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11 Sep 20 00:20
Date Joined: 10 Nov 10
| Topic/replies: 28,959 | Blogger: mesmerised's blog
1. Manchester City - 1.78
Laporte was a big miss for City last season, played effectively in 0 of their losses, one he did play in was a dead rubber v Southampton which was in a post Liverpool title win period and the other was in the game v Chelsea that handed them the title -he came off when level and they scored the winner 4 minutes later, they lost the 7 that mattered when he didn’t play, as average as Stones and Otamendi are, they at least look more competent alongside him, though Pep appears to have given up on both. Ake can play centre back, left or right back, he played left back for Watford on loan, occasionally right back, and also left back for Holland, Guardiola has bought him more for his versatility.
Sane turned out not to be that big a loss in terms of goals, they ended up scoring even more , however they missed his assists, 20 in the last 2 seasons, Sterling will continue to fill that wide left attacking role with Ferran Torres probably an understudy to Mahrez who should get more game time, he only played on the right side of attack for Valencia. He’ll need time to learn the pep routines of running in behind the last defender in the box as soon as De Bruyne gets his foot on it ready for a pass, before cutting back in for a pass/tap in, doubt he’ll be a regular to begin with.Silva’s gone and Foden’s apprenticeship is over, he looks good enough to step up but is no like for like replacement.
The Bald headed myth has spunked over a billion and has basically been a failure, 50% of the league titles, 2/4, and 0 Champions League’s, not even a semi, cups par for the course, however City’s team fully fit just too strong for everyone else. And With the makeshift Fernandinho/Otamendi days over, cannot see City succumbing to the same problems at the back, at least not often or as easy. As I type they are trying to get Koulibaly over the line. Such short odds over 38 games makes it feel unbackable but cannot see them not winning the league this time round.
2. Chelsea
Don’t like Fat Frank, think it’s his mouth, those thin wiry lips, privileged personality he carries or maybe the public schoolboy background where he didn’t have to work as hard as everyone else to get into the game thanks to his ex-footballer daddy, so it pains me to have them this high up, however they’ve made some genuine excellent signings which have all the hallmarks of a title winning team, this season will probably the season that tees them for a title push in 2021/22 , though it would not surprise me if they actually pushed City close this year. I’m assuming they sacked their last scout a while ago and replace him/her with someone who actually knows what they’re doing, adding Chilwell, Havertz, Ziyech and Werner to Pulisic, Kante and Kovicic already. Initially thought Pulisic was a dud, but the more I watched of him the more I realised he’s the real deal and potential Player of the year winner. Kai Havertz was 4th on the list of players who contributed towards goals scored last season in Europe’s top 5 leagues (goals/assists), played the false 9 for Leverkusen and drifts all across the midfield but tends to be more on the right, naturally left footed but has two good feet, never missed a penalty in 13 taken, scores with his bonce as well, lightening quick in his head to make up for not being as quick with his feet, though that doesn’t mean he’s slow, ok for a 6ft2 incher, was trying to think of a player who he’s most like but couldn’t, maybe a hybrid of David Silva and Lampard himself, first class touch and technical passing ability, lots of lotfted balls and makes those late runs into the box Fat Frank did, like Silva one of these players who you can’t get near as he’s too cute with his passing, moving and spatial awareness, surprised a bigger club like Arsenal didn’t come in for him.
Timo Werner is deceptively quick and strong with a powerful shot, reminiscent of Carlos Tevez only more agile, I’d be amazed if he doesn’t get at least 20 prem goals this season with all the assists merchants he’s surrounded by and with his finishing ability, definite top score potential. Ziyech is the Moroccan Mahrez and not just because he has a swinging left foot but he runs, dribbles, bobs, weaves, crosses and shoots just like him. Spent too long in the Eredivisie. Ignore they fact he’s come from the Dutch League, he’s Champions League level. Thiago Silva is a good stop gap but they need a long term replacement, Chilwell is the second best left back in the league behind Lord Kieran of Tierney as you’ll all see this season. Cool Biggest question mark is the Keeper who appears to not only be not good enough, but also has an attitude problem, need a replacement, again as I type they’re after Mendy. It made all the difference with Liverpool when they ditched butter fingers Karius.
I make allowances for Chelsea losing 12 games last season as Lampard walked into a transfer ban and another manager’s squad, if he finishes below 3rd with the squad they have assembled he should be sacked. But I doubt they will. Loftus-cheek, Abrahm and maybe even Mount are probable periphery figures from now, last year was a show-trial for them and none of them really impressed bar Mount is spates.  Heard rumours today Kante could leave, would be a mistake even if he wasn’t as good last year, he was playing with inferior teammates.

