13 August, 2010

2010-11 EPL Predictions

El Nino "The Godfather"'s
1. Chelsea
2. Liverpool
3. Manchester United
4. Arsenal
5. Manchester City
6. Tottenham
7. Everton
8. Fulham
9. Wigan Athletic
10.Bolton Wanderers
11.Blackburn Rovers
12.Aston Villa
14.Newcastle (P)
15.Birmingham City
16.West Ham United
17.Wolverhampton Wanderers
18.Stoke City
19.Blackpool (P)
20.West Bromwich Albion (P)
"The Professor’s"
1. Manchester United
2. Arsenal
3. Chelsea
4. Liverpool
5. Manchester City
6. Everton
7. Fulham
8. Tottenham
9. Sunderland
10.Aston Villa
11.Stoke City
12.West Ham United
13.Blackburn Rovers
14.Newcastle (P)
15.Birmingham City
16.Wigan Athletic
17.Bolton Wanderers
18.West Bromwich Albion (P)
19.Wolverhampton Wanderers
20.Blackpool (P)
"Mr. X’s"
1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Manchester City
4. Arsenal
5. Tottenham Hotspur
6. Liverpool
7. Everton
8. Sunderland
9. Birmingham City
11.Blackburn Rovers
12.Wigan Athletic
13.Newcastle (P)
14.Aston Villa
15.West Ham United
16.Bolton Wanderers
17.Stoke City
18.Woverhampton Wanderers
19.Blackpool (P)
20.West Bromwich Albion (P)

-Newly promoted teams are noted with a (P)
-These are based on signings as of 8/10/10

Player to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Jermane Beckford, Everton.
The kid put away 31 goals in 52 in all appearances for Leeds last year, including 1 against ManU and 2 against Tottenham. In an interesting side note, Beckford has yet to be called up for the England team and qualifies for Jamaica, Grenada and England due to heritage. Everton is a strong squad and expect them to get the ball to Beckford often this year. (Runner-up: Didier Drogba, Chelsea. He’ll miss the first few games for Chelsea this season while recovering from surgery, but if he fails to regain the form he had last season, expect Chelsea to tumble from the top 3 spots as a tight race between the top 6 teams this season will boil down to who screws up first).

"The Professor" - Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez , Manchester United.
The reason I mention the nickname “Chicharito” is because that is the name that will appear on the back of Hernandez’s #14 jersey. You have all seen him play for Mexico internationally, where he has scored more than a goal every two games at the senior level (9 goals in 16 appearances with El Tri). An interesting fact: FIFA's statistics show Hernandez was the fastest player in the World Cup, with a top speed of 32.15 km/h. (Runner-up: John Obi Mikel, Chelsea. Chelsea let Michael Ballack go back to Germany this off-season. Why do you think they did that? Watch John Obi Mikel - who has stated that he now wishes to be known as Mikel John Obi - step into Ballack’s midfield role seamlessly and lead the team to victory.)

"The Godfather" - Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal.
Assuming he stays in England, and I believe that he will this year, the Spaniard will be keen to prove his worth amid all the transfer hoopla and lack of playing time during the World Cup. He holds the key to Arsenal’s success and will be needed to free up the likes of Arshavin. Like a baseball player in his contract year, expect an elevation in his scoring and overall numbers. Will try to establish himself as one of the top players in world worthy of a huge Barcelona contract in the near future. (Runner-up: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, 13 goals last year and looking for a potential transfer. Considered by some an underachiever, I see him as the primary option on a Villa team that will be unpredictable this year. He will need to produce right away if he is expecting a major contract in the near future. Expect him to expand on his goal scoring prowess to position himself for a transfer to a team such as Liverpool. Just need to make sure Villa holds it together enough to give him scoring chances).

Golden Boot Award:
“Mr. X”-Javier Hernandez, Manchester United.
Originally, it was going to be Tevez, but he's been turning pouty as of late, and with wonder boy of the hour, Chicharito, on fire, I'm switching to the Man U striker to light it up. Aside from all the other comments by our writers here, he seems to be scoring at will lately, and as seen in the Community Shield, he scores even when he misses (he put a ball off his own face and in). (Runner-up: Darren Bent, Sunderland. This guy is greedy in front of the goal. He put in 24 in 38 games last season after a move from Tottenham and with no other real proven game in and out goal-scorer on the squad, Sunderland will rely on him to keep the scoring up).

