Daily Archives

August 7, 2019

2019-20 Premier League Predictions! Who Wins It, Finishes in Top 4, and Gets Relegated

High Press 10 August 7, 2019

The 2019-20 Premier League season is almost here!

It’ll be hard to top last season’s campaign, when FFP violating Manchester City topped Champions League winner’s Liverpool by one point on the final matchday.

This season, Liverpool and City are clear favorites. Who will claim the other two UCL spots? Have Chelsea and Manchester United done enough to stay in the top 6? Who’s getting relegated?

Here’s what we think.

Back to do predictions are site contributors Tyler Everett and ex-Newcastle forward Carl Cort. Joining the panel this year is Statsbomb writer and HPS contributor Grace Robertson. Let’s get into it.

2019-20 Premier League Predictions: Who will win it all?

ChopsThis is a classic heart vs mind battle. My heart says Liverpool. My mind says Manchester City.

I can make a credible case for Liverpool on three factors: 1) THEY ONLY LOST ONE FREAKING DOMESTIC GAME LAST SEASON AND FINISHED WITH THE 3RD HIGHEST POINT TOTAL EVER, 2) if there’s one thing the squad has shown is a resilience to claw back from adversity. They did it with the UCL last year, maybe it happens with the EPL this year, 3) I believe in God, and there’s no way God would be cool with City winning three times in a row. 

There are plenty of reasons to not think Liverpool will win. Sure, getting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back helps, as does the emergence of Rhian Brewster. Otherwise, they didn’t add depth to a squad that was very healthy last year and is competing for seven total trophies (well, six now). They’ve exceeded xG two seasons in a row (and have particularly killed it on set pieces) and regression seems likely.

However, the lads show time and again a hunger to be the best. The league is stronger and deeper this year. It’ll be close, maybe down to the final matchday again. But Klopp has shown — both in game and over the course of a season — that he learns from mistakes. Don’t expect another winter swoon. He’ll have them consistently strong all season. Liverpool just edge out City for their first Premier League title.
TylerI think Manchester City wins the league again, whether I like it or not — and I’d love to be wrong here. (You don’t have to be a diehard Reds fan to be pretty turned off by City’s ability to buy whoever they want, among other things).

Liverpool will tally enough points (low, maybe mid-90s) to win in a normal year, but I don’t see anything to prevent Man City from enjoying another absurdly successful campaign. 

Pep Guardiola’s team’s depth will be the difference over another long season, especially after Liverpool’s fruitful, but nevertheless exhausting, run to the UCL final last year. The low likelihood of Liverpool enjoying the health it did a year ago, plus the number of players who played big roles in major summer tournaments with their countries — Mo Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane in the Africa Cup of Nations, Alisson and Firmino in the Copa America — makes fatigue/fatigue-related issues an even bigger concern. 
GraceAs much as it pains me to say it, I just can’t look past City’s strength in the numbers.

They generate better chances than Liverpool. They concede fewer good chances than Liverpool. There’s no getting around the fact that this City team is simply the real deal. If the Community Shield is a sign of what’s to come, Guardiola has added better set piece work over the summer. That’s another edge he’s now exploiting.

The case for Liverpool really involves finding ways to genuinely improve as a team. Maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain adds something? Maybe Keita pushes on? It’s all possible. But I’m not convinced. I think Liverpool pretty much maxed out in terms of getting the most out of the talent available last season, while City still have more quality.
CarlI believe we’re still another season or two out before you can start to add the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United to this equation. 

As an Arsenal fan, unfortunately I’m going to have to give it to Liverpool!

Even though they haven’t added to the squad, what they do have is still much better than the majority of the league. Looking at the off-season acquisitions as a whole, there haven’t been any major game changers. I think it will again go right down to the wire. Both teams have fantastic fire power but what will separate Liverpool from City is their strength at the back.

Predictions: 2 for Liverpool, 2 for City

2019-20 Premier League Predictions: After City and Liverpool, who will round out the top 4?

ChopsAs much as I want to say that Everton, Wolves, or West Ham will crack the top 4, I just can’t.

