About footballenthusiast

Since as early as I can remember I have been kicking that beloved round ball and have been in love with the beautiful game ever since. Growing up in West London I obviously chose to support my local team, Chelsea. Now it is a sad state of affairs that I have to declare that I was a Blue long before a certain Oil Tycoon came to England but I do, I had been supporting Chelsea for ten years before Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought Manchester City. I do not laud over Terry, Lampard (well a tiny bit) or Drogba but Gudjohnsen, Melchiot and, my favourite ever player, Zola. So I decided that I had enough of the Robbie Savages and David Pleats of this world spouting rubbish to a national audience. It was time for someone with a footballing brain and common sense to voice their opinion. Sadly I couldn't find anyone so you'll have to put up with me. Enjoy!

Russia 2018 World Cup Predictions

It has been a whole 18 days since Sergio Ramos’s stellar performance in UFC 225. However, the football-sized hole in our lives is about to be filled. It’s time to forget about our ills, about Brexit, about Trump, about Eyal from Love Island. The world’s greatest sporting event is upon us. That also means it is time for some well-thought out and educated predictions, cue the football enthusiast.

Group A


If Russia versus Saudi Arabia won’t whet your appetite for the World Cup then nothing will. The opening game isn’t exactly a national derby and will determine 3rd place in the group. Uruguay will have a tough route in the knockout stages but have the quality and experience to do well. Egypt need their talisman, Salah, back as soon as possible but they possess a decent squad.

Prediction: Uruguay (1st), Egypt (2nd)

Group B


This group provides the first big clash of the tournament on Friday, pitting Spain against their neighbours and Euro 2016 winners Portugal. The Spaniards possess a disgustingly talented squad and will top the group and progress deep into the tournament despite losing their coach on the eve of the tournament. I am not convinced by Portugal – Ronaldo’s gravitational pull never gets the best out of his teammates. Iran and Morocco should not be underestimated though.

Prediction: Spain, Portugal

Group C


Les Bleus should top this group with the incredibly-talented squad they possess but Deschamps is still yet to find the right blend up front. If Eriksen is on form he could drag Denmark out the group, he’s a world-class player– the loss of Bendtner will surprisingly have little impact on their quest for glory. The other two teams should not be taken lightly though. Peru could provide an upset and the Socceroos do seem to bring their best to the global stage. Any of these three could come second (…pretty confident with that prediction).

Prediction: France, Denmark

Group D


This is Messi’s final chance to move out of the shadow of Argentina’s first son, Maradona. Sadly for Leo, I don’t think La Albiceleste will progress further than the quarter-finals. Nigeria will not offer much apart from their snazzy kit whilst Iceland, the smallest nation ever to make it to the World Cup, have the potential to scrape through. This relies on Sigurðsson recovering adequately from injury. Croatia have an ageing defence but are sprinkled with quality and should progress as runners-up.

Prediction: Argentina, Iceland

Group E


Brazil will waltz through this group, scoring plenty of goals, and it will be a scrap for second. Switzerland have a knack of squeaking through to the last 16 and I think they will do it again. Serbia have some undoubted quality, including Matic and Milinković-Savić, but will just miss out. Costa Rica were underestimated in 2014 and went on to win England’s group but I can’t see them repeating that feat. They’ll be the whipping boys of the group.

Prediction: Brazil, Switzerland

Group F


Another easy group to pick the winner, the Germans will glide effortlessly to the knockout stages. However, who will join them is up for grabs. Son will try to carry the South Koreans on his cheery shoulders but I’m not sure that will be enough. Sweden are without Zlatan for the first time since 2002 and will struggle to score. That leaves Mexico who possess enough pace and guile to guide them through.

Prediction: Germany, Mexico

Group G


Belgium’s squad should make them a favourite for the tournament but they are perennial under-performers and always seem to bottle it at the final stage – I think they will do so again. The Three Lions have an inexperienced team lacking the stardust we are accustomed to but Southgate has taken to the poisoned chalice of England manager with gusto. I’m starting to get carried away…we might even get out the group. Realistically, a quarter final finish would be a success. Panama have done incredibly well to make it to Russia but should prop up the group with a solid Tunisia coming 3rd.

Prediction: Belgium, England

Group H


Colombia are the only side of quality in this group and will hope Rodriguez can summon the performances that won him the Golden Ball in Brazil. The rest of the teams are quite run of the mill. Lewandowski must be firing if Poland are to do well but I doubt he will receive the service necessary to repeat his qualifying heroics. Senegal have a spattering of English based players that could serve them well and I would love to see a repeat of their performances in the 2002 World Cup. The fact Okazaki will be leading the line for Japan does not fill me with hope.

Prediction: Colombia, Poland

Golden Boot


The Golden Boot is never straightforward and the lack of out-and-out strikers in many of the leading teams makes the top scorer prediction even trickier. Muller seems a sensible candidate having scored 5 goals in both the previous World Cups but he is coming off a poor season in Munich. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lukaku continues his flat-track bully status and grabs some goals against Panama and Tunisia while Lewandowski is in cracking form. Looking at the draw though, I am backing Suarez or Cavani to rack them up in the group stages against poor opposition. Messi and Neymar will also bag a few as they look to banish the bad memories of four years ago but I’m sticking with their ex-Barcelona teammate.

Prediction: Luis Suarez (Uruguay)



It comes down to four teams: Germany, Brazil, Spain and France. Brazil are the bookies favourite and you can see why. They have a glittering attack bolstered by a steely central midfield, but have a weak defence that can be exploited. France have very similar problems to Brazil with the added obstacle of a manager without any clear vision. For me, Germany and Spain are the two strongest teams and if it wasn’t for the bizarre sacking of Lopetegui I would’ve backed the Spaniards. However, after that strange move I’ve regretfully got to go for Germany to win back-to-back World Cups for the first time since Brazil in ’58 and ’62.

Prediction: Germany

So there are my predictions. Guaranteed money down the bookies. So, enjoy the festival of football and we’ll see just how badly these predictions go in 32 days.


My England 2018 World Cup Squad

Here we go again. The greatest sporting event in the world is just around the corner. However, before the footballing festivities can commence some huge decisions will have to be made. Gareth Southgate will announce his England World Cup squad tomorrow, so I thought I’d give him a few pearls of wisdom for him to plagiarise. Here is my 23 to take to Russia:



Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Despite the apparent palaver around the number 1 spot, there is only one option. The Everton keeper has been a glimmer of light in an otherwise murky season at Goodison. Pundits will eulogise that “he’s good with his feet”, capitalising on the Guardiola-era where goalkeepers aren’t considered second-class citizens – only problem is who he’s going to pass to.

Jack Butland (Stoke City)

A terrible season for the Potters, Butland has squeezed his way into this squad. If not for his lack of experience, Pope would have made it in. Alas, Southgate has stuck with the Stoke City keeper and he will be able to provide adequate support for Pickford.

Joe Hart (Manchester City)

This might be a slightly controversial one. However, hear me out. Since 1934, only four teams to make it to the greatest show on Earth have used all three of their goalkeepers. Hart isn’t going to make it onto the pitch. That’s why you need to consider impact off the field for this one. The City exile is experienced and a character (I know this due to my extensive time with the England team). He’ll be needed off the pitch.



Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)

The first of many Spurs players to make it into the squad. He’s been superb for the Lilywhites, the joint highest assister from the back alongside his teammate Ben Davies. Also possessing a wicked set piece delivery (Kane better be nowhere in sight), he’s got to be lining up against Tunisia in Volgograd.

Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

He picked up his first career honours this term, forming a sporadic presence in the Premier League Champions side. Injury has prevented Walker finishing the season strongly but he should be well-rested for the summer. His speed may not be enough to cover his poor positional sense against top international opposition though.

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

The Champions League winner is lucky there is a lack of competition at left back after Danny Rose’s injury and Luke Shaw’s soul destruction at the hands of Jose. His teammates haven’t helped him to shine though and he would be a solid squad player.

Ashley Young (Manchester United)

A name I would not have expected to name at the beginning of the season. The Red Devil has taken to his new fullback role with quiet efficiency. Although lacking his former electric pace, Young still possesses quality delivery and could provide a neat solution to the left wing back problem.

John Stones (Manchester City)

Another who has flattered to deceive this season. He is still leaning on his reputation and will need stay as Dr Jekyll rather than his worryingly-pervasive Mr Hyde. He won’t be playing with his City teammates in Russia and can’t afford to lose the ball in dangerous situations – he will be punished. This tournament could prove the making of the Barnsley boy.

Phil Jones (Manchester United)

Whilst his teammates have been barraged and abused, Jones has got on with his business in a classy and understated manner. A injury-hampered career has cost him the chance of consistent football but he managed to string together an impressive run of games this season, proving a rock at the heart of United’s defence.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

A breakthrough season for the teenager. He has had his troubles over the season but his performances in the latter stages of Champions League have been imperious. His experience in midfield over recent weeks also plays favourably for him. This tournament has come slightly too early for him but one for the future.

Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)

Another who is coasting on his reputation. After exploding onto the scene in 2014 and occupying the vital defensive midfield role the next year, the Portuguese-crafted 24 year old has plodded along unimaginatively. Not as dynamic as Kante, not as physical as Matic, not as creative as Fernandinho. He has not quite reached the heights of former years. His flexibility is very useful though and a return to the defence might rekindle his talent.

James Tarkowski (Burnley)

A fantastic season culminated in a call up to the national squad at the beginning of the year. He is decent on the ball but his ability to intercept passes and read the game is his true skill. If Southgate’s carries on with a 3 man defence as predicted we will need a fair few in the squad.



Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

A much-maligned player, only in recent weeks have I been convinced of the Geordie’s talents. Unfairly dismissed, his performances in the Champions League have been outstanding this year and he has played a huge part Liverpool’s journey to Kiev. His break up play and energy will be vital as part of a two man midfield. He would be my captain for the tournament.

Fabian Delph (Manchester City)

Another who has sparkled under Pep’s tutelage. Despite having to operate in an unnatural position on the left flank the Yorkshire lad has shown his adept skill and composure on the ball. He could be a surprise star for the Three Lions.

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

The young midfielder has had an interesting season on the pitch (and off it). He has had moments of brilliance, such as his fantastic goal against Chelsea, but these have been too sporadic. A victim of his own potential, he hasn’t quite hit the heights of previous years. I hope he can rediscover his best form over the summer.

Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United)

Subject to one of the best chants in football courtesy of his harsh likening to a certain Harry Potter character, Shelvey has been magnificent for the Magpies in the last half of the season. A lot has been made of his temperament but he has not picked up a yellow card since his sending off against Everton in December. He is one of the few players that can create in the middle of the park.

Adam Lallana (Liverpool)

One of my favourite players in the Premier League. Able with both feet and equipped with telepathic vision, he is one of the best footballers in the country. Injury has prevented him from performing this year but I would still consider playing him behind Kane in the opening game. Such a talent.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)

On loan at Palace, this has been a breakthrough year for the young midfielder. Finally getting a run in the first team, the Chelsea man has played well for the Eagles and provided a consistenly lacking spark in South London. His performances in the Autumn against Brazil and Germany showed the undoubted talent he possesses.

Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)

Another young midfielder who has had a mixed season. It has been full of highs but I am still to be convinced of his international pedigree. He does have an eye for goal though, exemplified with his winning effort against Holland in March, and could be a game changer from the start or off the bench.

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

One of the form players in the squad. After faltering in his first season in Manchester he has electrified the Premier League this term. Although far from a natural finisher, he has managed to clock up an impressive 18 league goals as well as contributing 11 assists. However, he won’t be playing with the likes of Silva and De Bruyne in Russia and he stills needs to prove he is good as his stats suggest.



Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

If it wasn’t for the phenomenal efforts of a certain Egyptian then the Spurs hitman would be drowning in praise. He managed to reach a personal best of 30 goals in the Premier League this year despite rushing back from injury. He is England’s talisman and will have to be on top form if the Three Lions are going to make any sort of impact.

Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Another who has swept under the radar. The 30 year old has scored an impressive 21 league goals in an inconsistent Leicester team. Ironically I think he carries more danger against the more skilled teams who will have more possession and play a higher line. He may struggle against the likes of Panama who will sit deep and not allow him to spread his legs in behind them.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

The young striker burst onto the scene two years ago but has not developed much further since then. He has shown flashes of brilliance, including a brace against Liverpool, but needs more consistent game time if he is to improve. His electric pace and natural finishing ability is a fantastic weapon although he may have to display this from the bench in Russia – a position he has become far too familiar with at Old Trafford.


So there is my 23, a worrying lack of quality in central midfield aside, this is a team full of youth and promise. Come 7pm on 18th June, this would be my starting 11:


Walker   Stones    Jones

Trippier    Henderson    Alli    Young

Sterling    Rashford


Looking towards Southgate’s announcement tomorrow, I know everyone loves a prediction, here are the 23 I think he will pick:


Pickford, Butland, Pope


Trippier, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Tarkowski, Bertrand, Young


Henderson, Alli, Livermore, Dier, Lallana, Lingard, Sterling, Loftus-Cheek


Kane, Vardy, Rashford, Welbeck

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it. Watch this space for some World Cup previews in a few weeks time.

The 2017/18 Premier League Season Preview: M – W

Yesterday saw my predictions for the first 10 teams. Not happy reading for two of the promoted clubs, Brighton and Huddersfield, but how will last year’s Championship champions fare? And who is going to claim the Premier League title? Find out below.

Manchester City


Key Signing – Ederson (Benfica)

Main Man – Kevin De Bruyne

Surprise Star – Phil Foden

A very disappointing premier campaign for Guardiola – for the first time not managing one of the top three teams in the world. The Spaniard seems to have learnt from his mistakes, investing in a fine young keeper (Ederson) and three attacking full backs (Walker, Mendy and Danilo) to plug some gaping defensive holes. In Jesus they have the finest young striker in the league and he will kick on this term. The fitness of Kompany will make or break their season. Foden has a bright future.

