Tomorrow morning (as I type this on my Adler J5), the English Premier League season begins with a tilt between Liverpool and Stoke City which will be broadcast at 6:30 AM CDT on the NBC Sports Network. NBC will be broadcasting live every game this season. They’ve been promoting the shit out of it in ways that are oftimes clever, and at other times in ways that are absolute cringe-inducing dipshittery.
Norwich plays host to Everton at 9:00 AM on NBC Extra and the feature match of the day will tee off at 11:30 on NBC between ManU(re) and Swansea. Chelsea will meet, greet, and defeat Hull on Sunday morning at 10:00 on NBCSN
And yes, I have my EPL Fantasy Football squad pretty much ready to roll. Asa usual, I’m playing this on the EPL website. My starting squad for this week is a 4-3-3 formation. I have Lukaku, Benteke & Altidore up front; Michu, Hazard, & Snodgrass in the middle; Baines, Mertesacker, Evra, and Jose Enrique on the back line; and Petr Cech in goal. My bench has John Ruddy as my backup goalie, Cardiff stalwarts Ben Turner and Pete Whittingham, and Hull’s class midfielder Robert Koren ((class for Hull, that is)). To be honest, my only real doubt is Lukaku….will he get enough starts to justify holding down the front? Especially if/when Chelsea picks up ROONEY!!!!??
So with all those thoughts in mind, and more, let me indulge in little pre-season speculation and prediction. I did a reasonably thorough job of this with NASCAR this year, so now, without further fanfare, here’s my EPL predictions for the upcoming season:
- Chelsea — Obviously I have to put Chelsea #1 this season. Y’all know I’m a Chelsea fan….but if I honestly didn’t think they’d finish first, I would be big enough to place them where I think they’d deserve to be. But this season, with the return of Jose Mourinho, and the acquisitions of Schurrle, Van Ginkel and the rest; Lukuku and deBruyne back from there loan spells; But even w/o adding another player, what Mourinho brings is the breath of fresh air, the ray of hope (and any other similar cliche you’d care to trot out) that was missing last season. Everyone, squad and fans alike are rejuvenated. It’s like last year, despite winning two European championships, was just a bad dream. Only Man City has chance of stopping Chelsea this season. But they can’t and they wont.
- Manchester City — City has done a lot to strengthen their squad. New gaffer Manuel Pellegrini is the biggest and most significant addition. They picked up more attacking power at the front in Negredo and Jovetic and if Eden Dzeko emerges as expected from the shadow of the departed Carlos Tevez, they will be tough to beat. But I see trouble ahead in what has typically been a strong defense. I’m not as convinced that despite Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabeleta, and Joe Hart, that they will be as solid in back as they’ve been in the past.So 2nd it is, then.
- Arsenal — Pretty much everyone who is not a Gooner has ManU(re) here. I’m not a Gooner, and I should have put ManU(re) here too, I debated this with myself for a bit and have concluded 3rd 4th, and 5th could easily be a tie. Reverse or rearrange the order as you see fit. If Arsenal can buy some big name talent besides Luis Suarez that is a worth a shite, then look out. But….as I and most Gooners fear, Arsenal will once more end up looking like buffoons when transfer window finally slams shut. So they’ll just have to run what they brung….but what they have right now is really not as bad as it’s made out to be.
- Manchester United — There. I spelled it politely for change with no malace or bias whatsover. That said, it would serve them right if they were relegated, but we know that’s never going to happen (like it did back in 1974 when they tumbled down to the 2nd division), so onward. Sir Alex retired and Dave Moyes moved from Everton to fill his shoes—an impossible and unenviable task. There will obviously be a letdown as the squad adapts. ROONEY has become an afterthought there anyway, so it’s only piss-ass stubbornness that he’s not in a Chelsea shirt already. They’ve got RVP, Danny Welbeck, and Chicharito so striker is not their weakest link. Where ManU will have trouble this season is at back, just like their noisy neighbors. Vidic is out injured again, Evra is getting on in years, and Rio Ferdinand (other than still being an insufferable twat) is not the Rio Ferdinand of old….any team of ManU(re)’s stature that leaves the back of the house in the hands of Jhonny Evans and Phil Jones is begging the question. Also, where’s the midfield at besides almost nowjhere. No wonder ManU(re) had a boner for Cesc Fabregas (staying at Barca) and Thiago Alcantera (moving from Barca to Bayern München), now have a raging boner(s) for Maurouine Fellaini, Mesut Ozil, and Landon Donovan ((just kidding about that….but REALLY, they should go and grab Donovan)).
