2013/14 – Seasons Predictions
Many people have said that it’s very important this season as much as any to get off to a good start. I understand why people are saying that and of course ideally you want a good start. But I tend to disagree. I think this is the one season where you can get off to a bad start and it not be terminal. It’s going to be so tight with the top teams taking points off each other and I just can’t see anyone creating a huge gap before Christmas – if at all.
I’m really intrigued by Swansea City this season. As weird as it might sound, I think they need to bog off all the cups in order to push for a European spot and I include the Europa League in that too. Swansea have come a long way, but need to be realistic. They can’t manage a campaign in the cups and a push for a top 10 finish. They are four injured players away from struggling. If they can get knocked out of all the cups as soon as possible, I genuinely think they can finish in the top 7 and return to the Europa League – this time via the league.
I fear for Stoke City and West Brom because all though titles are won based on defences, you have to score in the Premier League and I can’t see where these sides are gonna get their goals from. I don’t think either will go down, but I can’t see either leaving the bottom half of table all season.
Aston Villa will do better this season, because Christian Benteke is proving to be top class and importantly doesn’t get injured. I still can’t see a lot of goals coming from elsewhere there but he’ll get enough to keep them up and defensively they can’t be as bad as last year so will concede less. Southampton are another side I think will do well and finish midtable and win the League Cup. They have a very good spine and play attractive winning football. Everton will drop a couple of places in manager Roberto Martinez’s first season, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. As long they don’t drop into the bottom half, I think Evertonians should take that.
Final Premier League Table
FA CUP; ARSENAL
LEAGUE CUP; SOUTHAMPTON
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE; MAN CITY
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Steven Caulker – Cardiff City
My Tottenham supporting friends tell me getting £8m for the young centre back was great business. But I’m not so sure about that. I liked the look of Caulker and think he was one more season away from being a decent defender. I think he’ll relish the idea of being a young leader in Cardiff’s debut season in the Premier League and let’s be honest they’ll be peppered by many teams this year, so will need their defenders to be up for the challenge. Time will tell how good he ends up but the Englishman looks the part and with good first team football could force himself into the national squad for the World Cup.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
I think Eden Hazard will win the Player of Year, this season. I have watch Hazard for five years and when he was playing for Lile he started as a left sided winger, he was then moved onto the right as a right-sided inside forward. He then finished his time at the French side in the number 10 role off the main man, with a license to roam where he wanted. And for Belgium he’s been used as a centre forward (although very inaffective). Very quickly I was convinvced that this was a very special player. Skills I haven’t seen since I was in the playground and an end product that had devastating consequences far beyond Leguie Un. This was and is a player who can go right to the top. Lionel Messi and Ronaldo aside the Belgium international could be the best player on the planet within the next two years. The only thing that could prevent all that, is Jose Mourinho. If he decides blunt Hazard’ attacking instincts he could finish the young star.
Jesus Navas – Manchester City
For me, alongside Simon Mignolet, this is the signing of the summer. You kind of get an idea of how Manuel Pellegrini will set out his team this season by the kind of players he’s bought. It’s gonna be very attacking and let’s be honest it can’t be anymore defensive than Roberto Mancini. In Navas, they have a player who is gonna cause defenders havock (I also predict Manchester City are gonna score alot of goals from free kicks). He’s got pace to burn and then some more and a final ball too. He’s a whippet and gonna have the same impact David Silva did in his first season. My only reservation is how many games he completes. I think because of his output of energy and leg work, he’ll start most games but like Rafael Van Der Vaart and Lukas Podolski, will reguarly be subbed on 70 minutes.
Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal
The season 2011/12 the Frenchman was the most improved player in the league – not the best but made the most improvement of anyone in the Premiership. With Thomas Vermarlen’s form and fitness all over the place and going into a ‘play or go away’ year, Koscielny has a real chance to be Arsenal’s first real champion defender since Sol Campbell. He has all the qualities to be a top defender and with some real protection can shore up the back. Scoring goals has never been a problem for Arsenal, it’s conceding them and if the French international can sort out the back, Arsenal can cerment a top 4 spot, quite easily.
Philippe Coutinho - Liverpool
I think signing Simon Mignolet was a great get for Liverpool. For me he was the best keeper in the league last year and just behind Joe Hart the year before. He’s a good age and £9m was a ridiculously low price but great bit of business. He’s going into a World Cup year and will want to prove that the Belgium team can be solid at the back as well as up front. But I like the fact that he doesn’t seek out what I call ‘Camera Saves’. He’s very simple and effective. But Coutinho is the player I think is key for Liverpool this season. I like the look of this kid. If Liverpool can build their attack around him well, I think he can have the season Eden Hazard had last year. Liverpool’s front line looks juicy this season with Daniel Struridge, Iago Aspas and add Steven Gerrard’s 10 goals and that’s an exciting team – and I haven’t included Luis Suarez. Coutinho has great balance and burst of pace and like Santi Carzola and Juan Mata can thread a football through needle.
Yohan Cabaye – Newcastle United
The Newcastle midfieder has a huge role to play on the pitch this season, cos I can foresee alot of trouble off the pitch this year for his side. He needs to replicate the form of his debut season, because I think they could be dragged into a bottom half scrap this season. They’ll need him to step up with assists and goals, because Papis Cisse is a very good forward but because of his instinctiveness, can be inconsistent and Loric Remy will fade towards the end of the year, if he’s still there at all.
Phil Jones – Manchester United
The England utility man was the best signing of 2011. Every team in the top 6 apart from Manchester City went in for him and that very rarely happens. He showed enough at Blackburn to gain plaudits from many in the game, even insisting he had the mould of a future England captain. I had a feeling he may need at least a year to come good once he made his transfer to United, but will prove to be a great buy in time. I think he could be Manchester United most important player this season but I’m watching for two things this season, that will determine if he’ll fulfil his potential. The first, is he has identify where he is most effective, positionally. The ‘Utility’ tag in Europe is a seen as a good thing, but I’m not a fan of those players. Jack of all trades, Master of none comes to mind and he needs to stop being used as a filler man. I would groom him and play him at centre half, as Rio’s replacement. The second is fitness. I can’t remember seeing a football player as big and burley as Phil Jones, yet so fragile and injury-stricken. He needs to be playing 15 games in a row.