Everything Else

Let’s keep it rolling…

Manchester City: (Adam Hess is a Sky Blue, so we went to him for this…before we fire him.)

CAMPEONES! CAMPEONES! OLE OLE OLE! With back to back Premier League Championships and the best two-year run in the history of the Prem, along with the completion of the straight Domestic Sweep in 2018 it’s hard to say City have much more to accomplish in England. City did need to go on a historic 14-game win streak to close out Liverpool in the Prem last year, but when you got it you got it, and Pep’s fucking got it. It will be interesting to see how City approach the League this year given that they have had that incredible success these past two years.
Where my focus lies for City and Pep is Europe, where they need to finally have a good run in the Champions League and prove that they are for real on the European stage. They’ve almost reached a point where you can set your watch to them bowing out in the quarterfinals. And what’s even more frustrating is that they haven’t actually been beaten in their elimination round in two the last three years, going out on away goals in 2017, getting smoked in 2018 (they went out 5-2 on aggregate to a club with actual European pedigree, mind-ED) and then lost on away goals again in 2019. Pep has never had huge success in Europe, but he does have a UCL title under his belt, so he can do it. It’s time for him to do it for the Blues.
Manchester United: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! If there’s one thing everyone who contributed to this can agree on is that we can have a hearty laugh at ManUre. They’re hierarchy is a mess being flooded with nincompoops, they got bullied into hiring a former player because the current players were so overjoyed not to have to deal with Jose Mourinho’s Eeyore act anymore even though it’s clear he’s way in over his head, and their playing staff simply isn’t good enough. They’ve punted Romelu Lukaku, whom they somehow ruined, so they can turn over the central striking duties to Marcus Rashford, even though he hasn’t proven he can handle that yet. Paul Pogba will be in the biggest sulk you’ve ever seen, which is saying something considering he’s French. The defense might be ok with Lindelof and Maguire, but only just. The midfield blows, the attack is short, and having lived through this nightmare with Liverpool some years back I can’t wait to enjoy it for another season. 5th seems prime for them. One day, a great manager is going to take all their money and straighten out the entire club by sheer force of will. But until that happens, we have to enjoy this slapstick theater while it lasts.
Newcastle: Going down, and sadly it’s what their owner, though not their fans, deserve. This club, given its size and support, should be challenging for Champions League places, and has in the past. But they have one of the biggest dickhead owners in sports in Mike Ashley, who has taken the most passionate fanbase possibly anywhere and turned them off this club. He chased away a genuine class manager in Rafael Benitez–the only reason they got promoted and stayed up the past two season–because he wouldn’t back him with transfers. He replaced him with English football’s version of Randy Carlyle in Steve Bruce, because he’s from there and won’t raise a fuss. They’ll play an awful brand of football, they’ll never score, and down they’ll go. And this time, they may not come back. It’s truly a crime, but maybe regular seasons in the lower divisions will finally chase Ashley off and this club can get the owner it deserves.
Norwich City: They blew away the Championship in the back half of last year, and seem content to stick with the squad that did that. They played some sumptuous football last season, scoring 93 goals in 46 league games. But they weren’t great defensively, they haven’t added to that defense, and now they’re facing Premier League attacks. There is some logic in not getting out over your skis financially upon promotion and then fucking yourself royally should you go back down. This seems to be a long-term project for Norwich, and they’ll play some stuff at times. Maybe they can hang on for 17th, and Newcastle and Palace might keep them propped up amongst the old guard threatening to go down. Still, it’ll be an adventure.
Sheffield United: As far as I’m concerned this team is always managed by Neil Warnock, even if it isn’t. It might as well be. They’ve gone the opposite route from Norwich upon ascension to the EPL, spending 40M on Championship talent to boost their Premier League hopes. They’re also the opposite of Norwich in that this is pretty grind-y, sandpaper-y style here, and you can expect a lot of balls lumped into the box and a lot of hard fouls. They like a kicking in Yorkshire, after all. I would tip them to return from whence they came though, along with Newcastle and Palace.
Southampton: If Bournemouth doesn’t become your second team, this one might. Southampton have specialized in developing talent, playing an entertaining style, and staying afloat by selling that talent to bigger clubs (usually Liverpool). They fucked up by hiring Mark Hughes as manager for a while, but have put that right by replacing him with Ralph Hasenhuttl, or Baby Klopp, basically. Goals might be a problem as they’ll depend on Danny Ings before his glass body breaks again, and unproven-at-this-level Che Adams. Still, Hasenhuttl had this bunch playing over their head when he got settled, and I’d expect that again…to the point where he might be offered greener pastures next summer.
Spurs: (Old friend of the program Greg Boysen chipped in for this one. I can’t fire him)