3. Liverpool
Sixth sense tells me Liverpool are not going to reach the heights they’ve reached in the last two seasons, last time I had this feeling was when Chelsea won the league in 2015 and I said they’d finish 4th the following year, they finished 10th, Liverpool wont finish 10th but wont be at the same level they were last season. With this team it’s more a case of complacency via lack of positional competition and subconscious demotivation rather than the manager losing the plot. Do not know the exact finances but they like everyone else but maybe more so, have lost a lot of money through no gate receipts, no lucrative pre season tours, TV rebates etc and it seems the owner has decided to shut up shop and not spend in the transfer market other than the incoming Thiago, as Hansen used to say, buy when you’re strong, haven’t bought enough last 2 seasons. There is not a single weakness in Liverpool’s first team, other than one, COMPETITION, practically no key player is worried about losing their place because there’s not much behind them on the bench, Firmino is not worried about Origi, Salah can go 10 games without scoring as he did in 18/19 and not lose his place and they know there’s little chance of any more incoming players. Klopp has spoken about bringing more youth through which sounds like transition to me.
Speaking of Salah, he looks like a little lost puppy on the pitch these days, unhappy demeanour, poor body language, no longer the go to man, his goal scoring role in the team has been diminished somewhat ever since Coutinho left with potential goal scoring assists arriving more from T-A-A and Robertson in wide areas rather than through the middle beforehand. Last 3 seasons, from open play, he scored 31/19/16, which equates to 1 goal every 94.3 minutes (17/18), then 1 goal every 171.7 minutes (18/19) and 1 goal every 180.5 minutes (19/20), his goal scoring record is getting worse and I wouldn’t fancy him for top scorer even if he is on pens. Mane last 3 seasons, 1 goal every 227.7 minutes, then 1 goal every 140.2 mins then in the title winning season, 1 goal every 153.05 mins. Apparently they were in for Werner but pulled out, this would have changed the way Liverpool play as Firmino is a great link up player for Salah/Mane and Werner more of a potent scorer, this again points to transition and says Klopp is worried about becoming predicable.
The players will obviously be motivated to win the league but they will naturally not be as motivated as they were first time round, and with a sense of completion / staleness in the air I can’t see them backing up their title win. City did it because they kept spending and had more competition. They underperformed last year massively against expectations but highly unlikely to repeat it.
4. Manchester United
United are a well balanced team that look in better shape now than they have for the last few years, 4th does not necessarily represent failure, they have not made two successive top 4 finishes since Fergie was at the club so don’t see any reason why he would be sacked if he backs up last year’s top 4 with another Champions League spot, owners want money and stability in the current climate, slipping back one spot in this present time is not a disaster. Henderson is a better keeper than De Gea and the fact Ole is not letting him back out on loan says he doesn’t trust his number 1, who should be replaced.
Van de Beek at Ajax did not get involved much in build up play, did next to no defensive work and was in the team purely for goals and creating goal scoring opportunities, don’t actually see how he starts, you’d have to take out Pogba unless you decide to play with no DM, heard Ole mention he’s an excellent squad addition, make of that what you will, I make it means he’ll be a bench player to begin with then eased in or  take PP’s spot when his form drops off which it will.
They’ve not lost a game in the league since Fernandes signed and I don’t think they face a top 6 side away from home til January which helps getting off to a good start, though if stands are still empty it’s by the by whether you’re home or away.
What is actually strange is that United have had the 3rd best defensive record in the league yet hardly seem to press teams when out of possession and under attack, it’s like a throwback to Fergie’s counterattacking/power play teams only with the calibre of players not quite as high. United should be getting top 4 and with their squad, should be making Champions League knockout especially as they’ll be in pot 2 unless they get the nightmare draw with Inter Milan in pot 3, Ole should keep his job, only way he doesn’t if he finishes 5th or lower. Doesn’t even have to win a trophy imo. He will the following season when things get back to normal and the entire squad is finally molde into his own.
5. Arsenal
Lord Mikel of Arteta is a man that knows what he’s doing, you can already see the vast improvements in Arsenal’s defence, their teamwork ethic and some of their results in terms of clean sheets and beating top sides back to back, I forgive some of the end of season games in the league as the beach mentality had set in when 4th place was gone and the cup was the priority, but the new foundations were laid. After slating Pep Mythiola for years for being a lucky manager walking into ready made teams or super rich clubs playing mind numbingly boring, possession based football outspending everyone, and then having to watch him gloat in pressers about how many trophies he’s won, my worst nightmare as an Arsenal fan was him taking over at the Emirates at some point (if the money ever came), my second worst nightmare was a Pep clone, then in came his Number 2, was also a deeply uninspiring choice at the time and seemed to be the cheap option. However, I’m now of the opinion Arsenal are a club at ownership level that means business unlike the previous painful decade of stagnation. When something is not right, changes are made, from managers, to CEO’s to chief scouts to heads of football to players no longer allowed to run down contracts, this is how a club should be run. This is how a club was never run during the late Wenger era. When Arsenal fans started to come to the stadium dressed as red seats and the pocket was felt for the first time, out when Wenger, Ivan the Horrible (CEO) soon followed, what a useless chump he was btw, Stewart Robson’s super agent friend once said he was the worst negotiator he’d ever seen overpaying for average players, now I see he’s got Boban the sack at Milan after Boban also criticised him. Fringe players were put on starting 11 wages and were then difficult to offload. Raul Sanellhi (Head of football) sacked for also producing poor value for money signings and effectively sidelining the scouting/analytics department with an overuse of his ‘trusted network’, also paid 5 mil above the Torreira buy out clause.
I digress, Arteta has quickly identified the area that has needed addressing most for many years, the defence, Saliba and Gabriel should vastly improve Arsenal’s backline, it’s been an area neglected for far too long with Mertesackers’s, Mustafi’s, Chambers’s, Djourou’s always negating whatever good work the attack were doing with their ineptness. Would be disappointed if Maitland Niles left, good versatile player. Xhaka looks reborn but Aour looks set to take his place, Willian and Pepe could play in the same team rather than an and/or situation as Will I an can play centrally. Auba is the most gifted striker in the league. Don’t particularly rate Lacazette and wouldn’t be bothered if he left, when he arrived I was underwhelmed and nothings’ changed, he’s not going to take us to the next level. Current squad and manager good enough now to regain top fight for top 4 but think they’ll just miss out.