Prediction – 1st

Manchester United

Key Signing – Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

Main Man – Paul Pogba

Surprise Star – Andreas Pereira

Mourinho had a dreadful first season in Manchester. Only victory in the mighty Europa League saved the ‘Happy One’ from a truly abysmal campaign. However, he has made some significant signings that could turn around a dreary and weary team. Lukaku is the obvious coup but Matic will prove more valuable. Chelsea may rue letting the Serbian enforcer go – he will allow Pogba to flourish.

Prediction – 2nd

Newcastle United


Key Signing – Christian Atsu (Chelsea)

Main Man – Matt Ritchie

Surprise Star – Rolando Aarons

The sleeping giants of the North East bounced back into the top tier at the first time of asking. Benitez showed tremendous faith by staying with the Magpies after relegation and seems to have formed a strong bond with the Toon Army. They have a talented team who should fare well in the Premier League with the likes of Ritchie, Atsu and Shelvey providing real creativity from midfield. If Gayle can stay fit he will score plenty of goals. New faces are needed though.

Prediction – 14th


Key Signing – Mario Lemina (Juventus)

Main Man – Manolo Gabbiadini

Surprise Star – Jack Stephens

Another summer. Another re-build. This time it only looks like Van Dijk and manager Puel have departed though. The signing of Lemina is a remarkable one and should really excite Saints fans. He will bring some energy and class to the midfield and will prove one of the bargains of the summer. Gabbiadini started life in Southampton remarkably well when he joined in January and I think he will push on and score some important goals this year.

Prediction – 9th

Stoke City

Key Signing  Darren Fletcher (West Brom)

Main Man – Ryan Shawcross

Surprise Star – Kurt Zouma

Hughes continues to try and revolutionise the Potters. The revolution seems to have stumbled and stuttered though after struggling to a 13th place finish last year. With only Fletcher and the promising Zouma providing Premier League experience amongst the new additions it is going to be a tough season ahead. Shaqiri must step up to the challenge without his partner in crime Arnautović.

Prediction – 16th

Swansea City

Key Signing – Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)

Main Man – Fernando Llorente

Surprise Star – Tom Carroll

The imminent loss of Sigurðsson will be massive and affect the fortunes of the Welsh club. Abraham and Llorente will be starved of support without the Icelandic playmaker – although the former still has the potential to be a prolific goalscorer. Clement achieved a fantastic turnaround having become the third Swans’ manager of the year in January but will do extremely well to repeat as great an escape.

Prediction – 19th

Tottenham Hotspur

Key Signing – N/A

Main Man – Harry Kane

Surprise Star  Harry Winks

Another season where the Lilywhites came so close but fell at the final hurdle. Losing Walker to City is not a problem as Trippier is a more than able replacement and will prove a revelation at right back once he returns from injury. Winks has also impressed in pre-season and, with the lack of reinforcements, may get a chance for an extended run in the team. Chairman Levy must bring in new players as soon as possible.

Prediction – 4th



Key Signing – Andre Gray (Burnley)

Main Man – Troy Deeney

Surprise Star – Nathaniel Chalobah

Once again Watford start the new season with another manager. This time they have struck gold however. Marco Silva is a fantastic tactician who did superbly well with a talentless Hull side last year. The Hornets have also brought in some fantastic English talent in Chalobah, Hughes and the prolific (albeit morally questionable) Gray. I think they will do well this year.

Prediction – 12th

West Bromwich Albion

Key Signing – Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)

Main Man – Matt Phillips

Surprise Star – Ahmed Hegazy

The Baggies performed extremely well last year, finishing a respectable 10th. Pulis will look to build again this season and has invested well in the injury-prone Rodriguez who should be able to sharpen their instinct in front of goal. Phillips proved a fantastic assist-machine in his first term in the Midlands and will threaten again. An unremarkable campaign lies ahead.

Prediction – 11th

West Ham United

Key Signing  Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen)

Main Man – Winston Reid

Surprise Star  Andre Ayew

After lighting up the Premier League the season before, Payet proved an unwelcome distraction for Billic a year ago. The Croat will hope for a much smoother start to the campaign this time around. Hernandez is a proven yet underrated goalscorer and is an incredible bargain. Ayew missed most of last season but will provide a fantastic addition to the starting line up, he is going to have a big impact this year.

Prediction – 8th

So here is my final table prediction…

1st Manchester City
2nd Manchester United
3rd Chelsea
4th Tottenham Hotspur
5th Liverpool
6th Arsenal
7th Everton
8th West Ham United
9th Southampton
10th Bournemouth
11th West Bromwich Albion
12th Watford
13th Leicester City
14th Newcastle United
15th Crystal Palace
16th Stoke City
17th Burnley
18th Brighton
19th Swansea City
20th Huddersfield

So there it is. The 20 teams have been analysed, criticised and, using my crystal football, predicted. Plenty of fresh faces and rugged old ones will battle for our entertainment over the next nine months, may the best team win. Thanks for reading and enjoy the season ahead!

Feel free to comment, rate and like.

The 2017/18 Premier League Season Preview: A – L

It’s been strange summer of spending as Premier League clubs have parted with disgusting amounts of money for players with exotic names like Richarlison, Haksabanovic and…Walker. All teams have strengthened wildly in recent weeks but who has plugged their holes and who has seen their players jumping ship? Find out in this preview of the season ahead, starting with the teams from A-L.


Key Signing – Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon)

Main Man – Alexi Sanchez

Surprise Star – Alex Iwobi

Another campaign that promised so much, and delivered so little. An FA Cup win did little to dispel the calls for Wenger’s head, yet the 67 year old has clung on once again. The Gunners finally signed the prolific Lacazette after flirting with the transfer for most of the past decade. Whether he can perform at a higher level is yet to be seen but the statistics are on his side. Kolašinac will provide a fantastic option down the left flank. Another season missing out on Europe’s elite appears destined.

Prediction – 6th



Key Signing – Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)

Main Man – Steve Cook

Surprise Star – Lys Mousset

Another outstanding season for the Cherries in which they finished a remarkable 9th, level on points with Southampton. Eddie Howe continues to be the finest English manager in the league and has brought in some fantastic players. Defoe will provide goals whilst Ake and Begovic will help shore up a rocky defence. Their summer business shows they’re here to stay. Another solid season ahead.

Prediction – 10th

Brighton & Hove Albion


Key Signing – Pascal Groß (FC Ingolstadt 04)

Main Man – Anthony Knockaert

Surprise Star – Izzy Brown

Rescued from the depths of the football league in 1999 the Seagulls represent another fairy tale return to the top of English football’s pyramid. They threw away the Championship title last year and cannot afford such drops in form this season. Knockaert represents a potent attacking force from midfield who should provide his fair share of goals and assists. The pair that arrived from FC Ingolstadt 04 (Groß and Suttner) are very handy players and I can see Murray scoring plenty of goals, but it’s going to be a struggle for Hughton’s men.

Prediction – 18th



Key Signing – Charlie Taylor (Leeds United)

Main Man – Andre Gray

Surprise Star – Robbie Brady

Sean Dyche is another English manager that is working wonders with the resources given to him. They managed to avoid the drop but a lack of investment may cost them dearly. In Walters, Cork and Bardsley they’ve signed some dependable if not inspiring journeyman. Taylor is going to be a quality player in the future but the Clarets need to focus on the present.