I will be the first to admit that I am still a novice when it comes to soccer as I only started to follow the Premiere League when NBC picked up the broadcast rights here in the States. I chose the Spurs as my team because of a good friend who grew up in England cheering for them with her father. It did not take very long before I realized they were the perfect team a life-long Chicago sports fans should be cheering for. They have just enough talent to get your hopes up only to kick you right in the reproductive organs by the end of the season. 

Last year was no exception. For a good portion of the season, they looked like they were going to keep up with Liverpool and Manchester City make it a three-team race for the title. Then the calendar turned over to 2019 and the team’s lack of depth caused them to slide down the standings and barely hang on to fourth place. Sound familiar?

The cherry on top of last season’s shit sundae was pulling a miracle out of their collective ass to get the Champions League final only to lose it. It wasn’t just that the lost the game to Liverpool (up yours, Fels!), but they lost to them in one of the worst games in European football history!

Will this season be any different? Probably not. They brought in guys like Tanguy Ndombele, Jack Clarke, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon but their success will still depend on Harry Kane. Yes, Son Heung-min and Moussa Sissoko had good years, but the Liverpool game showed just how important Kane’s health is to the club’s success. 

The new additions should add to their overall depth, but they still don’t have a traditional center forward to support Kane and there are major question marks at right-back. The right flank is going to challenge my new found sobriety this year. 

So, I am sure will be feeling great about the table at Christmas only to curse my Spurs fandom before I head out to a Super Bowl party in February. 

Watford: Watford are one of the weirder clubs around. Their ownership seemingly likes to change managers every season, though they’ve stuck with Javi Gracia again this time around, mainly because other teams wanted him. They generally buy a raft of players, and none of them can dislodge Troy Deeney from forward. They’ve been quiet this time around, though they’ve brought in Danny Welbeck, who has still convinced a large number of pundits over there he can still be good because he banged in a couple goals for England once. How he made that England team is anyone’s guess. He’ll get hurt, he’ll have one good game when he’s not hurt, and that will be that. Other than that, a steadying ship means they’re probably not going too much farther than last year’s 11th place, which for this club is pretty good. Any higher and Gracia is getting poached by someone. They do attack, they can be easy on the eye, and you’ll forget they existed as soon as they’re done playing your team.

West Ham: I’m not sure I want to live in a world where West Ham are acting sensibly. Well, somewhat sensibly. This is still a side that shipped 55 goals last season and still mostly spent their kitty on attack. But that attack, with Felipe Anderson, Lanzini, and now Sebastien Haller looks mighty tasty. They can get bullied by lower, less skilled sides and they’re not good enough to play with the big boys consistently, though they can definitely jump up and bite one or two of them on a given day. Declan Rice is the truth anchoring the midfield, but Mark Noble still gets a place here and he died three years ago. Yet another team below the top four that can be entertaining as hell, in both good and bad ways.

