Premier League 2015/16 Season Preview

It’s the most exciting time of the football season, as the friendly matches come to an end and the fixtures that count begin this weekend, with everything possible and fans dreaming that this could be a big year for their club.  It is a fresh slate now, everyone starts on zero points and has the opportunity to…

Urgh, I can’t do this. Maybe for most teams, there can be a sense of enormous optimism surrounding the new season.  But I’m a Tottenham fan and let’s be honest, this year is going to be just as disappointing as all of the others.  It is honestly a coincidence that my last post of 2014/15 was after the North London derby – Spurs did go rapidly downhill after that peak, but I was working on another project that took up all my writing time.  But any hope I might have had in that post (and looking back at it, there was not much, since I correctly predicted they would be back below Arsenal within three days) was evaporated by the end of another poor season, albeit one that we somehow managed to finish fifth on the final day (thanks for thrashing Liverpool, Stoke!).

Pochettino has put all his eggs in one Harry Kane shaped basked
Pochettino has put all his eggs in one Harry Kane shaped basked

There are some major danger signs heading into the new season for Tottenham.  The biggest one is how much we will be once against relying on the form of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen to win matches for us.  Now Kane was brilliant from November to March, but then tailed off in the final two months of the season.  Last year he scored 31 goals in all competitions, including 21 in the Premier League, but what if he is only 80% as effective this campaign? That would still be a very good return (say 16/17 league goals) but his strikes were worth 24 points* to Tottenham last year.  So if Harry Kane is very good, but not outstandingly brilliant this time around, then his goals would be worth around 19 points, a five point drop for Spurs.

*As in if you removed Kane’s goals from the final score, how many points would Spurs have dropped. Against Arsenal, he scored both in a 2-1 win, so his value for the match was 3 points, changing it from a loss to a victory.  Versus Aston Villa he scored 1 in another 2-1 win, so it is a value of 2 points as it took the team from 1 point to 3.

Of course, last year he did not play in the first dozen or so games, so there is a chance he could be worth even more, but that relies on his not getting injured or missing any playing time, but I’d be surprised if that happens given how much he was relied upon last year, then played for England in the European Under-21 Championships, and has been fielded by Mauricio Pochettino for 70+ minutes of pre-season games, including on Tuesday against Real Madrid, less than four days before the Premier League campaign kicks off at Old Trafford.

Why is this happening? Because Tottenham do not have any other options up front.  Last year, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado were often bench-warmers and rarely played after November, but those two enigmatic strikers are likely on their way out before the month is up (to Villa and Villareal respectively) and no replacements appear to be arriving imminently.  I’m sure we will do a last-minute, August 31st 11pm deal again for a player who will probably work out just as well as Grzegorz Rasiak did (yes it’s been 10 years since that transfer, but I’ll never forget that all of us away fans at Fulham had to scream at himto jump to challenge for headers in his final match for the club five months later.  JUMP!)

Alongside the lack of strikers, we could lose our best player of the last two years (Hugo Lloris) before the transfer window slams (the only verb you can use for the occasion) shut, as he is wanted by both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. Also, it appears as though the central midfield will be anchored by a pairing of two out of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason and, defender, Eric Dier.  Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli have all been shipped out, but the most frustrating thing is not that Pochettino is giving the youngster a chance there, I like that, but rather he is not playing the right one.  If Tom Carroll is given a run in the side, his range of passing and cool head in the midfield would mean that people would be clamoring for him to be called up to the England team, that’s how good he looks.  But, for some reason, odds are that by September 1st, he’ll have been shipped out on loan and some Championship side will get to enjoy watching him this season.

The other sign that this could be a very bad season for Tottenham, is how much they relied upon late goals last year.  In 2014/15, they picked up 14 points in the 85th minute or later of matches.  On one side, this shows that Pochettino had them fighting fit until the final whistle was blown, which is great, but it would be statistically unrealistic to expect them to grab so many crucial late goals again.  So, if say they were to pick 7 points in the final five minutes this campaign, alongside Kane being only 80% as effective, then that’s 12 points removed from last year’s total.  In 2014/15, that would have meant finishing 10th in the table and I fully expect that to be around where we end up this year (I’d believe anything from 7th to 14th).