After finally spending some money on transfers this summer, Tottenham feels like a lock (oddsmakers agree). Then it comes down to Chelsea, Manchester United, or Arsenal. 

Oddsmakers favor Chelsea and Man U, but I like what Arsenal did this summer. Their defense will still be porous, but they’ll score so much it won’t matter. They have a 2017-18 Liverpool feel to them. I don’t believe in Lampard at Chelsea or OGS at United (though I do believe both have positive qualities). Emery is more proven. He’ll steer the Gunners back to the UCL. 
TylerI’m with Chops on Spurs staying in the top 4. This team didn’t lose any major pieces besides Kieran Trippier, and Tanguy Ndombele seems like a high-impact signing. For a price tag over $70M, he better be. You also have to imagine they have better injury luck than they did a year ago.

I don’t feel terribly confident in Chelsea, Manchester United (especially not this team) or Arsenal, but I’ll go with Chelsea in fourth. It’s probably wishful thinking, but Christian Pulisic seems like a huge addition, even if he’s undeniably no Eden Hazard. So, in order, I’ve got City, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea.
GraceI do think Spurs are the most likely team here, but I do still have some reservations. That side was really quite poor in the second half of the league season, coming 11th in the table if you only include the last 19 games.

But Ndombele feels like a big get for them. He’s the midfielder Pochettino needed but didn’t get last summer as the long term Mousa Dembele replacement. He should help glue their better buildup play in previous years with their more direct stuff from last season.

After that, I’m surprisingly into Arsenal. The squad is, to put it politely, top-heavy. But I do think Emery’s qualities at Sevilla were of someone who could produce a strong, compact defensive side with speed on the counter. A team that regularly plays Mustafi is never going to have a great defence, but I think he can tighten them up a bit more after a year of coaching.
CarlMaybe I’m being a little biased but I actually think Arsenal will surprise people this season. It’s never really been an issue on the offensive side of Arsenal’s game. The last several seasons they’ve just been soft and mushy in the midfield and as solid as a house of cards defensively. Emery is aware of this. I believe Arsenal had a bid rejected for Dayot Upamecano. If Upamecano does eventually become a Gunner I believe he could be the answer to their issues defensively.

Spurs I believe will capture the other spot. I look at Spurs as a team that have the capabilities to beat any squad in the league but are missing an ingredient (I believe mentally) to do this on a consistent basis, therefore diminishing their chances of winning the league. 

Would I have chosen Arsenal and Spurs to claim 3rd and 4th spot if Chelsea and Man U were not in a transitional period? Maybe not. But right now I think they are more equipped to succeed.

Predictions: Liverpool (4), Man City (4), Tottenham (4), Arsenal (3), Chelsea (1).

2019-20 Premier League Predictions: Who rounds out the top 6?

ChopsYeah yeah, I know I said I don’t think Lampard is a quality manager yet. However, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Chelsea and particularly Christian Pulisic this preseason. There’s enough talent there to earn a Europa League bid. 

Then it comes down to Manchester United, Everton, Wolves, or West Ham. 

I was on Wolves’ corner all last year. I want to go with Wolves. I think there’s a little “too much too soon” with them. Do they have the infrastructure to support a Europa League and Premier League run? I’m not sure. 

To me, this United season has all of the makings of a “bottom falls out” year. They just seem unstable. I liked what they were doing this summer on transfers — young British players who remind OGS of his 90’s squad. Then they make Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in the world. While I don’t think OGS is a bad manager, I don’t think he’s a great one either. He has the right temperament to weather criticism, but there’s too much turmoil at Old Trafford both organizationally and from the fan base. It’ll seep down to the players. It has to, especially if they start off slow. If they lose to Chelsea on matchday 1, the wheels could fly off quickly.

That leaves Everton and West Ham. Both had impressive summers. Both added legit quality to their squads. I had been leaning towards West Ham because they have an edge at manager. But damn, that Everton roster is impressive. And it’s worth about $200M more than West Ham. That’s a hard talent disparity to overcome. Everton edges out West Ham and Man U in May.
TylerI see Arsenal finishing in fifth place. After Man City and Liverpool, Arsenal were, by total goals scored, the best offensive team in the league a year ago. They added another player capable of scoring double-digit goals in Nicolas Pepe. Any team with three offensive threats as dangerous as Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette is going to be fun to watch. More importantly, they’ll be successful, even if the defense leaves something to be desired.