Wolves: They may have a sordid arrangement with super agent Jorge Mendes, but that’s the way the world works and it gets manager Nuno Santo some prime players you wouldn’t think would land in the Midlands. Ruben Neves has stuck around for a second season, which no one saw coming. Raul Jimenez also signed up full-time, which will mean goals which is where teams like this generally struggle. Wolves won’t. Jesus Vallejo on a season-long loan in intriguing, as he could end up boosting the defense something fierce. If you’re anchoring the Spanish Under-21s, there’s something to you. Joao Moutinho is also still here for creativity. Possible best of the rest? Possibly more if Chelsea, Arsenal, and United can’t get their shit straight? Feels like them and Everton might be dreaming big this season.

Everything Else

If you’re new around here, summer Friday afternoons is when we occasionally go off the reservation and just write about whatever we feel like. Today…what you two talkin’ about? FOOTBALL!!!

By the time you read this, the Premier League season will have kicked off at the home of the greatest, bestest, most lovable, awesomest club in the world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t send you off into the weekend with some footy related silliness! So as is tradition now, let’s run through the Premier League to wrongly predict who will do what when!

Arsenal: If you know an Arsenal supporter, and you do because they’re the most annoying person in your life by some distance, you’ve seen this movie before. Every summer is slightly encouraging, especially now that Unai Emery is getting to mold his squad more in the way he wants. Nicholas Pepe and Dani Ceballos certainly look intriguing, especially the latter as the Gunners needed serious help in defense and he can certainly shield it.

But at the end of the day, this is still a team owned by Stan Kroenke that just isn’t going to run with the biggest of boys. I still don’t know what it is Granit Xhaka does for a living other than having a first name of “Granit.” The midfield lacks dash, because Ozil won’t ever play and won’t be interested when he does, and it lost a fair amount when Aaron Ramsey shuffled off to Italy. Aubameyang and Lacazette will still score, and thanks to Chelsea’s transfer ban and Spurs’s growing exhaustion there might be an opening in the top four for them. But it’s more of it coming to them than the other way around.

As we say every year, Arsenal’s season will go one of two ways. They’ll start out great, get everyone’s hopes up, and then everyone will get hurt and they’ll somersault over the line. Or everyone will get hurt early, they’ll stumble around until February, close with a flourish, and it will start all over.

Aston Villa: (Decided to go right to the source for this one, and asked old friend and longtime supporter Andrew Cieslak to give us the lowdown) 

Aston Villa finally returns back to its rightful place in the Premier League after three long years in the desert. The Villans are the 5th most successful English club of all time but then again longevity is a hell of a drug. They returned to the top flight after kicking Steve Bruce to the curb midseason and bringing on Brentford manager and boyhood Villa fan Dean Smith (no, not that one) whose attacking style won hearts and minds and eventually the Sky Bet Championship Playoff Final. 

This season the only real goal is survival and while simply hoping for three teams to end up with fewer points is one way to do things, Aston Villa decided to spend nearly 170 million Euros on 12 players this summer and may not be done yet. To those suggesting they’re “doing a Fulham” I’d ask what’s life like living in a fish bowl but they’d probably have a hard time understanding what with all the water and do fish even have ears? 

Prying Douglas Luiz away from Manchester City is no small feat either but he’s still mostly potential. If Football Manager is any judge, he’s worth 90 million pounds more than Villa actually spent. With new keeper Tom Heaton in from Burnley, Tyrone Mings back on a permanent deal alongside long six foot four Belgian Bjorn Engels in central defense, and Jack Grealish and John McGinn in central midfield – it’s all about the spine. Will anyone be able to score goals? Your guess is as good as mine but if they don’t, it’ll be a long season. 

Bournemouth: A lot of people’s second favorite team to watch, because Eddie Howe sends his charges out to play instead of just heading for the panic room, throwing their hands over the ears and hoping they get out alive. They also couldn’t defend for shit, which made them even more entertaining. They’ve bought a couple of the Championship’s more promising defenders to help with that, and with Callum Wilson and and Ryan Fraser they’re always a threat to get goals. They probably can’t finish higher than 10th, but given the size of this club that’s a minor miracle anyway. Great entertainers for when your team isn’t playing and you’re hungover on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Brighton: I’d honestly forgot they existed. I was sure they had been relegated. Anyway, they fired Chris Hughton and hired Graham Potter, who everyone seems pretty excited about. They still count on Glenn Murray for goals, who’s as old as I am and that’s not a good thing for a pro athlete. Apparently there are some kids waiting to come through. They’re not appointment television, let’s say.

