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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Predictions And Twenty Questions For A New Barclays Premier League Season

Written by on August 19, 2013 | 14 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League

I have had a few requests from readers and viewers who missed my predictions for the new Premier League season on my final Fox Soccer News appearance on Friday. Here is a rundown of what I think will be the order of finish come may 2014. I read in the last week that the chance of getting all 20 correct is something like 58 billion to 1.

Achievable success might be more like getting top six and bottom three right and maybe the others missed by no more than two positions.

So notwithstanding that what you are about to read is certainly going to be wrong here goes anyway with some questions that will be answered over the next nine months.

To read more please click on the link.


14 responses to “Predictions And Twenty Questions For A New Barclays Premier League Season”

  1. Astronomer says:

    Bobby,
    Interesting post. I totally agree with your 1-4 rankings:
    1. Chelsea
    2. Man Ure
    3. Man City
    4. Arsenal

    I think Chelsea will win simply because of Jose Mourinho. He is in my opinion the best overall club manager in the game today — a great tactician and a great motivator and even though Chelsea’s team is not the strongest in the EPL (Man City’s is), he will do enough to “push” and “tweak” Chelsea all the way to the top spot.

    The main problem areas in that team (other than the striker position) are in central defense. and defensive midfield. In central defense, I just don’t feel comfortable with any combination pairing of the following:
    a. Terry — past his prime and even though his positional sense is still good, he frequently finds himself out of position because of his increasing slowness;
    b. Luiz — if Barcelona are indeed offering $45m for Luiz, I think they should just ship him out — he is too error-prone from a STRICTLY defensive point of view for Chelsea to risk him in the center of defense; — or if he stays, play him as a midfielder;
    c. Cahill — not good enough for a team with Chelsea’s ambitions;
    d. Ivanovic — he is a far better right back than a central defender.

    They really need to sign a world-class central defender (if not for the EPL, then at least for the Champions League).

    Central/defensive midfield is another weak area. Obi Mikel is okay, but he is NO Makalele. And having Lampard or Ramires as his deep-lying partner has its own problems. They need a top level specialist defensive midfielder who can stabilize that vital area of the pitch — Chelsea’s midfield were over-run and their defense put under pressure in many matches against top level opposition last year (last season’s games against Man City and the recent match against Real Madrid are good examples of what I have in mind).

    Javier Martinez would have been a great signing in that respect, but he is not available for a transfer this year. Danielle de Rossi would be a fantastic addition (both for his defensive AND offensive abilities), assuming his club lets him go.

    In spite of the above problem areas, I think Mourinho will do his usual stuff (I am not talking about eye-gouging here) and Chelsea will get enough points (maybe barely) to finish ahead of both Man Ure and Man City.

    Note to Jose Mourinho: Wayne Rooney is NOT coming, so please sign Samuel Eto’o as soon as possible !
    ____________________________________________________

  2. Ed Gomes says:

    Bobby, it’s really tough to make picks with the Transfer Window still open. I actually can’t see a lot of the proposed moves happening, but without making any sense, should one happen everything could blow up.
    – What we can be assured of is that Arsenal will miss out on all its targets, or will be willing to overpay for inferior talent and go nowhere.
    – I can’t see Man United selling Rooney to Chelsea.
    – Liverpool is now stuck with Suarez
    – I now believe that Bale is gone, especially if the Wilian and Lamela rumors are true. AVB is setting up his 4-3-3, with Lamela, Soldado, Wilian across the top.

    My order of finish;
    1 – Chelsea
    2 – City
    3 – Man United
    4 – Spurs
    5 – Arsenal
    6 – Swansea
    7 – Liverpool

    Top goal scorer;
    I want to pick Bale, but he’s gone. RVP should have it, but Kun and Soldado will make a run.

    First manager to go;
    – From a personal standpoint, I would love for Hughes to be the first manager to go. I wonder how he deemed Stoke a good enough project for himself.
    But I could see Di Canio getting the early boot.
    Pardew will be the favorite to go with Kinnear in the picture. If Newcastle stumbles in the first four matches, Kinnear will set himself up with a home win verse Hull.

    Astronomer, I disagree with your assessment of Ramirez. He works hard and knows when to use the “professional foul”. I do agree that David Luiz does not fit Mourinho. If anyone but Barca comes calling, he’s gone. I also think that Mata is on the same boat as Luiz.

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    Almost forgot. For all his tough guy hard nosed style of play, Gary Medel only had 7 yellows last campaign. Maybe more importantly in those games he never received a second yellow.
    Yes, he did tie for the league lead in red cards, but with a total of only 2.
    Not exactly an out of control player.

  4. John Bladen says:

    Hmmmn. It’s always a lottery and, as Ed says, there could be several signings between now and the close of the XW… window should close before the first league game of the season IMO, but whatever. It is what it is.

    Can’t agree with the Chelsea pick… barring a new signing in the next fortnight I think they’ll still peak at third place.

    My top five:

    1. Man Utd
    2. Man City (and yes, they could swap places too… never a Mancini fan, and I think they’ll be better with MP in charge… though those using a 4-0 beating of lowly 10 man NU as evidence of City’s quality are a bit over the top…)
    3. Chelsea
    4. Arsenal
    5. Everton

    Yes, yes, it’s a outsider for 5th I know. Moyes tough side from last year is still mostly together, and Martinez is an underrated manager in my book. As with most other sides not tipped for the top six, scoring will be an issue.