And I’m going with Everton ahead of ManU in sixth. I just don’t trust ManU based on what I saw from them last season. The perpetual soap opera at Old Trafford will once again be a must-see spectacle, even if the on-field product is poor.

I don’t feel a whole lot better about Everton than I do West Ham or Wolves, but I really like the Moise Kean signing and think he’ll fit in nicely alongside Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison. 
GraceThe whole world has forgotten that Chelsea finished third last season and won the Europa League. Yes, they have lost Eden Hazard. Yes, Frank Lampard probably isn’t an amazing manager. But this group of players should still be capable of being basically fine. I’m not sure they’ll look amazing this year, but I find it hard to believe it’ll go catastrophically wrong.

Similarly, Manchester United have felt one game away from complete collapse for years now. But I feel like they might be a touch underrated at this point. Wan-Bissaka and Maguire are not hugely exciting signings, but they’re at the very least an upgrade on who they had last season. I’m not expecting much in the way of real progress at Old Trafford, but they should be fine.
CarlEven with the addition of Frank Lampard and his lack of experience as a head coach, Chelsea still have enough to claim a top six spot. Their last three head coaches have been successful in delivering silverware to the club. However, the style of play as a team hasn’t been easy on the eye and has somewhat been boring to watch. I think Frank  adds a little bit of fresh air to Chelsea as a whole. He will begin to change the identity of the club, adding more flair and a dynamic aspect to the team. 

I automatically want to give my next choice to Man United but it’s actually going to Wolverhampton. Nuno Santo has Wolves playing attractive and effective soccer. It’s how I like to see the game being played. I think they can do even better than last season. 

Predictions: Chelsea (3), Everton (2), Arsenal (1), Man U (1), Wolves (1)

2019-20 Premier League Predictions: Who gets relegated? 

ChopsThis feels like the easiest call of them all. Recent call-ups Norwich and Sheffield don’t have the squads to properly compete. They have the lowest squad market values by a large margin. It’ll be a short stay in the top division.

Brighton & Hove Albion barely survived last year. They’ve done little to improve their squad. They’re heading down to the Championship too.
TylerI’m going with Chops on this one, and would have gone with Norwich and Sheffield even if I hadn’t seen his take here, I swear.

Newcastle is in for a long season, but maybe this is the year Mike Ashley finally finds a buyer willing to pay whatever it is he’s looking for???

However, I think Brighton is a more likely relegation candidate than Newcastle.
GraceAston Villa have spent a lot of money on a lot of players. One or two aside, I can’t figure out why they were signed. Perhaps it’ll suddenly all come together. I suspect the more likely scenario is they go straight back down.

Newcastle, poor Newcastle. Trapped in the grip of Mike Ashley. He only cares about keeping the team in the Premier League, but I don’t think Steve Bruce will manage to pull that off. It’ll be a sad day for football when they go down.

Finally, I feel a bit guilty for putting Norwich here because I like what Daniel Farke wants to do. They’re a team that play good football and should be an enjoyable watch if ever you’re looking through the Saturday games for something to put on. But this is largely the same side devoid of top flight experience from last year’s promotion and I don’t know if the quality is quite there.
CarlIt’s  easy to look straight towards the newly promoted teams but I actually think two out of the three promoted teams will survive (Norwich and Sheffield United). It’s not due to the fact that they’re going to cause any major surprises with electrifying performances but in their own little league at the bottom half of the table there’s enough poor teams down there they can beat.

With that being said I think it’s the end of the road for  Newcastle, Brighton and Aston Villa. They will rebound straight back down.

Predictions: Brighton (3), Norwich (3), Sheffield (2), Aston Villa (2), Newcastle (2).

High Press Pod Episode 18: 2019-20 Premier League Preview Part 1

High Press 10 August 7, 2019

The latest High Press Pod is all about the 2019-20 Premier League season. Or more specifically, teams we think will finish in the 11-20 range.

