Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Here is my bracket for the 2018 NCAA Division I Tournament. See gallery below for all my picks. Figured it would be better to take screenshots of my bracket than list out in writing all my picks.

I don’t have a formula for my picks; I don’t pick schools based on colors or mascots or funny names or what state they’re from. I use my gut, which is based on a team’s record (good wins vs. bad losses), coaching and the history of the program. I have schools I always go to, I call them my tournament teams. And then I have schools I never pick because they inevitably lose way earlier than they should. Unfortunately this year there were far fewer teams in my never pick category and many in my tournament team category, which made it a bit tougher. But I inevitably get burned by one of my teams that I never pick after they go on a deep run.

Teams I never pick include Purdue, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Ohio St., Texas and Baylor. My tournament teams, who I always lean on, are North Carolina, Michigan St, Minnesota, West Virginia, Villanova, Wisconsin, Miami, Florida, Arizona, Rhode Island, Temple, Gonzaga, Xavier and Syracuse. Obviously within reason I either pick or don’t pick a team. So say if Purdue is ever a 1 seed, I won’t have them lose in the first round, but I also won’t have them making a deep run. And I won’t have a team like Rhode Island make the Final Four this year.

As for upsets, I don’t have many this year. In the first round I have South Dakota St. over Ohio St., Syracuse over TCU (if you can call Syracuse winning an upset, but rankings wise it technically is an upset). In later rounds I have #10 Providence beating #7 Texas, #7 Nevada over #2 Cincinnati,  #7 Arkansas beating #2 Purdue (one of the teams I never pick), #7 Rhode Island over #2 Duke and #6 Miami over #3 Tennessee.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see #2 Duke lose to #15 Iona, #5 Clemson lose to #12 New Mexico St., #6 Miami lose to #11 Loyola-Chicago or even #3 Texas Tech lose to #13 Stephen F Austin in the first round. Heading into Selection Sunday Loyala-Chicago was going to be one of my upset picks had they not drawn one of my tournament teams. There are inevitably bracket busters out there, but in this year’s tournament I don’t see a big snafu happening like a few years ago when Michigan St. losing to Middle Tennessee St. That was the only time I lost a Final Four team in the first round of the tournament.

I have (in alphabetical order) Michigan St., North Carolina, Villanova and Virginia getting to the Final Four. I then have Virginia and Michigan St. squaring off in the National Championship game and Michigan St. winning the title.


I’m trying to get this blog more about sports than just records. Which was the idea behind this blog, and hence its name. And considering how well by Premier League predictions went last year, I decided to branch out into the obligatory NFL predictions for the upcoming 2017 season. Let’s get this out of the way now. I waited until the day before the season kicked off to post this for the sole reason of waiting to see if any injuries, suspensions or last minute additions would occur that may impact a team’s season. Just like I don’t do fantasy drafts in August, why shouldn’t I take advantage of any and all information?


NFC East

One of the topsey turvey divisions in recent years, the NFC East will buck that trend and again be a two team race between the same two teams; the Giants and Cowboys. Only they will swap positions in the standings with the Giants winning the division and the Cowboys finishing a close second. I think the Giants and Cowboys will split the season series, with each teaming winning at home. And both will sweep the remaining division schedule. So it will come down to who has the easier schedule, and since the Cowboys will be playing a first place schedule they will face a tougher road of the two teams.

A lot has been made about Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. After appealing, it has not been reduced from the six games he was initially served, and in a surprise turn of events he can play in Week 1. But since Elliott is suing the league in hopes of blocking the suspension, the curtains are far from closed on this drama. The way I see it, the Cowboys would still have the same results in the games during Elliott’s suspension, with or without him. And it’s actually more favorable for the Cowboys now after having his suspension pushed back to take effect after Week 1, because at it stands they play the 49ers in Week 7, which would be the final week of the suspension.

There aren’t enough pieces around Kirk Cousins in Washington to have them contend for a Wild Card spot. The Eagles will be better than they were last year as Carson Wentz has a year of experience under his belt. Put Philadelphia in another division, say like the AFC South, and they would probably win it. But playing in the NFC East they’ll be on the outside looking in come January.