Burnley: The fairytale ended, as they were no longer able to bore teams to death and allow Sean Dyche to pull a mini-Allardyce routine and talk about how great he is for parking the bus because his team costs so little. You lose your credibility when you actually put Joe Hart in goal for a portion of the season, but at least he figured that one out. Hart is still around. They’re still going to try and grind out points by being as obstinate as possible and nick goals where they can. It won’t be pleasant for anyone other than Burnley supporters.

Chelsea: (Our new guy Wes French is a blue. We went to him for this one…before we fire him). 

Chelsea are in some deep shit for the 2019-20 campaign. Let’s go over the good and the bad from the last 4-5 months or so:
  • GOOD: Backdoored into the EPL top 4 with a not-as-inept a finish as MUFC and Arsenal; Beat Arsenal in the Europa League to win a trophy, land a seeded spot in UCL draw AND keep Arsenal from UCL participation; Retained on-loan Mateo Kovacic and signed Christian Pulisic in the January window, which is really good because….
  • BAD: …Chelsea received a TWO WINDOW transfer ban that has been upheld and saw no new signings in the summer which just so happened to coincide with club talisman Eden Hazard leaving for his dream club Real Madrid, and Manager Mauricio Sarri leaving after one season to return to Italy and lead Ronaldo’s Juve. David Luiz also had a fit last week and was sold to Arsenal for nothing to become their headache.
So, yea. Chelsea tried to buy some good PR with the supporters and hired club legend Frank Lampard to oversee the youth movement after his nearly bringing Derby from the bottom half of the Championship to one win away from Premier League promotion. Chelsea’s loan army is sort of what got them the transfer ban in the first place, but it’s also what they’ll look to use as a deterrent from dropping out of the top four in 2019. The Blues have a history of loaning young players and academy prospects forever and then selling, but now the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Kurt Zouma and many others will be relied upon to help Chelsea avoid an embarrassing campaign.
The Blues will have more than enough minutes to spread out, especially with youths they actually held and played in Callum Hudson-Odio and Reuben Loftus-Cheek each working back from Achilles injuries. The focus should be on development, with goals of contending for 4th place and securing at least some type of european participation when they are allowed to recruit new signings again, be it the winter or next Summer. Expect a lot of variance from this team this season, with a lot of frustration and some dazzling moments sprinkled in.

Crystal Palace: (Again, we went to a direct supporter for this one, longtime guy The Beverly Brewmaster. Not sure what it says something worse about, me for knowing a Crystal Palace supporter or him being one)

Palace lost its best Clash-themed chant when Aaron “Sharif don’t like it” Wan-Bissaka was sold to Man U, but the real question this offseason was how Wilfried Zaha would answer “should I stay or should I go?” It finally appears that Wilf will stay in Red and Blue… at least until the January transfer window. That’s a big deal considering Palace’s 0-274 record (approximately) without him.

But considering the lack of significant moves besides AWB’s departure, it appears the Pride of South London are destined for another season where middle of the table is the ceiling. While Luka Milavojevic and Andros Townshend can provide moments of excitement, depth at the back and at striker is a concern (especially when Christian “HOW DID HE MISS THAT?” Benteke is pretty much your only option up front). Oh, and the word on the street is that chairman Steve Parish is short on cashflow. Of course, hope springs eternal at Selhurst Park, so in the immortal words of Principal Skinner, “Prove me wrong, Crystal Palace. PROVE ME WRONG.”