Prediction – 17th


Key Signing – Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid)

Main Man – Eden Hazard

Surprise Star – Charly Musonda

Last year the Blues catapulted themselves to the title, including a mesmerising run of 13 consecutive wins. Conte proved himself a tactical trendsetter with 3-4-3 becoming the the fashionable formation of the year. After a slow start in the transfer window Chelsea splurged some serious cash on some excellent signings. Bakayoko will dominate the league once he returns from a knee injury. Back to back titles are a thing of the past but they have the players to do it.

Prediction – 3rd

Crystal Palace


Key Signing – Jaïro Riedewald (Ajax)

Main Man – Christian Benteke

Surprise Star – Luka Milivojević

Another year. Another manager. De Boer has a mixed track record and the lack of new faces in South London should worry Palace fans. I can see them being dragged into the relegation spots early on. They need their Belgian belter to bang the goals in if they are going to stand a chance of escaping the drop. Zaha will need to shake off his consistent inconsistency.

Prediction – 15th



Key Signing – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Main Man – Ashley Williams

Surprise Star – Dominic Calvert-Lewin

The prodigal son returns. ‘Wazza’ has made the right choice in leaving the big pond to become a big fish. It will be interesting to see where Koeman plays the England all-time top scorer, especially having also signed the extremely promising Sandro. The Dutch manager is starting to assemble a fine team despite the loss of Lukaku and his goals. They have not reached the elite level yet but this season will be another stepping stone.

Prediction  7th

Huddersfield Town


Key Signing – Elias Kachunga (FC Ingolstadt 04)

Main Man – Aaron Mooey

Surprise Star – Kasey Palmer

A dramatic penalty shootout confirmed the Terriers’ place in the top flight, returning to the top tier after nearly a 50 year absence. Wagner was quick to secure Mooey on a permanent basis after impressing on loan last year. Palmer, another member of the Chelsea loanee army, has the potential to impress. It’s going to be a tough season especially considering their lack of attacking threat. They better enjoy their only season in the top flight.

Prediction  20th

Leicester City


Key Signing – Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)

Main Man – Jamie Vardy

Surprise Star – Ben Chilwell

Last year was a tragedy for the Foxes, but all’s well that ends well as Shakespeare managed to guide them away from the bottom of the table. Iheanacho and Maguire are great young players but inexperienced in fighting off the drop. The former has the potential to score 15+ goals but this depends on the form of the creative forces behind him, the uncertain future of the maverick Mahrez will need to be resolved sharpish.

Prediction – 13th


Key Signing – Mo Salah (AS Roma)

Main Man – Philippe Coutinho

Surprise Star – Ben Woodburn

Klopp is starting to assemble an incredible attacking force. Salah will take the league by storm having been unfairly dismissed by Chelsea last year. The future of Coutinho is pivotal although there is a plethora of attacking talent on Merseyside. Losing the Brazilian for a record-breaking fee would not be the end of the world. More concerning is the lack of reinforcement at the back – that is where the team will falter.

Prediction – 5th

So, the first half is predicted. This is how it looks so far…

3rd Chelsea
5th  Liverpool
6th  Arsenal
7th  Everton
10th  Bournemouth
13th  Leicester City
15th  Crystal Palace
17th  Burnley
18th  Brighton
20th  Huddersfield

Disagree? Feel free to comment, rate and like.

Tune in tomorrow for the final 10 teams and see who is going to be taking home the title.

The 2016/17 Premier League Season Preview: M – W

Yesterday saw my predictions for the first 10 teams. I have forecast Guardiola to win the league in his first season but who is going to join Hull and Burnley in the drop? Find out the final doomed team in this preview of the last ten sides. So here you go, Manchester United to West Ham United. Enjoy.

Manchester United

Key Signing – Paul Pogba (Juventus)

Main Man – Wayne Rooney

Surprise Star – Timothy Fosu-Mensah

There has not been a lack of drama at Old Trafford this window. First Jose arrived. Zlatan soon followed. However, the return of Pogba has been the story of the summer and was finally completed for a world record fee. Whilst the Frenchman is fantastic player he is not worth anywhere near £89m. Another problem is where to fit him in, it looks like he will play as a holding midfielder, rather a waste of his talents. It is an exciting time for the Red Devils, although they must bid farewell to those youth products such as Rashford as long as Mourinho is at the helm.

Prediction – 2nd



Key Signing – Marten de Roon (Atlanta)

Main Man – Stewart Downing

Surprise Star Gaston Ramirez

The Championship runners up are returning to the top flight for the first time in 7 years. They were led magnificently by a returning son in the form of Downing, who started his career at Boro. Manager Marnaka has built a solid foundation over the past 3 years and the North East club should go into the season with a positive outlook. They have signed a dependable midfielder in de Roon and if Ramirez can re-discover his 2012 Olympics form then Middlesborough can be a force in the league.

Prediction – 15th


Key Signing – Nathan Redmond (Norwich City)

Main Man – Steven Davis

Surprise Star – Harrison Reed

Another summer. Another re-build. It’s becoming too familiar a routine for the Saints. Koeman, Mane, Wanyama and Pelle have all left. In Puel they have signed a manager with a great record at Nice having guided them into the Europa League places last season. Redmond is also a top acquisition and an underrated player who can become one of the top wingers in the league. I think it will be a similar season as last on the south coast.

Prediction – 10th

Stoke City

Key Signing  Joe Allen (Liverpool)

Main Man – Ryan Shawcross

Surprise Star – Giannelli Imbula

The revolution continues under Mark Hughes who has successfully transformed the style of the Potters. Shaqiri and Arnautović hold the key to taking Stoke to the next level. The signing of Allen provides some class and composure in midfield which will secure Stoke’s mid-table spot. Any improvement on their 9th finish last time is a fantastic result.

Prediction – 9th


Key Signing -Papy Djilobodji (Chelsea)

Main Man – Jermain Defoe

Surprise Star  Duncan Watmore

The Black Cats narrowly avoided relegation once again. The footballing gods have been looking down of them in recent years. This year will be another struggle, especially after losing “Big Sam” to the national team. Only time will tell whether 33 year old Defoe can carry the team. Watmore is an extremely direct and exciting young winger who will have a breakthrough season this year.

Prediction – 18th

Swansea City

Key Signing – Leroy Fer (QPR)

Main Man – Gylfi Sigurðsson

Surprise Star – Nathan Dyer

Once seen as one of the most promising young managers in the game, Garry Monk was sacked as the Swans took a turn for the worse in December last year. Guidolin came in and steadied the ship, finishing a respectable 12th. They have lost one of their star players, Andre Ayew, and their lack of reinforcement may worry fans. I can easily see them being dragged into a relegation battle but feel they’ve got enough to repeat last year’s exploits.

