Category Archives: Barclay’s Premier League

2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Predictions: Part Six

Genuine Contenders:  Not much separates the top three, but here goes:

3.  Chelsea:  Chelsea is a squad still in transition.  Roberto Di Matteo is an upgrade from his predecessor as manager.  Roman Abramovich will break the bank to purchase the talent needed to win the title and to defend the improbable Champions League triumph.  Chelsea has a deep enough bench, along with City and United, to genuinely rotate their squad.  However, I’m looking for a mental letdown that will lead to a mini-slump.  This will enable City and United to achieve separation from them.

2.  Manchester City:  City will make every effort to defend their title.  They will upgrade where needed.  However, United will be hungrier and this will make the difference.

1.  Manchester United:  They do not have quite the level of talent that the other contending clubs do, but they do have Sir Alex Ferguson.  After a subpar year last year, their manager and the hunger of this squad for the title will pull them to the top.

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2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Predictions: Part Five

Pretenders or Contenders?

4.  Tottenham:  Tottenham gets their own post.  First, because I’m a Tottenham supporter. Second, because I don’t know what to make of their chances for this season.

First, there is the matter of the new manager.  Andre Villas-Boas did make an impression on me with his management of Chelsea last season.  It was not a good impression.  Chelsea was perhaps the most incompetently managed team in the league when AVB was at the helm, which was the first two-thirds of the season.  At the same time, Harry Redknapp was looking like Manager of the Year material.  So, what happens?  Uncle ‘Arry gets the sack and AVB gets hired by a club that finished ahead of the club that he managed.  Truth is stranger than fiction.  However, AVB will bring some swagger to the club which is sorely needed, and will have players better suited to his football philosophy.

To muddy the waters further, I’m also fairly sure that Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, is one of the most astute executives in the business.  So, I have to assume that AVB was thoroughly vetted and that Mr. Levy probed deeply and was satisfied with the “lessons learned” portions of the conversations he had with AVB.

In terms of the squad itself, the team is making all the right moves.  Center back was their top need, so they acquired Jan Vertongen, the Ajax captain who was the player of the year in Eredivisie.  They needed an attacking midfielder and acquired Gylfi Siggurdsson.  It looks as though they will make some kind of arrangement for the services of Emmanuel Adebayor at striker. Gareth Bale signed a new contract.   Certainly, some other moves will be made.

It appears that Luka Modric will be sold, which will be a loss for Spurs, but they should be strong enough in the aggregate to offset Modric’s absence.

Their starting eleven will be competitive with the top three clubs.  However, once injuries and suspensions hit, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs have much deeper benches.

 

2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Predictions: Part Four

Pretenders or Contenders?

7.  Sunderland:  I’m playing a hunch here with little justification.  However, if the Black Cats play as well as they did the middle third of last season, we will see a vast improvement from them.  They received a huge boost when they hired Martin O’Neill as manager, and were competitive with the top teams in the league.  Prior to that, they had underachieved.  Once they had reached solid mid-tableness, they really didn’t have much to play for.  With a little investment, a better start, and more to play for, they will improve.  How much, who knows?

6.  Liverpool:  While the Reds are headed in a positive direction, I don’t foresee an imminent return to Champions League football.  Brendan Rogers as manager is a big improvement over King Kenny.  The Fenway Sports Group appears ready to invest in the club to the level to make them eventual contenders.  I expect Luis Suarez to have a banner year and the return of Lucas Leiva is going to be a shot in the arm.  So, why did I rank them so low?  Quite simply, the competition is improving too.  The changes that they have made should enable them to finish ahead of Everton, but I don’t see them breaking into the top five. 

5.  Arsenal:  Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here.  Arsene Wenger hasn’t finished out of the top four in fifteen years.  Last season, decimated by injuries, transfers, and suspensions, the Gunners still managed a third place finish.  They have attracted new talent.   Oliver Giroud and Lucas Podolski will be good additions to the squad.  However, my belief is that their recent history as the AAA club for bigger clubs will come back to bite them, as Fabergas, Clichy, Nasri, and Toure have left; the latter three for Manchester City.  It appears that Van Persie is on his way out this summer.  Apart from his scoring contributions, the Gunners would have been in a relegation fight last year.  While the new acquisitions will have an impact, they will not be a replacement for RVP.