6. Tottenham
Couldn’t watch the Tottenham documentary, the clips I did see were too cringy. Doesn’t surprise me Levy thought this up to get a few more quid in the bank after failing to furlough his staff/ponce off the taxpayer.
Mourinho wont be sacked this season, this is only his 1st full season, it;’s next year he’ll be sacked, to be fair to him he was averaging points per game since he took over in November that would have seen him finish top 4 with 68pts, and this with a squad that’s not his, but this is what he does, I expected an upturn in fortunes, his biggest strength is producing results at clubs where the sum ends up being greater than it’s parts, it’s at the top top clubs where he doesn’t seem to fit where the higher quality player doesn’t likes doing donkey work/wants to express themselves more. He’s at the right club.
I imagine Doherty has been brought in not to play with Aurier but to replace him, Aurier was given more freedom to roam on the right flank but he’s delivery/end ball and threat is not as effective as Doherty’s who’s been used to playing wing back at Wolves for a long time and is much more dangerous in the penalty box, until Traore stepped on his toes. Possible they play together but with Aurier definitely at rightback and not the other way round, puts in 1000’s of crosses and about 1 in every 8 will find their target.
End of season, good results, average performances, this is backed up by statistics that play to the Mourinho dull football stereotype, under Pochettinho average number of long balls played to Kane were 3 a game, increased to 5 a game under Jose, other attackers behind Kane received 6 per game, was 3 per game under MoPo. Tottenham fans are like West Ham fans, don’t care if they don’t win anything as long as the STYLE adheres to ‘their’ way, wont last longer than another 18 months or so but should see out this season in 6th place whilst claiming to be rebuilding.
The long break however will have done Kane the world of good, his body was crying out for a break for long time and this should benefit him enormously, think he will get 20+ goals again this season and a definite contender for Top scorer.
7. Everton
Ignore the fact Everton finished 12th and pass it off as the Marco Silva effect. Ancelotti himself was averaging 1.5pts per game which is 57 points over 38 matches, that would have placed them 8th in the table, 1 point behind Wolves in 7th and 2 pts off a European spot in 6th. This is his first full season and he’s still going to be working with some players that are not his, a bit like Klopp who by the time Liverpool were successful, only contained Henderson from the previous era, the rest were all his signings. However with some new signings in the meantime and a full season they could top 60 points, I project around 63pts which should be good enough for 7th. That would be their highest points total in 7 seasons. New signings are a definite upgrade on Sigurdsson and Davies. if Doucoure, Rodriguez and Allan all start which I expect them to then it’s possible he drops Iwobi who’s been seriously poor value for money, and relies more on Digne/Coleman for width with Walcott/Calvert Lewis/Richarlison the front 3, at least Walcott has looked more dangerous/creative that Iwobi. Allan is your typical industrious, run-around defensive midfielder, think Peak Vidal only with dribbling ability, he was dropped by Gattusso however with Ruiz taking his place a few months ago after apparently not working hard enough in training, given the type of character Gattuso is he probably pissed him off with his confrontational style and he threw a strop, Ancelotti has worked with him before and the fact he wants to work with him again is a good sign. I wanted Doucoure at Arsenal for the last couple of years, resemblance to Vieira at Arsenal is striking, very good signing and Everton have got him on the cheap. Rodriguez is another Ancelotti favourite having signed him now on 3 occasions, he had his best times at Madrid under him starting most games and scoring just over once every 2 games, it’s a myth Zidane never rated him, it’s more a case of Zidane never playing with a formation that involved a player of his type, that number 10 playmaker role which is where he suits best, he created many chances when he did play for Bayern or Real. Will do well once he gets used to the pace, and given he’ll be starting every game which he has not been used to for years it’ll make him a happier/even more productive player. Mugs who say he’s overrated and still dining out that 2014 World Cup obviously do not really watch him play.
For those thinking about Ancelotti as a favourite for the sack race, don’t bother, not only are they more set up to do well this season, Moshiri knows full well with a high profile/calibre manager like CA at the helm, it’s the best way to attract star names like Rodriguez, he’d never have signed if he was not in charge. Net spend of over 250 mil in his time also means he means business, even if most of that previously has been wasted.
After addressing their midfield weaknesses, they’ve still yet to move Pickford on who does not look like a top 6 keeper, most days he struggles to look like a top 6 Championship keeper, same problem as Chelsea and until they get rid 7th is probably the ceiling. Keane is now close to being back to his best.
8. Southampton
Not long after their 9-0 battering Hasenhüttl changed to a 4222/442, pressed and tackled a lot more which reflected in the the stats, 2nd in most tackles in the league behind Leicester, topped volume of pressure events and counterpressing tables. It wasn’t until the 13th game of the season did he decide to drop the 3 at the back approach (benching the likes of Vestergaard and Valery), those first 12 games they picked up 8 points from 36 (2W/2D/8L), the next 12 games they almost trebled their return, 23 points from the next 36 (7W,2D,3L) this after he’d offered to resign after the Leicester crushing. 6th on the list in 2020 for results, won 5, drew 3, lost 1 pock lockdown. Outside of the top 4 no team had more shots on goal after a high press situation which is why Ings began to benefit so much more and why he’s a genuine contender for Top scorer given they’ll start this season in a way that’s been successful rather than last season’s first dozen games which wasn’t. First 12 games last year he scored 5, next 12 after the system change he scored 9. Romeu will now get more game time in place of Hojbjerg who’s been sold, this also means more yellow cards for Southampton, last 4 seasons Romeu’s picked up 17 more yellows than Højbjerg, a more accurate breakdown, Højbjerg one yellow every 404 minutes, Romeu one every 262 minutes, looks clumsier but never been sent off, could be a potential liability in the pressing system. Still they are far too good to be bottom 10.
Djenpro is a quality player who’s progress was stunted by injuries/personal problems, will be one of their stars this season and will attract interest from bigger clubs. Nobody scored more goals from open play than Ings and even Che Adams started to look good towards the end, Ward prowse covered more distance than any other player in the league.
In a nutshell, Southampton are a BTEC Liverpool with their high pressing and counterpressing adopting the same tactics but with inferior players, though it still causes even the best sides trouble, when they fall down is when teams park the bus and pressing is no longer relevant, as said above, a fully fit Djenpro should help to negate that somewhat. It’s 50/50 between them and Wolves for 8th, plumped for Southampton.
9. Wolves
