This is a week of crunch games. At the very least, 6 of the 10 Premier League games are of potentially vital importance, with the other 4 giving potential for wild swings in mid-table.
Three games – Hull vs Liverpool, Tottenham vs Middlesbrough, and Manchester City vs Swansea – involve one side tightly tied up in the top 4 race with the other more or less tightly involved in the relegation battle.
Hull have the home advantage, both over Liverpool and their relegation rivals, and although Marco Silva seems to have tightened things up a bit, they’ve still been conceding 5.7 shots on target a game under him. Through the season as a whole they’ve conceded 6. Continue reading
The biggest game of the week is, by no doubt, Liverpool vs Chelsea on Tuesday night. Liverpool drop out of the top 4 if they lose and Manchester City win at the London Stadium on Wednesday, but if they win then Chelsea’s lead at the top could be cut to a more reachable level for the chasing pack.
It’ll be a fascinating match-up: Liverpool the high-pressing, gun-wielding, heavy metal side against Chelsea, whose success is based more upon solid foundations than a shot-a-minute offence. That said, Liverpool have been blunted in recent weeks, taking a shot every 32 passes in the past 5 games, just 15th in the league and almost level for speed of attack with Swansea.
Chelsea are also supreme shot limiters. All season they’ve conceded just 8.5 shots per game (the league average is nearly 13), and in the past 5 games their opponents have only shot once every 47 passes. Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge earlier in the season will give them confidence though – they’ve provided Chelsea’s only loss, their only non-win in fact, at home so far in 2016/17. Continue reading
Smoke and mirrors might be the physical manifestation of 2016. Deception and deceit is the order of the day, false equivalences and reflections stretch from one political issue to another and Truly Repulsive and Utterly Manipulative Politicians deny having said things that are then quoted, verbatim, straight back to them.
But sometimes there is light. And hope.
Hull City came to face Watford at Vicarage Road in a light purple kit and a 3-5-2 like some Bizarro version of their opponents. Immediately, I can tell something. I sense it. You’re wondering where this so-called ‘light’ and ‘hope’ are going to come into play when Hull are involved, and I’m here to tell you that it’s always been there, hidden. Or, rather, obscured.
It comes in the form of Jake Livermore. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering their almost complete lack of activity in the transfer window in the summer, Hull are not blessed with elite playing talent. They are, as we in the North like to say, bad. Almost, if not as, bad as the clash between the purple of their shirts and the orange of their badge. Continue reading
A reminder of how this goes. I make predictions and give them confidence ratings 1-5 (5 being most confident) – this week’s predictions, made last Thursday, are here. Then, after the weekend’s games, I assess my judgement. Firstly, I give them a rating based on how ‘expert’ my knowledge had to be to make that prediction (for longer definitions check out the first week’s results here). Continue reading
The Premier League (as well as a bunch of others) start this week, but it’s week 2 of my weekly ruthless predictions. Last week’s predictions and results are there for you to read, but for those who don’t wish to, here’s a summary.
I make predictions and give a confidence score:
1 – Guess. This is a hunch that I have. If I’m giving a 1 for a prediction though it probably means that it’s either very speculative but based on what I feel like is a good gut feeling, or it’s a filler. Continue reading
So that’s it; the Premier League season 2015/16. We draw the final curtain and await our favourite players to take their place in the spotlight for their round of applause (or pantomime boos), before we leave the theatre and excitedly discuss the show we’ve just witnessed on the way back home.
There are, however, certain actors on this greatest stage of all who get pushed to the side as the company take their bows, destined never to know the dazzle that comes with true limelight. No, this is not a “Mark Noble for the Euros” shout, I’m talking of course about centre-backs.
It’s been a strange year for the breed. Previous stars of the position have been struck by injury (Kompany), age (Terry), no longer having a defence of ten players in front of them all weighed down by the crushing spectre of extreme dullity (Smalling), or just a bit of an average season (Koscielny). Continue reading
Right now, across the pond in America, the NFL Draft 2016 process is going on. For those unfamiliar (although this article kind of guesses you are familiar), the NFL teams take their pick of the best young bucks coming out of the college system, worst team of the previous season going first (although teams trade for picks, but this muddles things).
The draft process doesn’t exist in the Premier League. You will have noticed this. But what if it DID?
Inspired by the Leicester success story, the Premier League bigwigs decided to implement the process. Players aged 23 and below who played between 500-2000 minutes this year will be put into a field, ready to be plucked by the Premier League teams of the 2016/17 season. Continue reading