So my first prediction for 2015/16 (which is slightly more than a long-shot than the rest of my prognostications for the division, which I promise I will get to in a minute and leave Spurs alone) is this:

Mauricio Pochettino will be the first Premier League manager to leave his job in 2015/16 – Odds 20/1

I will even predict when it will happen: November 8th, the day we will be thrashed by Arsenal at the Emirates.  By then, Tottenham will have played a dozen games, I project they will have a similar number of points to fixtures and Daniel Levy will once again replace his coach.  My only hope is the replacement will be Jürgen Klinsmann…

And so, onto the other predictions for this season. Continue reading

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Premier League – Spurs Beat Arsenal and Chelsea Move Closer to Title

Tottenham Win The North London Derby

As was the case with their game against Chelsea on New Year’s Day, the early part of Saturday’s North London derby appeared to be a typical Spurs performance – on both occasions I was pleasantly surprised by what followed.

Kane heads in the winner against Arsenal on Saturday
Kane heads in the winner against Arsenal on Saturday

After dominating the early exchanges, Tottenham fell behind after some poor defending to a well-taken Mesut Özil goal and went into half-time 1-0 down on the score sheet, but ahead in manner of performance and time of possession.  It is goals that win games though and, luckily for Mauricio Pochettino, he has a man who has found the knack of getting them. That Harry Kane grew up 15 minutes from White Hart Lane and is a Spurs fan must have made scoring a brace against their biggest rivals – including a fantastically placed header to win the match four minutes from the end – all the more sweeter for the English striker.  To those who remain in the crowd rather than on the pitch, it is great to see a local lad come good for the club.  As the chant goes, Harry Kane, he’s one of of our own.

Any victory over Arsenal will is significant for us Tottenham supporters, but this result had wider implications as well.  It lifted Spurs above the Gunners in the table (albeit probably just for three days, but we will get to that in a minute); moved Pochettino’s men to within a point of the Champions League qualification places; and extended a secretly-not-too-bad home league record against Arsenal in the Premier League era.  Since the rebranding of the top flight in 1992, Spurs have finished below their arch rivals in 20 of the 22 completed seasons.  However, in the 23 North London derbies played at White Hart Lane in that period, Tottenham actually have a positive record, winning eight, drawing ten and losing just five.

Despite all the good feeling that surrounds Spurs right now, there is unlikely to be much time to enjoy it.  On Tuesday, they face a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool, who have thrashed them on each of the last three meetings between the two sides, while the Gunners have a home fixture against bottom club Leicester.  Why could there not have been a break this week, followed by the F.A. Cup this weekend and Tottenham could have basked in the glow of their derby win for a fortnight.  Instead, reality will come crashing back down upon them (us), along with some Daniel Sturridge goals and – somehow – Martin Skrtel will get a brace. Continue reading

Premier League Preview – North London and Merseyside Derbies

North London Derby

Chadli earned Spurs a point at the Emirates earlier this season
Chadli earned Spurs a point at the Emirates earlier this season

A lot has happened in the last week in the Premier League: the transfer window shut, leaving clubs unable to add to their squads before the end of the season; the man who has managed the third most games in the Premier League resigned; and there was a whole round of fixtures last weekend.  However, all of that already seems like a distant memory as tomorrow will be one of the biggest games of Tottenham’s year – home to Arsenal.

The North London derby represents the last, best chance Spurs have of breaking the hoodoo of not having finished higher than their arch rivals for the last two decades, as a victory would lift them back above the Gunners in the table.   However, the task looks particularly daunting right now, since Arsenal are in their best form of the campaign, have won their last three league matches without conceding a goal, and with Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott both returning from long-term injuries, they have a plethora of attacking talent at their disposal.  In the Guardian this week, they did a selection of combined XIs from the rivalry games that are taking place this weekend (also Liverpool/Everton and Atletico/Real Madrid) and somehow the Spurs/Arsenal team comprised six Tottenham players – a fact that I think will be completely laughable by the end of the lunchtime fixture on Saturday.