  1. New York Giants 10-6
  2. Dallas Cowboys 9- 7
  3. Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins 6-10


NFC North

Is Aaron Rodgers still playing for the Packers? Yes? Well there is your division winner. I can’t see the Lions being as good as last year because the Vikings got better. The Vikings might have lost one of the best running backs in NFL history, but they replaced him with 2 backs who will complement each other nicely. At the very least Latavius Murray will be healthy enough to pay in more games that Adrian Peterson, and that provides crucial carries from a reliable back. Why waste time talking about the Bears.

  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Minnesota Vikings 9-7
  3. Detroit Lions 7-9
  4. Chicago Bears 4-12


NFC South

Despite the Falcons being one of the more impressive teams last year, this division was actually one of the tougher ones to predict. Not the winner, but the division as a whole. Atlanta should easily win the division again this year, how far they go in the playoffs depends on how bad that epic choke job in the Super Bowl affects them.  I don’t see the Panthers being much better. Sure, the addition of Christian McCaffrey is great on paper. But will Cam Newton actually utilize him to the maximum his potential? McCaffrey is a great receiving option out of the backfield, and should help Newton avoid getting pummeled, but does anyone actually think Cam will give the ball to McCaffrey when he leaves the pocket rather than keeping the ball himself and scrambling? The Saints don’t have enough pieces to contend even though Drew Brees keeps them in more games than they should be in. Tampa Bay goes as Jameis Winston goes, and giving him DeSean Jackson should help tremendously. Even if it only means Mike Evans sees more single coverage.

  1. Atlanta Falcons 12-4
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. Carolina Panthers 6-10
  4. New Orleans Saints 6-10


NFC West

On paper the Cardinals have a very easy schedule. Probably one of the easiest in the NFL. If they can at least split the series with Seattle, they face a favorable run down the stretch facing teams that will likely have nothing to play for. After their bye, which is Week 8 (how nice of the NFL huh) they play San Francisco, Jacksonville at home, the Rams at home and Washington. The biggest problem with their stretch run is that they play Seattle twice, the first time in Week 10 and the second time in the final game of the season, which is in Seattle. So that 49ers game in Week 9 right after the bye could easily be a trap game, something that hurt the Cardinals last year.

I initially thought Seattle would not win the division, losing out to the Cardinals, who I think will surprise people this season. But after the acquisition of Sheldon Richardson, I had second thoughts and put the Seahawks back atop the NFC West. But I have both teams reaching the playoffs, with Arizona as the first wild card team. Why bother wasting time talking about the Rams or 49ers? They will be also-rans.

  1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5
  2. Arizona Cardinals 10-6
  3. Los Angeles Rams 4-12
  4. San Francisco 49ers 3-13



AFC East

Patriots win the division yet again. Shocking I know. But that is basically all you need to know. The Dolphins have a fairly easy schedule, but one that may present some problems with Jay Cutler as their new starting quarterback. They could easily finish at 9-7, or below .500 if Cutler is his typical self. I will err on the positive side though. If Miami can win one game against New England they will make the playoffs for the second straight season, if not they will be without a seat when the music stops in a very competitive AFC.

  1. New England Patriot 13-3
  2. Miami Dolphins 9-7
  3. Buffalo Bills 6-10
  4. New York Jets 2-14


AFC North

Everyone will be interested in hearing this at the end of the 2017 regular season: “The New York Jets are on the clock.” Because you read it here, the Browns will not be the worst team in football. I can see them getting at least 2 wins and losing out on the top pick because they will beat the Jets. All jokes aside, the Steelers will run away with the division. Baltimore will be their only real threat, and even if they lose split the series with Baltimore, they will still win the division by three games. And yes you read that right, I think the Browns will win two games this year; over the Jets and Colts.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. Baltimore Raves 8-8
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
  4. Cleveland Browns 2-13


AFC South

Once again the AFC South will be the worst division in football. There are no dominant quarterbacks in this division, which is the root of the problem. Yes, Andrew Luck is on the cusp of being an elite quarterback, but that is when he is healthy. And that is a huge but. He is coming off surgery and is already confirmed to miss the first game of the season. Plus, there are no pieces around him like in years past. The Titans were a bit of a surprise team last year, narrowly missing out on the playoffs. Marcus Mariota will only get better entering his third season, and giving him new weapons like Eric Decker and rookie receiver Corey Davis presents a scary proposition for opposing defenses. Because Houston still doesn’t have a standout quarterback, I’m not picking them to squeak out the division again. They can only rely on their defense for so long. And because they won the division last year, they will play a first place schedule, which further helps the Titans.