This is our first podcast that’s newly available in the iTunes Podcast Center. If you haven’t already, please Subscribe and download.

Also be sure to check out our Premier League previews:

Listen to “High Press Pod Episode 18: 2019-20 Premier League Preview Part 1” on Spreaker.

Why You Should Tune Into Amazon’s “This Is Football” ASAP + Episode 1 Review

Tyler Everett August 7, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to Amazon’s new docuseries This Is Football as well as the first in an episode-by-episode review.

The first episode of a new docuseries offers a fascinating look at the impact soccer* has had in Rwanda, particularly over the last three decades.

*Football, for the rest of this piece.

Amazon’s This Is Football – Episode 1 Review

In ’94, Rwanda was rocked by a mass-scale genocide. An estimated total of 1 million people of the minority Tutsis were killed by the majority Hutus in a brutal clash between the ethnic groups.

“This is Football,” available on Amazon, looks at the role the beautiful game played in the country’s healing process. The hour-long piece is a must-watch for not only football fans in general and particularly Liverpool fans, but anyone who downplays the importance of sports.

“This is Football” is the latest soccer docuseries to be released on a streaming platform like Netflix or Prime Video. But if the first episode, “Redemption,” is anything to go by, it’s a far cry from anything viewers could expect to see in behind-the-scenes shows like “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing.”

That’s no knock on either of those – I enjoy the access to the sideline banter we wouldn’t otherwise hear as much as the next person. The story of what happened in Rwanda, though, is far more compelling than any pregame speech or highlight, for several reasons.

A powerful story

For one, it tells a story that is probably unfamiliar to most viewers, which is a huge asset at a time when so many of the same topics in this sport are covered incessantly.

The way the information is presented heightens the intrigue. First, we are introduced to a group of Liverpool fans known as the Rwanda Reds, who eat, sleep and breathe Liverpool football. Then, we learn the gut-wrenching story of what happened to vast numbers of Tutsis.

By the show’s final 20 minutes or so, chills, if not tears, are inevitable. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the episode’s “final act” might be the most powerful thing any Liverpool fan watches this year. And yes, I am aware of what happened at Anfield in Leg 2 of the Champions League semis against Barcelona.

It’s not just the subject matter that blew me away, though. It immediately becomes obvious that no expense was spared in the production and shooting of this piece. We’re treated to stunning aerial footage that shows off Rwanda’s natural beauty throughout the episode. Each installment of this series covers a completely different theme and subject, but based on “Redemption,” they’ll all be gorgeous looks at football.

Upcoming Reviews

The other five episodes in “This is Football” are titled “Belief,” “Chance,” “Pride,” “Love” and “Wonder.”

“Belief” covers the growth in the women’s game. “Chance” looks at a couple examples of luck’s outsized role in football. “Pride” looks at the sport’s standing in Iceland. “Love” shows the myriad versions of the game worldwide and “Wonder” offers a look at Lionel Messi.

2019-20 Premier League Preview: Can Manchester United and Chelsea Keep Their Grip on The Top 6?

August 7, 2019

This 2019-20 Premier League preview will examine whether Manchester United and Chelsea have done enough to solidify a top-six place. Like two fishes in the same pond, United and Chelsea now struggle to regularly solidify a top-four finish.

The fact that Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have both boosted their squads with quality signings makes a UEFA Champions League spot that much difficult to attain. In the hands of relatively inexperienced managers, both fallen giants have taken a calculated risk to usher a brighter future.

It wasn’t too long ago when the title race was being decided between the two sides. Now they fight to keep their stronghold in the European slots of the Premier League.

We’ll learn a lot about Manchester United and Chelsea on matchday 1. But first, here’s a look at the squads heading into the season.

Manchester United 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 6th
Last Time Champions:
2012/13
Stadium:
Old Trafford, Manchester
Nickname:
The Red Devils
Manager:
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Key Additions: Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James
Best Player: Paul Pogba (when he’s happy, anyway)

A happy and motivated Paul Pogba would go a long way towards keeping Manchester United in the top 6.