To be fair, I feared that Spurs would get embarrassed by Chelsea on New Year’s Day and they ended up winning that match 5-3, but the way they have been playing recently – although improved – does not fill me with any confidence heading into the North London Derby.  Outside of Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane – both of whom have been in excellent form – there are no outfield players who can be replied upon on a weekly basis.  Jan Vertonghen and Federico Fazio have formed a reasonable partnership in the center of defense over the last couple of months, but both are liable to make critical mistakes.  In the center of midfield, Mousa Dembélé has returned to somewhere near the player he was when he first joined the club, but unless he is joined by Benjamin Stambouli – rather than Ryan Mason or Nabil Bentaleb – there is no dominance for Tottenham in the middle of the park.  The return of Nacer Chadli following a three-week absence for a family issue is actually a huge plus, apart from Eriksen and Kane, he is the only player who has anything like a knack of finding the back of the net.

In comparison, the Arsenal squad is full of players who love to get a goal against Spurs: Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.  Throw in Ozil’s ability to completely tear us apart through the midfield and this could be a really messy game for us Tottenham supporters.  I was sitting in the Paxton Road end for the 5-4 defeat back in 2004 – probably the worst game I’ve ever witnessed in person, perhaps combined with the 3-4 F.A. Cup replay loss to Manchester City – my fear is that this time, the Gunners might rack up a similar number, but we will be lucky to score even once.

So why am I looking forward to a fixture in which I think my team will be heavily beaten? Because there is always the hope that maybe we will win and maybe this time things will be different. But as any other fans of The Shawshank Redemption can tell you: hope is good thing, maybe the best of things (Dufresne); or, hope is dangerous, hope can drive a man insane (Red).  Continue reading

Premier League Returns With Chelsea vs Man City

After a two-week gap for the F.A. Cup and League Cup to take center stage, the Premier League returns to action this weekend, with the top two teams facing each other on Saturday.  Before looking at that Chelsea vs Manchester City game, here’s a recap of what happened in the cup tournaments over the last fortnight.

F.A. Cup 4th Round

Chelsea 2 Bradford 4 - Football, bloody hell!
Chelsea 2 Bradford 4 – Football, bloody hell!

Last weekend was possibly the biggest collection of upsets in a single round of the F.A. Cup, none were bigger than the one that occurred at Stamford Bridge.  Early on, it seemed as though League One’s Bradford City were going to take a hiding, as they fell behind 2-0 to Chelsea inside half an hour.  However, the Bantams pulled one back before half time, then scored three more after the break to record an astonishing 4-2 victory over the current leaders of the Premier League.  It was only the second time in either of Jose Mourinho’s spells in charge of the Blues that he has lost at home inside 90 minutes to another club from the English leagues – the other being Sunderland last season.

Manchester City exited the tournament at the exact same time, as they also lost at home to lower division opponents, as Middlesbrough triumphed 2-0 at the Etihad.  The reigning champions had returned from a trip to the United Arab Emirates less than 24 hours before the match kicked off (in part due to a delayed flight, but mostly because of ridiculous planning to fit in lucrative friendlies in their owner’s home Emirate, Abu Dhabi).  However, City still played pretty much their best players, so nothing should be taken away from Boro’s achievement.

