Earlier this year I made some Premier League predictions, now the season is over it’s time to look back and see how I did…
AFC Bournemouth: Predicted 10th, Actual 12th
The Cherries’ form in the first half of the season suggested that this could have been the season where they came unstuck, but Eddie Howe’s men turned it around after Christmas and in the end stayed up with ease. A few were questioning Howe’s position as his side struggled for goals but their tally of 28 points in the second half of the season shows signs of real progress, and is indicative of a team that now feels like it belongs in the top flight. The next challenge for them is to push for a Europa League spot.
Arsenal: Predicted 5th, Actual 6th
Arsenal finished outside the top four for the first time in XX years in 2016/17 and they fell further this season, leading to the departure of Arsene Wenger after XX years in charge. Their home form was strong – only Manchester City picked up more home wins – but their record on the road was dreadful, picking up a more sixteen points. Attendances also dropped away quickly, which is believed to be a contributory factor in Wenger’s departure.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Predicted 16th, Actual 15th
The Seagulls’ home form was key to their survival in their first Premier League season, picking up 29 of their 40 points at the Amex. Chris Hughton’s careful management kept their heads above water all season long and the 1-0 win over Manchester United to ensure their survival was the icing on the cake. Glenn Murray’s twelve goals and the form of Pascal Gross were pivotal in a team that sometimes struggled for goals. Further investment is needed in the summer though if they are to progress next season.
Burnley: Predicted 19th, Actual 7th
This is one I got very wrong – despite their indifferent summer business, Sean Dyche’s team were the surprise package of the season and can look forward to European football in 2018/19. There are no standout individuals in this Burnley side – their work ethic and team spirit allow them to be more than the sum of their parts, although Nick Pope deserves a mention for stepping into Tom Heaton’s shoes and having a superb season. Their biggest challenge next season will be balancing domestic and European commitments.
Chelsea: Predicted 3rd, Actual 5th
Last season’s champions put up a very meek title defence and flopped in Europe, leaving Antonio Conte almost certain to lose his job in the summer. Their thin squad did not help matters, although this was to some extent self-inflicted with the huge number of players they had farmed out on loan. Alvaro Morata has so far been an inadequate replacement for Diego Costa and a need to balance the books has left them short in other areas of the field. It will be interesting to see what move Abramovich makes next.
Crystal Palace: Predicted 13th, Actual 11th
Palace finished not far from where I initially predicted, but the route they took to get there was a little more surprising. In hindsight the de Boer experiment was always doomed to failure – he was expected to radically change the team’s philosophy but was given very little in the way of funding to build his own squad, so it was left to Roy Hodgson to perform the rescue act. He deserves a lot of credit for turning round a side that lost their first seven goals, all without scoring a goal.
Everton: Predicted 7th, Actual 8th
The Toffees also had a difficult season but strangely ended up more or less where they were last season. Ronald Koeman spent big in the summer but ended up with a very unbalanced squad and their first ten games were a disaster, leaving them without a manager and in the relegation zone. Everton’s owners floundered and eventually called on Sam Allardyce, who pulled the team to safety but at the same time sucked the life out of the supporters, many of whom are desperate to see the back of him.
Huddersfield Town: Predicted 20th, Actual 16th
David Wagner and his team defied the odds and the predictions of many to stay up and earn themselves a second season in the Premier League. They only mustered 28 goals all campaign but a tight defence and superb team spirit helped to compensate for their lack of cutting edge, and they only spent one week in the bottom three all season. The away draws at Manchester City and Chelsea epitomised what Wagner’s team are all about and ensured they would get another crack at Premier League football.
Leicester City: Predicted 9th, Actual 9th
Leicester’s season was an improvement on 2016/17, comfortably finishing in the top half despite a slow start to the campaign. Craig Shakespeare’s appointment as permanent manager was a curious one at the time and he didn’t last long, losing his job in October. Claude Puel came in and quickly hauled the Foxes into the top half, where they stayed for the rest of the season despite some indifferent form. Many fans have already lost patience with his defensive style of football, so the Frenchman could find himself sacked despite achieving another top-half finish.
Liverpool: Predicted 6th, Actual 4th
Jurgen Klopp’s side actually scored a point less than last season but the majority of fans will be very happy with how this year has gone. Alongside their stunning run to the Champions League final, they have shown gradual improvement in the league despite the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona in January. The addition of van Dijk was an expensive one but he brought some much-needed solidity and leadership to the back line, and of course we cannot forget the incredible performances of Mo Salah. Their 4-3 win over Manchester City was arguably the game of the season, hopefully they can win a sixth European title in Kiev.
