William Hill are giving away 50 million to someone who predicts the final Premier League table from 1st to 20th. Here, we take on the challenge to see if the jackpot can be claimed. After reading the article, see if you can have a go yourself.
With the title already in Chelsea’s hands, the team have the know-how when it comes to winning. Having a squad with depth, youth and experience will provide them with the longevity to maintain good form throughout the season. Their manager, Jose Mourinho, has already started the mind games and paired with a foray of attacking talent, while having a world class goalkeeper and a leader in John Terry, The Blues can outscore and shut out any team they are up against.
The Gunners are renowned for fading away towards the end of the season but with the togetherness of the current group and the addition of Petr Cech they have right to gather belief that this could be their year. In terms of youth, Arsenal have plenty. Chuba Akpom has impressed in preseason along with Alex Iwobi. The fans will be hoping Arsenal’s very own Harry Kane can fire them to the title, however they may just fall short.
3. Manchester United
A second year for Louis Van Gaal may come as no surprise to United fans but after achieving what many thought was the bare minimum last year, they need to push on. Questions raised over the lack of fire power can be quelled by the atrocious strength they have in centre midfield. Memphis Depay could well bring the class that United need to maintain Champions League football and finish above their city rivals.
4. Manchester City
With questions over Manuel Pellegrini’s long term future, the ‘oil money’ funded Citizens already have pressure on their shoulders. An addition of English talent will see them pass the FA regulations but may not be the best way to invest. At such costs will come intense scrutiny, especially with rivals getting stronger. City have a strong starting eleven but injuries to key players could see them fall short of expectations. We say, European ambition will hinder their league position, 4th.
After almost winning the league two years ago, last year was an embarrassment. It became a story of 1 step forward, about 5 back. However, with the early investment by Rodgers, the team have had a pre-season to work together along with the settling of contract issues with many players. A new captain in Jordan Henderson will also provide new direction while the much criticised signings of last season have embedded into the squad and will give Liverpool fans a show of their individual talents to land them in 5th.
Again a case of others being stronger, Spurs are set for another tough campaign in terms of breaking into the top 4. Mauricio Pocchetino has steadied the rate of manager sackings and is now looking to build on the progress he made last season. Clearing out players such as Capoue and Stambouli has pleased fans and improved the dressing room. He needs Harry Kane to build on his stellar season if they are to finish higher than our prediction of 6th.
After struggling with the demands of Europe last season Everton can focus on the league this season. Strengthening with the addition of Deulofeu, who shone in his loan season on Merseyside, will give them a creative spark to aid their Belgian talent Romelu Lukaku while the wealth of experience offers a strong core and steadiness within the squad. 7th is the spot they merit, being stronger than teams below but a step below those above.
8. Stoke City
A reinvented Stoke side with a more fluid passing game has made the Britannia side a harder team to face and the destruction of Liverpool on the last day of last season shows how strong they’ve become. The addition of Tello only improves their league chances as well as Bojan’s return from injury, after impressing in his first half season. The loss of Begovic only sees the home grown talent of Jack Butland come to the forefront. A solid Stoke side will only end 8th to more defensively astute teams.
Garry Monk has assembled a very competitive side during his time at The Liberty and with no Wilfried Bony, The Swans have coped just fine. Bafitimbi Gomis should be targeting a double figured goal tally. Franck Tabanou is a solid addition down the left, while Andre Ayew could well prove the signing of the season if he settles in well. A case of No Bony No Problem as the Swans seal 9th.
With the tough demands of a European schedule showing on Everton last season, the Saints look set to imitate their league counterparts. The progress made over the last two seasons looks set to come to a standstill as midweek fixtures take their toll. The squad lacks the depth of others especially in central defence with Gardos out for a lengthy period. The addition of Juanmi will see them score enough to finish in the top 10 nonetheless.
11. Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace looked in danger of returning to the Championship halfway through last season after Tony Pulis resigned on the eve of the season and the team struggled under Neil Warnock. However, former player Alan Pardew took over the reigns and guided The Eagles to a commendable 10th placed finish. With the addition of Yohan Cabaye bolstering their midfield options, Palace should find themselves sitting comfortably in mid-table again.
With Alan Pardew leaving Newcastle last season, their year was the complete opposite of Palace’s. Placed comfortably in mid-table when Pardew left, The Magpies plummeted down the league, only narrowly avoiding relegation. However, with Steve McClaren brought in as manager and the introduction of new signings, including the impressive acquisition of Giorgio Wijnaldum, rather than the typical selling of their top stars, Newcastle should enjoy a more comfortable season.
13. West Ham
West Ham were another team to have a season of two halves during 2014-15. The Hammers found themselves in the top 4 on Christmas Day, but as fans grew frustrated with Sam Allardyce and his style of play, results began to suffer. The club eventually finished in 12th, a position that probably reflected the ability of their squad. Despite the loss of Stuart Downing, one of their star performers last season, and their second half slump, West Ham should find themselves as a Premier League side ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium.
For the third year in succession, Sunderland sacked their manager mid season as they looked to keep themselves in the Premier League. Dick Advocaat arrived and used his vast experience to steer the club to a 16th placed finish with more attacking displays than under previous boss Gus Poyet. After a successful battle to convince Advocaat to stay, Sunderland should become a more solid outfit, and climb to the top of the relegation scrap.
15. West Brom
Tony Pulis boasts an impressive record of never being relegated in his managerial career and extended that after being brought in by the Baggies last year. Saido Berahino has remained at the club despite reported interested from Spurs and the improving Brown Ideye now has a full Premier League season under his belt, but new arrivals have been limited meaning it is hard to envisage the club moving up the Premier League table. Despite this, the promotions and relegations of the early 2000’s are now a distant memory and West Brom should comfortably see themselves into a 7th straight Premier League campaign.
16. Norwich City
Despite coming up through the play-offs, Norwich look best equipped of the newly promoted sides to maintain their Premier League status. The Canaries kept most of their 2012-13 squad together in the Championship so now have a team full of players with previous Premier League experience and were arguably the second tier’s form team in 2015 after going on an incredible run to finish 3rd following Alex O’Neil’s appointment in January. With no Luis Suarez to haunt them this year, we expect them to avoid relegation.
17. Leicester City
Many people thought Leicester were down and out in March last year as they found themselves rooted to the foot of the Premier League table. However, an incredible run of 7 wins in their last 9 games saw Nigel Pearson and his squad climb to 14th by the end of the season. Despite this, the eccentric Pearson was relieved of his duties during the summer with former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri brought in. The move has been met with plenty of scepticism, but Ranieri’s experience could prove critical in Leicester’s battle for survival.
18. Aston Villa
Villa fans have endured tough times in recent seasons and looked destined for the Championship last year before Tim Sherwood was brought in and saved their campaign. However, with top scorer Christian Benteke and club captain Fabian Delph both leaving during the summer, and Sherwood still lacking in managerial experience, Villa look set to endure a miserable season, losing their Premier League status for the first time in their history.
Watford were in the upper echelons of the Championship throughout last season before eventually sealing their Premier League return with a second placed finish. However, the step up from the Championship to the Premier League is a big one and despite the free scoring Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra forming a formidable partnership, the Hornets are set to face an immediate relegation.
Like Burnley in 2013-14, very few people expected Bournemouth to be challenging for Premier League promotion at the start of last season. However, with young Englishman Eddie Howe at the helm, the team played an expansive brand of football that saw them score 98 goals on the way to winning the Championship. Despite this, and the addition of Premier League experience with Sylvain Distin, The Cherries look the weakest team in the Premier League and set for a difficult debut campaign.[separator type=”thin”]
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Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line
The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.
The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.
Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”
The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.
Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.
Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.
From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.
Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.
Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.
Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.
This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.
But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.
In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest
The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.
Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.
Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.
Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.
The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.
The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.
If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.
However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.
The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.
Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.
The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.
Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.
Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.
The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.
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