Wolves were the 3rd hardest team to beat in the league last season, only Liverpool and United lost fewer games, they no longer have the extra Europa League games to contend with either making their record in 2019/20 even more impressive. In all they played 17 games in Europa including qualifying pre season and all for nothing, playing extra games is all well and good if you’re a super club with the squad to cope with it but Wolves are still a fairly newly promoted club, the two years in recent times Chelsea won the comp they finished in the top 4 at the same time largely thanks having strength in depth. Wolves were never at that point, after every Europa game by Xmas last year after the season started proper, their record in the next premier league game read DDLDWDWDL, though losing Boly for 3 months didn’t help, being out of it this season will do them favour.
Doherty being sold and thus far, not replaced, is a step backwards however his contribution towards Wolves’s goal total had dropped last season to just over 13%, down 6% from the previous season, coinciding with Traore coming into the team, playing more games and playing ahead of him in attack, seems Nuno thinks he wont be missed especially considering he was sold fairly cheaply.
Never seen their new signing, Fabio Silva, play before so haven’t a clue how good he is, can’t say I was blown away watching his youtube clips but you can never really tell on youtube, a bit like Google street view, everything seems different when you get there.
Last two seasons Wolves finished in 7th position, improving by +10 GD and 2 pts on their first season back, however standing standing still is going backwards, they’ve made 1 new significant signing and he’s big question mark, have not replaced Doherty and look very weak on the bench, their go to subs are players like Neto, Vinagre, not what is needed to move up the table though Podence who may step into Doherty’s role in the 352 formation actually looks good, maybe that’s why they sold him but still unproven .This lack of depth is backed up by the fact Wolves made the fewest substitutes in the league bar Burnley. Traore is key but needs to start adding more goals, scores once in every 6/7 starts he’s made for Wolves and Middlesbrough, though contributed 25% towards their goals in 19/20 (goals/assists).
Despite no extra games I still can’t see them improving on 7th position, they haven’t the squad for it, and can actually see them slipping back 2 places to 9th, thanks to the top 6 being a lock, the anticipated improvement of Everton who were in a false position last year and Southampton who are generally the same level.
10. Leicester
Brendan Rodgers has always given off the impression he think he’s the reincarnation of Shankly, though in fairness despite the end of season collapse he has improved them overall from the base point at which he took over and his team fights for him, nobody made more tackles than Leicester all season long. In 2020 however Leicester are 12th on the annual table, 20 points from 18 games. Won 5, drawn 5, lost 8, a combination of injuries and momentum being halted by the break. As of yet, they’ve made no significant signings bar a workshorse from Atalanta and were 3rd on the list of fewest subs made which is in part why they collapsed, the squad was not strong enough when suspensions happened to Soyuncu and injuries to the likes of Pereira and Maddison. Their go to subs are the likes of Choudrey, Praet, Gray and Albrighton.
Not sure if Rodgers will take the Europa League seriously, at one time time when Liverpool were going for the league during his tenure he benched Sterling and Gerrard at the Bernabeu to save them for the next prem game, he’d be a mug to play his first team in this comp if he genuinely thinks top 4 is on the cards which I can’t seel, despite spending over 90% of the season in the top 4 it was a false position, traditional top 4/6 teams were nearly all out of kilter, Chelsea / Arsenal / United now much stronger.
Chilwell is a loss not so much for his goal/assist contribution but he was a big part of their attacks and drew many an opposition full back out of position, will be a success at Chelsea, again not adequate replacement as of yet. Given the squad quality , Leicester’s general level is actually around 7-8thth best so they were punching above their weight for long periods last year.
It’s possible their post lockdown run of DDLLWDLWLLDD could continue into the new season given the quick turnaround, lack of signings, Evans missing first 3 games through suspension, Chilwell gone, Maddison not back from injury/up to match fitness, all making Rodgers a contender for first manager sacked. They were ruthless enough to sack their title winning manager Ranieri, no reason why Rodgers would be treated any differently.
11. Leeds
The club that nobody likes is back. I still remember that Yeboah goal as a kid. When you don’t watch much Championship football, it’s hard to predict where Championship clubs will finish in their first season, though the 6/7 or so of the games I did see of Leeds were fairly impressive, including the game in the Cup v Arsenal at the Emirates, they dominated the first half, particularly the first half an hour and could easily have been 3 up at least, this is exactly how they’ll play in the prem,  it’s all about intensity, constant overloads, work rate, interchanging positions, pressing all over the pitch etc, you can see why Pep calls himself a Bielsa disciple. Though when you watch Bamford you can see why Bielsa bought Rodrigo, Bamford whilst he scored 15 odd goals is not a premier league level striker, sometimes finishes like one, but moves like a Championship level forward, they’ve signed Freiburg’s first choice German centre half Koch, Freiburg finished 8th in the Bundesliga with the 7th best defensive record.
One of the assets Elland Road always had was the fans, louder and more raucous than the average bunch, no fans will be present for the first month or so against Fulham, City, Wolves, don’t think it’ll last much longer than that but if it did it would have an impact on their finishing position.
Hernandez contributed the 2nd most amount towards goals last season (goals/assists) with just over 23%, I can’t imagine at the age of 35 and with as yet, no replacement for him, stepping up to this level again and being as effective as he was in the Championship (previously at Valencia/Swansea) . it is a big ask, Jack Harrison re-signing on loan again from City is a plus, you can tell he’s from that kinda stock, one of the more noticeable players in the game v Arsenal. 3rd highest contributor towards goals, 19.4%. 
I would throw in Bielsa as a candidate to be one of the first managers to be sacked despite this finishing position, his recent record at clubs in short lived, brief spells in France and Spain at 3 different club lasting no more than a couple of years at most, he’s now just gone past 2 years in charge at Leeds, given his style you can imagine the demanding nature of his personality reflecting in his laughably long wind speeches at pressers to simple questions, does rub players up the wrong way after a while, a bit like Mourinho.
12. Sheffield United
Second season syndrome is a myth, in the last 20 years of the promoted Championships sides who survived the first year, 75% of them went onto remain in the league in the second season.