 

2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Predictions: Part Three

Solid Mid Table Citizens:

13.  Aston Villa:  Villa made a good hire in Paul Lambert.  With Norwich City, he improved the club each year and got more out of his players than most Premier League managers did.  Quite a reversal from the previous regime at Villa under Alex Macleish, who according to Kartik Krishnayor of EPL Talk is “the master of the nil-nil draw.”  Villa underachieved in the first half of last season and were decimated by injuries in the last half and thus were involved in a season-long relegation battle.  I expect that relegation will not be a threat to them this year, but that it will take some new talent and a transformation of the club’s culture over a couple of years to bring them back to the prominence that they have enjoyed in the past.

12.  Norwich City:  While Paul Lambert’s departure for Villa is a setback for the Canaries, they should be able to stay ahead of Lambert’s side if they maintain the talent and tenacity that led them to a successful season last year.

11.  Stoke City:  The Britannia is one of the toughest places for visiting teams in the Premier League.  The Potters play hard, direct, physical football.  The distinct style of Tony Pulis led sides has been difficult for other clubs to break down.  Stoke made a fairly deep run in the Europa League last season and really didn’t have the depth to be able to play well in Europe, in the League, and in Cup competitions.  The subtraction of the Europa League games will enable Stoke to improve on last year’s position.

10.  Fulham:  Another tough, fairly unglamorous side that keeps churning out results.  If Clint Dempsey is moved this summer, a tenth place finish may be difficult to achieve.

9.  Everton:  David Moyes is top shelf.  I don’t know how he does it, but with very limited resources, he fields competitive sides each year and manages to find enough talent to not only keep the club competitive, but exciting.  This is one resourceful team.  My hat is off to them, and I’d really like to see them to better than ninth.  However, I think that a revamped Liverpool will finish ahead of them this year and that Newcastle will continue to be ahead of them as well.

8.  Newcastle:  The emergence of Newcastle as a top club was one of the great stories in the league last year.  They are maintaining just about all of the players that brought them to fifth place last year.  My reservation about the Magpies is that they don’t have the depth to pull off the League schedule, the Europa League competition, and an extended cup run.  Because of this, I expect that their league position may be lower than it was last year.

2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Predictions: Part Two

In the Relegation battle, but will survive:

17.  Reading:  Reading was the class of the Championship last season and they have continued to improve the club over the summer.  I look forward to watching this team.  Of the newly promoted sides, Reading appears to be the best positioned to stay up.

16.  Queen’s Park Rangers:  What a dramatic ending to last season!  Mark Hughes’ side played heroically against Manchester City on the last day.  It appeared that they would be the spoilers for the title race, only to end up escaping relegation by a Bolton loss.  The loss of Joey Barton for an extended period of time can only help this club.  Perhaps they will be able to move him on to another side who wants players with “Premier League experience.”  The signings of Park-Ji Sung, Ryan Nelson, Andy Johnson, and Robert Green appear to be good moves that will solidify the club’s hopes of staying up.

15.  West Bromwich Albion:  Roy Hodgson managed this side well with limited funds and turned them into a solid mid-table team.  He will be a hard act to follow.

14.  Wigan Athletic:  Once again, bigger clubs were unsuccessful in poaching Roberto Martinez, which bodes well for the Latics.  I don’t know how they do it . . . it defies logic . . . but he keeps them up every year against overwhelming odds after dismal starts.  They will play dismally in August and dazzlingly in March.  You can count on it!

2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League Preseason Predictions: Part One

A new season of the Barclay’s Premier League kicksoff in less than thirty days.  An abundance of pundits will be making preseason predictions.  Half-Baked is putting in its two cents, and by doing so, living up to our name.  Certainly, there will be some blockbuster transfers that will take place before the start of the season, and even on deadline day that will impact the title race.  But now’s the time to go out on a limb and prognosticate.

The Relegation Battle.  From here, it looks as though five or six teams could be in for a long relegation battle.  Here are the relegation picks:

20.  Swansea City:  Hate to say it, but I think they are going to have trouble staying up this year.  Brendan Rogers got out while the gettin’ was good.  Gylfi Sigurdson has gone to Spurs, Joe Allen may be on his way to Liverpool . . . From all indications, this is a selling club without a whole lot of margin to sell.

19.  Southampton:  Honestly, I haven’t really followed the Saints’ transfer rumors over the summer.  However, I’m thinking that two of the three newly promoted clubs are going back down.  Last season was an atypical year with all three promoted sides staying up.  My gut feeling is that Southampton hasn’t done enough to improve the club to give them a fighting chance of staying up.

17:  West Ham:  This prediction gives me no pleasure, since I am a long ball fan and love the physical, direct, British-style of football that Sam Allardyce employs.  Perhaps they will be able to get a big, physical striker a la Andy Carroll and they will prosper.  Otherwise, I don’t know where the goals will come from to keep them up.

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