Manchester City: Predicted 1st, Actual 1st
Many predicted that Guardiola would win his first Premier League title this season, but I doubt anyone thought they would win it by such a huge margin. His team has broken pretty much every record going on their way to a century of points, finishing 19 points ahead of their city rivals. Their hopes of a quadruple were scuppered by Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup and Liverpool comfortably got the better of them in the Champions League, so while it was a stellar season there is still room for improvement at the Etihad.
Manchester United: Predicted 2nd, Actual 2nd
Second place is a noticeable improvement on the previous season but many United fans have been left disappointed. One reason is that they never looked like challenging City for the title despite their significant transfer outlay in the summer, and another factor has been their uninspiring and often dull style of play. Their final tally of 81 points is undoubtedly a good total but the way it has been achieved leaves a little to be desired, and the manner of their exit from the Champions League was insipid.
Newcastle United: Predicted 15th, Actual 10th
Newcastle’s top half finish can mostly be attributed to one man – Rafa Benitez, who has defied expectations and a meagre budget to comfortably avoid an immediate return to the Championship. His side won nearly all home matches against their rivals – surely not a coincidence – and despite a run of one point in nine games early in the season they survived relatively comfortably. Most fans will be hoping that Mike Ashley finally sells up and Benitez can be given the backing he deserves.
Southampton: Predicted 11th, Actual 17th
The Saints had recorded three consecutive top half finishes, but it all unravelled for them this season and they very nearly suffered an unexpected relegation. They started they season well enough under Mauricio Pellegrino but their form fell away badly in December, and the owner’s reluctance to make a change almost cost them their top flight status. He initially struggled but picked up vital wins against Bournemouth and Swansea, which was enough to keep them up with a game to spare.
Stoke City: Predicted 17th, Actual 19th
Stoke’s poor summer business left me concerned about how they might get on and those worries turned out to be well-founded. Mark Hughes’ side could neither score nor keep goals out at the other end, and if anything the owners were generous in giving him until mid-January before relieving him of his position. The appointment of Paul Lambert was met with derision, and after his first game in charge he could only pick up seven points from the next 13 games, ending Stoke’s ten-year stint in the Premier League.
Swansea City: Predicted 18th, Actual 18th
Another spot on prediction – many thought that Swansea would struggle again after last season’s great escape and that turned out to be the case. Their attack looked weak on paper and on the pitch they simply couldn’t find the back of the net, scoring 28 goals all season. Paul Clement was sacked with the side bottom of the league, however Carlos Carvalhal won five of his first eleven in charge to give them hope. Three goals and three points in their last nine games meant a return to the Championship after seven years in the top flight.
Tottenham Hotspur: Predicted 4th, Actual 3rd
It was another season of steady progress at Spurs, finishing in the top three once more and improving on their previous efforts in the Champions League. They never looked capable of challenging for the title but their league form held up well despite playing home matches at Wembley, and their performances in the Champions League will be a big positive for them. They are still yet to win a trophy under Pochettino however, and they will be keen to get that monkey off their back next season.
Watford: Predicted 12th, Actual 14th
Another nondescript season at Vicarage Road – they rarely looked in any real danger of going down but that was as good as it got for Watford, who achieved another mid-table finish. Marco Silva took over in the summer and his team started brightly, but their form tailed off rapidly and he was sacked in January. Javi Gracia took over but results did not improve, and their final finishing position was the lowest they had been all season. Twenty points from their last 25 games will surely be a concern for Watford’s owners.
West Bromwich Albion: Predicted 14th, Actual 20th
West Brom’s campaign was nothing short of a disaster, and yet if they had only been slightly better they probably would have avoided relegation. Their poor form of the second half of 2016/17 carried over into this campaign, leading to the inevitable sacking of Tony Pulis. Alan Pardew’s hopeless record of one win in 18 meant relegation was almost certain when he was finally removed from his position, and a late surge under Darren Moore wasn’t enough. The owners should take most of the blame for a pathetic season.
West Ham United: Predicted 8th, Actual 13th
A 13th place finish does not tell the full story of a tumultuous season at the London Stadium. Slaven Bilic was unsurprisingly sacked in November, but there was widespread shock when David Moyes was announced as his replacement. It took a while for results to pick up but a six match unbeaten run in January hauled them out of trouble, albeit they did slip back down the table leading to the unsavoury scenes at the home match against Burnley. Moyes has done a good job in spite of the owners and the atmosphere at the London Stadium.