  1. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  2. Houston Texans 8-8
  3. Indianapolis Colts 8-8
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12


AFC West

Before Derek Carr broke his leg in the final week of the regular season last year I thought the Raiders stood the best chance of beating the Patriots in the playoffs. The only thing I could see derailing them this year is the huge distraction of the team re-locating, yet again. It’s something fans in Oakland should be use to, but it doesn’t mean the black hole won’t turn on them and make a hostile home environment for the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders. How the Chiefs do so well with a mediocre quarterback and no running game is beyond me. This year will see them lose the division crown but still make the playoffs as a wild card team with a 10-6 record. Of course that could change if the Broncos get great quarterback play out of Trevor Siemian, and they manage to win both games against the Chiefs. Or if the Chiefs manage to lose both games against the Broncos and Raiders (For simplicity reasons of predicting records I have all 3 of them going 1-1 against each other. And also because of how fierce those rivalries are), which would have the Chiefs’ record sink to 8-8 and result in KC missing the playoffs.

  1. Oakland Raiders 13-3
  2. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  3. Denver Broncos 9-7
  4. Los Angeles Chargers 3-13


Now on to the playoffs, what most people will be concerned with. Here are the matchups I predict:

NFC Wild Card Round

#3 Green Bay vs. # 6 Tampa Bay

#4 New York Giants vs. #5 Arizona


AFC Wild Card Round

#3 Pittsburgh vs. #6 Miami

#4 Tennessee vs. #5 Kansas City


NFC Divisional Round

#2 Seattle vs. #3 Green Bay

#1 Atlanta vs. #4 New York Giants


AFC Divisional Round

#2 New England vs. #3 Pittsburgh

#1 Oakland vs. #5 Kansas City


NFC Championship

#3 Green Bay vs. #4 New York Giants


AFC Championship

#1 Oakland vs. #2 New England


Super Bowl

Oakland vs. Green Bay


Super Bowl Champions

Oakland Raiders


The Patriots are too easy a pick to win the Super Bowl. That decision was made easier with the Julian Edelman injury, but I had them not even reaching the Super Bowl prior to Edelman being out for the year. I felt last year that the Raiders would be a serious threat to the Patriots throne, but then Derek Carr broke his leg and the rest was history.  So I’m going with them to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC. The Steelers will be very good this year, but I think they will run out of steam towards the end with an aging Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs will win a playoff game in back to back years for the first time in who knows how long, but then they will run into the Patriots, who have been a thorn in their side for quite a while now.

As easy as the AFC is to pick, the NFC is a complete toss up. There are no serious contenders in my opinion. Sure, there will be the perennial winners, like the Packers and Seahawks. But who else amongst the playoff teams would mount a serious title challenge? I’m hedging my bets and going with the fact that I can’t see the Packers losing to the Seahawks twice in one season, and Seattle will be arrogant heading into my predicted Divisional Round matchup after what happened in the 2014 NFC Championship . Starting the season 0-2 will be a wake up call for the Packers, and they will learn from their mistakes after losing to Seattle in Week 1. They will trudge through the playoffs, thanks to what would be a miss match on paper against the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round, as the infamous warm weather team traveling north to a cold weather team matchup playing out in the Packers’ favor.

While the Packers will learn from past mistakes, collapses and choke jobs to finally reach another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers, ultimately they won’t have enough to beat the Raiders, who are a well balanced team. Rodgers should be able to carve apart Oakland’s defense, but Green Bay’s shaky defense won’t be able to stop the Raiders. I see Oakland’s defense being able to do just enough to slow down Rodgers and company with their pass rush to hold on to and a very tight Super Bowl.







So now that the summer transfer window has closed, it’s time to revamp my predictions for the 2017/18 season. Last year I didn’t make any changes, but this year it’s a different story. I’m moving some pieces around, mainly Arsenal, who I’m dropping two spots to 7th place. I initially had them in 5th, but so much has gone wrong with them only three weeks into the season it’s mind boggling.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Arsenal will struggle this season, but what should surprise everyone is just how bad they actually are. It’s ineptitude both on the field and behind the scenes. Arsenal is no stranger to bungling the transfer market, but this summer window took that to new, epic levels. There appeared to be a mass exodus at the Emirates, as more players wanted out than in. It was no secret Alexis Sanchez wanted out, but as the summer wore on, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down a 180,000 a week contract to remain at Arsenal and instead accepted less money just to get out of dodge and sign with Liverpool. Lucas Perez, who never really settled in with the Gunners, wanted back to his former club in Spain. Shkrodran Mustafi wanted to abandon ship after only one season in North London as well, hoping to escape to Inter Milan. Joel Campbell wanted to be sold rather than be loaned out, yet again. Kieran Gibbs smartly waited for a move to West Bromich Albion instead of heading off to Watford. Jack Wilshere was even weighing his option over a permanent move away from Arsenal. You know things are bad at Arsenal when academy players are shoving to be first out the exit door.

