actually put a £1 bet on for you guys to win it)

This season promises to be the best season yet; sure they say that every year but I truly believe that this season could be that one season we’ll be talking about for years to come.

For this first edition of RPLP, I’ll be predicting what I think the final table will look like and also the opening fixtures of the PL season.

 

  1. Hull City

I’d be extremely worried if I was a Hull City fan. Pre-season has been an absolute mess. No new manager, their best player of last season has gone and not a single new signing in sight. All of this is going on and the owners are more concerned about changing the team’s name.  Finishing about 20th will be an achievement for them at this stage.

  1. Sunderland

Had Big Sam stayed at Sunderland they would have finished much higher up the table. They just don’t seem to have the luck, do they? At some point the luck has to run out. Sunderland have danced with the devil for too long and I think this will be the season they’ll fail to escape the drop. David Moyes has his work cut out for a club that lives hand to mouth and an unambitious owner. Moyes had a great record at Everton and I’m not going to take that away from him, but his track record since then isn’t the best. This is the man that failed to get Manchester United into Europe. He didn’t do a good job at Real Sociedad either. He’s damaged goods. It’s a worrying time to be a Sunderland fan.

  1. Burnley

Sean Dyche has lead Burnley to their second Championship promotion in three years and that’s an impressive record to boast about. It also gives hope to Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Norwich City to bounce back on their first attempt (for the record, I reckon Newcastle will get promoted this season). However, while all of that is impressive on paper, it’s hard to see them survive with such little resources. They were the lowest scorers in the league back in 2015 and I can’t see that changing. They’ll be resting all their hopes on Andre Gray.

  1. Watford

Watford is one of those teams that’s difficult to read. I still struggle to understand why Quique Flores was let go, I’m sure Watford fans feel the same way. The Pozzo Family are first class when it comes to trading. I reckon Watford will do enough to survive again.

  1. Middlesbrough

I thought my mates were winding me up when they said ‘Boro had signed Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo. That shows the determination Middlesbrough have to beat the drop this season. It’s going to be a tough season, but their transfer business shows that they’ve acted decisively.

  1. West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies last won a league game on 6th March. With little transfer activity and now a new owner which means it isn’t going to clear for West Brom going forward. Tony Pulis has shown with Crystal Palace that he won’t hesitate to walk if he feels conditions aren’t right. What the owners need to do is to tell Pulis what their plans for the club are and to back him accordingly. They’ll do decent if Tony stays, relegation is a real possibility if Pulis walks.

  1. AFC Bournemouth

I was very impressed with Bournemouth’s style of play last season. They could have easily have finished higher than their 16th place finish. They had some good runs during the winter period but eventually fell away. Eddie Howe is a future England manager. He’s done some great things with the Cherries and I reckon the best is yet to come. With the addition of young talents such as Jordon Ibe and Nathan Ake, combined with the current experience they have, it’s that experience which will prove valuable for Bournemouth.

  1. Swansea City

Not a Swansea fan but I do wish they kept Gary Monk in charge. Sure they were in a relegation fight at one point, but he could have turned it around. Now they have new owners who will help pump investment into the club. They’ve managed to hold onto Sigurdsson and will once again they will continue to work the transfer market, including a gamble on 31-year-old Fernando Llorente to deliver. The days of Michu and winning the League cup seem like a distant memory.

  1. Crystal Palace

Palace have made strong headways in the transfer window so far with Andros Townsend, Steve Mandanda, and James Tomkins joining Pardew’s ranks. They had a great start to the 2015/2016 campaign, but that winless streak between December 29th to April 9th really denied them of a better season. The pressure is on for Pardew to hit the ground running.

  1. Southampton

Losing Ronald Koeman is a massive blow to their development. While I have little knowledge about Claude Puel (other than he looks like Piers Brosnan) I do sense they’ve acted strongly in the transfer market. Will he be as good as Koeman was? I don’t know. He could do, it’s possible. People may think losing Mane is a chink in their armour but history has shown that they’ve sold before and remained stable.

  1. Stoke City

The signing of the Welsh Xavi shows how Mark Hughes sees the team now. Stoke are a difficult team to beat. Their aggressive approach has worked for them before and I can’t see that changing. Although they are a difficult side that’s capable of ruffling a few feathers, they are a low – scoring side. It’s imperative they bring in a striker, Berahino perhaps?

  1. Everton

The best signing Everton have made this season has got to be the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager. Plus, the addition of new rich owners with big ambition makes Everton one team to look out for. The loss of John Stones to Manchester City is a blow, however, losing Lukaku would be crippling for the club. They need to do whatever it takes to keep the big man and to have a successful season. This is a transition year for Everton. It’s evolution, not revolution.

  1. Leicester City

What can you say about Leicester that hasn’t been said before? Their league success will be an inspiration to other teams, and rightfully so. They absolutely deserved it. It’s going to be weird to hear the Champion’s League anthem being played at The King Power Stadium. Even weirder seeing Jamie Vardy with the Champion’s League logo on his shirt sleeve. Chat shit get banged! With all that being said, adapting to Champion’s League football will have it effect. They should remain stable as long as Mahrez doesn’t follow Kante out the door. While I don’t think they’ll win the league again, I do believe they’ll achieve success in one of the two cup competitions.

  1. West Ham United

The future is looking very bright for The Hammers. The Olympic Stadium looks fantastic, and it will require Bilic’s men to adapt, as will the addition of the Europa League. On the hunt to sign Andre Ayew and need further additions to keep the momentum moving forward. Payet’s form will be critical!