Prediction – 13th

Tottenham Hotspur

Key Signing – Victor Wanyama (Southampton)

Main Man – Christian Eriksen

Surprise Star  Josh Onomah

A season of near misses for Spurs, epitomised by their lack-lustre end of the season and subsequent finish behind Arsenal. However, despite a disappointing culmination to the campaign there were plenty of promises. In Alli and Kane they have the most potent, young partnership in European football. This is supported by an able cast with Pochettino strengthening well. The lilywhites have to challenge for the title otherwise the club will be moving backwards.

Prediction – 5th



Key Signing – Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli)

Main Man – Troy Deeney

Surprise Star – Jerome Sinclair

The bizarre decision to sack Quique Flores after a fantastic season was followed by a questionable appointment in Walter Mazzarri who has been out of the game for 3 years. In fairness, I was unconvinced by Ranieri’s appointment last year and then look what happened. However, I am not convinced by the Pozzo family’s strategy and am worried for the Hornets. If they give Sinclair game time he will prove to be a fantastic striker although he has the formidable Deeney and Ighalo in front of him.

Prediction – 17th

West Bromwich Albion

Key Signing – Matt Phillips (QPR)

Main Man – Darren Fletcher

Surprise Star – Callum McManaman

Last season was another solid one for the Baggies, they flirted with relegation but were never really in danger. One significant worry is the lack of firepower in the team, Berahino seems to have completely gone off the rails while Rondon only scored 9 league goals last year. Phillips will provide some much-needed pace and could add that extra flair West Brom are missing. This season could be a nervy one.

Prediction – 14th

West Ham United

Key Signing  Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia)

Main Man – Dimitri Payet

Surprise Star  Reece Oxford

Billic was a revelation last year, as was his unorthodox punditry during the Euros. The Hammers have moved into the old Olympic Stadium (now London Stadium) and will look to build some history at their new home. Feghouli will provide some support for the world-class Payet whilst Ayew is a decent signing. I also expect Carroll to play a significant role in the team having performed well during pre-season. Oxford will step up this term.

Prediction – 7th

So here is my final table prediction…

1st Manchester City
2nd Manchester United
3rd Chelsea
4th Arsenal
5th Tottenham Hotspur
6th Liverpool
7th West Ham
8th Leicester City
9th Stoke City
10th Southampton
11th Everton
12th Crystal Palace
13th Swansea City
14th West Bromwich Albion
15th Middlesbrough
16th Bournemouth
17th Watford
18th Sunderland
19th Burnley
20th Hull City

So there it is. The 20 teams have been analysed, criticised and, using my crystal football, predicted. Plenty of fresh faces and rugged old ones will battle for our entertainment over the next nine months, may the best team win. Thanks for reading and enjoy the season ahead!

Feel free to comment, rate and like.

The 2016/17 Premier League Season Preview: A – M

It’s been a fantastic summer of sport, which included one of the most memorable tournaments in living history. Although Portugal lifted the Euro 2016 trophy, football was the real winner. Somehow the Premier League is just days away and with the transfer market still buzzing with speculation, it’s time for some classic predictions.  So here is my preview of the season ahead, starting with the teams from A-M.


Key Signing – Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Main Man – Alexi Sanchez

Surprise Star – Alex Iwobi

The Gunners looked like they were heading for a finish below their North London rivals for the first time since 1995. However, the traditional “St Totteringham’s Day” was celebrated on the final day of the season with Spurs collapsing once again. Wenger has signed a fantastic playmaker in Xhaka although not in an area of the pitch Arsenal are lacking. Fans are desperate for a striker and even with the return of Welbeck there may still be cause for concern. Iwobi will prove a precocious talent this year.

Prediction – 4th



Key Signing – Jordan Ibe (Liverpool)

Main Man – Callum Wilson

Surprise Star – Benik Afobe

The Cherries had a fantastic first season in the top flight. In Eddie Howe they have the best young manager in English football and are lucky to hang on to him for another year. The England job will come eventually for him but there are plenty of years before that. The owner, Maxim Denim, has flexed his financial muscles this summer, securing Ibe and Cook even if for inflated prices. Second season syndrome is a worry but they should be safe.

Prediction – 16th



Key Signing – Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic)

Main Man – Andre Gray

Surprise Star – Tendayi Darikwa

The Clarets have once again yo-yoed back into the big time. Sean Dyche is another fantastic young manager who Burnley did well to keep hold of. They have been worryingly quiet in the transfer window and will need significant reinforcements before the window slams shut. Andre Gray is a lethal threat up front, top-scoring in the Championship last year, and fans will hope he can reproduce this in the Premier League.

Prediction – 19th


Key Signing – N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)

Main Man – Eden Hazard

Surprise Star – Ruben Loftus-Cheek

The news that “The Special One” had moved to arch-rivals United has been received surprisingly well by Chelsea fans, perhaps softened by the acquisition of the world-class Conte. He is exactly what is needed to get the Blues back to their best. It will be interesting to see how the Italian lines his team up but Hazard and Costa have looked terrific in pre-season. I reckon they’re back to their best. Definite title challengers.

Prediction – 3rd

Crystal Palace


Key Signing – Andros Townsend (Newcastle United)

Main Man – Yohan Cabaye

Surprise Star – Lee Chung-Yong

Pardiola started the season so well, but come the spring, it all started to unravel. At one point there was the real threat of being drawn into the relegation battle. However, the Eagles survived and go into the season off the back of a much-needed clear-out (17 players have left). Despite paying some outrageous fees for Townsend and Tomkins they are solid signings. A return to London might be what is required for Townsend to kick-start his career.

Prediction – 12th



Key Signing – Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa)

Main Man – Romelu Lukaku

Surprise Star – Shani Tarashaj

Martinez has left Goodison after a conflicted stint and been replaced by the impressive Koeman. The Dutchman made an interesting decision to leave high-flying Saints for Merseyside but he obviously sees this as a step up. Another team that has been worryingly quiet in the transfer market. The team has a young and promising spine but must hold onto their talent and hope they do not follow Stones out the door.

Prediction  11th

Hull City


Key Signing -Will Mannion (AFC Wimbledon)

Main Man – Michael Dawson

Surprise Star – Shaun Maloney

Not the ideal preparation for the Tigers. Manager, Steve Bruce, joined the merry go-round, leaving his post in July with Mike Phelan being appointed caretaker manager. Hull have also been non-existent in the window and brought a solitary player into the club. Staying in the Premier League is tough enough let alone without a manager and any investment into the playing staff. The club is only heading one direction, back where they came from.

Prediction – 20th

Leicester City


Key Signing – Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow)

Main Man – Jamie Vardy

Surprise Star – Ben Chilwell

The reigning champions. One of the most amazing stories in sport ever. Now it is time to start again and defend their title. They have recruited well, Musa will provide some support for Vardy and fits well into their system. The Nigerian’s pace and finishing will cause many defences problems. More importantly, they have managed to hold onto all their star performers apart from Kante (who has been replaced by the dependable Nampalys Mendy). Who knows how their season will go, especially with Champions League distractions.