Since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have only made the Premier League top-four twice. This shows just how far they’ve fallen from grace.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they looked invincible for a period of time last season. Then a harsh reality check brought them back to square one. However, United have looked a sharper side in pre-season and better prepared for the season ahead.

Their real downfall has been an inconsistency in form. Can OGS find the right formula to fix that? Expect a wild ride throughout the upcoming campaign.

 A bit of United history:

  • The were founded in 1878 (as Newton Heath LYR FC) and as Manchester United in 1902
  • Man U has won the English top division 20 times (most among any PL club).
  • They are the only Premier League club to win the European treble.
  • They are the most decorated English club with more than 40 trophies.
  • This includes 5 FA Cups (last being 2015-16), 3 European/Champions League (last being 2007-08) and one Europa League (2016-17).

Why you should like United:

  • You’ll have a lot of friends. United are one of the top brands in all of football.
  • They operate with a high-voltage attacking style.
  • Their youngsters are exciting to watch on the field.
  • They have American owners and are traded on the NYSE (MANU)?

Manchester United betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +3300
  • To finish top 4: +100
  • To finish top 6: -500
  • Relegation: +100000

Manchester United Outlook:

Manchester United have been going up and down in the proverbial soccer ladder in recent years.  

However, new dawn could be at bay after a potentially profitable summer. Not only were bright signs displayed in pre-season, but their transfer blitz before the Premier League is encouraging.

Record-setting right-back transfer Aaron Wan-Bissaka has already looked the real deal with his “you shall not pass” vibe. Daniel James blistering speed, I think, will cause nightmares for defenders. Record-setting transferee Harry Maguire is among the top English centre-backs and will exponentially solidify their defence.

Given how positive OGS has been in preseason, for me, shows United should be serious contenders for the top four. They have reinforced their defence — something Arsenal and Spurs have not done. They have signed a combination of proven and promising players with a 90’s United winners’ mentality which, I think, is necessary to bring back the Champions League nights back to Old Trafford.

Chelsea 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 3rd
Last time champions: 2016-17
Stadium:
Stamford Bridge
Nickname:
The Blues
Manager:
Frank Lampard
Key Additions: Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic (permanently)
Best Player: N’Golo Kante

Can Christian Pulisic replace enough of Edez Hazard’s production for Chelsea to finish top 4 again?

Chelsea are an unpredictable bunch. As seen last season, they’ll be a trainwreck one week, while winning the UEFA Europa League another. With the transfer ban imposed by FIFA for malpractices, their summer was a quiet one.

Then again, when you play with fire and break the rules, you’re bound to get burned. Frank Lampard’s been handed a hoard of responsibilities, perhaps one too many. Chelsea still boasts an exciting, young attack full of potential, but the Premier League’s competitiveness could turn out to be too hot to handle.

A bit of Chelsea history:

  • Compared to other clubs, they’re just babies, having been founded in 1905.
  • They have won the Premier League 5 times.
  • They have won the FA Cup 8 times (the third most in England).
  • Chelsea has 1 Champions League trophy (2011-12) and 2 Europa League titles (including one this past season).
  • They are the first English club to have won the European Treble (Champions League, UEFA Europa League and European Cup Winners’ Cup).

Why you should like Chelsea:

  • Christian Pulisic.
  • Former NYCFC star Frank Lampard is their manager.
  • Their away kit resembles the USMNT’s jersey…intentional?

Chelsea betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +3300
  • To finish top 4: +110
  • To finish top 6: -455
  • Relegation: +100000

Chelsea Outlook:

Chelsea have really been affected by the transfer ban, further slowing their rise to becoming title-contenders.

Considering that owner Roman Abramovich has splashed well over $1 billion since taking over in 2003, spending on transfers has been his pleasured hobby. You gotta use the shady money somewhere, right? (Man City ownership nodding head in approval)

However, luckily for the Blues, wonder-boy Christian Pulisic was snapped up before the transfer ban. He’s the total excitement package fans should trust upon to provide the goods.

Mateo Kovacic’s permanent deal should also smoothen up their midfield. Lampard’s quick-paced, attacking style, along with his trust upon blooming youngsters, brings plenty of positive signs.

