29 August, 2014

EPL 2014/15 Predicitions

Back yet again.  We wanted to wait until the transfer window closed before we go jumping off the 10m and into the deep end this season.  So what are the upsets?  Where are the hidden gems? Let's find out.

El Nino "The Godfather"'s
1. Chelsea
2. Manchester City
3. Arsenal
4. Liverpool
5. Manchester United
6. Everton
7. Tottenham
8. Newcastle United
9. Swansea
10. Aston Villa
11. Southampton
12. Stoke City
13. West Ham United
14. Hull City
15. Sunderland
16. West Brom
17. Crystal Palace 
18. QPR (P)
19. Leicester City (P)
20. Burnley (P)
"The Professor’s"
1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Arsenal
4. Chelsea
5. Everton
6. Manchester United
7. Tottenham
8. Southampton
9. Newcastle
10.Stoke City
12.Leicester City (P)
13.Crystal Palace 
14.Aston Villa
15.West Ham
16.Burnley (P)
17.Hull City
18.QPR (P)
20.West Brom
"Mr. X’s"
1. Manchester City
2. Chelsea
3. Arsenal
4. Tottenham
5. Liverpool
6. Everton
7. Manchester United
8. Sunderland
9. Swansea
10. Southampton
11. Stoke City
12. Newcastle
13. Leicester City (P)
14. QPR (P)
15. Hull City
16. West Ham
17. Aston Villa
18. West Brom
19. Crystal Palace
20. Burnley (P)

-Newly promoted teams are noted with a (P)
-These are based on signings as of 8/28/14

Player to Watch:
"Mr. X"-Juan Mata, Manchester United
As the midfield general for ManU, he's going to be the key for van Gaal this year.  Can he turn around  what looks to be a quickly aging and slowly failing team in the wake of Moyes?  If Rooney continues his scoring troubles, expect Mata to need to step up his scoring or Man U may make for a quick slide to mid table.

"The Professor" - Diego Costa, Chelsea
Diego Costa failed to impress at the World Cup, and his brief success at Atletico Madrid may have been a flash in the pan. Costa went from 10 goals in 2011-12 and another 10 in 2012-13 to an unprecedented 27 goals last year. This season, Chelsea will learn if last season was an anomaly for an over-rated player, or signs of greatness.

"The Godfather" -Remy Cabella, Newcaste
Alan Pardew once again taps into his French connection to acquire this promising 24 year old midfielder in hopes that he can become the next Yohan Cabaye.  In fact, Cabella replaced Cabaye in his debut for les Bleus this year.  Consider this: with only one international cap, he still gained promotion to the French World Cup roster.  He scored 14 goals in 37 appearances with Montpelier last season and helped them to their first ever league title in 2012-13.  The Magpies desperately need a presence in central midfield and Sissoko has shown he is not the midfield general that Cabaye was.  Cabella has a lot of promise but will have his work cut out if he is to appease the frustrated Tyneside fans who witnessed a brutal second half of the season last year while owner Mike Ashley counted his cash from the Cabaye sale.  

Golden Boot Award:
“Mr. X”- Romelu Lukaku, Everton (Runner-up: Balotelli, Liverpool)

The kid is a beast and the team that finished in the top half last year only got better with this signing.  Expect him to do even better than last year without the looming ax of loan or sale over his head.

"The Professor" - Sergio Aguero, Manchester City.  (Runner-up: RVP, Man U)

"The Godfather" - Robin Van Persie, Manchester United. (Runner-up: Daniel Sturridge)
If he returns quickly to full health and isn't sold off, then you must consider RVP the odds on favorite to take the scoring title.  The most accoplished striker in the league, there is no other legitimate goal scoring threat for the Red Devils.  While Suarez may be biting off more than he can chew with Barcelona, RVP should find the comfort zone with a Dutch compatriot at the helm this season.

