Welcome back to After the Whistle! Today I bring you the first part of my English Premier League predictions: the bottom half of the table.
There has to be a team that finishes bottom of the table. In my opinion it has to be Huddersfield. Aaron Mooy and Tom Ince carried this team last year. Aaron Mooy and Tom Ince. They have made no notable signings and lost Elias Kachunga to Ingolstadt. Because he was in loan. This could be the weakest Premier League team in five years.
Top to bottom, the Premier League (bar Huddersfield) is so close, it’s unreal. In 19th place is Watford. In a normal season I would call them safe. New coach Marco Silva has a terrific record in home games, but recent history has taught us teams have to pick up points on the road. Watford have been abysmal away from Vicarage Road, and that will prevent them surviving relegation.
Stoke City‘s stars are jumping ship faster than Newcastle loaned players to Marseille last year. Marko Arnautovic has gone to West Ham. Bruno Martins Indi has gone back to Porto despite Stoke attempting to trigger his loan-to-buy option. Xherdan Shaqiri is the subject of a rumor mill and could be gone in the next month. This team will not survive relegation.
17th place and a shocker indeed. Swansea City have almost no cover for the playmaking of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who appears to be leaving the club. I don’t care how good their defense is—it isn’t that great anyway—if you can’t score goals, you can’t win. The Swans only survive because. . . well, Stoke.
In 16th is Burnley. Sean Dyche has found a nice formation in the 4-4-2 with Sam Vokes recently dropping into a no. 10 role. The likes of Steven Defour in midfield and Tom Heaton in goal make this side easily safe from relegation. If Michael Keane doesn’t—oh wait.
In 15th is Brighton. It’s really a shame that they haven’t been very active in the transfer market, as I think they could surprise people. They have some solid Premier League quality players in David Sto—
They have some solid Premier League players in Anthony Knockaert and new arrival Pascal Groß. This side will not struggle to create chances. Will they finish them? How will the defense do? These are questions that the Seagulls must answer if they wish to establish themselves in the summit of the world’s game.
What to do with West Brom? They finished tenth last season and were very strong at the back, but often lacked ideas in the attacking third. I put them at 14th as teams like Leicester, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle should pass them. Not a bad squad though.
(Un)lucky number 13 for Leicester City. They could sink even lower if Riyad Mahrez leaves. Jamie Vardy doesn’t look like his 2015/16 self, but the Foxes know how to win games. Where’s the Tinkerman when you need him?
Josh King was electric last year for Bournemouth. Scorer of 16 last year on only 1.9 shots per game, he was absolutely clinical in front of goal. He scored 9 goals in his previous three seasons. He has one season wonder written all over him. Bournemouth will not finish top half again unless King carries them like he did last year, and that is not going to happen. Twelfth it is.
What happened to Crystal Palace last year? They were stuck in bottom table form until Wilfried Zaha started playing at a world-class level. The entire team woke up and they cruised to. . . 14th. If Zaha can replicate that form and the team decides to play around him, they could be a top half side. It’s just hard to see them finishing any higher than 11th without some consistency.
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