Everton: (Somehow, our old head of Cyber Division, Matthew Killion, ended up a blue. So we let him do this one, and it’s a tidy reminder why we don’t let him do anything anymore)

Allow me to preface this preview a bit before we really get into it. I’ve loved this game my whole life but I didn’t start to really pay attention to EPL until about two seasons ago when I decided I needed a team to follow to get me hooked. I chose Everton. Was it the best choice? Who can say? Am I enjoying it? Hell yeah. Do I know how to truly evaluate a team? Hell no. I’m basically the baseball fan still stuck looking only at RBIs, pitcher wins, and batting average. Maybe I chose Everton to see how White Sox fans feel being the perpetual little brother living in Cubs/LFC shadows. Maybe I chose it just so I could have yet another reason to fight with Fels. You can never have too many of those. So take this with as many grains of salt as you’d like.

Last year there were three different Everton teams. The first third was getting their feet under them with their new manager Marco Silva whose defining features are a kryptonite level weakness to defending set pieces and wrist watches that are so large Flavor Flav wants to wear them around his neck. They showed some moderate success going 6-4-3. Then the middle of the season was absolutely abysmal as the team managed only 11 points going 3-2-8. It seemed Marco could be one and done. Yet the final third was one of hope and promise (6-3-3). It’s important to mention those final 12 include draws with Liverpool and Tottenham, two shutout victories against Chelsea and Arsenal and a complete dismantling of Man U at Goodison. They were close to claiming the final Europa spot but fell short to the surprising Wolves team. So which team shows up this year? The one that goes toe to toe with the top of the table or the one that loses to Millwall in the FA Cup?

The subtractions have been somewhat substantial, the most obvious being Idrissa Gueye moving to PSG. Gueye was a monster in the midfield proving himself to be one the leagues best tacklers. His ability to win the ball will be dearly missed. His lack of ability to maintain possession however shouldn’t be overlooked. Kurt Zouma is also gone leaving a massive hole at center-back which Everton looked to fill by signing Marcos Rojo… yikes. Lookman showed promise in brief flashes but evidently couldn’t be bothered in training.

Signing up Andre Gomes gives them great control in the midfield and an even better head of hair. Fabian Delph comes over from Man City where he wasn’t likely to get a chance to crack regular playing time in that stacked midfield. At 29 and a low transfer fee he’s a good potential low risk high reward player but don’t expect him to light the world on fire. Transfer window is still open while I’m writing this but the hopes of signing Zaha from Palace seem to be fading after their shocking dismissal of an offer involving Cenk Tosun (shocking, I know, but gotta love the balls of trying that move). Clearly the biggest addition was signing Moise Kean who at only 19 is already a dynamic and thrilling player who will add a desperately needed finishing touch to complement players like Richarlison and DCL.

There’s clearly hope that the toffees can build on a superb end to last season which could put them firmly in the top-six with a dare to dream shot at Champions League. There’s also just as likely a chance they hold down that 8th spot and fail to improve at all… or god forbid drop. Whichever way it goes, at least I’ll have Fels to yell at.

Leicester City: Oh Brendan Rodgers. There is a ton of young talent here, and he’s basically perfect for that as a manager. He’s also the manager who gets your team just good enough to break your heart, I think. Ayoze Perez is an intriguing signing to take up the Riyad Mahrez role that they never really filled last year. However they just sold their main centerback in Harry Maguire and his huge fucking head to United, and there probably isn’t time to fill that gap. Youri Tielamens is a stud in midfield though and will make up for a lot of shortcomings. James Maddison has been the next pretty young thing for a couple season and flashes coming good on that every so often. The fullbacks get forward effectively, so like any Rodgers team they’re going to be incredibly fun…at both ends.