In comparison to those two results, Manchester United’s 0-0 draw away at League Two’s Cambridge seems like a positive scoreline, especially since they now have a home replay to try to progress to the fifth round of a wide-open competition.  Only United and Arsenal – who overcame a resilient Brighton comeback to win 3-2 –  remain in the F.A. Cup out of the current top 6 in the Premier League, since Southampton were beaten 3-2 at home by Palace; while Leicester scored twice in the final 10 minutes to eliminate Spurs 2-1 at White Hart Lane.  Bolton held Liverpool to a draw at Anfield; Blackburn knocked out Swansea 3-1; and the match between Sunderland and Fulham at the Stadium of Light ended goalless. Continue reading

Premier League Recap and Preview: Defoe Returns to the Lane and City vs Arsenal

Defoe Joins Sunderland

Jermain Defoe, he's a…Spurs hero
Jermain Defoe, he’s a…Spurs hero

Over the period of time I was a season ticket holder at Tottenham (2002/3 – 2006/7) my favorite player for the club was Jermain Defoe*.  From the moment he first joined Spurs in January of 2004, I rated him as the best available goalscorer we had, right up until the point he was sold to Toronto FC a year ago.  This weekend, he will return to White Hart Lane, but will be pulling on the red and white strip of Sunderland, as he signed for the Black Cats during the week.

*Okay he was my joint favorite for the two seasons that Edgar Davids was at the Lane, but the Dutch midfielder was something special and it was amazing  to see him come to Tottenham

Some have questioned the logic of the North East club spending big money on both a fee and Defoe’s wages, but regardless of his age or lack of recent form, I was still hoping the transfer would not go through in time for him to make his debut against Tottenham.  This is beyond just the fact that the diminutive striker has an excellent record of scoring on his first appearance for a club, having done so with West Ham, Bournemouth, Spurs, Portsmouth and Toronto FC.  Defoe is an out-and-out goalscorer and someone who is deadly from anywhere around the edge of the box if he has even half a yard of space.

Any confidence I had in anticipation of this game (which as always, is limited with Spurs) was completely annihilated by the news that Defoe would be playing for Sunderland – he will score and chances are, he will get the winner.  One other guarantee – the entire stadium will applaud him and chant his name on Saturday and many Spurs supporters, like me, will be wishing he had on the white shirt of Tottenham…especially when Roberto Soldado is warming up on the sidelines.

Last Week’s Action

Tomorrow’s encounter is crucial for Spurs and Sunderland, as they both suffered narrow defeats last weekend.  The Black Cats were beaten 1-0 at home by Liverpool, who struck early through Lazar Markovic and held on against 10 men following Liam Bridcutt’s second-half dismissal.  Tottenham lost 2-1 away at Crystal Palace, a result that had many pundits pointing to “Spurs being Spurs”, mocking the way that they can beat Chelsea in one game, then lose to the Eagles in the next.  However, it was not exactly a poor performance and the defeat was in part due to referee Anthony Taylor, who awarded Palace a spot-kick from which they equalized, even though Benjamin Stambouli played the ball; then denied a penalty at the other end when Harry Kane was brought down in the box.  Perhaps Spurs should have been better at taking their chances, but there was a huge slice of ill-fortune to their defeat.

Southampton registered their first win at Old Trafford since 1988 and moved into third place in the table in the process, beating the Red Devils 1-0 through a Dusan Tadic goal.  It was a strange loss for Manchester United, who have an array of attacking talent, combined with a poor defensive unit, but failed to muster a single shot on target during this match.  Chelsea avenged their loss earlier this season to Newcastle by beating them 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, a result that moved them two points clear of Manchester City in the title race, after the reigning champions were held to a draw at Goodison Park by Everton. Continue reading

Premier League Returns

After the break for the F.A Cup action last weekend, Premier League football returns this weekend with the top two teams, Chelsea and Manchester City, currently separated only on alphabetical order.  Here’s a rundown of the fixtures, which are the reverse of the games that were played in the first weekend in December.

