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Antony Melvin's Premier League Prediction 2007/8
"Last season I placed 4 teams in their final finishing position ... and two teams (Chelsea and Watford) in the correct position and with the correct points" The league is now split into three sections. The top section of five clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United and Spurs) will contest the top four places - but not all five are capable of becoming champions. The bottom section of six clubs most likely to suffer the drop include the three promoted teams plus perennial strugglers Middlesbrough, Fulham and Wigan. And in the middle come the rest - a good season will end in a Euro campaign and a bad season will see them reaching for their Tevez.
Last season's predictions are included and again this year I will attempt to predict the points yield as well as the position. Last season I placed 4 teams in their final finishing position (Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Watford); three teams with the correct points (Chelsea, Fulham and Watford) and two teams (Chelsea and Watford) in the correct position and with the correct points.
Premier League: Manchester United
Champions League: Chelsea
UEFA Cup: Everton
FA Cup: Manchester City
League Cup: Arsenal
Premier League 2007/8 Prediction
1. Manchester United 83-88 points
Last season's prediction: 3rd 80-85 points
Actual: 1st 89 points
I tipped Liverpool for the title last season, and Chelsea the season before and so rotating like the best of them I'm going for Manchester United this season. The reason is really a case of why not - Arsenal are too young, Liverpool aren't quite ready and Chelsea will be missing players through injury now and through the African Cup of Nations in January. The performance last season was special but the players brought in (Tevez for Smith, Nani for Richardson, Hargreaves for Fletcher/O'Shea etc) are of far better quality. There seems little reason to doubt that United can achieve a similar number of points - and there are grave doubts that anyone else can.
2. Liverpool 77-82 points
Last season's prediction: 1st 83-88 points
Actual: 3rd 68 points
Liverpool were a disappointment last season dropping from the heights of getting to 80 points in 2005/6 to slumping under 70 points next season. Some points were dropped when the season was over and the Champions' League final approaching but nevertheless it was not what was expected. This is Benitez's fourth season in charge and after spending close to £50m on a mixture of stars and youth everyone will be expecting a title tilt - the spending gives them the strength in depth for a long season and must be worth the fat end of ten extra points.
3. Chelsea 75-80 points
Last season's prediction: 2nd 82-87 points
Actual: 2nd 83 points
Hard to split Liverpool and Chelsea but Chelsea are crippled by injuries as the season starts and will be denuded in January by the African Cup of Nations. This season gives the impression that it will be one of waiting for players to recover or regain their form or return from abroad - but leaving Chelsea with the second half of the season at full strength and at full tilt for the Champions' League. A relatively weak domestic season could open the door for European glory.
4. Tottenham 68-73 points
Last season's prediction: 5th 70-75 points
Actual: 5th 60 points
Last season I though Spurs would kick on a few points into the 70s and instead they started the season badly after a spate of injuries. Jol has again strengthened and Spurs now give the impression that money will be no object as they strive for a top four finish. Another fifth place finish could cost Jol his job - but perhaps this season he can get Spurs firing early to reap the extra 10 points needed to keep Arsenal at arms length.
5. Arsenal 65-70 points
Last season's prediction: 4th 75-80 points
Actual: 4th 68 points
With Henry gone it is debateable whether Arsenal as a team are actually worse - but it is harder to prove before the shooting starts whether they will be better. Pre-season predictions are about gut instinct and last season Arsenal yielded about 10 less points than I expected - which surprised me. I don't think that the summer will propel them forward significantly and I see 2007/8 as being a season of consolidation before a serious improvement in 2008/9.
6. Aston Villa 55-60 points
Last season's prediction: 7th 58-63 points
Actual: 11th 50 points
I was far too optimistic about Villa last term expecting them to pick up another ten points; but O'Neill's slow, but careful rebuilding process will succeed. I'm confident that Villa are capable of the 7 or 8 point improvement that will result in UEFA Cup football in 2008/9.
7. Manchester City 54-59 points
Last season's prediction: 13th 45-50 points
Actual: 14th 42 points
Last season's prediction about City was pretty good - just one place and a handful of points in error. But this season I'm confident that Eriksson's superb club management record will yield tangible results. It may take a couple of months for City to gel - but once they do they will be formidable. Too early for a top four challenge - but maybe next season...