Liverpool: The greatest team in the world…that’s probably going to finish second again. They’re decision to not sign anyone is actually understandable, because it’s hard to get quality players to show up to simply back up. There’s some new competition for places thanks to those returning from injury in Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Adam Lallana (he said very optimistically as the biggest Lallana fan in the world), but they’re still doomed by any injury to the front three. The hope is that a more settled Keita and Ox being back will mean more goals from midfield, but that’s a bit flying on the wings of maybe. It’s hard to fathom that Robertson and Alexander-Arnold can be as good again as they were last year, and any dip in form or injury will have Gomez, Milner, or Henderson playing fullback unless some kid comes through from the heavens. They’re also going to be exhausted. The other worry is that it will be difficult for Virgil Van Dijk to be the best player in the world again (he was last season, and you can take your Messi fanboys and shove it), so he’ll need a touch more support and a touch more rest. If it’s going to take more than 97 points to win the title, you’d be hard-pressed to really believe that Liverpool can even match that total again. But then again, doubting Jurgen Klopp generally doesn’t work out.


Everything Else

Let’s keep it moving:

Leceister: The thing about Leceister is they could suffer three straight relegations and their fans are just never going to care. When you’ve pulled off the biggest miracle championship in sports history, you wouldn’t dare ask for more. Luckily, it won’t be that bad. They’ve hung on to Harry Maguire, but lost Riyad Mahrez so he can sit on the bench at City. There isn’t a lot of dash here, but Vardy always scored despite being an asshat. The players could chuck it on Cladue Puel, and then things could get dicey, but they seem destined for mid-table in a unmemorable way. Which is fine with everyone.

Liverpool: The bestest team ever.

Man City: When you roll over the most competitive league, all you can really do is add depth. So that’s what Mahrez is here to do. They have two guys for every position who would basically start most everywhere else. The only hope for anyone (i.e. Liverpool) is that their insatiable thirst for the Champions League causes them to lose sight of the league. It would take that and an injury crisis you’d have to think. Or everyone losing form at the same time. There’s a reason they won this by 17 points last season.

Man United: Now here’s some pointing and laughing. Jose Mourinho’s main trick, other than boring the life and soul out of everyone, is creating a siege mentality for his team. It’s them against the world, and it usually works…when you give him the most expensive squad in the world. Well, he’s got the latter, but he’s only succeeded in creating a seize mentality for himself. He hasn’t stopped bitching since last season ended, either about the board or his players. Paul Pogba has already had it with his bullshit, and that’s a fight Jose won’t win. He’s not the only player who’s probably aching for Mourinho to go. There’s certainly more than enough talent here to run with City and Liverpool, but not if they’re all miserable. If Jose gets sacked before Christmas, maybe someone can save it. Otherwise, they’re looking at third at best. And only because Spurs are too busy paying for a new stadium.

Newcastle: We say it every year. Newcastle should be Spurs or Arsenal. They have the most rabid support in the country. They have the stadium, and could probably sell out a 75,000 seat one if they wanted to. But you won’t find a bigger dickhead owner than Mike Ashley, who will tell you how much money he doesn’t have while stuffing his pockets. Rafa Benitez has bravely stuck on here for reasons only known to himself, even though Ashely won’t let him spend much more than for a pint after lunch. This squad needed a lot of help, Muto is a striker they needed, and Ki and Fernandes from Swansea help. But this could be so much more. Rafa will get the most he can out of them, it just won’t be what it should.

Southampton: Going down because Mark Hughes is a moron. Another coach who would fit in perfectly in the NHL.

Spurs:  Kind of amazing they’re the first team in PL history to not sign one player in the summer. It’s a really good squad, but it isn’t big enough to carry challenges at home and abroad. Their main rivals have improved or were better to begin with. How are they going to bridge the gap? Pochettino is good, but he’s not that good.

Watford: It’s Watford. They’ll start the first two months on fire, beat a couple of the big boys, play some attractive stuff, and then they’ll just fade out of vision right after Christmas, finishing like 14th in peace. And they’ll probably fire the manager, because it’s simply a reflex for them.