Keeper Simon Mignolet will be hoping to improve his form against his old club
Keeper Simon Mignolet will be hoping to improve his form against his old club

Sunderland vs Liverpool

Last time: Liverpool 0-0 Sunderland

Liverpool won their rematch with AFC Wimbledon in the F.A. Cup on Monday night, but they will be eager to pick up three points in the league to remain in any contention for a top four spot, as they are currently seven behind Southampton.  Sunderland’s only victory in their last ten league matches was against Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, but they are still three points above the relegation zone.  The Black Cats last won a Premier League game at home on October 4th, so they will be very eager to show some form in front of their own supporters.  Prediction: Draw

Burnley vs QPR

Last time: QPR 2-0 Burnley

Queens Park Rangers have lost all nine of their away league matches this season and if they cannot get a result against one of the bottom of the sides, they might go the whole season without picking up any points on the road.  Burnley got two credible draws away at Manchester City and Newcastle in their last two league games and a victory over QPR would lift them out of the bottom three.  Prediction: Burnley win

Chelsea vs Newcastle

Last time: Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea

Newcastle inflicted Chelsea’s first defeat of the season last time they met, but this time they will be without Papiss Cissé and Chieck Tiote, both of whom are on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.  Also, the Magpies still do not have a manager after Alan Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace.  Chelsea have a perfect record at home in the league and will be eager to get back on track after their 5-3 defeat to Tottenham on New Year’s Day. Prediction: Chelsea win Continue reading

Tottenham Beat Chelsea and Premier League Festive Round Up

The run of thirty Premier League games inside a week came to an end on New Year’s Day, with only one team failing to pick up any points during that period.  With attention switching to the F.A. Cup third round this weekend, here’s a run down of how each club performed between Christmas and New Year, in order of how many points they gained and starting at the most obvious of places.

7 Points

Here comes the story of the Harry Kane
Here comes the story of the Harry Kane

Tottenham – To get the formalities out of the way, Spurs were somewhat lucky to pick up all three points on Boxing Day, as they won 2-1 at the King Power Stadium to consign Leicester to another defeat; then two days later, Tottenham held Manchester United goalless at White Hart Lane, despite a barrage of shots from the visitors in the opening forty-five minutes.

Of course the game I really want to talk about was the New Year’s Day contest against Chelsea.  Before this match, Spurs had only beaten the Blues in the Premier League three times, yet in their last eight home fixtures against them, they had also been beaten just once.  Early on, it looked as though the game would follow a familiar script – Tottenham had the better of the opening 15 minutes, but then fell behind to a Diego Costa goal, following a mazy run and shot by Eden Hazard that came back off the post.  However, while I saw a thrashing coming, Spurs instead fought back thanks to a brilliant individual goal by Harry Kane, then took the lead when Christian Eriksen fed Nacer Chadli, whose shot hit the woodwork and came back to Danny Rose, who finished first time.   Just before the interval, Harry Kane was fouled by Gary Cahill in the area to win a penalty that was converted by Andros Townsend, giving Mauricio Pochettino’s men an unexpected 3-1 half-time lead.

Knowing that a comeback was still very much on the cards, I believed that Tottenham needed a fourth goal and that came in the 52nd minute, as Kane linked up well with Chadli, turned Matic beautifully and finished with a well placed (if deflected) shot.   Nevertheless, it would not be a Spurs game without some anxiety and that came when Hazard made it 4-2 just after the hour mark.  Tottenham were not to be denied and Chadli settled the nerves once again with another deflected effort.  Not even a late John Terry goal could dampen the mood of the home crowd, who celebrated seeing their side record a rare victory over one of their biggest rivals and move up to fifth in the table, two points outside of the top four places. Continue reading

Premier League Bumper Festive Edition

Toure scores City's third with what can only be described as a "thunder bastard" strike
Toure scores City’s third with what can only be described as a “thunder bastard” strike

In the seven days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, thirty games will be played in the English Premier League, as clubs face three matches apiece over the course of a week that could shape the title race, the contenders for the top four places, and the relegation battle.  Last weekend in the final round of fixtures before the madness begins, all of the top five teams won, while the bottom four were all beaten.

