MFST’s Sports Round Table: EPL Edition
Our soccer experts are back at it again! In this week’s MFST Sports Round Table our experts take a look at the upcoming Barclays Premier League season and who to watch out for. So, without further ado…..
1. Who will be the Top 4 teams by season’s end?
Dustin: The Top 4 teams this season aren’t going to look much different from last season in my opinion. Chelsea will most likely finish in the top spot followed by Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City. Even though the top positions won’t change much, I think that everything under them will be a scuffle and should provide fans with an exciting season this year.
Hayden: The Top 4 I have Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. Chelsea will be tough at the top, as I don’t see many teams that went out and got the goals they need to beat a team like Chelsea. The Top 4 will be the tightest in recent years and I don’t see a team holding first place for more than a couple of weeks, with lots of flip-flop.
Cesar: 1.Arsenal 2. Chelsea 3. Manchester United 4. Manchester City
I think Arsenal made the necessary changes to finally win them the title. Chelsea will be in it until the end though, making for an exciting last month. City and United will battle it out for third and fourth, with the final decision hinging on their defense and goalkeeping. Manchester United fall out of the Top 4 if they sell De Gea, if that’s the case then they get replaced by Liverpool.
Kevin: My Top 4 are Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. With United bringing in major signings like Depay, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin, and offloading deadweight like Falcao, Di Maria and Van Persie, they’re going to be in a much better spot to compete than they were last season. They’re also going to be using Rooney in his best role, which is as a striker backed up not only by Depay and Schweinsteiger, but also Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Fellaini. I by no means see United walking away with the title like they have done in years past. I see United and Chelsea, or United, Chelsea and Arsenal slugging it out until the bitter end. Liverpool will make the Top 4, barely.
Which teams will be in the bottom three and face relegation?
Dustin: I’m going with Leicester City, Sunderland and Bournemouth, and think that Sunderland’s constant relegation-level play finally catches up with them this year. Recently relegated clubs, Norwich City and Watford, will do just enough to stay out of the bottom three this year and play in the Barclays Premier League for a second consecutive season next year.
Hayden: My bottom three would have to be Leciester City, AFC Bournemouth and Norwich City. Leicester lost experience when Cambiasso decided to walk, and haven’t made any signings to help improve the squad from last year. As we saw last year, getting to the Premier League is the easy part, staying in is the challenge. That is why I chose two teams that were just promoted. Both Bournemouth and Norwich have tough starts to this season which, in all reality, could decide their fate in the first couple months of the BPL.
Cesar: Sunderland, Norwich and Watford will be in the bottom three. Sunderland has been threatening relegation for a few seasons and I think this will be the year they finally go down due to a lack of solid signings and another probable midseason management change. Norwich and Watford won’t be able to adjust to the league this season and both will get relegated before the last week of play.
Kevin: My bottom three teams, and the ones to get relegated this season, are Bournemouth, Norwich City and Leicester City. As the Foxes found out the hard way last season, and as Hayden pointed out too, the easy part (if you can call it easy) is getting to the Premier League. Now that you’re there, you have to stay there and that is when the real work begins. When Leicester lost Cambiasso during the summer transfer window, they haven’t been able to replace him with a player of his caliber on his salary. The rest of the Foxes squad isn’t strong enough to stay up without a player as strong as Cambiasso. Norwich and Bournemouth haven’t made any notable signings either, which leads me to believe that they’ll be this seasons yo-yo teams that pull the typical one and done season in the Premier League.
Which disappointing team from last season will make a run up the table this season?
Dustin: I think that it has to be Everton. They underperformed last season and their defense (strong in previous seasons) couldn’t stop late goals and dealt with a lot of injuries. Tim Howard should be well rested because of his year-long absence from the USMNT, and that in itself should provide a spark. With the additions of Cleverley and Deulofeu, paired with the ability of Everton to hold onto Mirallas, Stones and Barkley, this should be a dangerous team this season. Also, they won’t be playing in Europa League this season, so they should look fresh in every match this time around.
Hayden: Like Dustin, I have to go with Everton. They were quite disappointing last year, when the previous year they were pushing for a Top 4 finish. Injuries have hurt the Toffees, but I feel the group as a whole has matured well together. Howard will be back healthy, and if Stones stays, they will have a solid back four, with lukaku leading the way, and I expect a big season from the boys in blue.
Cesar: Crystal Palace. I think a full season under Alan Pardew will do wonders for this club with the changes they made in the offseason. They will surprisingly battle for a Europa League spot into the final months if they don’t earn a berth from winning a cup competition. I don’t foresee them finishing higher than fifth, but they will do better than tenth where they finished last year.
Kevin: I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for two London teams, and both teams had a pretty rough season last year; one more so than the other. Since I can only pick one, I expect West Ham United will make a run up the table this season.
What was the best transfer this offseason?
Dustin: This is a tough decision. Manchester City purchased Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, but I feel that he wasn’t a necessity for them. Having said that, I think that it has to be Petr Cech for Arsenal. He is a veteran goalkeeper that will help provide solid play behind a team that doesn’t struggle scoring goals.
Hayden: The best signing would have to be Petr Cech. Arsenal have been in desperate need of a dominant goaltender. After all, he and Szczesny did share the golden glove two years ago. The key difference is Cech will not make the risky play. Szczesny loved the cheeky play and it often caught up to him. Cech has shown great chemistry early with the Arsenal back four already, and I’m excited for the start of the season.
Cesar: Peter Cech to Arsenal. Goalkeeping wasn’t the main issue keeping Arsenal out of the title hunt but it was a glaring shortcoming in the past few seasons. By signing a legend still capable of putting in great performances, they’ve turned themselves into a probable title winner.
Kevin: Manchester United had two of them this offseason, Memphis Depay and Schweinsteiger. With these two additions, United did what they needed to this offseason.
What three Championship League teams will be promoted this season?
Dustin: Burnley, QPR and Middlesbrough should all be promoted this season. QPR and Burnley were relegated from the Premier League following last season and I don’t expect them to be out of the BPL for long. Middlesbrough finished outside of promotion last season, but I think that they have what it takes to be promoted this year.
Hayden: Burnley, Hull City and Bolton. These clubs have been lingering in and out of the Premier League the past couple of years and I don’t think that will change. Hull City got relegated on the last game of the season last year as well.
Cesar: Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hull City and Middlesbrough.
Kevin: I’m going to pull my pick for promotion to the Premier League back from a time before there was a Premier League, back when it was only known as “The First Division”…pre-1992. I think that Charlton Athletic, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday are all three going to win promotion this season. That, and I have a soft spot for those old rivalries between Sheffield and Manchester.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Barclays Premier League season? Leave us your comments in the section below.
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