So, it’s the end of a not so thrilling season when it came to the title race, but plenty of new records were set and it’s time to have a look back at my predictions which I made before a ball was kicked as well as a few words on each.
Some of my predictions were spot on, but unfortunately, more than a few of them were amiss.
I’ve decided to do a position differential points system, which I’ve kind of made up myself, but in future years it might be a nice way to measure how much worse I’m getting over time. Obviously, the lower the score, the better.
I’ll compare the actual table to my predictions.
1st – Manchester City
Predicted – 1st (differential = 0)
They were favourites before the season began and with good reason, as Pep Guardiola eventually proved. Manchester City hit 100 points with a last gasp victory at St Mary’s on the last day of the season and set all kinds of new records. Only Liverpool and Manchester United were able to beat them in the league this season, and it’s hard to see them being able to improve on such a stunning campaign next year.
2nd – Manchester United
Predicted – 2nd (differential = 0)
For a team that finished second, Manchester United’s season felt awfully underwhelming. With the strength of Manchester City, it was perhaps the gulf between the city rivals which made it all the more disappointing for United. Mourinho’s much maligned negative football secured as good a standing as they could have hoped for, but fans want to see more of the type of football that is going on at the Etihad.
3rd – Tottenham
Predicted – 4th (differential = 1)
Another trophyless season comes and goes for Tottenham, but it still feels like they’re making progress. They coped most of the season without Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez flew under the radar despite having a fantastic debut season. It’s tough to see where they go from here, though. Pochettino should be targeting domestic cup success, really, as it’s the easiest route to silverware.
4th – Liverpool
Predicted – 6th (differential = 2)
Expectations were not clear going into the season for Liverpool. Many doubted Mo Salah’s relevance to the Liverpool squad (including me) but he has become the highest scoring Premier League player in a 38 game season and defied almost all expectations. Liverpool need a goalkeeper and an anchorman desperately if they want to improve on fourth next year. Naby Keita joining will spruce up the midfield, but silly results away from home need to stop.
5th – Chelsea
Predicted – 3rd (differential = 2)
My pre season prediction for City, United, Chelsea as a tricast was looking very rosy until January. The former two kept their side of the bargain, but Chelsea’s form dropped off a cliff around the halfway point in the campaign. Ultimately, they recovered enough to give themselves a shot at fourth place on the last day of the season, but Liverpool held off their late charge to deny the Blues Champions League football.
6th – Arsenal
Predicted – 5th (differential = 1)
Not many onlookers thought that Arsenal would have a standout season this year, but it turned out to be one of their worst in decades. In the end, Arsene Wenger decided to call time on his time in North London, which was the right decision. Now the club can look to pastures new. If the next manager can replicate Wenger’s heyday, no one at Arsenal will be complaining.
7th – Burnley
Predicted – 15th (differential = 8)
My first prediction to be wildly off, although not many thought that Sean Dyche and Co. would qualify for the 2018/19 Europa League season. Watching Burnley in Europe will be intriguing, given that they could face the likes of AC Milan, Villarreal and Marseille should they qualify from the preliminary rounds.
8th – Everton
Predicted – 7th (differential = 1)
Everton had a very peculiar season. After Koeman got the chop, Big Sam was brought in to “save” the Merseyside club who were 13th place at the time. After his effective but ugly playstyle brought them about as high as they could have expected given their terrible start, he was promptly sacked. Everton’s next manager should be aware that style matters more than substance at Goodison, apparently.
9th – Leicester
Predicted – 9th (differential = 0)
This season was about par for the course for Leicester. No one expects them to repeat their heroic Premier League winning season any time soon, nor do they expect them to threaten relegation. Claude Puel has done a good job of steadying the ship following the removal of Craig Shakespeare last year and the club would be foolish to get rid of him so promptly. They look set to lose Riyad Mahrez and will need to replace their star man.
10th – Newcastle
Predicted – 18th (differential = 8)
Admittedly, this prediction was largely based off the fact that Rafa Benitez would become fed up with Newcastle’s owners and leave St James’ Park. The Magpies had a stunning second half of the season and claimed several high profile scalps on their way to a top half finish. They have to keep hold of Jamaal Lascelles and bring in a few more quality players if they want to do the same next year.
11th – Crystal Palace
Predicted – 13th (differential = 2)
After what looked to be an ominous start to the campaign, Roy Hodgson became Palace’s saviour. Palace lost their first seven games without scoring, and critics were talking about record breaking seasons in the wrong way. Wilfried Zaha carried the team by himself at times and was instrumental in their ascent to 11th position.