In the early kick off on Saturday, Crystal Palace could consider themselves somewhat unlucky to have lost 3-0 at the Etihad against Manchester City.  The reigning champions did not break the deadlock until after half-time, then David Silva struck twice in 12 minutes to open up a 2-0 lead for City.  However, James McArthur should have reduced the deficit to a single goal, but he was erroneously ruled offside and his headed goal was chalked off by the officials.  With any hopes of a comeback gone with that decision, YaYa Toure ensured his team victory with an absolutely stunning left foot finish late on.  The three points temporarily pulled City level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table, until the Blues played on Monday night against Stoke, whom they beat 2-0 through goals from John Terry and Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal were denied a victory at Anfield due to a late, late header from Martin Skrtel, who made it 2-0 in the eighth minute of injury time.  It had been treatment to Skrtel for a gash on his head that caused the long delay in play, but the dropping of two points can be more directly attributed to poor defending from the Gunners, who completely failed to pick up Liverpool’s biggest aerial threat at the set play.  That draw left Arsenal in sixth place, four points behind West Ham, who beat Leicester 2-0 last weekend in East London.  Behind the Gunners only on goal difference sits Tottenham, who were pegged back by Burnley after Harry Kane had nodded home the opener, but a cracking strike from Erik Lamela – his first Premiership goal – gave Mauricio Pochettino’s men three much-needed points.

Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers continued to improve their home form with a 3-2 victory over fellow strugglers West Brom, a result that lifted them out of the relegation zone despite the fact that they have lost all eight matches they have played away from Loftus Road this season.  In the Tyne-Wear derby, Sunderland beat Newcastle for the fourth consecutive time, striking late through Adam Johnson, who grew up as a fan of the Magpies.  Manchester United were held to a draw away at Aston Villa, with the home side forced to play the final half an hour with only 10 men, after Gabriel Agbonlahor was sent off, a ridiculous decision that was later overturned upon appeal.  Southampton finally got a win, defeating Everton 3-0 at St. Mary’s, while Swansea piled more misery on Hull, winning 1-0 at the KC Stadium to leave Steve Bruce’s men second from bottom in the table. Continue reading

Premier League Festive Season Begins

How de Grinch stole points from Liverpool
How de Grinch stole points from Liverpool

Anybody who advocates a winter break in the Premier League is basically trying to ruin the best time of year to be a fan of English football. Between now and January 6th, there are four rounds of league fixtures, plus the third round of the F.A. Cup.  It is the time of year where maybe you do not win the title – that comes between March and May, which Sir Alex Ferguson so eloquently referred to as “squeaky-bum time” – but you can definitely lose it.  Seasons can be made by hitting a good run of form: teams can propel themselves into a top four race; move away from relegation trouble; or, conversely with a string of poor results, ambitions can be brought down before the Christmas decorations.

Since it is the season, the roundup of last week’s games will be brought to you in the style of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Every team across England liked playing Tottenham a lot.

But the Swans, who came from South Wales, did not.

Swansea hated playing Spurs, they lost every season,

It didn’t matter how well they played, it seemed to forgo reason.

It could be perhaps that they missed too many chances,

Or spent too much time pinging around passes.

But I think the most likely reason of all,

Is that they did not stop Eriksen shooting the ball.

But whatever the reason, the passes or misses,

They lost two to one, to fulfill Pochettino’s wishes.

 

While over at Old Trafford, Rodgers had a sour frown

As he watched United send his team three nothing down.

And Rodgers knew every Red in the stands up above,

Unlike last year, were showing him no love.

“We made poor mistakes” he said in a post-match chat

“We won’t get anywhere playing like that.”

Rodgers snarled as he looked at the Premier League table

And realized his side was unlikely to be able,

To finish fourth, the thought made him laugh.

For Liverpool were sitting out of the top half.

 

At Stoke, a weak earlier after a loss,

Arsenal fans expressed feelings, without any gloss.

And they did something Wenger liked least of all,

They booed him at the station, for allowing a fall,

Of his team out of reach of the Champions League places,

Which made Gunners supporters show him their angry faces.

But on Saturday he made them stand up and shout,

As Arsenal beat Newcastle, without any doubt.

They sang! And they sang!

And they SANG! SANG! SANG! SANG!