West Ham: Whereas Newcastle’s owner is actually an evil little shit, West Ham’s are just more on the incompetent side. But they may have gotten this summer right. Manuel Pelligrini got a lot of shit at City for not being Pep, just like he did at Madrid, but he’s a very good manager. There have been some keen signings to follow him to East London, and there’s actually hope even though all the fans hate the stadium. They’ll be an interesting watch for the right reasons instead of the b-circus they’ve been.

Wolves: They were almost as entertaining in the Championship as Fulham, and unlike Cardiff will at least entertain no matter what they do. They’ve brought in two Portugal internationals, and Ruben Neves is a fun toy. Keep an eye on.


Everything Else

You may be sitting there thinking, “Wait, how can it be time for more soccer? Didn’t the World Cup end like seven minutes ago?” And you’d be right! But the world of footy never stops (especially if you’re one of those weirdos who watches MLS), and this weekend sees the new Premier League season kick off! And anyone you know who watches soccer watches the EPL, so it’s the only one worth previewing (because only Madrid or Barcelona will win in Spain, Juventus in Italy, Munich in Germany, so it’s the only league with at least some drama. Or not, as you’ll see). Let’s rip through it!

Arsenal: So the first two years I’ve done this, I’ve written the same thing about the Gunners because it’s what always happened. Either everyone would get hurt in August, they’d slog around for the half the season, close furiously to finish nowhere good and then everyone would be excited about the next season. Or they’d start out hot, everyone would get hurt in February, and they’d fall apart like a frozen terminator. Well now they’ve let Arsene Wenger toddle off to wherever people like him go (I assume the most boring town in France), hired Unai Emery who’s famous for guiding PSG to some of the biggest full-body dry heaves in the Champions League in history with the world’s most expensive roster. But hey, he won a couple of NITs with Sevilla so you never know? Arsenal have a tantalizing front line with Lacazette and Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil is probably going to have a big “FUCK ALL Y’ALL” season after whatever that World Cup was for Germany and for him. But they still don’t have much of a midfield behind him, or defense. It seems like 5th is their limit. Oh, and they’ve just been taken over by shithead-with-a-mustache (redundant) Stan Kroenke, so their future might look a lot like a port-a-john on Day 3 of a festival.

Bournemouth: This is at least the third straight year we’re all wondering how Eddie Howe is still managing at this club. Everton should have thrown everything at him, and maybe he’ll take the poisoned chalice that is Newcastle when Rafa Benitez resists murdering owner Mike Ashley and just leaves. Bournemouth will play more attractive football than any of the bottom 10 clubs have a right to, and they might finish 10th. That’s about as good as they can hope. And maybe Howe decides this is as far as he can take them.

Brighton: A miracle they survived, despite not being able to throw a grape into the ocean as far as attack went. They’ve bought an Iranian international, Allreza Jahanbakhsh, to help with that and I definitely didn’t have to check how to spell that five times. He scored 21 goals in Holland last year. You’ll recall Jozy Altidore did that once too, and he doesn’t know how his legs work. They’ll fight hard, be tough to beat, and be in a relegation battle by Thanksgiving.

Burnley: There is always a club that flies too close to the sun. That has every chance of being Burnley. They’ll add European football to this squad, which isn’t very deep. And while Sean Dyche does a great Sam Allardyce impression in that no one is quicker to point out his record despite what his squad costs versus his opponent’s, his teams play boring-ass football that only lasts for so long and will get found out on the European stage. It’ll also tire out and distract his players, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they find themselves in a relegation battle that Dyche probably long ago thought he’d never see again.

Cardiff: Their manager Neil Warnock would fit right in in the NHL. He’s an old, drunk blowhard who has not time for new ideas unless they flatter him. His teams are built on graft and effort and are torture to watch or follow. But he gets clubs up from the Championship, and then watches them become overmatched in the Premier League because his only tactic is “GO GET ‘EM, BOYS!” Well, that and blaming refs and foreign managers. Also their owner is one of the bigger raging assholes in the league, which is saying something, and changed their colors from blue to red even though they’re known as “The Bluebirds.” Remember that one guy from Bloodsport who tried to bribe everyone and loved Van Damme and always wore the nice suit? He grew up and became this guy.