"The Professor" - Wayne Rooney, Manchester United.
Wayne had 34 goals in 44 appearances for the Red Devils last year. Coupled with the fact that he completely disappeared at the World Cup, and you have someone itching to prove himself to the nay-sayers. I expect him to maintain his torrid run of goal scoring this season. (Runner-up: Fernando Torres, Liverpool).

"The Godfather" - Didier Drogba, Chelsea.
The reigning leading scorer in the premiership will have to be dethroned before I give his title away. Well poised for another run. Remember, boys and girls, he is recovering from a broken elbow, not a torn ACL or fractured ankle. (Runner-up: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United)

Most Improved Team:
"Mr. X"- Man City.
Adding Boatang, Silva, Kolarov and Toure and possibly Balotelli to an already pimp squad makes for a scary lineup. Sure they are throwing around money like an NBA #1 draft pick rookie at a strip club, but right now, they can afford to and until they can solidify a CL place, expect them to keep bringing in the talent. There is always the problem of throwing an all-star lineup together from scratch each year, but if anyone can handle it, it’s Mancini. (Runner-up: West Ham. Considering it’s working with a shoestring budget, the pick up of Piquionne, Barrera and Hitzlsperger were well done, but ultimately, their team isn’t going to be world beaters until they can get their finances in order).

"The Professor"- Manchester City.
Well, without repeating much of what was said above about City, on paper, they have an all-star lineup, including a great coach. Whether they can blend that all to produce winning on the field will be another story.

"The Godfather" - Man City.
I agree with Mr. X for all the same reasons.
I also concur with his assessment of West Ham United. While by no means anywhere near a top-of-the-table finish, they have made enough moves to keep themselves out of the usual fight to stave off relegation.

Most Over-rated Team:
"Mr. X"- Liverpool.
Yeah, I said it. Call me a hater-Spurs fan. This team has admittedly put nearly everyone on the chopping block. They have a new coach (who’ll do well, given some time), but that usually means a wholesale clearance of players that do not fit his mold of a team. Players usually step up to be sold or just crumble under the pressure. Add to that the fact that Hodgson has admitted that they are going to possibly forgo playing well in Europa League to solidify the team and you are just asking for trouble. There is also the matter of the ~£473 million in debt that the team is carrying and if they go anywhere near a winding up order, this team will flounder. *Of note is the Syrian ex-Unicef worker Kirdi and company that are in final negotiations to purchase Liverpool. If this is truly resolved before Sept. 1, they may flounder to start, but should have a stronger 2nd half of the season. (Runner-up: Spurs. It pains me to say it, but they need 2-3 more players for the starting 11, they have some significant deadweight on the bench eating up salary and they are under the pressure of fans wanting them to maintain their surprising 4th place position in the EPL from last season as well as doing well with their first CL berth since the 60s. If Levy can pull some strings to bring in some solid producers, even if it’s from off the bench, then I’ll be happily proven wrong).

"The Professor" - Aston Villa.
Anyone who thinks Aston Villa can replicate or even improve upon last season's sixth place finish is delusional. Their competition has improved immensely in the off season, while Villa is counting on James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor repeating their surprise success last year. We know Emile Heskey's best years are behind him and will not remain a starter much longer. However, bright spots include the continuously improving midfielder Ashley Young and ageless goalkeeper Brad Friedel, so I may eat my words later this year. You know what? Scratch that. They lost their coach, they're selling half their squad. They’re toast. (Runner-up: Tottenham).

"The Godfather"- Manchester United.
No real improvement and the failure of
Anderson mean that the pressure lies squarely on the shoulders of Berbatov and Rooney. While I have no doubt that this team has top 3 potential, an aging Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are no longer enough to make the Red Devils prohibitive favorites this year. Note: written before I saw Chicharito Hernandez play in preseason. If he can take over for Berbatov, this team is looking dangerous in Europe. (Runner-up: Sunderland. Nothing exciting here except solid back line and defensive minded midfield play. Lack the firepower for a repeat finish in the top half of the table, and Darren Bent is not going to help find their passage to European cup play anytime soon).