And all that is on top of not unloading dead weight like Mathieu Debuchy, who clearly does not feature in Arsene Wenger’s plans yet remains at Arsenal. Wenger is so daft he’d rather pay Debuchy to not play than just release him from his contract. In all Arsenal sold 10 players, and loaned out a further nine. There will surely be turmoil at the Emirates, it just depends on how much and how big of an impact it has on their performance.

While Arsenal is stagnant, others made significant improvements in the closing days of the transfer window. Tottenham finally made some signings, landing a suitable (and arguably better) replacement for Kyle Walker and not only added more striker depth, but stealing a player away from Chelsea. Everton also finalized their long speculated deal with former Swansea star Gylfi Sigurdsson .

I’m not changing my pick to win the league, Manchester City, nor having Chelsea fall out of my originally predicted second place finish, but I am rearranging the next few places in the table. I originally had Tottenham in third and Manchester United in fourth, but I’m flip flopping them.

Many people are high on United after their dominant start to the season, but I just can’t see them being disciplined enough to maintain that pace the entire season. I foresee some hiccups for United along the way that will see them drop crucial points to mount a title charge, or even take over the second spot from Chelsea. It will be a close race for the second spot, but I see Chelsea holding on by a few points. I could see it being as close as 3 points, if not less.

Tottenham’s struggles at Wembley were well publicized heading into this season, and I brought up those concerns in my preview for Spurs. It was one of the reasons I had them finish lower than they did last season. Even after the addition of Serge Aurier at right back and Fernando Llorente up top, it’s not enough to have them hang with both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. I have them moving down from my original predicted finish of third, to fourth place.

I already touched on Arsenal, who I originally had in fifth place. But after the whipping they suffered at the hands of Liverpool, and how they not only struggled to beat Leicester, but lost away at Stoke yet again, I fear it will be worse than the “same old Arsenal.” Liverpool, who I had in 6th, moves up to 5th place in my updated predictions post deadline day. Despite their attacking prowess, Jurgen Klopp still didn’t improve his defense. Holding on to Philippe Coutinho despite multiple offers close to 200 million, shows their intentions to the rest of the league.

You may be asking yourselves, who is in 6th place since you dropped Arsenal down to 7th and bumped up Liverpool to 5th. Well, I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb and tab Everton for that 6th position. Yes, despite how much cash they flashed in the transfer market, their goal differential is in the negatives. But it will take time for the new squad to gel. Everton will be the biggest beneficiaries of Arsenal being in shambles.

I feel a whole lot more comfortable about having West Brom in 8th place. They added lots of key pieces in the closing days of the summer window. The Baggies added more veteran leadership with Gareth Barry, and taking Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak on loan was a smart move by Tony Pulis. They also managed to keep Jonny Evans. Should I go out further on that limb and say if Arsenal continue their dreadful form that West Brom would be keen to leap frog them into 7th place?

Huddersfield Town is the biggest surprise of the season so far, but I’m still not moving them out of the relegation zone, nor am I dropping Brighton & Hove down into it based on their lackluster performances. I’m not going to make knee jerk reactions based on only three games. Brighton gets back their talisman, Anthony Knockaert, who was the Championship Player of the Year last season. Brighton also added Davy Propper, who just scored two crucial goals for the Dutch in World Cup qualifiers.  Would it surprise me if Huddersfield avoids the drop and Brighton goes down instead? No. But like I said, I’m going to stick to my guns here.

Looking at other relegation predictions by bonafide pundits, I was shocked not to see more mentions of Crystal Palace. They have been dreadful so far his season, not scoring a single goal while conceding six. West Ham may have a worse goal differential, but at least they have scored. I just can’t see West Ham being this pitiful the entire season. If they do, Slaven Bilic, who is already on the hot seat, will surely be sacked. And whoever takes over the Hammers could be the boost they sorely need.