Prediction – 8th


Key Signing – Sadio Mane (Southampton)

Main Man – Philippe Coutinho

Surprise Star – Divock Origi

Klopp, as expected, lit up the Premier League with his passion and enthusiasm after joining in October, even if his team’s performances did not. There are no excuses for the German this time round, with a pre-season under his belt he must have his gegenpressing drilled into his players. The Reds have been very shrewd in the transfer market with the signings of Mane, Motip and Wijnaldum. A respectable campaign lies ahead.

Prediction – 6th

Manchester City


Key Signing – John Stones (Everton)

Main Man – Sergio Aguero

Surprise Star – Leroy Sane

Another summer of paying wildly inflated prices for players in Manchester. They have bought some superb players in Stones, Gundogan, Nolito and Sane, possessing the best squad in the league. However, there is still a reliance on an ageing spine. Kompany is crucial, especially in the nurturing of Stones, and must stay fit. Without the Belgian captain the Sky Blues look lost. How Guardiola is going to play all these incredible footballers I have no idea.

Prediction – 1st

So, the first half is predicted. This is how it looks so far…

1st Manchester City
3rd Chelsea
4th Arsenal
6th Liverpool
8th Leicester City
11th Everton
12th Crystal Palace
16th Bournemouth
19th Burnley
20th Hull City

Disagree? Feel free to comment, rate and like.

Tune in tomorrow for the final 10 teams and see who is going to be heading down to the Championship.

Euro 2016 Predictions

So it’s finally arrived. Euro 2016 is just around the corner and so it is time for more infallible predictions.


In this new expanded format there are more teams than ever with an opportunity of glory. However, it is hard to look past the top three of hosts France, world champions Germany and reigning European champions Spain. All three have extremely impressive squads proven by those that they have left behind (Benzema, Ben Arfa (France), Reus, Bellarabi (Germany) Mata, Costa, Martinez (Spain)) all of which would easily make the England squad. There is huge strength in depth.


Les Bleus are rightly favourites. The last time an international tournament was on French soil a Zidane-inspired team defeated Brazil to lift the World Cup. I can see similar scenes this time round. After a few disastrous tournaments the French have got rid of their demons (and blackmailers) and look ready for action. They have an array of attacking talent full of pace and power albeit with a shaky defence. A home victory is a strong possibility.


Winners – France

Runners-up – Spain

Dark Horses

With the inclusion of 24 teams for the first time there are far more opportunities for surprises. There are a few teams that could cause some upsets. In group A, Romania had a fantastic qualifying campaign and may challenge Switzerland for second spot. Another team who enjoyed a dominant campaign, Austria, remained undefeated for the entirety of qualifying. Only a draw in their opening game to Sweden back in September 2014 prevented them from joining England with a perfect record.


However, one team stands out to me as having a serious possibility of reaching a quarter final and maybe further, against the odds. Poland only suffered one defeat in qualifying, to the World Champions, and even managed to defeat the Germans when they visited Warsaw. They have a clinical striker in Lewandowski supported by a cast of dependable and recognisable names such as Piszczek, Boruc and Krychowiak. Watch out for the Poles.

Prediction – Poland

Player of the Tournament

There are many players to choose from when it comes to player of the tournament. There are the classic names of Iniesta, Muller and Ronaldo. Alongside the English hopefuls of Kane and Alli. However, there is an array of French hopefuls. Pogba is, understandably, the bookies’ favourite and should be a standout performer for Les Bleus.


I would look to the players ahead of him though, especially Payet and Griezmann. The former has had a wonderful first season in England and will make a huge impact at the tournament. It is the Atletico striker that will impress the most however; goals and assists, he can do everything.

Prediction – Antoine Griezmann

Top Scorer

There are plenty of marksmen on display this summer. Zlatan has scored 50 goals this season. Kane has been top scorer in a competitive Premier League. And Ronaldo has scored over 30 league goals for the 6th season in a row. There is a plethora of talent with their eyes on the Golden Boot.

There are also some outsiders that should not be overlooked. Nolito and/or Morata will have the backing of Spain’s illustrious midfield while Griezmann and Giroud may chip in with a few as France make it deep into the tournament.


However, in my mind it will come down to two men: Lewandowski and Muller. The former has had a terrific season and was top scorer during qualifying. He will need his team to make it to at least the quarter finals if he is to stand a chance. Muller has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and has performed at every international tournament he has played in. The Bayern Munich men will be fighting it out.

Prediction – Thomas Muller

England’s Chances

Only the sixth team to ever have a 100% record in Euro qualifying. The Three Lions have a young squad with plenty of potential, however, potential is the word. This may be one tournament too early. In Kane they have a world-class striker and Alli one of the rising stars of the game.


The first problem is what formation to play. The diamond seemed the way to go, but looked rigid and lethargic against Portugal. If Hodgson actually plays Kane and Vardy up front rather than on the wing, England could make a serious impact in France.

A semi-final spot would be a fantastic result for the Three Lions.

Prediction – Quarter-final

So there we go! Let the football commence.



My England Euro 2016 Squad

It’s that time again. The summer has rolled around and England will soon head to foreign shores to disappoint the whole country as part of a bi-annual national ritual. The plot has followed its usual course. It starts innocently enough, the squad is promising with youthful splashes but not enough to make any serious impact. One impressive result against a half-hearted German side and suddenly this team could make it to the semi finals. Even a poor result against Holland, a side that did not qualify for Euro 2016, could not dissuade the tide of optimism sweeping the nation. And so we find ourselves, tournament challengers (17/2 with some bookmakers), with a deluded chance of lifting the title.

Having said that…we do have a very decent and exciting, young squad that should make an impact in France. However, this relies on Roy Hodgson being bold, not a quality that is synonymous with the England manager.

Forget the squad that is going to be unveiled on Monday, this is the squad that really matters.


Joe Hart (Manchester City)


England’s number one for that past five years. He has always been dependable between the sticks for his country. Despite some early season jitters in a team that has flattered to deceive this term, his performance in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid exemplified his world class capabilities. Consistent.

Fraser Forster (Southampton)


After years of struggling with the position, England currently have a plethora of talent in goal exemplified by the Saints’ man. Forster came back from a long-term injury and performed brilliantly for the final few months of the season. He should feel like he has a real chance of unseating Hart in the starting eleven. Able Deputy.

Tom Heaton (Burnley)


Should be given his chance after Butland fractured his ankle whilst playing in the victory against Germany in March. The Clarets have enjoyed a fantastic season with Heaton providing fantastic consistency for the Championship winners. He is the joint-leader in clean sheets and deserves his seat on the plane. Spectator.


Danny Rose (Tottenham Hostpur)


The fantastic season Spurs have enjoyed was in no small part down to their mean defence. Whilst Rose can be culpable at times for abandoning his position, he has performed admirably and benefits from a lack of strength in the wingback positions. I am not sure I fancy his chances against Gareth Bale. Solid.

Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United)


The unsung hero of West Ham’s campaign. I can’t comprehend how he is not in anyone’s thinking. He can actually defend unlike many of his competitors and also possesses a fantastic dead ball delivery which the team is severely lacking. If he had a few caps under his belt he would be in my starting line-up. Underrated.

Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)


The 25 year-old has been a mainstay under Klopp and repaid the faith of his new manager. Clyne has great pace which makes up for some of his other deficiencies and he is in charge of the right back shirt for now. This is an area of serious concern for the England manager. Predictable.

Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)


Another Spurs fullback who relies on his pace to get him out of trouble. He is yet to learn positional sense and finds himself in dangerous territory too often for my liking. Against  top opposition I fear this lack of football intelligence will be too easily demonstrated. Liability.

Chris Smalling (Manchester United)


The United defender has come on leaps and bounds this past year and is one of few successes under Van Gaal’s tenure. He is the only reliable defender in the squad and is integral for Hodgson’s defence. Hopefully he can take on a leadership role and command the defence like Terry, Ferdinand and Adams have done before him. Integral.

Gary Cahill (Chelsea)


His team have had a terrible season and the former Bolton man has not fared much better. Zouma overtook him in the pecking order and only an injury to the talented Frenchman has allowed Cahill back into the starting eleven. He is yet another English defender that is consistent but not special and always has a mistake in him. However, he has played in a Champions League final and has collected a wealth of experience over the years. Lucky.

John Stones (Everton)


The hopes of a nation rested on this young man’s shoulders at the beginning of the year and it appears to have crushed him. The fortunes of the Toffees has not helped the youngster but he has become a shadow of the player he was in August. The hypocrisy of British punditry does frustrate me somewhat though. One minute he is praised for playing out of the back, the next he is lambasted for not hitting row Z. Give the boy some time. I would start him alongside Smalling. Potential.

Phil Jagielka (Everton)


Yet another England defender that has not had his finest season. Experience plays to his side but does not inspire too much faith when it comes to facing world-class opposition. He will only play if worst comes to worst and two central defenders get injured. This will be his last tournament. Veteran.


Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)


Transformed from a no nonsense central defender into a cultured holding midfielder. A year is a long time in football. For all the praise directed at another Spurs midfielder, Dier has been my revelation of the season. Pochettino has had a tremendous impact on the 22 year-old. Whilst he has not faced world-class opposition yet, he looks the real deal; his time in defence has givien him an awareness others do not enjoy. His versatility is crucial. Adaptable.

James Milner (Liverpool)


The forgotten man of English football. Milner has transitioned comfortably to life on Merseyside and been given a chance in his favoured central berth. He may not pull up trees on a regular basis but his work rate and crossing ability should not be underrated. He is tied with David Silva and PFA Player of the Year Mahrez on an impressive 11 assists. Committed.

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)


Another Red who does not inspire great excitement in the belly. He has had a steady first season as captain of the club and is improving at a gradual rate. As he returns from injury he faces stiff competition for one of the holding roles in midfield. He has shown surprising leadership this year which may play in his favour. A Hodgson favourite. Uninspiring.

Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City)


Another remarkable rise. The Manchester United reject has flourished under Ranieri and become an all-round midfielder. Despite being outshone by the outstanding Kante alongside him, Drinkwater deserves a place in the squad and can provide capable back up for those ahead of him. Deserving.

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)


The PFA Young Player of the Year has had a tremendous season (one of my rare correct predictions) and will start in the coveted number 10 position. He will be tasked with providing the spark that has too often been lacking in England sides over the past decade. Let’s hope he has a similar impact to a former teen sensation back in 2004. Outstanding.

Ross Barkley (Everton)


This year has seen him overtaken by Alli as the young hope of English football. He started the season in impressive form but has tailed off drastically along with that of Everton’s. The 22 year-old is still young and has plenty of time to progress but many thought he would be a mainstay of the team by now. Sadly he has not kicked on, yet there is still plenty to expect from this young man. Promising.

Adam Lallana (Liverpool)


Another that seen his career revived this season. After a disappointing first year in Liverpool he has turned into one of Klopp’s main men. What the former Southampton man lacks in pace he more than makes up for in trickery. He will have a pivotal role to play on one of the wings and I hope Hodgson gives him his chance. Creative.

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)


The £49 million man has had an horrendous season. Unsurprisingly he has found himself behind De Bruyne and Silva with even the impotent Navas overtaking the Englishman. Sterling did show glimpses of his past form in the Champions League but too often than not he has been found wanting. The lack of competition out wide has saved him and hopefully he can provide an impact off the bench. Lucky.


Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)


The first name in the squad. Despite many, including myself, doubting he could reproduce the form of 14/15, especially after his slow start, he has evolved into the deadliest striker in the league. His world-class finishing prowess was illustrated in the 3-2 win against Germany and he will strike fear into all opposition defences. World-class.

Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)


The story of the former non-league star is almost as remarkable as that of his team’s. Vardy had an average season last year but was transformed into a goal machine this time round. His movement and electric pace has made him an essential cog of the Leicester juggernaut that has steamrollered the Premier League this year. At 29 it must be asked, where has he been all this time? Speedster.

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)


The most natural finisher in the Premier League. Despite being riddled with injuries he must be on the plane. He has come back into the Liverpool side and proved as efficient as ever, managing to score 12 goals in 23 sporadic matches. If England need a goal with 10 minutes to play, there is no one better to chuck on than the Brummie. Clinical.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)


He makes my squad…just. If it was any other player then he does not make the plane, but the captain’s experience will be vital in such a young squad. The argument that he should play because he is England’s all time top scorer is nonsensical, I don’t hear any clamours for record cap holder Peter Shilton to return in goal. If he starts against Russia on 11th June then English football has taken a huge step back. Captain.

Starting Eleven


Clyne     Stones     Smalling     Rose

Dier    Milner

Lallana      Alli        Vardy


So there it is. My 23. What do you think? Feel free to comment, rate and like!

Can Leicester Finish The Job?

Stockings raided, hunger satiated and monopoly flung. The season to be merry is over, so it’s time to get back to the serious matters of Premier League football. This season has been a roller coaster ride with unpredictable results around every corner (emphasis on unpredictable). No one could have foreseen the table in its current guise and it has been a more exciting season for it (emphasis on no one could have). One must forgive those who tipped Chelsea for the title and for Leicester to struggle (emphasis on must forgive) but now the lay of the land is clearer, there is an opportunity for me to make myself even more of a fool and produce some mid-season predictions. So here goes!


Leicester City have been on one hell of a run. Claudio Ranieri has built on the platform Pearson provided and assembled a magnificent team. They fear no one and rightly so, rather than nicking wins, they are masterfully constructing them and deserve to be on top for Christmas.


The chasing pack were meant to have devoured the Foxes by now. However, they have not managed to catch up and are still looking enviously up at them. Arsenal are the front runners and appear to have found their rhythm of late, especially after their impressive win over title rivals City. Ozil has had a great ‘effect’ on the Gunners’ fortunes, linking well with his talented teammates and they look strong heading into the new year, despite their recent thrashing at the hands of Southampton.


Man City, having started the season so strongly, have withered away in recent weeks. Crucial injuries to the spine of the team have crippled the Sky Blues and the full return of Kompany and Aguero cannot come soon enough. If they manage to overcome their injury problems, City will have a strong chance of claiming their 3rd title in 5 years.

