Thursday, August 11, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week1

Hull v/s Leicester - Away
Burnley v/s Swansea - Away
Crystal Palace v/s West Brom - Home
Everton v/s Spurs - Home
Middlesbrough v/s Stoke - Home
Southampton v/s Watford - Draw
Man City v/s Sunderland - Home
Bournemouth v/s Man Utd _ Away
Arsenal v/s Liverpool - Away
Chelsea v/s West Ham - Home

Caution is the name of the game on every debut week; there is really no form book to get an inkling of the readiness of the teams. The pre-season friendlies can be misguiding. But Guardiola's first game looks something within his grasp as Sunderland visit the Etihaad. The Black Cats are under new manager Moyes and the Scot is bound to have a period of adjustment before getting to know his team. Class should tell here and with the non-negligible home advantage, Man City are heavily favored in this one.

I also like Man Utd's chances as they visit Bournemouth. They lost this fixture last year but this means nothing this season. Mourinho will be keen to start on a positive note and since I don't see the Cherries as having a better season than the last, I think the Red Devils are fully capable of getting full points here.

As value, Livepool might be the best pick of the week. Arsenal are short in the central defending position and the Kops have definitely in them to shock Arsene's team.

Win: Man City, Man Utd,
Value pick: Liverpool

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

EPL 2016/2017 - The Battle of Manchester

Here we go again for what promises to be a spectacular season in the EPL. The world's best players might be playing in Spain but the elite of managers is here; Guardiola, Mourinho, Klopp, Conte to name a few...

Here is the first prediction; one of the Manchester teams will win it. That means that Leicester won't repeat. Great work last year Ranieri and co but lightning will most probably not strike twice. The Foxes are still a very good team but another sustained run from them looks highly improbable. Arsenal will struggle to last the distance as usual. They need some world-class reinforcements in there and they don't seem to be getting any. Liverpool have an admirable attacking force but their suspect defence is bound to let them down. As for Chelsea, Conte will make them a better defensive team but the legs are getting old and they will rely too much on Hazard to produce.

This leaves the Manchester clubs that will definitely be on the upgrade from last year. Take Man City. The arrival of Guardiola will have brought confidence, energy and more importantly a winning mentality to the squad. The talent has always been there in the last few years but the mental toughness of the players has always been a question mark. Probably Guardiola can rectify that. De Bryune had a great season last year and could yet elevate to newer heights. The old guard Aguero, Toure, Silva have a last big hurrah season in them. Sterling can go back terrorizing defences if given the boost in confidence. And the additions of Stones and Jesus add worth to a deeply-talented squad. Guardiola will have his rough introduction to the EPL, particularly during the winter months when there is no break, but if they can get through this spell unscathed, they have the best squad in the league to last them through.

The club with the greatest overhaul is Man Utd. Cometh at the helm Mourinho, typically their greatest managerial enemy. The Portugese talked about the mystique of the club during his introduction; core fans will have argued that some of the mystique had gone with his appointment; throughout his career, he clearly has shown a disdain for values that the club so cherishes. But he is a proven winner of championships and if the end result is getting back their winning mojo, then realistic fans will view this as a necessary appointment. Then, there's the coming of Zlatan. At 35, maybe his best days are behind him. But he was still a dominant force at PSG over the last few years. It looks like he can carry at the highest level for a couple more years and if he adapts well to the rigours of the Premiership, he could be one of the best free buys ever. Imagine Zlatan and Fellaini towering a bunch of defenders in the opposing penalty area as Man Utd search for a goal... Then, there's Pogba. The ex-Man Utd reject went to Juventus for free and now is back with the club out of the pocket for 89 million pounds? This is indecent. He doesn't (and will never) score like Ronaldo, Messi or Bale or Neymar. What has he won besides titles at a dominating Juventus in a poor Italian league? He's a great midfielder and talent but this could be one of the worst buys in the history of football. But he still enhances the Red Devils midfield by a large margin. Maybe he could be the Roy Keane or Paul Scholes that every Man Utd fan has been looking for since the retirements of the 2 Old Trafford legends. What is for sure, United will be better than last year and Mourinho usually self-destructs on the 3rd year, so things are looking very rosy for this campaign.

It's Guardiola v/s Mourinho again. It's the battle of Manchester again for the supremacy of English football. My feeling is that the Red part of Manchester will be the ones partying in the end. This is going to be a wild ride of a season; thanks for tuning for the weekly fixtures.

Win: Man Utd