Watford is another surprise performer in this early stage of the season. But considering they only managed a draw with Brighton, I’m still tabbing them for relegation. But on a bright note, they put on an admirable performance against Liverpool where they walked away with what could be a crucial point. I threw Swansea City into the relegation hat, but they managed to pull off a miracle in the transfer market by adding Renato Sanches on loan and bringing back striker Wilfried Bony, which will help them tremendously in their fight to remain in the top flight. Many people had Burnley going down, especially after selling their top striker to Watford of all clubs, but I wasn’t so hasty. They managed to replace Andre Gray with two strikers; not only stealing a striker from Huddersfield, but also managing to snatch the signature of Championship top scorer Chris Wood from other EPL clubs he was linked with.

Other than the movers around the top of the table, I foresee everything remaining the same as my original predictions. So here is a brief rundown of my updated predications in order of finish (at least for the top half):Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, West Brom, Bournemouth, Southampton. Bottom half (in no particular order): Leicester, Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Newcastle, Swansea, Brighton. Relegation (in no particular order): Huddersfield, Watford, Crystal Palace.


After my rather successful predictions last year, I decided to do the obligatory English Premier League (EPL) predictions for the 2017/18 season. I will start out by saying this year will be more difficult to predict, as with all of the top teams playing in Europe, they will all have a somewhat equally rigorous schedule. The relegation fodder is also tougher this year, as the newly promoted clubs are better than last year’s and some of the clubs that have been in the top tier of English football for a handful of seasons now have gotten worse instead of better. Just like last like last year, every club’s first mention and where the meat of the prediction begins will be in bold to make it easier to find a particular area of interest.

I will start with the clubs I am tabbing for relegation. They are (in no particular order) Watford, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town. I am also throwing Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City and Burnley into the relegation mix too. I’m fairly confident both Watford and Palace will go down, but the final team I’m not completely sold on. I lean more towards Huddersfield because their squad is not as deep as Brighton’s, and they haven’t done much in the transfer window to secure their place. But on the other hand, Brighton’s manager is Chris Hughton, who was at the helm of Norwich City for the bulk of the season when they were relegated back in 2014. While I don’t completely trust him to steer a club out of relegation zone, he has proven himself by leading a team to automatic promotion to the top flight.

Palace has been in turmoil for some time now. After a strong showing in 2014/15 they’ve been on the downturn for the past few seasons. Sacking Alan Pardew last season was a decision made easier by his poorer and poorer performances heading into Christmas. Sam Allardyce took over, and he saved the sinking ship, at least for the time being, as Big Sam once again pulled off the impossible by guiding yet another team out of relegation. But it wasn’t all good news for Palace as Big Sam opted for quasi retirement rather than continue on as manager.

Palace hasn’t brought in anyone of note during the summer transfer window. Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek was taken on loan, but they will still struggle to score goals while at the same time being picked apart at the back. New manager Frank de Boer, who had been looking for a job at a top club in one of the big four leagues in Europe, and had been linked with several desirable openings, eventually took the job at Inter Milan for the 2016/17 season, but wound up getting sacked only a few months into the season. He then found his way to Palace, and while he seemed to learn from some of his mistakes during his short tenure at Inter, like bringing in high price signings, he seems to be falling into another trapping; bringing in your players. The first time Premier League manager signed the versatile former Ajax man Jairo Riedewald, who de Boer had during his spell as Ajax manager (which also ended unceremoniously).  Unless Palace brings in another goal scorer and a better first choice keeper (they lost Steve Mandanda who was brought in last year to shore up the position) Palace is in for a rough go of it.

Watford has been in downward spiral for while now. They were the darlings of the Premier League in 2015/16, but the annual managerial changes have done nothing to stabilize the club. Last year was as close to disaster as possible, and it was rumored long time captain Troy Deeney wanted to leave the club. If playing for a new manager every season wasn’t enough, the Watford board decided to bring in Marco Silvo, who, while doing an admirable job at Hull City last year, couldn’t keep them up. So a club that narrowly avoided relegation last year, thought bringing in a new manager who managed a club that was relegated last year was a good idea. Watford has been active in the transfer window, but that is not always a good thing. Watford’s major problem seems to be change; too much of it. They tend to bring in loads of new players in the summer, which can upset even the best of teams. But to a team like Watford it can spell disaster.