  1. Liverpool

I love Jurgen Klopp. How can you not like this man? His passion and enthusiasm are a breath of fresh air. The problem Liverpool had last season was their inconsistency. That needs to end! On the plus side, reaching two cup finals was pleasing. Their Europa League run should have ended with them lifting the trophy. A lot of the old guard who served under Brendan Rodgers have departed the club and the squad is now being shaped by Klopp. Is their current squad good enough to make an impression on the top five? They don’t have European football so that should help them. Going to stick my neck out there and say they could even challenge for top four!

  1. Arsenal

A new striker is key for the Gunners. If they can bring in a decent striker, then things can change for the better. Wenger has put himself under immense pressure again in the final year of his current deal. Last season’s second place was owed more to the poor run of form Spurs endured towards the latter end of the season. I believe that this will be the year where Arsenal fall out of the Champion’s League standings.

  1. Chelsea

To say that Chelsea’s 10th place finish last season was a flop is being polite. It’s just plain crazy to think that they were in a relegation dog fight at one stage. Just to remind you that this was the same team that won the Premier League in 2014/2015. They should be defensively sound under Conte, he has a solid track record in that department. All they need is a striker to see them safe at the other end. Just like Liverpool, no European football could be a blessing for the Blues. Anything short of qualifying for the Champion’s League should be considered a failure.

  1. Tottenham Hotspur

My friend joked that Spurs are the first team in history to lose a two horse race for the titleSo far it’s been a low-key affair in the transfer window for Tottenham but they haven’t lost anyone. The return to the Champion’s League adds a new dimension but they have coped with the demands of the Europa League before so I can’t see the additional fixtures being a problem. They have a good young team that will only continue to improve. I strongly believe that Spurs will win the League title within the next five years.

  1. Manchester United

United had a problem, so what did they do? Appoint Jose Mourinho in charge and threw money to the wind. Ibrahimovic (I know he was signed on a free but still), Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, the new world record signing. Man United really do mean business this season. The Europa League is going to be awkward for them and it will take them time to adjust, but those good signings and excellent young players who now have experience will pay off for them in the end.

  1. Manchester City

Man City are equipped with the most talented group of players in the Premier League that have badly underachieved last season. It’s a good job they didn’t fail to qualify for the Champion’s League. Much like with Everton, Manchester City’s appointment of Pep Guardiola is a massive stroke of business by the club’s owners and it signals their intention to dominate on all fronts this season. Just like last season, I can see Man City doing very well in the Champion’s League.

 

Now we’ve got the league out of the way, let’s take a look and see what my predictions are for the opening games of the Premier League Season:

 

Hull City 0 Leicester City 3

The result strongly depends on how Hull approaches it. They’ll sit back, defend and absorb the pressure. Ultimately, the pressure will break and The Foxes will batter the doors down.

 

AFC Bournemouth 0 Manchester United 3

I reckon Bournemouth will suffer from ‘second album syndrome’. I do think they’ll stay up but it’s going to be close. Losing Matt Ritchie will come back to haunt them. United, on the other hand, will win this without breaking a sweat. Expect Zlatan to be in the mix of the goals.

 

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Injuries are a massive concern for Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are not centre forwards. Liverpool are decent going forward. They are quick and capable of scoring goals on the break. Defence does worry me slightly, however, I do think they have enough in the tank to see off the Gunners.

 

Chelsea 2 West Ham United 1

I’m predicting big things for West Ham this year. Their future is bright. It’s going to be a difficult start for them, and too for Chelsea, but I see Chelsea getting the victory here.

 

Crystal Palace 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

What Palace need to work on this term is to find a way of breaking out of slumps quicker than usual. They started very well last term, but a winter slump saw they drop down the table. If they can work on that I think they’ll have a good season. The Baggies will make it hard for Palace, but Palace will just edge it in the end.

 

Burnley 0 Swansea City 0

Burnley need to win games like this if they want to have any chance of staying up. Turf Moor is a very difficult place to go, like I said before, so that could help favour them when up against the big boys. I can’t see anything other than a draw from this one.

 

Everton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Tottenham’s away form towards the latter end of last season cost them dearly in the title race. I see that trend continuing for the opening game as Everton away is often a tricky opening tie for opposition teams. I also think there’s going to be a Euro 2016 hangover for Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Spurs have an excellent side, no doubt about it, but they need to add as they’re a big light in certain areas. Chalk one up for the Toffees.

 

Middlesbrough 2 Stoke City 1

No disrespect to ‘Boro but the Riverside does lack an atmosphere. It’s been seven years since they’ve last hosted Premier League football so I hope their fans turn out for the occasion. A lot rests on Alvaro Negredo. He’s key for them.

 

Southampton 1 Watford 0

This one could go either way. Southampton will miss Sadio Mane and Watford are so unpredictable. I’m going to play it safe and go for a narrow Southampton victory. Like most teams last year, Watford started well before drifting away. If you can stop Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo the game is there for the taking.

 

Manchester City 4 Sunderland 0

Can’t look beyond Man City. Pep Guardiola will break down David Moyes’ side before striking in for the kill. The gulf in class between the two teams is chalk and cheese. You can’t compare them. Not the best of starts for Sunderland in what will be a long, disappointing season.

 

Feel free to post your predictions in the comment section below and I’ll be back again with my next blog.

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