However, Chelsea’s defence is still full of issues. David Luiz is a walking time-bomb and the others are either too young or just not good enough. It’s their defensive hiccups which, I feel, will hold them back from competing for a top-four spot. Lampard needs to hope too many problems don’t creep up to end up compromising their chase for Europe.

iew

Last Season: 6th
Last Time Champions:
2012/13
Stadium:
Old Trafford, Manchester
Nickname:
The Red Devils
Manager:
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Key Additions: Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James
Best Player: Paul Pogba (when he’s happy, anyway)

Since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have only made the Premier League top-four twice. This shows just how far they’ve fallen from grace.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they looked invincible for a period of time last season. Then a harsh reality check brought them back to square one. However, United have looked a sharper side in pre-season and better prepared for the season ahead.

Their real downfall has been an inconsistency in form. Can OGS find the right formula to fix that? Expect a wild ride throughout the upcoming campaign.

 A bit of United history:

  • The were founded in 1878 (as Newton Heath LYR FC) and as Manchester United in 1902
  • Man U has won the English top division 20 times (most among any PL club).
  • They are the only Premier League club to win the European treble.
  • They are the most decorated English club with more than 40 trophies.
  • This includes 5 FA Cups (last being 2015-16), 3 European/Champions League (last being 2007-08) and one Europa League (2016-17).

Why you should like United:

  • You’ll have a lot of friends. United are one of the top brands in all of football.
  • They operate with a high-voltage attacking style.
  • Their youngsters are exciting to watch on the field.
  • They have American owners and are traded on the NYSE (MANU)?

Manchester United betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +3300
  • To finish top 4: +100
  • To finish top 6: -500
  • Relegation: +100000

Manchester United Outlook:

Manchester United have been going up and down in the proverbial soccer ladder in recent years.  

However, new dawn could be at bay after a potentially profitable summer. Not only were bright signs displayed in pre-season, but their transfer blitz before the Premier League is encouraging.

Record-setting right-back transfer Aaron Wan-Bissaka has already looked the real deal with his “you shall not pass” vibe. Daniel James blistering speed, I think, will cause nightmares for defenders. Record-setting transferee Harry Maguire is among the top English centre-backs and will exponentially solidify their defence.

Given how positive OGS has been in preseason, for me, shows United should be serious contenders for the top four. They have reinforced their defence — something Arsenal and Spurs have not done. They have signed a combination of proven and promising players with a 90’s United winners’ mentality which, I think, is necessary to bring back the Champions League nights back to Old Trafford.

Chelsea 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 3rd
Last time champions: 2016-17
Stadium:
Stamford Bridge
Nickname:
The Blues
Manager:
Frank Lampard
Key Additions: Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic (permanently)
Best Player: N’Golo Kante

Chelsea are an unpredictable bunch. As seen last season, they’ll be a trainwreck one week, while winning the UEFA Europa League another. With the transfer ban imposed by FIFA for malpractices, their summer was a quiet one.

Then again, when you play with fire and break the rules, you’re bound to get burned. Frank Lampard’s been handed a hoard of responsibilities, perhaps one too many. Chelsea still boasts an exciting, young attack full of potential, but the Premier League’s competitiveness could turn out to be too hot to handle.

A bit of Chelsea history:

  • Compared to other clubs, they’re just babies, having been founded in 1905.
  • They have won the Premier League 5 times.
  • They have won the FA Cup 8 times (the third most in England).
  • Chelsea has 1 Champions League trophy (2011-12) and 2 Europa League titles (including one this past season).
  • They are the first English club to have won the European Treble (Champions League, UEFA Europa League and European Cup Winners’ Cup).

Why you should like Chelsea:

  • Christian Pulisic.
  • Former NYCFC star Frank Lampard is their manager.
  • Their away kit resembles the USMNT’s jersey…intentional?

Manchester United betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +3300
  • To finish top 4: +110
  • To finish top 6: -4550
  • Relegation: +100000

Chelsea Outlook:

Chelsea have really been affected by the transfer ban, further slowing their rise to becoming title-contenders.

Considering that owner Roman Abramovich has splashed well over $1 billion since taking over in 2003, spending on transfer have been his pleasured hobby. You gotta use the shady money somewhere, right? However, before the transfer, wonder-boy Christian Pulisic was snapped up.