Prediction: Man City

Champions League

Sadly I cannot see Leicester winning the title but a top four finish is realistic and should be the aim for the Foxes from now. This hinges significantly on the retention of key players, with the obvious names of Vardy and Mahrez (a surprise star for 13/14 according to a well-known enthusiast) in mind. I am going to be bold, the only way I know, and predict Leicester to finish the job and secure a top 10 finish. Champions League football will be a lovely bonus.


A host of unfamiliar names are in the mix for the elusive Champions League places. Watford and Crystal Palace find themselves just a few points off eternal glory and a ticket to the European elite. However, let’s be honest, they are not going to be there come May.

Spurs have also found themselves in the lofty heights of Champions League qualification. Kane has rediscovered his form and in Alli, Erikson and Dier they have a fantastic, young core. This could be the year the Lilywhites return to Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2011.


However, I see Man United undeservedly and inevitably sneaking into the top four come the end of the season. Once LVG allows his array of attacking talent to actually attack, they should find a bit of form and trundle towards the Champions League.

Prediction: Arsenal, Leicester City, Manchester United

Relegated Teams

Now to the more depressing end of the table and those facing the deadly drop towards the Championship. Aston Villa have looked positively dreadful from start to finish. Even the Messiah himself, Tim Sherwood, could not improve the Villains and has left Garde with a random ensemble of mercenaries to save the Midlands club. Only a miraculous turnaround can alter their fate now.


Sunderland have looked equally as poor at times. However, the arrival of Sam Allardyce gives the Black Cats hope and rightly so. ‘Big Sam’ has a proven track record and has already shored up their defence despite the heavy loss to Man City on Boxing Day. They should survive.

The final relegation places can be occupied by two of five teams. Whilst Newcastle currently lay in 18th place I believe the Magpies will be safe by the end of the season. Whilst Chelsea are also currently in danger, Hiddink will right the ship and sail them into the top 6 by the end of the season.


Sadly for Canaries’ fans, I can see Norwich being dragged into the danger zone. Despite a fantastic win at Old Trafford, Alex Neil’s team have looked out of place for much of the season and lack a serious goal threat up front.

The final relegation place is reserved for the only Welsh club in the Premier League. The sacking of Monk may prove Swansea’s downfall with no suitable replacements currently on the market. Caretaker manager Curtis will provide a steady hand but a new manager is needed urgently.

Prediction: Aston Villa, Norwich City, Swansea City

So there are my predictions. City to lift the trophy at the end of the season and only one promoted team to return whence they came. What do you reckon? Leicester to stay the course until May or are Chelsea going to find themselves competing for the Championship next year? Feel free to rate, comment and like. Happy New Year!

How To Solve A Problem Like Mourinho?

What is going on down in SW6? The Champions are enjoying (or not) their worst start to a campaign since 1986. Mourinho admitted it is the first time in his career he has found himself looking up rather than down. So why are the Blues floundering so terribly? Well I’ll tell you.


1. Personnel

When the 2015 PFA awards rolled round six of Mourinho’s men were in the Team of the Year. Eden Hazard picked up the Player of the Season and all was well on Fulham Road.

Last season Terry rekindled the form that won him the same award his Belgian colleague picked up, way back in 04/05. He also played the full 38 league games for the first time in his career. This was made possible by the back up he received from his fellow defenders Ivanovic, Cahill and Azipilicueta.

Matic patrolled effectively in front of them and Fabregas pulled the creative strings. Costa made a breath-taking start to English football, scoring with ease. Hazard was electrifying and backed up by a support team of Willian, Oscar and Ramires.

However, this season a number of high-profile players have wilted and withered under the spotlight of Premier League success. This may be one season too many for some. Terry, pushing 35, is on borrowed time and Ivanovic has had an horrendous start to this campaign. The Serbian has been beaten by every winger he has come up against since Montero turned him inside out on the opening day.


When it comes to the midfield the signs have been there for quite some time. Fabregas in particular has not played well for the best part of 10 months. The playmaker scored only three goals last year and after an excellent beginning to his return to London waned drastically towards the summer.

The most drastic contrast has been Hazard’s. He has provided no threat whatsoever. Last campaign the little magician was the catalyst for the rest of the team, drawing the attention of opponents and allowing those less talented to utilise the space neglected. Costa, who enjoyed the Player of the Year’s service last year, has been starved so far this term and has been feeding on scraps. He still looks as hungry as ever and should rediscover his form.

2. Transfer Policy

Two summers ago Mourinho made two fantastic additions: Fabregas and Costa. They provided the firepower and creativity to kickstart the campaign. However, this year has been a disaster. As City can testify to, winning back-to-back titles is tough and hinges on the recruitment undertaken during the hazy summer months. Without bringing in top quality signings the squad can rest on their laurels and become stagnant.


The Portuguese maverick left it late this year before finally bringing in Pedro. Despite the winger being an excellent signing, unlike like 2013, the Blues’ transfer business was not completed before a ball was kicked, allowing little time for preparation.


It is not just the lack of incoming transfers that should concern Chelsea fans but also those players that are being allowed to leave West London. De Bruyne was and is a huge talent that Manchester City have just broken their transfer record for. Schurrle, Hazard (Thorgan), Lukaku, Bruma and Mata to name just a few other departed players. Whilst many are also wasting away out on loan such as Salah, Cuadrado and Moses. Some of these players would easily strengthen the squad but have been sidelined by Mourinho. Not a good transfer policy.

3. Youth

Chelsea has produced some of the best youth teams in recent memory, winning the FA Youth Cup 4 times in the last 6 years. However, no academy prospects have managed to break through into the first team since John Terry over a decade ago. This is not due to a lack of talent however, rather a lack of opportunity.

Our culture has become one of immediate gratification and demand with football being the epitome of this. Chelsea has been the frontrunner of this shift in the search for instantaneous success. Abramovich (like many owners in fairness) has not allowed any room for the development of young talent.

Chelsea v Manchester City - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg

Mourinho, has at his fingertips, a golden generation. Yet, despite the obvious talent in front of him, he has not decided to integrate many of the cup winning teams. Loftus-Cheek has rightly been given his chance briefly but most of have been sent out on loan. Brown, Piazon, Baker, Solanke and Bamford have all been dispatched (mainly to Vitesse) and are almost definitely not going to be given their chance upon their return.

This has been a huge blight on Chelsea who should be chastised for stockpiling such great (British) talent. This enormous problem for the Blues has also forced them to pay over the odds for average, foreign players.

The Solution

In the immediate future, Mourinho has to make some big decisions. Drop Ivanovic, Hazard and Fabregas. Put the new signing from Germany, Rahman into left back and switch Azpilicueta to the right flank. Loftus-Cheek must be thrown into central midfield whilst Kennedy should be given an opportunity alongside Pedro and Willian.


For the longer term there must be an emphasis on giving youth chances to play. The golden generation of young players can really help freshen up an ageing squad. The use of the “kids” and a more effective transfer policy should see the Blues return to the top.

They face a tough test tonight in the Champions League and Mourinho must use this opportunity to wake a few players up. This team is in need of a spring clean.

Thanks for reading, feel free to like, rate and comment!