12th – Bournemouth
Predicted – 10th (differential = 2)
Once again, Bournemouth looked like they might have been in trouble approaching the second half of the season, but a strong finish helped them to 12th. What I love about Bournemouth is that they don’t really have any standout individuals, but as a team, they’re becoming a Premier League regular. It’s tough to see how things could get much better for them, but Eddie Howe will try.
13th – West Ham
Predicted – 8th (differential = 5)
The Hammers flirted with relegation for most of the season despite having a squad which should have finished in the top half of the table with ease. Their managerial debacle throughout the season certainly didn’t help, and Marko Arnautovic often looked like the only bright spark. With Manuel Pellegrini coming in, their league position can only improve next year, surely.
14th – Watford
Predicted – 14th (differential = 0)
A lot of people touted Watford as a potential relegation candidate back in August last year. Their form in the middle third of the season shows why some people may have thought that, but they did enough to climb to a respectable 14th position. Javi Gracia needs to bring in new players if he wants to improve on this next campaign.
15th – Brighton
Predicted – 16th (differential = 1)
Although I was very close to predicting their league position perfectly, the season did not go how I thought it would for Brighton. Glenn Murray turned out to be the key man up front, and Anthony Knockaert disappeared. Brighton won’t complain though, and looked like they deserved to retain their Premier League status every bit.
16th – Huddersfield
Predicted – 20th (differential = 4)
The vast majority of onlookers had Huddersfield down as a dead cert for relegation, and I was no exception. The Terrier proved all of us wrong and thanks to a few strong results in the closing weeks of the season, kept themselves up with a game to play. Another survival next season should be of equal note.
17th – Southampton
Predicted – 11th (differential = 6)
What a disappointing season for the Saints. Charlie Austin’s injury hit them very hard, but they were already in trouble by Christmas time. Mauricio Pellegrino was given too much time, but ultimately the club survived, which is the important thing. Now Mark Hughes has the task of restoring Southampton to Premier League stability.
18th – Swansea
Predicted – 19th (differential = 1)
Carlos Carvalhal’s honeymoon period with the Swans just didn’t last long enough. Victory against Southampton in their penultimate match would have been enough, but the South Wales club didn’t look like they wanted it. A gutless end to the season has sent them back down to the Championship.
19th – Stoke City
Predicted – 17th (differential = 2)
Stoke will not be too sorely missed from the Premier League. The team often looked like Xherdan Shaqiri vs. the world and he will surely move on now. Gary Rowett looks like an astute appointment and it could be interesting to see what he does with them, but for now, their decade in the promised land is over.
20th – West Brom
Predicted – 12th (differential = 8)
Joint with Newcastle and Burnley, West Brom were my worst prediction. Tony Pulis, the expert of avoiding relegation, got the sack very early in the season and Alan Pardew was absolutely hopeless in the job. Hopefully Darren Moore will be trusted with the role full time, should he want it, after his Manager of the Month award for April.
Differential score = 54
I have nothing to measure this against, but it does not look like a great score! Next year, hopefully we’ll find out how it compares.
Away from the table
I also predicted Romelu Lukaku to finish as top goalscorer which was some way off, as Salah strolled to victory in that category. The closer call was Kevin de Bruyne to win Player of the Season, but he was most people’s second pick behind Liverpool’s Egyptian king in the end.
A few of my better suggested bets were: Lacazette to outscore Morata (5/6), Bournemouth to finish about Southampton (15/8), Burnley to avoid the drop (11/10) which was always far too generous and Stoke to go down at (6/1) (I know, I know, I predicted them to go down, but still advised the bet).
Nevertheless, some terrible shouts were made: Benteke to top score for Palace (1/5) which I called “a given”, Knockaert to top score for Brighton (3/1) and Lukaku to win the Golden Boot (5/1).
My big fancy at the beginning of the season (which for a large part I thought would come off) was Man City/Man Utd/Chelsea tricast at 25/1, but Chelsea let me down, perhaps to Liverpool’s benefit so I can’t complain too much.
I’ll be back in August with another one of these, you lucky sods.
Before then, I’m planning on a World Cup preview with my predictions similar to this and I’m tempted to do a Fantasy Premier League preview before the season begins, but I don’t want to give away too many secrets to my “competitors”.