The youngster has all the tools to be as good as, perhaps even better than Eden Hazard in running the show. He’s the total excitement package fans should trust upon to provide the goods. Mateo Kovacic’s permanent deal should also smoothen up their midfield. Lampard’s quick-paced, attacking style, along with his trust upon blooming youngsters, brings plenty of positive signs.

However, Chelsea’s defence is still full of issues. David Luiz is a walking time-bomb and the others are either too young or just not good enough. It’s their defensive hiccups which, I feel, will hold them back from competing for a top-four spot. Lampard needs to hope too many problems don’t creep up to end up compromising their chase for Europe.

Transfer Grades: Wayne Rooney Leaving DC United for Derby County

August 7, 2019

Who: Wayne Rooney
From Where:
DC United
To Where:
Derby County
Grade For Derby County:
B+
Grade For DC United:
C

Wayne Rooney to Derby County Overview

Wait a second. When did that happen? Wayne Rooney is all set to make a sensational return to English soccer in January, when he joins up EFL Championship side Derby County. Quite the surprise, isn’t it?

But wait, there’s a catch! He’s joining in a player-coach role, which will not only see him take the field for the Rams, but also act as a mentor to the players. It’s similar to the role Ashley Cole took upon joining Derby last season. So don’t expect seeing Wazza play ninety minutes through the rest of Derby’s second half of the season.

Now, while joining in January won’t allow Rooney to influence their chase for Premier League promotion, this also comes as a major shock for DC United. They were flying high with thoughts of winning the MLS Eastern Conference and more, but losing a vital player like Rooney brings them back to the ground.

Moreover, they are also losing their knight in shining armour to have upgraded their reputation ever since he arrived. Let’s just say replacing him with be a task just as difficult as winning the MLS championship.

What impact should we expect?

Wayne Rooney’s had quite the career revival in the MLS with DC United. Since his move to the US, the former Manchester United striker has been involved in 35 goals (23g, 12a) which has only been surpassed by Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez. Rooney has produced some of the biggest highlights in the league since he came over too.

Now, I think it’s fair to say the jump from the MLS to the exhausting Championship isn’t easy to take for any player. Rooney isn’t getting any younger and at 33 years of age can only play limited games. That being said, when he does play, the 33-year-old is also capable of producing magic.

As seen in the MLS, he’s still gotten that killer goal-scoring instinct which made him among the world’s best at one point. He’s also amplified his creativity while being more vocal, something that’ll help the youngsters. However, what is crucial is that he also joins as a coach. Rooney will work alongside Philip Cocu’s coaching staff, helping the players train and get prepared for games.

Moreover, he’ll also be responsible for coaching the academy players coming through the system. For someone as experienced as Rooney, I think the players should be excited to be working under his guidance to improve themselves. It’ll also be at Derby where he probably works on his coaching licenses, as the former United man has already hinted at reverting to management soon.

There’s also a good chance he returns back to Manchester United, where he apparently wants to work alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer soon. The Norwegian’s already working with a mate of Rooney’s in Michael Carrick. Going by how all-hands-on-deck he is with management, for me, OGS will gladly open his arms to reuniting with another former team-mate which such varied expertise.

The Grades:

Derby County (B+)

That’s one way for Derby to change an England-legend for another one. They’re taking a risk on him as a player, but his expertise in injecting a winning-mentality into the squad makes him invaluable.

Also, If they also manage Premier League promotion, there’s nothing better than Rooney when it comes to performing at the highest level.

DC United (C)

Losing Rooney creates a big roadblock in DC United’s path to future glory. He’s been the heart of the team and won them so many games ever since his arrival from Everton.

Ola Kamara is apparently replacing him, but it just won’t be the same excitement without Wazza.

Don’t Sleep on Ajax

Tyler Everett August 7, 2019

Ajax odds to win Eredivisie: -155
Ajax odds to win Champions League: +6600

A year after taking the Champions League by storm, is Ajax back under the radar ahead of the ’19-20 season?

