So looks like most of my predictions for the 2016/17 English Premier League season were spot on. And no, I didn’t edit, alter, change, tweak or update that blog post at any point. Figured I do an end of year wrap up after the FA Cup final, which officially concluded the season despite almost everything being decided entering Championship Sunday.

I picked the champion, Chelsea. I picked 2/3 of the relegated clubs; Sunderland and Hull City. I picked half the top four spots correct. Arsenal really threw a wrench into my predictions, as I’m sure they did many others as well. I didn’t have them winning the league or even finishing second like they did last year, but I did have them winning their annual fourth place trophy. Where things kind of went off the rails is the rest, especially the top half.

Bournemouth and West Brom overachieving combined with Stoke and West Ham underachieving, and the obvious failure of Middlesbrough to avoid going straight back down to the Championship made a mess of my top and bottom half predictions. I tabbed Burnley for relegation, but they somehow managed to be in the top half of the table for a decent amount of time until late in the season when they likely suffered from the 40 point daze, much like West Brom did. I don’t think anybody expected West Brom to finish as high as they did. And they might have finished higher and even earned a place in Europe had they not seemingly fell into that 40 point daze.

I did alright with Everton, Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Watford. They all finished in their respective halves as I predicted. I threw Palace and Swansea into the relegation mix, but their mid season managerial changes proved vital as Big Sam steered yet another club out of relegation and Swansea turned it on late under Paul Clement to avoid the drop.

I didn’t expect Watford to finish as low as they did; 17th, but with the calamity their season turned into after Christmas it really shouldn’t be that surprising. It will likely be more of the same next year, as they will change managers, yet again. And there will likely be a revolving door of players as well. I had them as a dark horse to finish in the top half based on their capability as a squad, but ultimately it was the completely unnecessary managerial change for this season that did them in.

Turns out I nailed Chelsea. Antonio Conte made a major difference, and combined with their light schedule compared to the rest of the title contenders, made their title aspirations a reality. I picked Manchester United for a top four finish, but their inconsistency spoiled that. When their focus shifted to winning the Europa League in order to guarantee a Champions League spot I knew that pick was in trouble.  Tottenham over performed a bit in my book. Well, I didn’t expect them to be able to maintain the same level of success as last year solely based on how the other big clubs improved their squads. Not so much that they would play worse in any way, just that the competition would surpass them even more.

Now I guess it’s time for me to make some extremely early predictions for next season. So here goes, based on hardly anything seeing as transfers haven’t even really started yet and there could still be managerial changes. I expect Chelsea to win the league again next year. I doubt much will change with their squad despite the persistent rumors of Diego Costa leaving for China. The rest of the top four will remain mostly the same, with the one change being Manchester United jumping in and Liverpool falling out. Unless Liverpool seriously address their problems at the back they won’t be able to skate by relying on Arsenal and United not being there. The one wild card that nobody can predict is how not being at White Hart Lane will affect Tottenham. Will being in a somewhat new stadium have a negative impact like it clearly did with West Ham this year?

I predict Arsenal will finish outside the top four again. Whether that is fifth or even lower remains to be seen. Nothing will change for the positive at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger will almost assuredly be back at the expense of winning anything significant. The Gunners will lose their two best players in the summer in Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, if not more as rumors swirl around Oliver Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin leaving as well. Being in the Europa League next year instead of Champions League will have a negative impact on signings for Arsenal too, further worsening a squad that is already questionable.

West Brom is my dark horse to challenge for a European place. I doubt they will nab it away from Everton, who seem to be back on track under Ronald Koeman. But every prediction has to have a dark horse. I do see the Baggies building on this year’s success though. Southampton, West Ham and Stoke will round out the top half.

Leicester will be on the fringe of the top half and bottom half. Nothing will surprise me with them other than finishing in a European place. I see them losing some of their better players, like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy during the summer, which will hurt them. But it won’t be quite the roller coaster year next year for the Foxes. Burnley just doesn’t have the budget to do anything but further consolidate their place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are battling to avoid relegation. Bournemouth might lose their manager, and I just don’t see them finishing any higher than they did this year. I don’t see them being relegated, but it’s not a desirable destination for top talent, aside from the obvious fact that they wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway.

Newcastle should be able to avoid the drop back down. Rafa Benitez seems to have righted the ship, and they blazed through the Championship to immediately bounce back up to the Premiership after being relegated in 2015/16. Palace should be safe for another season, and if they bring in more attacking power, which I know is not Big Sam’s forte, I would feel more comfortable with their place in the league. Swansea played like a different team under Paul Clement, and if they keep that up and manage to hold on to Gylfi Sigurdsson, along with getting one more clinical finisher they’ll be safe again.

In these early stages I’m tabbing Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town for relegation. Huddersfield Town will likely be a repeat performance of Middlesbrough this season; a team who struggles to score and gets badly exposed defensively when going forward. Somehow Huddersfield managed to get promoted from the Championship despite a negative goal difference. And unless there is a sudden influx of cash, they won’t be able to bring in enough players of the quality needed to be competitive in the top flight.

Brighton will likely be in the same boat as Huddersfield. Though I see them having an easier time of it. Let’s not forget that their manager, Chris Hughton, led Norwich City to relegation back in 2013/14. Unless something drastic changes at Watford, they’re in major trouble. There seemed to be a mutiny taking place in the later stages of the season. Walter Mazzarri is gone, but whoever they bring in will likely change the system for the umpteenth time and not bring any stability. The club is on their eighth manager since the Pozzo family bought the club in 2012, who run it more like a corporation than a sporting club. Players brought in won’t fit the system and if they lose players like Troy Deeney, the heart and soul of the club, they’re in even bigger trouble.

 

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