There is the lazy assumption that when teams are unfamiliar with a teams playing style or personnel it takes them until the second year to work them out and thus resulting in the predicted decline of said team, this is nonsense, it takes modern clubs a nanosecond with every club having their own data analysis teams utilising modern technology from 1000 camera angles to heat maps to individual player breakdown stats using Opta, inStats databases etc. A good basic example of this is when Hearts broke Celtic’s unbeaten run, Levine analysed Celtic’s 0-1 CL loss to Anderlecht and decided instead of sitting back, they’d realised they had the front 6 to cover the same 12km distance the 6 Belgians did in midfield and up front, pressed them in a 443 high up the pitch and won 4-0. Point being if teams struggle to break them down last year most will struggle again this year
It’s unlikely Wilder will change the way Sheffield United play which is massively centred around build up play and organisation, they had the fewest shots on goal in 2019/20 (averaging 3 on target per match) not because their front players are not good enough but because their instructed to be more efficient when making attacks. I don’t find them dull to watch either, they are always looking for opportunities but just don’t waste them. Basham and Egan were both in the top 5 for most interceptions made by defenders,
They’ve lost Dean Henderson and brought in a lesser keeper, they gained 15 points in total from Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton, all of those teams are now much improved, meaning I can’t see them picking up more than 5pts this time round fro m them.
13. West Ham
Nobody lost more points from winning positions than West Ham last season however the good signs are they finished the season well post old persons virus shutting down the world, keeping the same formation, 4231, making little personnel changes. There’s little chance this squad will be relegated, especially if they drop Rice back to centre back and play Wilshere or Lanzini alongside Soucek, probably Wilshere, possible Lanzini could take Noble’s place after his public fit at the sale of Diaganga, he’s also 33 now. Diaganga was apparently sold to generate revenue for Moyes who has said he needs cover at centre back, Ogbonna getting on, I didn’t realise how old Antonio was either, 30, thought he was around 25, still not too old so he’ll suffice for the time being.
14. Brighton
Graham Potter’s record in his first season at Brighton is spookily similar to Houghton’s first season.
17/18 - W9, D13, L16, F34, 54, GD40, 15th
19/20 - W9, D14, L15    F39, A54, GD41, 15th
Houghton wasn’t sacked for dropping 4 pts and 2 places the following year, he was sacked because the style of football was bland and he gave little playing time to some of the big money signings the club made over his head. Potter however wont be sacked if floats around near the relegation zone in his second season in large parts thanks to the expansive style of football (changed to 352, using wing backs) he’s incorporated at the club and there’s little point in the ripping up and starting again from the owner’s point of view when this is the style he wants, still in transition. Transition that has seen Duffy lose his place after struggling on the right side of a back 3 before being loaned to Celtic, he had to turn into a more one on one defender and struggled, they must really rate Ben White to turn down 25 mil from Leeds where he played all 46 games, to bring him back from his loan spell and probably drop one of Burn or Webster, he said he wanted to stay at Leeds, his agent needs to go back to PR school. Also signed centre back Veltman from Ajax, he lost his place over time there because of knee injuries, 2 in the last seasons, 7 months out in total, could have signed a crock, before that he was always first choice for them, barely played in 2020, also played in a 433 at Ajax, will need to adapt to a back 3 where Duffy didn’t.
It’s a big worry when two of your 4 top league scorers were central defenders, Maupay is a lot better than what he’s shown and Trossard is a quality player who should get a few more than just 5 leagues this season especially as he only started 22 games. Would not be surprised if a bigger club comes in for him at the end of the season. Andone is back from his Galatasaray loan but I’d prefer Connolly, he should be getting more game time now. Mooy has been sold and Potter doesn't too bothered, said he has plenty of good players in his position, liked Mooy myself.
Looking at all the team stats over the season, the one Brighton tops is the distance covered, 2025 miles or 3260km in new money, this says two things, 1) the players are playing for their manager, 2) Potter knows hard work and pressing all over the pitch is their best hope for survival, though it didn’t work for Norwich and Bournemouth who were 2nd and 3rd on the list, still, probably why they signed Lallana, when Klopp arrived at Liverpool he asked the staff who was the fittest player at the club and they said he was.
They’ve been given a lower league team in league cup and would play another if they qualified, doubt he’ll play his first team which will help them get a better start in the league.
Brighton are definitely not one of the 3 worst teams in the league and should survive.
15. Burnley
Poor old Burnley haven’t a pot to piss in, Dyche has been pestering their chairman to bring in new faces after recently decried not having a budget in 8 years, I predict Burnley to go down most years largely based on this, yet they’re going into their 5th season in the Premier League having averaged 12th as a league finishing position during that time, finishing 16th, 7th, 15th, 10th, this after winning the Championship. In their 4 seasons in the Premier league they’ve averaged a net spend per season of just over 10 million, it’s like going in to a gun fight with a wonky banana. Vast majority of their purchases during their stay in the top flight have been made from Championship clubs making their survival all the more remarkable, not to mention losing any top players they do so happen to possess along the way such as Trippier and Ings.
Hendrick has gone on a freebie to Newcastle, not surprising considering his reduced role/playing time last 3 seasons, though that’s not why he left, offered a better deal at Newcastle after turning down Burnley’s new offer, I’m assuming they wanted him to take a pay cut. Has not been replaced.
No team made fewer substitutions or less changes to their starting 11’s than Burnley and no team bar Man City kept more clean sheets, luckily for them none of the back 5 have gone, though Bardsley and Pieters are getting on in age. Bottom or near bottom of most of the attacking stats such as dribbling and shots on goal, I don’t know what I’m telling you this it hasn’t exactly harmed them but maybe interesting to know. Another interesting stat is they’ve only had 3 red cards in the last 4 league seasons, lower than any other club in the league during the same time. None last season. The boring tag of discipline is deserved.
This season I wont fall into the trap of predicting their relegation in large parts thanks to the retention of all first choice players and more importantly, the manager, pound for pound he must be the best in the league, would like to see what he could do with money. They definitely need signings but but can get by without given the above, only just though, the well is almost dry.
16. Newcastle