Team to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Newcastle United.
If it isn’t for the self-destructive owner, Mike Ashley, then watch because this team because of the self-destructive Joey Barton (he who has kicked players, put out cigarettes on teammates and been to jail for attacking fans). This team is either going to over-produce or just simply implode. Add to the mix that they picked up Dan Gosling in the off-season due to a contract snafu at Everton and you have the makings of a possible mid table team. Not bad for having been in the Championships last year. (Runner-up: Blackpool. I’m just digging their manager Holloway. I’ll be recording Sky Sports just to hear his post game highlights).

"The Professor" - Newcastle.
Returning back to the EPL, Newcastle has a good squad that has the makings of a mid tier team. Sure, they could use to dump a few players and an owner, but this is a team that has been playing in Europe 6 times in the past decade and they just won the Teresa Herrera Cup in penalties against Deportivo de la Coruna with a goal by, of all people, Joey Barton. (Runner-up: Fulham).

"The Godfather" - Chelsea
This team is absolutely loaded and added Yossi Benayoun to boot. No news is good news, and with a rested Drogba look for them to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. It’s their league to lose. (Runner-up: Liverpool Joe Cole is one of my favorite players and has been underutilized to a criminal extent at Chelsea. I also anticipate some big acquisitions if an anticipated change of ownership comes through).

Surprise of the Season:
"Mr. X" – Gareth Bale, Spurs. I know it’s not much of a surprise that I’m picking a Spurs player, or that it’s Bale. For me, it’s penance. Not many of you know that I called for him to be sold during the winter break last year. He has tremendous ability, but couldn’t find what to do with it for most of his career. Add the horrid fact that he was in the lineup for 24 straight matches at one point without a Tottenham win, and you could see he was a bad juju for Spurs. His dramatic turnaround is exactly what Tottenham needs with CL play and I expect to see him make a career high seven goals this season leading Spurs into the elimination rounds of the Champions League.

"The Professor" - Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton. Blue Dragon, a literal translation of his name and a nick name of sorts, Lee is coming off a fantastic World Cup where he put goals past Uruguay and Argentina. At 22, he will need to have a great season if Bolton is to stay above relegation. He was named one of the top 50 rising stars by the Times last year. Get to know his name.

"The Godfather"- Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Manchester United. On the preseason tour for Manchester United, he played one half for Guadalajara and scored on his new team. He’s even managed to score 9 in 16 appearances for Mexico including against Argentina, Netherlands and France, and he’s only 22! This guy has some serious skill and I can’t wait to see what he does.


  1. This ought to spark some discussion.

    Looks like I'm higher on Stoke City than my esteemed colleagues. The Potters will be nowhere near the relegation zone. They've got a tough back four including German National Teamer Robert Huth and up-and-coming tough man Ryan Shawcross, named vice-captain at only 22 years of age. Proven Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen won't let much past him. Finally, the addition of Kenwyne Jones should help the Potters find that sorely needed scoring touch that was missing in last year's 11th place finish.

    It also looks like my esteemed colleagues both favor Wigan Athletic more than I. The lineup looks weak in my opinion, but there is one X-Factor that could make all the difference: Colombian forward Hugo Rolladega, who could be the difference maker at Wigan this year. Personally, I don't think that is enough. An absence of quality defending and goalkeeping will lose a lot of games for Wigan this season.

  2. I mean "Rodallega" sorry I mistyped it and can't edit comments.

  3. I don't like Stoke for all those reasons. Huth: good but slow, awkward. Shawcross, good, a hack/liability. Sorensen: good, getting older and not so great anymore. Saw lots go by him last year. No better than Brad Guzan at this stage. For Wigan, Rodallega is solid and scores in critical matches. Signed Mauro Boselli who netted 32 goals in 57 appearances for Estudiantes last season. Ronnie Stam and Antonio Alcaraz now at the back. Look more solid now.

  4. And my pre-season favorites may have jut gotten ever better:

  5. Eric- Ramires from Benfica and now Neymar from Santos. Sounds like Chelsea just realized they might get worked by ManU so they went shopping. And Balotelli just signed on with Man City for £24 million, with no word yet if they'll actually meet his crazy weekly salary demands.

    And you want more proof EPL has gone crazy, the latest rumor has ex-Gunner Gallas going to Spurs to help out their back walking wounded on the back line.


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