Chelsea: You’d think a team with one of the richest people in the world as owner would figure out a way to hire a new manager a little sooner than three weeks before a new season, but you’d be wrong! Chelsea haggled with Napoli over Maurizio Sarri for so long that’s how it worked, because Napoli know how much money they have. So they’ve only been able to buy Jorginho to pair with Kante in the middle, instead of Danny Drinkwater which was high comedy for all of us out here in the fields. And a new keeper because Courtois has finally fucked off to Madrid, and this one’s even more expensive than the one Liverpool got. They’re still going to watch Alvaro Morata’s kleenex-like confidence disappear by October and there won’t be anyone around to score except for the 10 dumbass goals Olivier Giroud manages every year (they’re always in the last five minutes and they’re always off his shoulder). Eden Hazard will be checking out the real estate listings in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris all season, and if anyone in defense gets hurt they’ll have to play David Luiz in a back four (remember how that worked out in Belo Horizonte in ’14) or the feet-less Gary Cahill. And Willian doesn’t want to be here anymore either. Seems like they’ll be drinking buddies for Arsenal.

Crystal Palace: They have one player in Wilfried Zaha, and their manager is three days older than water and not much more clued in than said water. They haven’t bought anyone, so unless Zaha goes “God mode” again, they could be in for a fight. Their best midfielder in Yohan Cabaye thought it was better to play in the UAE. That’s always a good sign.

Everton: This is where I’m supposed to point and laugh. They hired the manager, Marco Silva, they wanted to hire last year but then they had to settle for Sam Allardyce, a time for the club that will be looked upon as fondly as a roadside prostate exam. Richarlison will suck as soon as it gets cold again, and Lucas Digne is fine. But yesterday they added two from Barcelona and might have gotten Kurt Zouma on loan. Still, they don’t have a striker worth a shit anywhere and they’ll have to false-nine their way into goals. They’re destined to finish 7th or 8th from here until the end of the world.

Fulham: Probably your new favorite team. They got promoted playing probably the most exciting style in the Championship, led by left back/left winger/I’ll-go-where-the-fuck-I-please Ryan Sessegnon, who has a chance to be the next big thing. They’ve added Seri and Schurrle, which sounds like a hell of a law firm, and Mitrovic is simply the most bonkers striker out there, liable to score, get sent off, or just stand still and scream for 90 minutes equally. Whatever they do, you’ll enjoy it.

Huddersfield: Did you know David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp are buddies? If you didn’t the broadcasters will be happy to tell you eight times. They miracled their ass to safety last season, haven’t added anyone, and are going to try and grunt and fart their way to it again. Probably not going to happen.

Part 2 this afternoon…


Everything Else

We’re bored, it’s August, and Cieslak and I finally have meaning in our lives again with the return of the EPL. So for those of you who are like minded and spend your weekend mornings blisteringly hungover and screaming at various men in shorts that you call “muppets” when you should be in bed, this is for you! Our team-by-team breakdown:

Arsenal: Once again, Arsene Wenger brings back essentially the same team except this time he added a shiny new French striker. I could have written that sentence in 1999, or 2006, or 2010, or 2014. They’ll be really good if they can get Alexis Sanchez to stay, which they should because he can really only go to PSG or Munich. And Munich aren’t going to pony up anytime soon, and I doubt he wants to go wax Neymar’s eyebrows for the rest of his useful career. But you know the drill here. Either they’ll start out on fire, everyone will get hurt in February, and they’ll wheeze to the end. Or everyone will get hurt in September, they’ll wheeze through the middle of the season, and then close with a flourish and probably win the FA Cup again just to provide excitement for next year so we can do this all over again. Either way, they’ll be bitching about Ozil’s effort when it gets cold. At least they can’t give up 17 goals to Munich in the Champions League again.

Likely Finish: Solidly Top Four, but nowhere near title-challenging.