When you have a 5 man defence (in most games I saw), you invite teams to attack you and get the kind of stats Newcastle have, 2nd most amount of goals on target conceded, forced to make the most amount of clearances in the league, fewest passes in the last 3rd, in the top 3 for most set pieces goals conceded etc, sitting that deep affects goal output, it’s embarrassing that their league’s top scorer was JonJo Shelvey….with 6. As bad as Joelington looks, he looks even worse when he gets few touches on the ball and hasn’t a chance to sharpen his reflexes in front of goal, Bruce’s system was set up for him to be a failure, not even sure why they bought him given he came from Hoffenheim that play much more of a high energy game, however with Fraser signed probably to play on the opposite wing to Saint-Maximin as the season appeared to finished with wide players and 3 central defenders, and Henderick through the middle probably into take Hayden’s place, as he’s far more creative, Wilson may not suffer the same fate if he is less pragmatic this season, not sure if he will be, but he’s given himself options with these signings. Wilson is a definite upgrade.
Burce is another strong contender for the sack especially considering Ashley has been trying to flog them for years and the last thing he wants is to do so on the cheap as a Championship club. I don’t want them to go down, their fans have suffered enough with that mug, the prices in his last seasons gear sports shop has gone up as well. Think they will struggle again but there are 3 weaker teams, just.
17. West Brom
West Brom gained promotion through attacking football rather than possession football. The second half of the season (23 games+) had them 10th in that league table. From the little I have seen of Diagana and Perieira are real Premier League quality (thought players from the Portuguese league were only allowed to sign for Wolves), West Ham players have gone bat sh1t crazy over Diagana leaving. The problem for both wingers (though Perieira can play centrally) is that they are feeding donkeys, carthorses or strikers up top not really good enough to guarantee survival, Austin, Robson-Kanu, Robinson. They should sign Tammy Abraham on loan. Remember Hegazi being a bit of a fantasy football players favourite for a brief time when previously in the prem, can’t add much more because I’ve seen this team the fewest amount of times other than to say I see it as 50/50 between them and Villa, gone for Villa to go down.
18. Aston Villa - 2/1
Only West Ham lost more points from winning positions last season.
Signed Watkins from Brentford who was second on the goal plus assists chart last season, apart from the play off final ,did not see any other game of him, having watched highlights of his goals it’s not exactly convincing, so many of them were easy headed goals or close range tap in’s against some shady looking defending, that doesn’t meant he can’t do it in the Prem but I’d have thought attempting to bring back Abraham on loan from Chelsea would have been the better option, Wesley and Samatta, both signed after scoring goals in Belgium which is probably a league that straddles bottom half the Championship/top half of League 1 in terms of quality, at least Watkins is starting from a higher level of football, though I doubt against much high quality defences he’ll get 10 all season. Grealish was the top scorer with 8, which says everything.
Although they spunked 130 million and just escaped relegation at least most of those signings were put to use and were first choice rather than being completely wasted, having said that their head of football and sporting directors have recently been sacked which says they were buying too much too soon and were poor value leaving them hamstrung in future windows.
The 8 from 12 points in the last 4 games was down to a tactical change and being more defensive, yet they do not have the players to play that way season long. Brought Cash in for Guilbert who is apparently more attacking, OK.
Think Dean Smith could be the first sacking, squad does not look strong enough, he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing tactically, Grealish looks set to stay but will probably be sold after Villa’s inevitable relegation scrap, they’ll probably put John Terry in charge, number 2’s are usually part of the problem so don’t think that’d change much and wont have enough to survive.
19. Crystal Palace - 9/4
Roy Hodgson’s record at Palace
17/18 -  11th, W11, D11, L16, F45, A55, GD-10, PTS 44
18/19 - 12th, W14, D7, L17, F51, A53, GD-2, PTS 49
19/20 - 14th, W11, D10, L17, F31, A50, GD -19, PTS 43
A sharp downturn in the number of goals scored, 20 is some drop and that is actually the lowest amount of goals scored in a league season in their history, second lowest in the league behind Norwich who finished rock bottom, from late December last year they had a bizarre record of DDDDLLLWWWWLLLLLLLD, during those 4 wins they never conceded a goal albeit playing against near bottom ranked sides, during those 7 straight losses they never even scored in 6 of them though they were difficult fixtures they were expected to lose so maybe par for the course. Still with those kind of runs he’s lucky to keep his job and no wonder he’s second fave to leave his job behind Moyes, though I can see why the board keeps him, he constantly keeps them clear of the relegation zone and in his time has made 30 mil profit for the club, given in his first season he arrived in September and missed the previous window. They can’t be expected to finish higher or even where they’ve been recently.
You have to wonder why no top club wants Zaha, he is clearly too good to be at the club and could easily play in a top 6 side, he’s near the top of stats charts such as fouls won, most dribbles etc but doesn’t score many goals/make many assists because the team is the oldest in the league where practically nobody under 25 made any significant contribution last term, those that did play made the fewest runs/sprints in the league and offered him little support, if he leaves they are screwed and would most likely be relegated, even if they’ve just signed Eze from QPR, 8th in the Championship most goal/assists table. Either way the current squad is still bang average and I think they’ll go down, Van Aarnholt is another player who could play for a top 7/8 club, would suit Leicester. I will give a mention to Ayew who has the energy to match Zaha and would score a fair few more if not for a mediocre supporting cast.
20. Fulham - 2.0 -
Fulham will be lucky to finish bottom, I saw 3-4 games of there’s last season and it was enough to know they are going straight back down, well organised, pass teams to death and a team that is a direct reflection of what Parker was as a player, careful football, possession based, only for the purpose of defending rather than attacking. Only Leeds had a higher % of possession on average in games than Fulham did but they lack the same quality. There will be a complete reverse of this stat this season with Fulham nearer the bottom of the possession table and with little quality and little possession against much superior opposition I can’t see them surviving. Though they do appear to have learned from their last spell where they gained promotion and soon spunked over 100 million, they were relegated. If I had to give them two hopes it would be Mitrovic who they heavily rely on and the fact that in the last 20 years, 10 times play off winners have survived the first season, 10 times they went straight back down, though Fulham were one of those ten 2 years ago. I’ll give them a 3rd hope, there’s no pressure given their expenditure. Project Mitrovic to get around 10/11 goals. One thing that was noticeable with Parkerball was the tedious build up play, lots of quick, intricate sideways midfield passing, careful not to attack too often in case they were counter attacked. The problem with this tactic is that if they go behind which they will in most games, they will struggle to get back into it. I can’t see them winning any more than 7 games all season and Parker is a strong contender to be either first sacked or sacked at some point.

