Whenever I hang out with my boys, 90% of what we talk about is soccer (football). In one of such chill moments back in August, we talked about who would win the Premier League this season and who would make the rest of the top four.
My top-four prediction at the time was:
While I will not backtrack on this prediction just yet, I think we have seen enough twists and turns this season to tell us how difficult it is to boldly predict this season.
Let’s talk a little about some of the big teams and what they could achieve this season…
My pick to be the Premier League champions back in August and they are still my pick, despite being 7 points behind Chelsea at the time of writing this post.
Pep Guardiola found a system that worked wonders for him in the first 10 games or so of the season, and there were even crazy questions from reporters about City winning all four trophies.
Well life happened and an injury to Kevin De Bruyne caused Pep to ditch the 4-1-4-1 formation and try new things. The tinkering has clearly not worked, with City having won only 4 games in their last 15.
Manchester City has a whole lot of problems right now: De Bruyne is back, Gundogan was fit until their last game against Watford, Yaya Toure is back, Pep is trying to find a system that fits all these midfield players all at once and so he goes with three at the back, and lastly, they miss too many chances.
Of all these reasons, I think the most costly decision has been to play with only 3 defenders. I think when Pep realizes that this 3-4-3 system is not working for his team, he will revert back to his 4-1-4-1 formation and start picking up results again.
All the negative talk about his style not suitable for the Premier League is plain nonsense.
They are flying at the moment, aren’t they? I remember when I told my friends that Chelsea would strongly challenge for the title, they thought I was crazy. I was not helped by the first few games where Chelsea failed to show they had learned from the shit show of last season.
At the time of writing this, they have stringed 10 Premier League wins in a row and are 6 points clear at the top. Of course, I know there will be more twists and the run will not last forever, but I’m sure nobody has any doubts Chelsea will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
After the first games of the Euros, I predicted Italy would win the competition. They did not have anywhere near the best players in the competition but from the way they dealt with Belgium tactically, I saw stuff of champions in that team and the manager, Antonio Conte.
Conte is a tactician in every sense of the word. His 3-4-3 system has worked wonders so far. Not only are they scoring loads of goals, they are conceding close to nothing at the moment. They really are the team to beat if you want to win the league.
They know how to manage a game, one thing Manchester City cannot seem to do, and this is going to give them a huge advantage as they push for the league. Another huge advantage is that they are not in any continental competition.
They will have to do a lot wrong to not win the league this season. I stand by my initial prediction though.
This is the team I have supported since I was 5, but I am not like most wishful thinking football fans. I used to be, but no more.
For years, I accepted and used Wenger’s excuse of stadium debt, injuries, financial disparity in the league and in Europe, etc. One thing I never questioned was his zeal to win – until he sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
Hearing the circumstances of the sale from how RvP’s contract had a year to go, Fergie called Wenger directly to convince him and Wenger sold his best player and captain to arch-rivals United, my eyes opened to the reality of the lack of ambition at the club. It was then I deduced that Wenger no longer had the right mentality to win the Premier League again. My mind has not changed till date.
Arsenal might be playing well now, but haven’t we seen this before? Play well until March and then crack under pressure or blame it on injuries. Arsenal’s story is clear to everyone that is not an Arsenal fan.
The fact is Arsenal will not win a Premier League title again under Wenger who now has money and has purchased some quality players but still could not win the league last season when other competitors were trash.
Arsenal will always find a way to be in the top four though and since I believe they are better than everyone else except City and Chelsea, I pick them to finish third.
It is nearly impossible to predict Liverpool. I love Jurgen Klopp and the relationship he has with his players, but Liverpool are just so inconsistent.
There was a time they were flying at some point and they looked like they could challenge for the league, then they will have the occasional loss to teams like Burnley.
Liverpool do not have a great defence and they have less than average goalkeepers and this is going to cost them a lot of points this season. They are good going forward, but soccer is about attacking and defending.
Like Liverpool, it’s hard to place a marker on Tottenham. They were unbeaten for a long time without playing particularly well. They are a team that pick their moments to turn up and injuries to key players have not helped.
They could make a strong push for the top four but I’m sure fans would have been dreaming of so much more than just a top four place, given their real push for the title last season.
I admire Mauricio Pochettino and respect the work he has done at Spurs but I’m sorry I have to question some of his decisions this season.
He rested players in the Champions League and even away at Monaco – a game they had to win in order to qualify, he still fielded a weakened team. His logic? Resting players for the game against Chelsea that weekend.
What makes the game against Chelsea so important? Let’s face it, Spurs were never going to actually win the title. So they would want to beat Chelsea to give them a good chance of finishing in the top four, which gives them Champions League next season. Basically, he threw away this season’s Champions League in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Needless to say, they lost both the Monaco and Chelsea games. It’s hard to understand his logic, but they have a real chance of finishing in the top four.
I have a lot of friends that are United fans and I recall their excitement when they signed Mourinho, Zlatan, Pogba, Bailly and Mkhitaryan. Of all their arrivals, I told them that the only player that would get me worried as an opposition fan is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. I’m not one of those guys that believe the way to making a great team is by putting a lot of big name figures on the team.
Mourinho came off the back of a huge failure at Chelsea. Zlatan is 35 years old and even though he is still a quality player, he was never going to tear up the league. I liked the Bailly signing because he is young and could develop into a very solid defender in a few seasons, but I had no reason to be worried about him. Pogba came for a hefty price tag but if his previous seasons are anything to go by, he can only give you 15 goals in a very good season. Mkhitaryan came with pace, power, vision and skill and was deservedly the best player in Germany last season – which is exactly why I felt this was the real football signing.
United started off with poor performances but getting good results. Then they started getting poor results for their poor performances for most of the season. Then they started performing better but got poor results. Now recently, they have improved their performances and they’re finally getting some results.
After their signings, many of my friends predicted United would win the league. Well, a historical capitulation of 4 teams would have to occur now for that to happen. But they can make a strong case for the top 4.
They look to be a team on the up, while Spurs and Liverpool seem to be wobbling a little bit. Who knows what might happen?
So that’s my two cents on how some of the teams in the Premier League have fared this season. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Cheers 🙂