Top Six Predictions for the Premier League Table 27.09.17
Early predictions are always difficult and are normally wrong. I believe six games is enough time to lay out my views based on what I’ve seen. In the current market, where Premier League teams have splashed a record £1.4 billion in the summer transfer window, we live in an era that is unprecedented. This has resulted in the most intriguing Premier League yet where the best managers and players battle it out to see who reigns supreme.
Please find below the teams that I believe will finish in the top 6. I think many people would state predicting the top 6 is easy but it’s the order you decide that causes controversy. You don’t have to agree but please let me know what your opinions are and why you think things will change.
- Manchester United
Current Position: 2nd (16 pts) = 5 wins, 1 draw
Net Spend: 2nd (£130.7 million) = Bought (£140.7 million) – Sold (£10 million)
Goal Difference (GD): 2nd (15)= 17(F) – 2 (A) I’ve put my head on the line here but for good reason. United have drawn much comparison to the team led under Sir Alex Ferguson due to their performances. They’ve put their money where their mouth is and spent wisely, bringing in formidable players, like Lukaku and Matic. Subsequently, there is a real sense of power and speed contributed to this talented squad.I see a team who can win ugly which is a Mourinho trademark, like they did against Southampton. Moreover, United have displayed attacking flare and an intimidating swagger, as highlighted by their 4 goal wins against West Ham, Swansea and Everton. Although, it should be noted a true analysis cannot be recorded, as they are yet to face any of last year’s top 4.
Despite the key injury to Pogba, they have shown the size and quality of their squad, being able to rotate effectively when needed. Importantly, there is a spare player for each position and the team look balanced in both defence and attack. Players like Mata and Rashford have shown attacking capabilities but this season their defensive tracking back has been vital to their dominance thus far.
On a slightly superstitious note, it should be highlighted that Mourinho has a record as a manager, in that in every one of his reigns, the second season has always earned a league title. Whether or not, that is true of this season, who knows? But, they are certainly doing the right things at the moment.
It should be emphasised how important Lukaku is for this team, having scored 6 goals in 6 games. But, with Ibrahimovic due to come back in January combined with Martial and Rashford’s eagerness to deputise should an injury occur, United look set to be in good hands.
Current Position: 3rd (13 pts) = 4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss
Net Spend: 3rd (£75.7 million) = Bought (£183.7 million) – Sold (£108 million)
Goal Difference: 3rd (7) = 12(F) – 5(A)
The Champions of 16/17 are in great form and have subsisted any fears caused by the early shock loss to Burnley. Signings have been shrewd investments despite not being headline worthy, with Bakayako, Rudiger and Drinkwater enforcing steel into their defence. Significantly, a resurgent Alvaro Morata has boosted them with 6 goals in 5 games. Any questions surrounding his £60 million fee are quickly evaporating, as he appears to be a complete striker who can head and score goals with his feet.
Chelsea have already faced tough competition in Spurs and Arsenal, displaying a strong defence. The balance of the squad is exceptional and with talisman Hazard returning, they possess a world class attacking threat. It’s this balance combined with the familiarity of the old squad that is likely to help them to reach the end of the season in fine form. Such “balance” would even warrant applause from MC Quakez.
They may finish first but United’s performances have been more impressive thus far, though it is notable Chelsea have faced the tougher competition.
3. Manchester City
Current Position: 1st (16pts) = 5 wins, 1 draw
Net Spend: 1st (£134.1 million) = Bought (£226.7 million) – Sold (£92.6 million)
GD: 1st (19) = 21 (F) – 2(A)
I am aware that I look crazy putting Chelsea and United above City. They have the best goal difference with goals possible from Sane, Aguero, and Jesus in any game. It appears Pep’s Barcelona magic has finally worn off on City, as they are playing incredible football aided by the brilliance of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
On paper, they have the best defence alongside United so far, having only conceded two goals. Notably, they are the first team to score 5 goals or more in three consecutive Premier League games, particularly taking Liverpool’s scalp at home.
Signings such as Danilo, Walker, Mendy and Ederson suggest City are aware of last year’s defensive frailties. However, rightly or wrongly, I am still not convinced by their defence, especially in the centre. Question marks still remain over expensive signees, such as Stones and Otamendi. Furthermore, Kompany is unfortunately consistently injured and Mangala has been inconsistent when played.
I could easily be wrong on this prediction, as they remind me of Liverpool in 2013/14 when they finished second, blowing out the competition early on in games. Subsequently, this means like this City team potentially, they may not have to rely on defensive duties.
4. Tottenham Hotspur
Current Position: 4th (11pts) = 3 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss
Net Spend: 16th (£11.5 million) = Bought (£101.8 million) – Sold (£90.3 million)
GD: 4th (5) = 10(F) – 5(A)
Spurs look very strong so far…away from home. This is highlighted by their last 3 away games (including Cups), where they have consecutively scored 3 goals. Wembley as the temporary ground for Spurs sounded like a smart decision initially with the prospect of increased ticket sales and a stadium built for a team to be taken seriously.