Spoiler: Show

9     WOLVES
11     LEEDS
13     WEST HAM
15     BURNLEY
17     WEST BROM
20     FULHAM

Top scorer
Last seasons stats and best priced current odds for genuine contenders.

Aguero @ 9/1 - 1 goal every 91 mins, (24 games played/18 starts) incl 2 pens
Werner @ 9/1 (in Germany)- 1 goal every 100.3 mins, (34 games played/33 starts)
Ings @22/1 - 1 goal every 127mins, (38 games played/32 starts) incl 1 pen
Vardy @16/1 - 1 goal every 132 mins, (35 games played/34 starts) incl 4 pens
Sterling @14/1 - 1 goal every 132.95, (33 games played/30 starts)
Aubameyang @ 11/2- 1 goal every 142.7 mins, (36 games played/35 starts) incl 2 pens
Kane @ 6/1- 1 goal every 143.9 mins, (29 games played/29 starts) incl 2 pens
Jesus @ 20/1 - 1 goal every 144.7 mins, (34 games played/21 starts)
Salah @11/2 -1 goal every 152 mins, (34 games played)/33 starts) incl 3 pens
Mane @16/1- 1 goal every 153.1 mins, (35 games played/31 starts)
Martial @20/1 - 1 goal every 155.3 mins, (32 games played/31 starts)
Rashford @20/1- 1 goal every 156 mins, (31 games played/31 starts) incl 6 pens
Jimanez @ 33/1- 1 goal every 191.3 mins, (38 games played/37 starts) incl 4 pens
Calvert Lewin @80/1- 1 goal every 202.3 mins, (36 games played/30 starts)
Ricarlison @80/1 - 1 goal every 237 minutes (36 games/36 starts)

Do not like backing Aguero only the because of injury concerns, age and number of starts is never going to be anywhere near 38 even though he has the best goal/games ratio. Pep maybe will rotate him more this season even fully fit as Jesus has done fairly well, they don’t often play with each other and so share game time. He’s only won it once in 10 years.
Jesus good record but too few guaranteed starts.
Vardy - don’t think Leicester will be as good as they were for most of last season.
Jimenez, plays every game but Wolves haven’t added anything different and can’t see him improving on 17 which isn’t enough for top scorer.
Ricarlison not me.
Salah - see Liverpool section.
Mane, looks more comfortable at the moment making runs and scoring moreso than Salah, would be a decent bet at 16/1. Do not know why he’s almost 3x time price, maybe because Salah’s on pens, still doesn’t warrant it, I’d fancy Mane to outscore him this season if they started the same amount of games.
Kane, don’t think he’s a striker that appreciates long balls, Pochettinho’s style worked better for him.
Sterling, the most tempting at City.
Rashford/Martial, playing in a front 3 with Greenwood, sharing goals around, prefer 1 recognised striker in the team.
Aubameyang, rate him as highlyas Henry, think it’s a 3 horse race between him, Ings and Werner.

Top Scorer: Werner @ 9/1
Cannot ignore his goalscoring record even if the Bundesliga is a notch or 2 below the premier league but the supporting cast is the swinger, Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech when fit, think if Werner stays fit he scores at least 25 league goals, Man City/Werner double 25/1 at hills.
Value puntCalvert Lewin @80/1
scored 13 goals last season, given I think Everton will score a fair few more goals this season with better midfield support with Rodriguez and Allan and no superstar striker bought to take his place, along with the fact he plays most games, there are worse options that Calvert Lewin.

First Manager to be Sacked
No chance - Klopp, Guardiola,
Low chance - Lampard, Solskjaer, Mourinho, Arteta, Wilder, Dyche, Ancelotti, Hassenhuttl
Medium chance - Nuno, Potter, Bielsa
High chance - Rodgers, Hodgson, Bruce, Moyes, Dean, Bilic, Parker

Think all the managers who have a low chance is because I’d back the chairman of those clubs to back the manager even after a difficult start.
Hasenhuttl was backed even after losing 0-9. Although I said earler Brighton would back Potter under pressure, they did sack Houghton in his second year so medium is about right. Don’t fancy Wolves or Leeds to be struggling.
Therefore I’d only look at the high chance group followed by first few fixtures, Bilic was my close choice, however on balance…

First manager sacked: Dean Smith @ 11/1

Full predictions
Premier Leauge winners: Man City @ 1.78
Premier League Relegation: Villa @ 2/1, Palace @ 9/4, Fulham @ evens.
Top scorer: Werner @ 9/1
First Manager Sacked: Dean Smith @ 11/1
Without big 6: Everton @ 9/2
PFA winner: Pulisic @ 33/1
PFA young winner: Foden @ 10/1
FA Cup: Man United @ 7/1
League Cup: Wolves @ 25/1
Championship: Middlesbrough @25/1
League 1: Sunderland @ 7/1
League 2: Exeter @ 12/1
Champions League: Bayern Munich @ 9/2
Europa League: Tottenham @ 12/1
Serie A: Inter @evens
La Liga: Barca @ 7/4
Euro 2020: Belgium @7/1
Euro 2020 Top Scorer: Gnabry @ 20/1
Odds on season finishing in one piece: Nay @ evens Laugh

Thought about picking Juve fot the Champions League again but their squad seems too old and Pirlo needs to rebuild it. Hard to see past Bayern again even if only one team has retained the CL since it’s inception it’s in current format. Mourinho will take the Europa seriously.
Cannot beleive England are favourites to win 2020, who is backing that? I’d have Belgium, France and Portugal easily ahead of them.
Backed Holland last year to win the Euro’s, now postponed and Koeman is gone, who had improved them alot, think Belgium are the team to beat. You will no doubt get bigger on Gnabry nearer the time, those are the only odds available. Pulisic by all accounts will be fit to start the season, think he will catch alot of people’s eye this year moreso than last. Foden should be starting most games now and does not look out of place at City from what I’ve seen. Klopp doesn’t take domestic cups seriously. In general. Middlesbrough under Pulis finished just outside the play offs in his last year, a Pulis esque manager in Warnock taking over, the promotion king, will gain promotion any which way but think they coud win it even if they do not have the most talented squad in the league, that’s probably Norwich.

Kind Regards.
Pause Switch to Standard View A dummy's guide to the 2020/21 season
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Report Capt__F September 10, 2020 11:31 PM BST

jack wiltshire
Report sofaking September 11, 2020 5:04 AM BST
Wow dude, you put a lot of work into that. Some level-headed analysis there and not as Arsenal biased as I expected.  I don't see Arse finishing ahead of Spurs though. Crazy
Report PorcupineorPineapple September 11, 2020 8:18 AM BST
My only bet so far is a lay of City. I think the OP is massively overstating Laporte being completely injury free and Ake is hardly the signing to shore up their leaky defence.

The defence is a big warning sign for me. They can outscore the rest of the league, win 5-0 but they are more vulnerable at the back to any of the other top 4 teams.

