Barclays Premier League is back. The long hibernation is over and time for the ‘real game’ to begin. How to pull the curtain of yet another silly season? By doing something silly of course. And is there anything sillier than gazing at crystal ball and doing non-sense predictions that may or may not come true?
Football is not science. Nor Maths. Here conjectures are the real fun part. Without further adieu, here is my two-penny worth predictions.
Jose Mourinho has always done well in his second season at any club. By ‘has done well’, I mean ‘has won trophies’. Can’t see that trend changing any time soon.
On a serious note, Chelsea have signed top quality players this summer, including a top striker. Well, that leaves Mourinho with no excuses should he fail to deliver.
Champions League Places: Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool
Manchester City will challenge Chelsea all the way till the last week of the season.
“Arsenal will always finish in top four” was one of the greatest predictions made by the great Nostradamus. Active participant in title-race till January, before switching it to their annual mode of collapsing-and-recovering-to-finish-in-top-four places.
When you’re a bottom or in the middle, you can worry about your rivals and the ones who are ahead of you. But when you’re second, you can only focus on yourself and the topper. Brendan Rodgers has given the impression that he is erudite and is the right man to take the club where it actually belongs to.
Europa League places: Manchester United, Everton, Spurs
Having a great pre-season campaign is one thing, transforming that form in a marathon race is another. Manchester United are expected to do well under Louis van Gaal (much better than what David Moyes did last season), but it will be ludicrous to consider United as title-contenders, so early.
Relegated Teams: Sunderland, Burnley and Leicester
Sunderland just managed to escape the cruel fate of relegation last season. This time they might struggle to dodge the bullet. With or without Fabio Borini.
Golden boot: Sergio Aguero
The Argentine scored 28 goals in all competitions last season. He can easily surpass 25 league goals this season, leaving aside those twitchy hamstrings.
Player of the Year: Eden Hazard
The signs were already evident. It’s time for Eden Hazard to show the world that he belongs to the rarefied air of ‘world class’ players. He really is.
Young Player of the Year: Raheem Sterling
Brendan Rodgers on Sterling. Apt.
“Something we said to Raheem when he first broke into the team, and something we’ve reiterated, is that you have to have an identity as a player.
“The identity he has is to score goals and create goals. That’s what the job is. He scored 10 goals last year and this kid is only going to get better. When you’re so young, it’s important to understand exactly what your role is. Not just look good, you have to be efficient and effective. His development has gone to a new level. He’s way above the level from when he first came in.
“Tactically, technically, and what has been beautiful to watch with Raheem has been his maturity. He’s turning into a beautiful young man, with all the responsibility. He’s taking it all in his stride and now he’s in a good place with every part of his game. It’s just about maintaining that commitment to his work. He’s still only 19, but in big games he’s performed and he’s a wonderful talent.”
Singing of the season (Big Four): Alexis Sanchez
The Time journalist Tony Barrett wrote: “It’s hard to imagine there’ll be a bigger statement of intent signing this summer than Arsenal bringing in Alexis Sanchez”
A world class player who will take Arsenal to a new level. Mark. My. Words.
Singing of the season (Outside Big Four): Romelu Lukaku
He became the record signing for Everton in their illustrious club history. Martinez knows what to expect from him. Only advantage is, this time he can build the team around the Belgian that can help him mount a serious challenge for top four.
Newcomer to make huge impact: Thibaut Courtois
The Belgian signed for Chelsea three years back but was loaned to Atletico Madrid where he enjoyed three glorious years. He is an outstanding goal keeper and the stage is nicely set for him to become the next Chelsea superstar.
First manager to get the boot: Ronald Koeman
I expect him to do well. But knowing, what a mental summer it has been for Southampton, all it needs now is a poor start to dismantle the club. Once you press the panic button, easy option often lies in firing your manager.
Climax of the season
Lukaku scoring against Chelsea at Bridge, showing angry gestures towards Jose Mourinho and getting three match ban as consequence.
Anti climax of the season
At Emirates, Arsenal fans ready to boo Cesc Fabregas but he picks up a nasty injury and leaves the ground after only two minutes.
Finally few wishful thinkings
Another war of words between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. Another slip up from Steven Gerrard. And Wilshere pictured smoking again!