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Friday Foofaraw: CI’s Premier League Preview

If you’ve followed my Twitter feed for any length of time, you know that I much prefer talking about footy than I do hockey. And I feel like there are a lot of hockey bloggers who feel the same way. Our weekends make sense again, as the English Premier League is back to get us up far too early when we’re already hungover and to make us even more miserable than we were before (except for Man City supporters, except I don’t know any Man City supporters and am pretty sure they don’t exist). So without any further ado, let’s go through all the clubs of the EPL in my own special way to see what’s in store for the next eight months. And this is in no particular order of expected finish.

ManUre: We’ll start with the one that’s making the most news and clearly the most detestable again. I think I preferred it when United were basically an also-ran for the title as they were the past three years. Man, couldn’t have Sir Alex put down his iron fist and kept Moyes in charge a little longer? We don’t even have Van Gaal’s special binder to mock anymore.

Anyway, now they have Mourinho before everyone at the club wants to kill him in two years. They’ve bought Zlatan, Pogba, and Mkhitaryan for 865 billion dollars. Sadly, they’re going to be good. But I’m fairly sure that Zlatan is going to shit it, because whenever he’s had a tough game at club level he’s shit it. Anyone who’s watched him completely shrivel in any Champions League knockout game knows this. And his 38 goals in the French league for PSG counts for about 8 in the EPL. I’m just not buying it. Sadly, the other two are for real and combined with Martial and Rashford (assuming Mourinho doesn’t pack him off somewhere) they’ll still score. The midfield is kind of meh, but it’ll still work. Fuck me, they’ll be good and annoying.

Man City: Should be interesting to see what Pep Guardiola does when he doesn’t have clearly the best squad in the world. The defense still sucks and that’s even with John Stones. The forward line is still ridiculous, at least until Aguero gets hurt. Sane and Gundogan really bolster the midfield, though it’s still a tad old. They’ll be good too, but I don’t know that they’ll keep out enough goals.

Chelsea: They hired a genius, but the backline is a combined 178 years old. That’s even if they play Zouma a lot. There’s also not a lot of goals in the forwards now that Diego Costa is only capable of kicking other people’s shins and can’t actually find the ball. Maybe Kante can protect the defense enough, and maybe Oscar and Hazard can rediscover the form of two years ago to make up for not having a striker. Still have a feeling something goes off the boil here.

Arsenal: It’s going to be one of the two same fucking stories with the Gunners it’s been the past decade. They’ll either A) start out on fire, making everyone say that this is definitely the year and Arsene Wenger knew what he was doing all along and then everyone gets hurt in January and re-hurt in February and they’ll fade to 4th or B) They’ll start out shitty, really think of firing Arsene, catch fire through the winter and then everyone will get hurt in March and re-hurt in April and they’ll fade to 4th. Either way, they’ll go out in the first knockout round of the Champions League. It’s as if it was scripted.

Leicester: We’ll never see anything like Leicester last season again. Simply the biggest upset in sports anywhere. And all of us want to believe they can defend the title. But without Kante, Drinkwater is going to get exposed. Mendy is a nice buy to make up for it but he’s not Kante. And if this were hockey, no way they can reproduce their PDO from last year. They’re going to be good, especially if Mahrez sticks around. A European place is a possibility for sure.

Liverpool: Ah yes, the bane of my existence. And my reason for living. Use this to laugh at me down the road, but I’m quite excited about this season. This is what Jurgen Klopp does to people. The forward line looks really tasty. It’s got options and flexibility and is finally buffeted when Sturridge is in a wheelchair by November. They need fullbacks, but for once I actually trust the centerbacks. The midfield could be something if Winaldjum and Grujic can come in and settle quickly and Emre Can turns into the superbly handsome dynamo he’s been threatening for a while now. And I’m the last Jordan Henderson fan on Earth. With no European football they can go all guns-blazin in the league. Top four for sure. Maybe more? Yeah, I know. But I’m an idiot. KLOPP IS MY JESUS.

Tottenham: I get sucked into this every few years, where a team stocked with youngsters looks like it could conquer the world if given time. But it doesn’t work like that in soccer. Teams don’t get that time, and eventually their kids either burn out or get bought up by clubs with all the money. Spurs think they’re a team with all the money, but they’re not. And Harry Kane might be what he looked like with England. The defense is still stout, Dele Alli is the truth but is burnout a problem? Janssen might help Kane not have to play and score every game. There’s still a lot of options in midfield, but these arcs just never go as we think they should. Feel like it’s going to fall slightly flat at White Hart Lane.

West Ham: Forget it. Payet can’t play by himself forever.

Everton: The BlueShite got an upgrade at manager by hiring Koeman. Lukaku is still frightening as a scorer and will score against Liverpool because it’s just what he does. But it feels like if Ross Barkley were going to become a thing it would have happened already. Jagielka is a million years old. They’ll be better, but not all that relevant.

Bournemouth: If you want an entertaining underdog, here you go. Eddie Howe is probably the best English manager out there. He plays an up-tempo style. Callum Wilson is back. They won’t get relegated, they’ll play some great matches, and you’ll feel good you watched them.

Burnley: Who?

Stoke City: They’re still trying to transform from the rugby outfit they were under Pulis. You look at a lot of the names on this squad and you’re sure they should be really good. Then Jonathan Walters trots on out there and you know they’re limited. They’ll start out well, score some big wins, and then chuck it when they realize they aren’t getting into the top four in March.

Southampton: Half the team is at Liverpool now, and they’ve lost two really gifted managers in three years. You wonder how much longer this can go. But they always figure it out somehow. But they won’t hit the heights of previous years.

Sunderland: They’ve replaced Fat Sam Allardyce with David Moyes. I don’t know how you can possibly sum up what they are better.

West Brom: Pulis should quit any minute now and leave them in the lurch. I always forget they exist.

Hull City: They don’t have a manager yet, everyone’s hurt, and their owner looks like he’s the biggest asshole in the world.

Crystal Palace: Their two listed strikers are Frazier Campbell and Connor Wickham. They’ve bought a second Wilfried Zaha, this one’s called Andros Townsend. Yohan Cabaye is going to continue to look around and wonder how he ended up here. They won’t threaten getting relegated, nor a European place. They’re just kind of there.

Middlesbrough: It’s spelled “brough” but everyone calls them “Boro.” They’ll be the best of the promoted sides. For some reason Alvaro Negredo is here.

Swansea and Watford: Going down. It won’t be pretty.