Friday, August 9, 2013

Premier League preseason rankings 11-20

Here's the bottom half of the table.

Usually this is much harder to predict, and most likely I'll get this wrong.  But I've made it with the intention of averaging out where they could finish since one or two unpredictable games throws this out of whack.

11. Norwich City 45 points:  Adding Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper gives them more consistent striking options than Grant Holt, who joined Wigan in the Championship.  Their back 4 has some issues, so while you can expect them to attack a bit more, they're still prone to suffering big defeats so they'll probably finish below Fulham on goal difference.
12. West Bromwich Albion 45 points: Romelu Lukaku won't be around this time, so they could suffer a drop-off in goals scored but overall they defend pretty well, and will stay out of the relegation scrap. That being said the last two years they were mathematically assured of survival, they basically coasted to the end of the season.  
13. West Ham 44 points:  Sam Allardyce divides opinion. Some people can't stand his emphasis on long balls and physical play, while others are just happy that it works and keeps them up.  As with a lot of his previous teams he can get a couple decent signings to keep them in the Premier League but the impact wears off.  Signing Andy Carroll suits their style of play.
14. Cardiff City 42 points:  They stormed their way through the Championship, made some okay signings, certainly more than their competitors, and from what I've seen they play decent football. It may take a while to reach the magic 40 point mark, but I think they'll reach it.  Probably the most likely of the newly promoted sides to survive.
15. Aston Villa 41 points: Keeping Christian Benteke was a huge plus for Paul Lambert's young side. Lambert's unafraid to play young players and while they suffered some thrashings midway through the season, they played well towards the end of the season.  They may struggle for a bit, but should secure safety by early April.
16. Sunderland 40 points: While Paulo di Canio gave Sunderland the boost they needed towards the end, he seems most likely to suffer from second-season syndrome, despite the signings he's made.  Sunderland had a pretty poor disciplinary record too, Altidore may have a point to prove as he struggled in England when he played for Hull City, and Giaccherini might impress
17. Newcastle United 38 points: This club is in a huge mess, ranging from issues such as internal power struggles, a sporting director who can't pronounce his own players' names and is so deluded with his own managerial success, Papiss Cisse's refusal to wear the Wonga logo, etc.  They probably won't go down, but it's definitely not a situation you want to be in.
18. Stoke City 34 points (R): Mark Hughes may be a great interviewer considering how many jobs he's left or been sacked from, but the pressure will be on him immediately.
19. Crystal Palace 29 points (R):  Unless they get a couple players back from loan, they probably won't stay up.  Too many Championship players on their belt, not enough players reinvested in.  
20. Hull City 26 points (R): Sorry, Hull City Tigers that is.  Still have a team largely built with championship players, and Steve Bruce has yet to make any improvements.     

Premier League preseason favorites 1-10

2013-14 Premier League projected rankings and points earned.  Based on current squads, subject to change if players come and go.

Expect games between the top 3 to be very cagey, but also very decisive for who wins the title this season.

  1. Chelsea 88 points:  I'm not just saying this because Mourinho's come back, although his previous accomplishments in the Premier League and his more attack-minded players certainly help.  They have continued to stockpile No. 10's and attacking midfielders, and they'll keep Romelu Lukaku who can offer them a more consistent striking option despite his youth.  The Ba/Torres tradeoff (clinical goalscoring vs. fluidity) can be avoided in big games. They have minor weaknesses, such as a lack of a defensive midfielder, but that might hurt them more in the Champions League.    
  2. Manchester City 82 points:  Navas adds attacking width which City sorely lacked last season, and Jovetic + Negredo gives them 4 strong strikers.  While the amount of money they've spent is once again really high, they have done enough to go above United, but Manuel Pellegrini is in his first year with the team and the Premier League for that matter so he may have his own learning curve dealing with consistent compact defending and a lack of pressing.   
  3. Manchester United 78 points:  David Moyes has inherited an already good team, considering how easily they won the title.  The problem though, is that the teams around them have improved more and United have not.  Despite the rumors,I'm pretty sure Wayne Rooney will stay and have a good year as he tends to, during the year before a major international tournament. Squad depth will help them only so much and a difficult start to the season may make it difficult to establish early momentum.
  4. Tottenham 73 points:  They've spent a lot of money this summer in an attempt to keep Bale satisfied and it looks like Champions League or bust.  Luckily for them Arsenal haven't improved enough.  Very good starting XI, but they lack the squad depth to mount a title challenge.  AVB will likely move to his favored 4-3-3 with Paulinho and Dembele providing energetic runs from midfield.    
  5. Arsenal 69 points:  Arsene Wenger usually gets the best out of his squad, but they usually take a while to hit top form.  They recorded just 1 win against teams who finished in the top 5 and that was against Spurs.  This time they may not be so lucky.  Getting a clinical striker could make the difference.
  6. Liverpool  60 points: Brendan Rodgers may have added some more strikers, perhaps as insurance for Suarez, but his tactics are a bit bizarre for what he's trying to accomplish.  He likes passing and playing out of the back, but he doesn't buy mobile defenders, nor does he play a pressing game.  Big reason why they struggled against teams in the top 5, only 1 win out of 10 games. 
  7. Swansea 55 points:  Laudrup found a good balance between ball retention and penetrative passing.  Very impressive finish last season and they've added smartly to the squad.  Europa League games could test squad depth if they qualify.
  8. Everton 52 points: They've also got a new manager in Roberto Martinez, who will favor keeping the ball on the ground.  What may hurt them is the lack of personnel to play Martinez's way.  Still, enough talent to finish comfortably in the middle of the table. 
  9. Southampton 50 points: Mauricio Pochettino is a Bielsa-esque type manager, who will get his team to press energetically and take lots of shots.  They managed to add Victor Wanyama, who was Celtic's standout player in the Champions League.  While it's tempting to say new-manager syndrome will wear off, I think Pochettino will continue to impress.  
  10. Fulham 45 points:  Adding Martin Stekelenburg was a good move.  He's an experienced keeper and a good replacement for the aging Mark Schwarzer.  They tend to stop caring once they hit the 40 point mark.  Not very impressive tactically but enough experienced players to keep them out of relegation scraps.