If you remember I had Swansea City in the relegation mix last year, but I didn’t pick them as one of the three clubs going down. While I feel Swansea is in for another bottom half of the table finish, manager Paul Clement had them heading in the right direction last year after taking over from Bob Bradley. But if the Swans wind up selling Gylfi Sigurdsson, which is a strong possibility, they’re in real trouble. Swansea is not exactly an ideal spot for many players, and they’ve had a hard time luring players to join the club in recent years. Their precarious position in the Premier League only further hinders that task.

Along with Swansea, the bottom half of the table will be rounded out by (in no particular order) Burnley, Leicester City, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Stoke City. I already touched on Brighton, but I see them narrowly avoiding relegation and finishing in 17th. After a good run of form in the first half, Burnley fell on tough times in the second half, slowly falling down the table to finish in 16th, level on points with Watford in 17th. Burnley sold their best attacking threat, to fellow relegation fodder Watford no-less, and they didn’t bring in the right players to help them climb the table, instead opting for aging Stoke castoffs. Given that I also have Stoke in the bottom half doesn’t bode well for Burnley.

Stoke was another team that started out well but slid down the table in the second half. With the departure of Marko Arnautovic, one of their better players, the ship is not heading in the right direction. The Potters did get rid of a lot of aging players, and those who were surplus to requirements, freeing up wage money. But they haven’t really spent any of it. At least not on anyone who can be a difference maker, or at the very least someone who can compliment Xherdan Shaqiri, who I can see asking for a transfer just like Arnautovic.

Without Champions League commitments Leicester can focus solely on the league. It will benefit them, but not enough. They should be safe for another season, but they will finish towards the bottom of the table. They brought in the right type of players, in the right positions, but it won’t be enough to be anywhere near mid table let alone the top half.

West Ham made a splash in the transfer market with the signing of Javier Hernandez, but even Chicharito can’t solve West Ham’s problems. Bringing in Joe Hart was an odd move, as I think Darren Randolph was a much better option as a backup keeper. Hart won’t provide any competition for Adrian, so don’t expect a rise in his performance, and he won’t push Adrian out of the starting spot either, so it’s pretty much a waste of wages. I don’t see West Ham finishing terribly low, but they won’t crack the top half.

Newly promoted Newcastle should have enough to stay up and avoid going straight back down to the Championship. Rafa Benitez stayed on as manager despite the Magpies being relegated, which spoke volumes to his team. They all bought in for the 2016/17 season, and they impressively won the Championship to earn automatic promotion. I don’t see Newcastle being a yoyo club. Yes, they won’t have some important pieces like Florian Thauvin, Yoan Gouffran and Matz Sels, but they brought in enough to make due. Newcastle supporters are a fickle and demanding bunch, but after being relegated in embarrassing fashion in the 2015/16 season, managing to stay up this year should be viewed as an accomplishment worth celebrating. My only concern with Newcastle is if they will have enough goals in them.

So through process of elimination you should already have an idea of who I think will finish in the top half. Southampton, Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion, Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea (in no particular order) fill out the table in the top half.  I will cut things down further by saying Southampton, Bournemouth and West Brom will finish outside the European places.

To be honest, the team that finishes in 10th was tough to pick. It was a tossup between Bournemouth and Southampton. Every year I don’t know what to make of Southampton. And this year is no different. The club that is known for being a feeder program for the big boys of European football, has surprisingly not sold many of their players heading into the 2017/18 campaign. But they also haven’t brought in anyone of note. A new manager for the second consecutive season will also hamper them. But Southampton always finds a way to finish closer to the top half than the bottom half. So with that I have them in the top half, but only barely.

While Bournemouth made a lot of good signings in the summer, I can’t see them improving on the success of last year where they finished in 9th. Not that last year was a fluke, it’s more to do with teams around them getting better. Bournemouth shouldn’t have snuck up on anyone last year, but they did. I can’t see that happening again this season.