8. Everton 53-58 points
Last season's prediction: 10th 50-55 points
Actual: 6th 58 points
Everton went well last season and in the close battle amongst the upper mid-table teams outperformed my prediction by four or five points. This season there are a lot of teams spending big - Everton may yet do so - but UEFA Cup football may well mean that Everton will struggle to kick on too much higher that their 2006/7 mark of 58 points.
9. West Ham 51-56 points
Last season's prediction: 11th 48-53 points
Actual: 15th 41 points
Last season was a disappointment for West Ham and I was about ten points off the mark suggesting an 11th place finish; this season strong recruitment in January and this summer coupled with the return of Ashton should yield them 10-15 points more than last year and a mid-table finish.
10. Portsmouth 49-54 points
Last season's prediction: 6th 62-67 points
Actual: 9th 54 points
Last season I was too optimistic about Portsmouth's chances and a sixth place finish seemed less likely as the season dragged on. This summer has seen plenty of transfer activity but given the lethargic end to the season I think that this will be a season of consolidation with a similar finish on similar points likely.
11. Blackburn 48-53 points
Last season's prediction: 9th 55-60 points
Actual: 10th 52 points
Another very near thing on the prediction front with Blackburn finishing one place and five points lower than I expected. Given the amount of spending in The Premier League it will take an almighty effort for Blackburn to finish in the Euro places - and only good luck with injuries and suspensions will allow them to finish in the top six. A similar finish to last season predicted.
12. Newcastle United 47-52 points
Last season's prediction: 8th 57-62 points
Actual: 13th 43 points
Not sure why I thought that Newcastle would push strongly into the top half last season - but this season they finally have the right manager and although it will take time I would expect a properly resourced Newcastle side under Sam Allardyce to be contesting a European spot in 2008/9 and being a serious contender for a top four finish in 2009/10. But this season will be about consolidation.
13. Reading 46-51 points
Last season's prediction: 16th 35-40 points
Actual: 8th 55 points
I didn't expect Reading to be relegated last season - but I also didn't expect an 8th place finish, which suggests that Steve Coppell is a special manager. If he can achieve a top ten finish with a Reading team that hasn't been strengthened as well as losing Sidwell to Chelsea and with Shorey unsettled he will be a strong candidate for the England job. This season should, in all probability, see Reading slide a few points and place to an uncomfortable - but not terminal 13th.
14. Bolton Wanderers 43-48 points
Last season's prediction: 12th 47-52 points
Actual: 7th 56 points
Last season Bolton took five or six points more than I expected and even threatened a Champions' League finish before tailing off in the last few weeks and losing Sam Allardyce. Another season in Europe could take its toll on a rookie manager and Bolton could slide ten points as a result.
15. Sunderland 38-43 points
Last season promoted
Roy Keane has been spending big, and he probably needed to. With Craig Gordon in place a relegation scrap can be avoided and one or two late signings could make this prediction look silly as Sunderland surge into the top half.
16. Fulham 36-41 points
Last season's prediction: 18th 35-40 points
Actual: 16th 39 points
Fulham have been struggling for a few season's but Lawrie Sanchez will gather the hard points - even if his style may not be pretty. Last season I predicted Fulham's points total correctly - and I'm expecting something similar this time around.
17. Birmingham City 35-40 points
Last season promoted
A hairy old season is in prospect with Steve Bruce laying down his rules for not resigning at the start of the season. I wouldn't expect Bruce to see out the season - but he has laid the foundations for a survival season; but it will be close.
18. Middlesbrough 34-39 points
Last season's prediction: 17th 35-40 points
Actual: 12th 46 points
The loss of Viduka and with Yakubu possibly to follow would leave Middlesbrough with precious few attacking options of true quality. Last season Viduka bagged 14 league goals and Yakubu 12 - the next best was just 2 goals. I'm expecting Yakubu to be lured away and with him would go Middlesbrough's top flight status. If he stays then survival is probable - but not by much.
19. Derby County 28-33 points
Last season promoted
Derby will be competitive but they will find that the 1-0s that they were reknowned for in the second tier will dry up in The Premier League. Clean sheets are a much rarer commodity for all but the top five clubs and unless Derby can discover a goalscorer they will struggle to stay competitive.
20. Wigan Athletic 25-30 points
Last season's prediction: 15th 40-45 points
Actual: 17th 38 points
Last season I expected Wigan to get another four points and finish a couple of plces higher, but they struggled all season and only a couple of late results got them out of trouble. A new inexperienced manager and the exodus of some the better players - replaced, frankly, by Championship players - does not bode well. Tough call but Wigan look every inch a relegation candidate.
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