- Tootenham — I’ve decided to call Tottenham Tootenham from now on. Once Garteh Bale, a/k/a/ The Goddamn Batman flies off to Real Madrid it makes AVB’s little project a bit more challenging. As the season rolls along, they might find themselves wishing they’d kept Clint Dempsey.
- Swansea — Yes, you read that right. I really think Swansea will hold down the 6th spot when all is done dusted next May. As long as their Europa league trek this season doesn’t take the stuff out of them, that is. But with Michu and newly added Wilfried Bony leading the charge, the Swans always have more than a puncher’s chance.
- Liverpool — Even if they keep Suarez, I don’t see them finishing any higher than 7th. This is not going to be John Henry’s best sports year. Neither Carl Edwards, nor Greg Biffle, and especially not Ricky Stenhouse Jr will win the Sprint Cup Championship. The Boston Red Sox will NOT win the World Series. And Liverpool, as I believe will remain stuck in 2nd gear. When the train finally reaches the station, John Henry’s best buy of the season will probably be the Boston GLOBE.
- Everton — They might leapfrog their crosstown rivals for 7th, but I’m thinking not. Just as David Moyes is no Sir Alex, Roberto Martinez is no David Moyes. Assuming they keep the squad intact and Moyes doesn’t poach any of his former players, Everton should play solid Everton football and come away with a solid Everton finish.
- Norwich City — Again, if I thought my Canaries truly sucked and were headed for relegation or mediocrity, I would be the first to say so and slot them in where they truly belong. But I’m more excited about the upcoming season for Norwich than I’ve been since they made the leap from League 1 to Championship. When they made that leap, I figured them finishing 9th or 10th in the Championship, but instead they finished 2nd and went on up and have stayed up, through thick and thin. Paul Lambert was replaced by Chris Hughton last season. And our hero Grant Holt has moved on. But wow…Norwich probably did the best of the Premier League teams in making smart additions to their squad. Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper will lead the charge at the front. They’ve added Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond in the middle; and Javier Garrido’s loan move from Lazio has now been made permanent….plus they’ve acquired young Swedish defender Martin Olsson from Blackburn. Last season it was touch and go at times as Norwich couldn’t score to save their life. It was only Hughton’s steadfastness and defensive nou that kept Norwich afloat to a 11th place finish. Their final day 2-3 win at Man City was key. It would be nice if we can sneak into a European finish, but I’ll glad take 9th.
- West Ham — The Hammers will finish exactly where they finished last season. In 10th. With Big Sam leading his charges, with Andy Carroll and Mobido Maiga to find the net. with Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing holding down the mid……….wait, WHAT??!! Stewart Downing??!! Errrrmmm…..well…okay. 10th and forever blowing bubbles it will be.
- West Brom — The Baggies will be without Lukaku, so a slip to 11th, or lower, seems inevitable. They did pickup Nicolas Anelka ((really now?? Well, Bloody Hell then!!)), but let me remind you, they picked up Nicolas Anelka. So there ya go, down the slippery slope.
- Southampton — Will Ricky Lambert be as good and vital as he was last season?? Will the Saints avoid the sophomore slump? Other pundits have actually predicted a top 10 finish. But I’m ranking them as high as I am only because like Ricky Lambert ((even though I don’t have on my fantasy football team this season. Yet.))
- Newcastle United — Je voudrais se ranger Newcastle plus d’élevé, mais je ne fait pas. C’est dommage, parce que Alan Pardew est l’homme convenable et vertieux. Mais le posseseur Michael Ashley est un bâtard rapace et un cochon. En depit des efforts de Yohan Cabaye, Hatem ben Arfa, Fabricio Collocini, Tim Krul et Papiss Cissé et les autres, Newcastle se replieraient à le bord de relégation.
- Fulham — The Cottagers have a new owner, American businessman Shahid Khan who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars . Yes….another bloody Yank owns a Premier League team. To be honest, he’ll do just fine by the Cottagers. As long as he tears that Michael Jackson statue down, ofcourse, and has it thrown in the focking Thames. Meanwhile, Fulham does have llliya Kuryakin, but they don’t have a Napoleon Solo. So a dashing 14th place finish it is.