The other big thing is the lack of leadership. They've lost Kompany and Silva, while Fernandinho is about done and Aguero is on the downturn. They've not come close to replacing those voices and character in the dressing room. De Bruyne is captain by default, much like how Rooney got the Utd gig at the end of his career there.

Lastly - and mostly - it's the Pep factor. His contract is almost up and everyone in Italy believes he's off to Juve next summer. That's gonna cast a long shadow over their season.

For a team that hasn't upgraded their weakest area, are seeing key injury prone players continue to be injury prone and a manager with one eye on his next project then the 1.80 for them to overhaul a team who finished 18 points ahead of them (and probably more if not for the disruption and taking the foot off the peddle post-lockdown) just screams all kinds of wrong to me.

FWIW, I'm also gonna have a go at the Liverpool-Chelsea forecast at 20/1. Think City could blow up a bit this season, with next summer seen as a complete rebuild job while Chelsea have bought well and could be a high scoring Rodgers type team this year.
Report PorcupineorPineapple September 11, 2020 8:19 AM BST

Report rommel September 11, 2020 8:53 AM BST
i think the pep project is hitting the buffers....
Report rommel September 11, 2020 8:55 AM BST
be surprised if fat frank and ole step it up to the levels needed
Report G Hall September 11, 2020 9:49 AM BST
An excellent piece Mesmerised the best I have read, you are very talented.
Report rothko September 11, 2020 10:24 AM BST
some fantastic analysis there Mesmerised

in the old days there was analysis like this all over the forum

great to see this post

I think Sheff Utd might struggle this year
not so much second season syndrome but the keeper is such a key position and Henderson was so key to the team last year
Frank will be sacked by christmas if Chelski aren't challenging for the title - no owner puts that amount of money into the team at a time of falling revenues and is happy with third or fourth
Report ----you-have-to-laugh--- September 11, 2020 12:27 PM BST
nice work mes.

good luck with your bets.
Report 11kv September 11, 2020 4:27 PM BST
Very interesting thanks......
Report olddesperado September 11, 2020 5:42 PM BST
Fantastic write up mes,
Fair play for taking the time.
Report Coachbuster September 11, 2020 6:54 PM BST
a good read mesmerised ...well done
Report stroodle September 11, 2020 7:06 PM BST
Really good read mesmerised, well done for taking the time and your selections, especially your PFA winner, only player I have bought on football index Devil
Report SontaranStratagem September 11, 2020 7:06 PM BST
Very good read thanks mes

This is always my guide
Report Super Hans September 11, 2020 7:15 PM BST
Great write up.
Couldn't agree more with your Fulham summary.

If you can get on the 9/2 Fulham lowest scorers with Sportsbook & Paddy Power is the bet of the season.
Report wolf3011 September 11, 2020 8:24 PM BST
More chance of Elvis being found alive than Southampton finishing above wolves
Report morpteh mackem September 11, 2020 9:42 PM BST
good read mr mesmerised. take a bow sir.
Report If Dolphins Were Monkeys September 11, 2020 10:43 PM BST
Like all good reads the author had me in the 1st chapter, the bald headed myth Happy.

Cap doffed mes, well done.
Report Hank Hill September 12, 2020 7:24 AM BST
Well done mes - a very good read. A flashback to how the BF forum used to be before it was inundated with conspiracy theorists. Did you mean you backed Inter or you have Juve at evens? I also have Werner. For the bottom 3 I took WBA in a treble instead of Villa, though if Grealish were to go... you not post on tennis any more?
Report ffaith September 12, 2020 11:40 AM BST
Excellent anaylsis by Mes sprinkled with a bit of humour.  Mo like.  Dont sleep on West Ham going down.  At the very least they will be good for trading.   Problems have not been addressed:  crappy left backs, leaky defence, left wing.  Oh wait we sold the solution to our left wing for peanuts to a direct rival.  The sale of Diagiana feels such a breach of the social contract between owners/manager and players/fans that something has broken.  We cant kid outselves any longer we are occupied by a hostile enemy.   Its going to get ugly expect guerilla tactics to escalate esp if we get off to a bad start;  and thats just the internal dynamics the optics dont great to outsiders either.  Tarwarski is 27 and could easily double his wages coming to the smoke but does not fancy it
Report Monte Christo September 12, 2020 12:22 PM BST
Very good read mesmerised and as other posters have said a reminder of the input here back in the days.

I'd agree with PoP though and City for me are a lay at that price.

All about opinions and you've certainly given plenty there so nice one.
Report pushkin99 September 12, 2020 12:50 PM BST
Very good and interesting read Mes.

I share your sentiments regarding Liverpool, but Klopp is the ultimate motivator. I am sure Liverpool will be challenging for the title again though City may pip us again for the title as they did in 2018/19. I agree with others that City at 1.8 is very skinny.
Report SontaranStratagem September 12, 2020 2:08 PM BST
Spot on about Fulham it seems already
Report bobweenit September 12, 2020 2:37 PM BST
I was going to have my obligatory dig at messy but after reading a few of his write ups  i wil have to say the one Fulham was perfectly accurate. I will get around to reading ze others. It seems messy knows a lot more about footy than i gave him credit for after his legendary Giroud tip.
Good work messy fair play and very interesting reading your write up on Fulham waa beyond ac urate very impressive stuff.
Report bobweenit September 12, 2020 2:46 PM BST
The fact you compared the way Fulbam play to how Parker was as a player is brilliant, I sort of picked up on most of the stuff myself bit the way he has them playing is like 11 parkers. 5 to 10 metre passes dont give much away or take much risk but aren't exlosive or a threat.

The safety first solid shape wont get them many thrashings but they wont be troubling the onion  bag at all.
Can see a lot 1 and 2 nil defeats this season for them and i am going for a big double on Watford to win the Chumpionship and Fulham to get relegated. Hopefully get 6s still on Monday on the hornets and anything around 4/6 on Fulham is a steal.
Report PorcupineorPineapple September 28, 2020 9:00 AM BST
Still more than happy with my lay of City. No intention of laying off and I think they're in a right mess. Could do with Chelsea starting to get their act together though.
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