Best Signing of the Offseason:
 “Mr. X”- Luis Suarez, Barcelona
Consider this addition by subtraction.  Having his third biting attack in as many seasons while in Brazil, offloading this guy should have taken forever and had Liverpool paying someone to take them.  Instead, they got Barcelona to squeeze him in in their pending doom of a transfer penalty for a mere £75.0m and they in turn invested £16m of that on a better, slightly less unhinged forward in Mario Balotelli.  That's a hell of a profit.

"The Professor" - Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
I am convinced that he was simply the best forward in the world at the World Cup. Barcelona decided they would buy low and sell high, selling Alexis for top dollar and buying troubled Luis Suarez, presumably at a discount because of Suarez's inability to keep his mouth off of other players. Arsenal may have purchased a player who will take over the game, while the Gunners' rival Liverpool sold the league's best scorer.

"The Godfather" -Diego Costa, Chelsea (Runners Up Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal)
This proven scorer is just what the Blues needed up front to make a run at the league title.  He achieved 27 league goals last season for Spanish champs Atletico Madrid, 43 in all competitions,  and brings skill, experience, and particularly aspirations of shiny new hardware to the south London squad.

Most Improved Team:
"Mr. X"-  Chelsea
Is that even possible?  Sure they lost Lukaku and David Luiz and managed to ship Ba out of the country to Turkey (less competition I guess) but they signed Remy, Drogba and Costa.  Their goal scoring should go up and their stout bus parking mentality may ease a little so we should all benefit from their play.  Less bus parking, more goals, less complaining about Chelsea trying not to lose rather than trying to win...

"The Professor" - Everton
Yes, hard to improve on last season's fifth place, but the addition of Gareth Barry is the final piece of the puzzle to free the attackers, and signing Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea will bring instant chemistry with Kevin Mirallas. Most importantly, they lost NO significant players during the off-season.

Most Over-rated Team:
"Mr. X"- Manchester United
Simply been unimpressive in the preseason.  Couple that with needing to sign 3 Southampton players and seeing off several promising ones means that either van Gaal is an absolute genius or an absolute mad man.  Perhaps Moyes wasn't so unlucky getting his gardening duties early this year.

"The Professor"- Manchester United
If they finish in the top eight, they should consider that a success. Two starting defenders, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, went bye-bye during the off-season and no decent replacements were brought in, except 18-year-old Luke Shaw from Southampton.

Team to Watch:
"Mr. X"- Chelsea
Shurrle is an absolute beast and with the signing in the wee hours of Remy when Liverpool and Spurs were linked to him is a coup.  This is how Man U ought to have rebuilt... younger and better rather than just filling roster spots.

"The Professor" - Liverpool
They brought in the core of Southampton's excellent young prospects (Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, and Dejan Lovren). Will they immediately have an impact or will the Reds bring them along slowly?

Biggest Star of the Future:
"The Professor" - Ross Barkley, Everton
Ross Barkley was arguably England's best player at the World Cup, and has been handed the attacking midfield starting position by Everton coach Roberto Martinez. With the superb Belgian pair of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas in front of him, and with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy taking care of the defensive responsibilities behind him, Barkley should notch a ton of assists now that he is in the first eleven at the age of 20.

"The Godfather"-tie: Andre Shurrle, Chelsea and Robbie Brady, Hull City  (Runner Up: Andres Weimann, Aston Villa)
As far as Shurrle goes, I feel like this is cheating. He is so talented that this is an obvious choice.  You don't need to quote stats here, just watch the 23 year old German play.  I was immensely impressed with him last year and was eager to see him in the World Cup.  A true star in the making.  Now, Robbie Brady here is my real favorite.  I have not seen an Irishman display such grace and creativity on the pitch in a long time. I loved him last season but he gets lost in the relative obscurity of Hull City.  The former U-21 International Player of the Year hold the record for the most U-21 international goals in Irish history, is a graduate of Manchester United's youth acadamy, and scored a goal to go with two assists in his debut for his countries' full senior squad.  A pleasure to watch.

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