- Cardiff City — All the argy-bargy over their fock-wit owner changing the traditional uniform colour from blue to red aside (or was it the other way around), the fock-wit owners have at least added some players to the mix that should make the Premier League interesting this season. Chief among them is Chilean hardman Gary Medel…he can get ya more red cards in 90 minutes than Mario Balotelli and Joey Barton combined.
- Aston Villa — Paul Lambert has touch task ahead of him. Ryan Shawcross will be stalwart on defense, Brad Guzan will be stalwart in goal, and Christian Benteke will score at will. But it takes more than those three to rise above. If Aston Villa can punch above their weight this season, like Norwich was able to do last season. Then 16th place will a prediction sure to go wrong. But unless you’re a Villans’ fan, don;t count on it.
- Stoke City — The Potters have Sparky at the helm now, and I’m afraid they’re going to really miss having Tony Pulis at the helm. American’s Brek Shea, Geoff Cameron, and Maurice Edu will help the cause if they can stay healthy. Asmir Begovic is pretty good on goal except when facing Jozy Altidore. But who on their front line strikes fear into the heart of the opposing defense? Cameron Freaking Jerome? Jonathan Walters? Kenwyne Jones? And the white Tayshaun Prince of soccer, Peter Crouch? I’m thinking not. Stoke, I’m afraid, will have hard time doing on a cold rainy night in Stoke this season.
- Sunderland — WIN, OR DIE!!!! WIN, OR DIE!!!! WIN, OR DIE!!!! WIN, OR DIE!!!! WIN, OR DIE!!!! WIN, OR DIE!!!! Well….die it is, then. The only thing that could keep Sunderland from going down, is the addition of Jozy Altidore. I have Jozy on my EPL Fantasy Football team. He will score. But it will be pyrric goals to say the least.
- Hull City — Only on The Housemartins first album did Hull ever beat London. Hull 4 London 0 and all that. But
Bill ClintonSteve Bruce will only lead his lads from one train station to the next on way to relegation.
- Crystal Palace — In one sense, I really feel sorry for Ian Holloway. He’s a decent fella and has a great sense of humour. Then again, you have to if you’ve ever been the coach of Blackpool ((which is in my view the saddest of all the grim Northern Shitholes in England)). Holloway took the Tangerines up to the Prem, started solid, but tumbled right back down again. Now he’s taken Crystal Palace back up, but I’m afraid his season here won’t be a enjoyable (pun not intended) as his last go with Blackpool. His best player, Wilfred Zaha was nicked by ManU(re) and I’m afraid the rest of Holloway’s lads will be riding that train to relegation.
I’ve been saying it all along. Tiger Woods will never win another major again, will never ever come even close to being the force he once was, until he atones for his sins and his egregious behavior….comes clean in other words….starts treating people better, with more decency and honesty than he’s ever shown in his life up to this point. It would have to start with himself. The man in the mirror. Charles P.Pierce wrote a great article about Tiger at the PGA. Go read it.
Meanwhilst, in case you were drinking in a boozer that didn’t have television last Sunday, the PGA was won by a professional bowler.
Well….Jason Dufner won it. But honest to fock he really looks more like a professional bowler than a professional golfer. Most pro golfers you couldn’t pick out of a lineup. But Dufner, I think he’s readily indentifiable. Can he win a few more majors? I think so. I don;t believe he’s the sort to be a one-hit wonder. He’s got this demeanor about him….
Did I mention that Stoke City will have a tough time of it this season?
Yes I did. And tomorrow morning, August 17th at 6:45AM CDT, the Stoke City relegation train is due to arrive at Anfield in Liverpool and depart 90 minutes and change later. I will be watching, as a somewhat neutral observer. But to be honest, I hate having to see the prospect and think the thought of Stoke City going down. But I’m afraid that’s what we’ll see. One station down, and 37 more stops until the end of the line.
I’m thinking that Liverpool will win the 2013-14 EPL opening tilt by a score of 2-0.
In about 7 hours and change as I type this, we’ll see how good my guess was.
The Pure Michigan 400 tees off on Sunday with professional golfer Joey Logano leading the charge. Kurt BUsch will be his wingman. But we all know that THAT won’t last long. I’m still counting on Matt to take the checkered flag. I’m also counting on some back-marker to show Jimmie Johnson the way to the garage by no later than lap 48.
None of this is any more unreasonable than any other prediction I’ve made. So there ya go.
Now go have a beer, set the alarm clock for 6AM, then have another beer.