    I wish I had the courage to pick Swansea or WBA for fifth, but I don’t. Spurs might just hang in as well (if they keep Bale – unlikely), but I don’t see Liverpool or WHU making that run. Will this be the year that Arsenal’s penchant for overpaid players available on a free finally costs them a spot in Europe? Stranger things have happened…

    On the down side, I wish I could argue with Palace going back down. But they don’t look strong enough really. I’d prefer to see Newcastle drop, but I fear that Hull will be the one joining Stoke and CP in relegation.

    I agree that Villa will be better. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished top 12. Not sold on the new ownership at Craven Cottage… Fulham might be fighting for survival come April as well.

    Agreed on Pardew being the first to the gallows… beating Hughes by a few weeks at least.

  5. John Bladen says:

    PS: Yes, obviously I’m assuming that Everton won’t sell Baines and Fellaini (and will find more goals from somewhere…)

  6. Astronomer says:

    John Bladen,
    You wrote: “Martinez is an underrated manager in my book. As with most other sides not tipped for the top six, scoring will be an issue.”

    I think with Roberto Martinez in charge, CONCEDING will be an even bigger issue.

    ______________________________________________________

  7. Ed Gomes says:

    I really begun to like Martinez when he was the analyst for the World Cup. I thought he came off very well. Martinez actually made easy to root for Wigan.
    I wish him the best at Everton, but he has a tough task ahead. They’re currently at a -9.7 million pounds in the transfer market, so sells could and will most likely happen.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Ed: It’s definitely possible. Kenwright wants the club to support itself (and if I were it’s owner, I would too).

    AST: Wigan’s defense v Evertons? I know who I’d choose in a heartbeat.

  9. Astronomer says:

    John Bladen,
    Everton’s current defense is above average, but it was David Moyes’s construction.

    Give the over-rated Roberto Martinez some time (at least a few months) to do his magic and then we will see the effects — it will go the way of Wigan’s unit.

    ___________________________________________________________

  10. Smiley says:

    Astro – I wouldn’t call Spanish Bob overrated considering he kept losing his best players (Nzogbia, Moses, Rodallega, Valencia, Sinclair etc) each season, yet managed to stay up for so long… and win the FA Cup!

    PS Even Wigan’s owner Dave Whelan said he would rather win the FA Cup than stay up last season… so Martinez could have rested the players in the cup final and possibly picked up 4 points in the league sked.

  11. Seattle Loon says:

    Every year I fantasize about the possibility of there being three teams who could win the title on the last day and three teams who stand to be fighting for the 4th Champion’s League spot on the final day.

    Will it happen this season? Probably not but I see very little between Chelsea,Man Utd and Man City this season. I will predict very slender margins and Man Utd to win another title. They have experience,continuity and the best back line in the EPL when Vidic is fit.

    As for 4th place I tip Spurs to get it. They have been a well-run club now for several seasons and their purchases this summer have improved them further even if Bale leaves. As for Arsenal – they seem rudderless in comparison to the teams around them. Waiting until the last ten days of the transfer market to make your major buys is yet more evidence something isn’t quite right at the Emirates especially since they cleared their ranks of dead-wood early on.

    As a Liverpool fan I predict Everton will finish above them again. Without some major work on defensive organisation they’ll keep conceding soft goals from corners and free-kicks. I expect Martinez to bring more goals for the Toffees with little change in goals conceded.

    Stoke are going down unless they buy well quickly. I expect good things from Swansea and Southampton. The biggest coup this summer was Aston Villa’s ability to keep Bentake. He is the new Drogba!

  12. Astronomer says:

    Seattle Loon,
    I agree with your point about Liverpool’s defensive frailties. It is of course up to Brendan Rodgers to fix them, but I am not sure he will — because his focus lies elsewhere.

    Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez are kind of similar in many ways. Both of them like their teams to play attacking, possession-style games with an emphasis on short passes to build up the attacks.

    We are now living in the “Age of Tiki-Taka” and coaches whose teams exhibit a Barcelona-style short passing and possession-oriented game are glorified by fans and the media alike (as opposed to hoofball merchants, like Big Sam and Tony Pulis, who are the objects of so much derision).

    (In addition, both Rodgers and Martinez are soft-spoken, gentlemanly-type individuals — and people tend to harbor good will and have a positive opinion of such individuals.)

    All the above is fine, but the problem is that frequently both Rodgers and Martinez tend to neglect the defensive side of the game — playing an unnecessarily high line and leaving big holes at the back (particularly true of Martinez) and also not setting up their teams properly to defend against set-pieces.

    This tendency to neglect their defensive obligations is the “Achilles’ heel” of both of these coaches and that is why I tend to think that both of them are somewhat over-rated.

    With Rodgers as manager, I doubt Liverpool (even with high quality signings) will ever be a consistent Top 4 team. And with Martinez, Everton will barely finish in the lower rungs of the Top 10.
    __________________________________________________

  13. Seattle Loon says:

    Astronomer

    Maybe I should eat my own words. Liverpool ground out just the sort of 1 – 0 win at Villa Park that was completely uncharacteristic of what we’ve come to expect. Since LFC put their full scouting/recruitment team in place their buys have looked good. Kolo Toure was excellent yesterday. Sturridge looks an almost complete striker and as for Mignolet – don’t they say a good keeper is worth an extra ten points a season? I count 4 already. That said his poor distribution was partially the reason Villa had so much of the ball 2nd half.

  14. John Bladen says:

    Seattle:

    I agree that Rodgers is doing a good job and slowly working to put LFC back where they belong. The question I have is how long will it take to undo 3-4 years of incompetent ownership and a season or two of appallingly bad transfer moves?

    He’s made some very astute buys IMO, but he still has some crap to clean up before a real improvement can be made.

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