However, in practice playing at Wembley is obviously an advantage for any team travelling. At home Spurs have fumbled victories to draws despite dominating possession against Swansea and Burnley. Additionally they have also lost to Chelsea but that is not a worry, as that was against a credible title contender. Overall based on performances, this is the main reason for this prediction.
Although, it should be stated home problems have been exaggerated, as they have won at home, in the Champions League against Boroussia Dortmund and in the Football League Cup against Barnsley.
The squad is similar to previous seasons and it works to Tottenham’s advantage, with players familiar and comfortable in their surroundings and positions. New signings, Sanchez and Aurier have looked good and appear to have adjusted immediately. Furthermore, Sissoko is slowly improving and is like a new signing, quickly becoming the Marouane Fellani of Spurs, in that he is frustrating but important at times.
With Harry Kane’s August hoodoo behind him, he is in red hot form having scored 4 goals in 6 PL games and 9 goals in 8 games overall. They have bought intelligently with seasoned professional Fernando Llorente in reserve if needed. A young, talented, attacking minded squad in Dele, Eriksen (who is now the leading Danish goal scorer in the PL), Son, Trippier and Davies support the strikers. Spurs have a good balance to their squad and have defensive steel with Alderweireld and Vertonghen, maintaining their good form of previous seasons.
Conclusively, they are unbeaten away from home and providing they can sort out their Wembley issues, they should remain difficult to beat and could potentially mount a title charge.
Current Position: 5th (11 points)= 3 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss
Net Spend: 4th (£50.3 million) = Bought (£84.9million) – Sold (£34.6 million)
GD: Joint 6th (1) = 12(F) – 11(A)
Exciting to watch tick. Goals guaranteed tick. Defensive frailties tick.
Liverpool have yet to provide a bad game to watch for the neutral, whether they are smashing goals in or conceding them in frustrating manner. However, it must be annoying and nail biting being a Liverpool fan sometimes. This is a side that severely lacks balance but is for me the most fascinating prospect in how they unravel in the season.
Signings, such as Salah who has scored 4 goals in 5 games and Oxlade-Chamberlain, are both intelligent for the future and provide extra support to a mouth-watering attacking threat consisting of Mane, Firminhio and Sturridge. Liverpool are further boosted by the return of cult hero, Phillipe Coutinho who assisted and scored a spectacular freekick against Leicester. This threat combined with their strength in the centre of midfield with Wijnaldum, Henderson and Can, provide a real test for any team when Liverpool have their collar up. This was particularly true in the 4-0 drubbing against Arsenal.
However, it is their defence where there is particular concern, conceding 5 goals against Manchester City and recently performing inadequately in that department against Leicester. At the heart of the defence, there are lingering doubts as to the capabilities of Lovren and Klavan, to support Joel Matip. Additionally, any viewers of Match of the Day will know that Liverpool also have a problem with zonal marking for corners.
The failure to sign Virgil Van Dijk or a world-class centre back is like covering a pothole up with crisp packets. It may also be the reason they disappoint in not breaking into the top four this year.
Although, Andrew Robertson has been a good signing and impressed so far, questions also remain as to the defensive capabilities of their full backs, with Moreno playing inconsistently this season. This has led to Milner to deputise in this position and also the emergence of promising young talents like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.
Overall, it is difficult to ascertain how Liverpool will do but providing they can score enough goals early on, it would be hard to root against them. Nevertheless, signings must be made in January to sort out these obvious issues, which unfortunately downplays the brilliance of their attacking threat.
Current Position: 7th (10 points)= 3 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses
Net Spend: 15th (£14.3 million) = Bought (£46.5 million) – Sold (£32.2 million)
GD: Joint 6th (1) = 9(F) – 8(A)
When Arsenal finished 5th last year, it was the first time they had finished outside the top four since before Wenger arrived in 1996. That both speaks volume as to their consistency in history and to also the disappointment of last year. With the rise of “Wenger Out” chants, followed by the popularity of negative views held by Arsenal TV, Arsenal would appear to be in a crisis.
However, I don’t think you can ever rule Arsenal out. Yes, they have lost to Stoke away from home and were thrashed by Liverpool but recent performances would suggest Arsenal are slowly finding their groove. In subsequent matches, they have beaten Bournemouth and West Brom in convincing fashion. Furthermore, they also drew against Chelsea.
Despite their squad, which looks on paper to be the weakest yet, they have still world class quality in Alexis Sanchez and with his focus now solely on Arsenal, they could surprise a lot of people. Furthermore, new boy Lacazette seems to be capable of providing goals, having scored 4 in 5.
Conversely, they certainly are lacking in the defensive department and there has been significant vocal anger as to why a centre back has not been bought. If this issue isn’t rectified in January, it could haunt Arsenal. It should be noted that Kolasinac is an intelligent signing as a player who can play both as a left back and centre back, but his main strengths appear to be in going forward. Despite, shelling out £35 million on Xhaka last year, they still lack an intimidating defensive midfield presence in the likeness of Viera.
Ultimately, they still have enough creativity and attacking threat, with Bellerin, Ozil, Ramsey, Lacazette and Sanchez to hurt teams but it is difficult to be confident that they can break into the top four with the current team.