And the more Wenger thought of the Arsenal fans happy-sing

The more he thought “I must stop this whole thing.

For if they are cheering and standing to clap,

How will they eat their fennel and quinoa wrap?

Why we beat them four-one, they should be more quiet,

I don’t want them ending their rich Emirates diet.”

 

At the Bridge, Jose got an awful idea,

Mourinho go a wonderful awful idea.

“I know just what to do” the boss laughed in his throat

“I’ll claim we don’t cheat, that will rock their boat”

And he chuckled and smiled as Cahill took a dive

That should have left Chelsea with only ten on their side.

“All we need is two goals, from Eden and Costa,

Then Bruce will be mad, as his side will have lost…ah!”

 

While over at Leicester, a Blues legend of yore

Popped up to give Man City a crucial score.

Frank Lampard’s strike was the match’s only goal,

Leaving City in second, and the Foxes in a hole.

Then the Eagles and Potters, Hammers and Black Cats

All scored a goal each, for two draws in two matches.

 

Now don’t asked what happened, to old Aston Villa,

Their 1-0 defeat at West Brom was hardly a thriller,

While the Saints also lost by that very same score,

That they were playing lowly Burnley, made it extra sore.

And Queens Park Rangers are no good away,

For which Everton made them pay.

Eight matches away from Loftus Road of which they’ve won none,

A trend that was continued, as the Toffees triumphed three-one.

 

This weekend, the most exciting looking fixtures are both being played on Sunday, as there is the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland; followed by Arsenal’s trip to the north-west to face Liverpool, a match that ended 5-1 last season.  On Saturday, the action starts with Manchester City hosting Crystal Palace; then Manchester United travel to Aston Villa, a fixture they have not lost since 1995; Southampton try to return to winning ways as they play Everton at St. Mary’s; QPR will need to continue their impressive home form as they take on West Brom; and Swansea are at Hull.  Also that day, Tottenham and West Ham both have home games against struggling opponents, as they host Burnley and Leicester respectively; while the league leaders Chelsea do not play until Monday, when they are away at Stoke.

Predictions

Last week’s jinx special, 3-7 (so 7 fixtures went they way I had hoped, I’m doing that again!); Season, 67-93

Home teams listed first, all predictions opposite outcome of what I want, draws mean I do not care.

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace – Away win

Aston Villa vs Manchester United – Away win

Hull vs Swansea – Away win

QPR vs West Brom – Draw

Southampton vs Everton – Home win (I would like a draw)

Tottenham vs Burnley – Away win

West Ham vs Leicester – Home win

Newcastle vs Sunderland – Home win

Liverpool vs Arsenal – Away win

Stoke vs Chelsea – Away win

 

Premier League Roundup and Preview: Man United vs Liverpool

When things go badly for Tottenham, they completely implode and the entire club takes an entire step backwards.  When things go badly for Chelsea, they still manage to go well. At least that is how it feels.  Take the 2011/12 season, when the Blues ended up finishing sixth in the Premier League and below Spurs for the first time in more than a decade.  Although they had finished in the top four, Tottenham were then denied a place in the Champions League when Chelsea overcame Bayern Münich in the final of that year’s competition and took the berth for the following campaign themselves.  Even a down year  in the league finished off as being one of Chelsea’s most successful ever seasons.

This trend continued last weekend: for the first time this season, in any competition, Chelsea lost a game.  They were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle, who played with a fervor and vigor that absolutely meant they deserved the win.  The lead for Jose Mourinho’s side at the top of the table was cut to just three points thanks to Manchester City’s 1-0 home victory over Everton, yet by the end of the day it still looked as though the Blues were closer to the title than they had been before those adverse results.  That was because City’s success came at a very high price, as their talisman Sergio Aguero suffered a ligament injury in the match that will rule him out of action for at least a month – the worst possible timing given the number of fixtures that take place of the festive period.  Chelsea may not be invincible, but the Premier League title does look inevitable for them this season. Continue reading