The 39th Game

by forzabahab

Can’t be arsed with ranting about something, so have some SOCCER instead.

Here’s your cut out and keep guide to the forthcoming season. It features a depressingly static top six, and an inordinate amount of mentions of Tony Pulis for some reason. Please feel free to keep it and abuse me about it come May.

I haven’t backed anyone yet, so if your team are crap it’s not my fault.

I’ve tried desperately to be impartial, but I’ve failed obviously…..

Placed in reverse order then…

20th Norwich

Nothing against the boys in yellow and green, but every year you spend away from the Premier League makes it much more difficult to cling on when you get back up. Full of lots of players with top flight experience, but it’s experience of getting relegated. Unless lots of sides underperform they will be gaining some more knowhow of the drop. Sorry Delia.

19th Watford

May have more money to spend than Norwich but essentially the same problems remain for them. Signed a player from Spurs. Well to be more accurate Spurs reserves. It won’t be enough. Lovely club, but nice guys finish (second) last I’m afraid.

18th Sunderland

Conor Wickham has gone. They are fucked. Passionate fans aren’t enough. If Brown and O’Shea self-destruct as they often did early in the season they will be pushovers. If they win a derby it will be a pyrrhic victory at best.

17th West Bromwich Albion

Again, not a great side by any stretch, but others will keep them up. Notoriously tight budgets might be tested if January rolls around and they are in trouble but they have fight and Tony Pulis’s knowhow on their side.

16th Newcastle United

Expectations will be sky high, results will not match them. They will laugh at Sunderland, moan about Mike Ashley, and boast about having the best fans in the world. Anything to deflect from the tripe being served up on the pitch. McClaren’s coaching will keep them safe though…

15th Swansea City

Will stay up because there are several worse sides than them. You’ve got to hope they stay brave and pass it, and with the other strugglers being so bad they might well be able to. To finish any higher they need goals and a bit more aggression though.

14th West Ham United

Won’t be relegated, and where they end up will be decided if they are ok in November when they have their cup final. Allardyce has been fired, Bilic looks a bit unhinged, and they’re already out of Europe. With Frank Lampard in New York their focus will be on hating Spurs, which is how they like it……

13th Leicester City

Looked impressive beating the likes of Man United, and despite sacking Nigel Pearson they have hired Ranieri who has the Premier League experience to ensure they cling on and look to consolidate next season. Likely to be torture to watch but if they stay up their fans won’t care a jot.

12th Aston Villa

Spent last season winning the games they were meant to, and losing the others but never disgracing themselves. Since Delph tucked them up and Benteke’s release clause has been triggered you worry for them a bit, but I suspect Tim Sherwood will get through his first full season, and therefore the only one you can actually judge him on, with top flight status, if not gilet, intact..

11th Bournemouth

Every year there’s a promoted side that does unexpectedly well, and this year it could be Dorset’s Finest. A tight home ground, and an enormous level of head patting and patronising by other sides will result in a few shocks and a surprise finish. I freely admit this one could go sideways fast however…..

10th Stoke

Business as usual. Slightly better football than Pulis, unhinged home fans, wins’ losses, draws, all predictable stuff. If you’re a Stoke fan you get to be part of the big show for another year, but not much more.

9th Crystal Palace

Cabaye is an intriguing signing. You have to wonder why no other side in Europe were in for him, but if it comes off it will help Pardew consolidate last season’s encouraging finish. Pace up top, decent back four, midfield bolstered. A safe mid table finish, which after losing Pulis will be welcomed again.

8th Southampton

If you keep selling your best players it will eventually catch up to you. If you sell them all over one summer it will catch up to you a lot quicker. That was last year’s received wisdom, which shows how little people really know about football, including me. Koeman’s side will be neat and tidy and well coached, and have Europa League to enjoy too. Will consolidate and stabilise after a crazy last summer…

7th Everton

Didn’t score enough (Lukaku proving why Chelsea never trusted him), and at the time of writing under pressure from Chelsea to hang on to Stones, their best young defender. If they keep him they have a good defensive unit, but their barrier to progress will again be creativity unless they can retain the injection of verve and pace that Aaron Lennon gave them after January.

6th Liverpool

When their fans aren’t trapping you in the pub droning on about Istanbul they like to remind each other of the good old days. They still believe they are big players, and have spent accordingly. They are wrong. Sturridge has a lot to prove physically, and Benteke, a highlights player who goes missing for months on end, will be under huge pressure to fire them into the top four. Meanwhile at the back they will still have the likes of Sakho. Their European squads will be interesting too

5th Tottenham Hotspur

Fifth was a surprise for Spurs last season, but they won’t progress because of a chronic lack of urgency in the transfer market and in moving the ball around the pitch quicker. Their fans love to hark back to better times, but yet again the teams ahead of them have moved on. To break the top four glass ceiling they need Champions League calibre players on Europa League wages, which is massively difficult to achieve since those kind of players want to be in the big show. Should take the Europa League seriously. Won’t.

4th Manchester United

Hard to gauge for several reasons. Firstly rebuilding is in progress, with several comings and goings. Secondly, their defence has a massive rick in it every week. Thirdly, and most importantly, van Gaal hasn’t won the fans over yet, and that could be crucial in influencing his decisions if results don’t come early enough. Most vulnerable of the top four, especially if de Gea is really off to Madrid……

3rd Arsenal

Sanchez’s goals made them easy top four qualifiers, but a paper thin squad (Wilshere starts another season crocked for example) and still fragile mentality will mean they are ten points off the pace by Valentine’s Day. Will come with another late run to give their fans more false hope.

2nd Manchester City

Team might be going over the top agewise, but if Aguero, Hart, Silva, Toure, and Kompany play the majority of games, and Sterling shows why they paid the money they are still the only team who can challenge Chelsea, even if they come up short again.

CHAMPIONS Chelsea

Diego Costa was the missing link that solved their goalscoring and starting a fight in an empty room problems last term. Quite simply the most rounded side out there, even if their manager is a prize prat who helps lazy journalists pay their mortgages. Should win again by 10 points.

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