As expected, Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) and Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) are out of the mix. So what should we expect from this team without them? I’m bullish on their chances to once again make noise in the UCL in March and April, if not May and June, for several reasons.

Before we get into that, let’s talk about whether Donny van de Beek will be back.

Exodus avoided?

It was reasonable to expect Dusan Tadic to return at the age of 30. After signing an extension through ’23, he’s not going anywhere. But at the beginning of the summer, it seemed distinctly unlikely that Tadic, Hakim Ziyech, David Neres, and van de Beek would all return for ’19-20. Barring a last-minute, surprise move for Ziyech or Neres by a top team, those two will be back.

Van de Beek, however, appeared set for a move to Real Madrid as of last Friday. No deal has been signed yet, though. The 22-year-old played in his team’s Eredivise season opener on Saturday. He also played in Tuesday’s Champions League qualifying match against Greek club PAOK.

Tying the opener 2-2 away at PAOK certainly helps their chances of advancing–and maybe keeping van de Beek around longer.

This summer has reminded us, again, that transfers come together and fall apart in the blink of an eye. However, van de Beek’s activity the last few days does not exactly scream “off to Madrid any day now.”

Whether he’s in the fold for his team is a huge deal. There’s a reason RM is – or at least it hopes so — on the verge of acquiring him for around €60M ($67M). It’s not just his numbers a year ago, which were pretty astonishing for any player, especially a midfielder, his age: nine goals and 10 assists domestically, plus three goals and two assists in the Champions League.

He also more than passed the eye test, particularly against Juventus in the UCL quarterfinals and Tottenham in the semis. In Leg 2 of the quarters vs. Juve, he provided a massive equalizer in the 34th after Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal in the 28th. He also scored the only goal of the 1-0 win over Spurs in Leg 1 of the semis.

Casual fans might think Los Blancos are settling for him (if they get him) after seemingly striking out on Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba. On one hand, that’s understandable, as those players are far more proven, and in Pogba’s case, flashy. But van de Beek is a quality young player who stood out on the sport’s brightest stage three months ago. If his days in Amsterdam are indeed numbered, it would be a huge loss for a team that generated a ton of offense thanks to his and de Jong’s work in the midfield.

No shortage of scoring

With or without van de Beek, the optimistic outlook on the upcoming season starts with where the goals will (continue to) come from. Last year, the club’s top five scorers in the Champions League were Tadic (6 goals), van de Beek (3), Hakim Ziyech (3), Nicolás Tagliafico (3) and David Neres (2).

Ajax’s top eight scorers in Eredivisie play last year included all but Tagliafico from those five, plus Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Kasper Dolberg, Daley Blind and Lasse Schone. Schone is the only one on that list who left this summer, joining Serie A side Geona. Even if van de Beek exits as well, the return of six of your top eight scorers is good reason to be pretty confident in your ability to score.

More than the staggering number of goals – a ridiculous 119 in 34 Eredivisie games (3.5 per game) last year – it was this team’s balance that jumped off the page/screen. Tadic’s 28 goals were massive, but he was just one of six (!) players with at least eight goals in domestic play – Ziyech and Huntelaar finished with 16 apiece, Dolberg chipped in 11, van de Beek added 9 and Neres had 8. Depending on what happens with van de Beek, all six of those players could be back.

The bottom line

In addition to the variety of scoring options, there are a couple other factors that make Ajax a good bet to upend another European power or two this season.

For one thing, they’ll have the motivation of being doubted and dismissed as a two-man team a year ago.

The experience they gained in last season’s run should also prove invaluable. These guys were the furthest thing from intimidated on the road at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, the Santiago Bernabéu, Juventus Stadium or Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Ajax’s core will only be that much more comfortable if they make it to this year’s knockout stage.

And last but not least, you have to hope they’ve learned valuable lessons about how to close out/kill off a game after their heartbreaking meltdown in the second half of Leg 2 of last year’s semifinal vs. Spurs.

Ajax are the odds-on favorites to win the Eredivisie at -155. While they haven’t yet qualified for the Group Stage, oddsmakers are giving Ajax proper respect pricing their 2019-20 UEFA Champions League title odds at +6600.

Privacy Policy