Just like I can’t see Tony Pulis letting his West Brom side becoming complacent again like they were last year after hitting that magic 37 point number to assure themselves safety in top flight. West Brom was surprisingly active during the transfer windows last year, bringing in somewhat high profile players like Nacer Chadli. And Pulis had another Ace up his sleeve this year, bringing in England International Jay Rodriguez from Southampton. New signings aside, West Brom did not lose too many key players. Darren Fletcher’s absences will be sorely missed from a leadership perspective, but Jay Rodriguez should fill those shoes nicely. If Salomon Rondon can improve upon last year’s performance, and Euro 2016 hero Hal Robson-Kanu can provide any of the spark he did for Wales in the Euros, West Brom could surprise many by finishing convincingly in the top half.

That is my out on a limb pick. It seems every year there is one surprise club. One team that overachieves to open everyone’s eyes. A few years ago it was Leicester City, last year it was Bournemouth. This year I think it will be West Brom.

I don’t see West Brom challenging for a European place, but Everton surely will. Everton was the busiest club in the transfer market, signing 12 players. And it wasn’t just depth signings, they were marquee ones. Jordan Pickford should shore up the goalkeeping position, Davy Klaasen has been a fixture in Ajax’s starting XI so long it would surprise most that he’s only 24 years old, and while bringing back home grown legend Wayne Rooney won’t fill Romelu Lukaku’s boots, it will go a long way to providing leadership to a team that seemed to lack confidence and direction the last couple years.

Expectations will be high for Everton, and that may negatively affect them. But Ronald Koeman is back for another year, and he had them playing much better. So it stands to reason that another year under Koeman, combined with the spending spree at Goodison Park, will at the very least see a repeat performance of last year where they earned a spot in Europe.

Now comes what most people are interested in; the big boys of the EPL. So where exactly do I see Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur finishing? It may surprise you.

Liverpool are in serious trouble heading into the 2017/18 season. They’re still in need of a quality center back, and Jurgen Klopp did not address that area in the transfer window (as of posting this before the close of the window), and better options at outside back would also be beneficial. Signing yet another attacking option show where Klopp’s priorities lie. Considering that Liverpool’s schedule may become tougher with the added Champions League commitments should they qualify for the group stage; their league play may suffer further. I predict a 6th place finish for Liverpool, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Klopp gets the sack at the end of the year if not sooner.

For yet another season there will be turmoil at the Emirates. Manager Arsene Wenger was brought back on another contract extension, this time a two year salvage job to get the Gunners back into the top four. And that task will be harder than ever given the fact that Arsenal has to contend with the rigors of the playing in the dreaded Europa League. Wenger has already started his typical excuses by saying he doesn’t like the format of the Europa League and will likely rotate his squad for those games to rest his regular starting XI. Their domestic schedule is also very tough to start the year.

Star man Alexis Sanchez wants out, but Wenger has put his foot down saying he won’t sell him. Mesut Ozil (along with many other key pieces who haven’t renewed) is also out of contract at the end of the year like Sanchez, and how much those contracts running out with be a distraction is anyone’s guess.

Arsenal did finally break open the check book to sign Alexandre Lacazette, something that was two years in the making. And they brought in outside back Sead Kolasinac on free transfer from Schalke, where he was either brilliant or pitiful. In other words; the typical Wenger signing. But that won’t be enough to contend for the title let alone a spot in the top four, especially since Wenger didn’t clear the books of dead weight like Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson, Lucas Perez, Francis Coquelin or Chuba Akpom. He also didn’t make the more debatable moves of getting rid of players like Theo Walcott, Mohammed Elneny, David Ospina, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Laurent Koscielny or Olivier Giroud.

I see a 5th place finish for Arsenal, and the return of Wenger, or should I say Kroenke’s Kroney, for the 2018/19 season. Though I could easily see Liverpool and Arsenal swapping places.

Manchester United will be better in Jose Mourinho’s second year at the helm. His system is in place, he’s brought in more players to his liking, and most importantly; he didn’t sell David de Gea. The addition of Romelu Lukaku will get all the attention, and rightfully so. But don’t overlook the signing of Nemaja Matic. He was great at Chelsea, and more importantly, he was great at Chelsea under Mourinho. I envision a 4th place finish for United. I don’t see them having enough to surpass Tottenham, Manchester City or Chelesea.

Everyone seems to be high on Tottenham. But I find it worrisome that they didn’t sign anyone in the summer. The bigger problem though is not just the loss of Kyle Walker, but losing him to a serious rival. As it stands now Kieran Trippier will likely be Walker’s replacement, and while Trippier is a decent player, he won’t be able to fill the void left by Walker. And that is before the injury he suffered in Spurs final tune up game. As it stands it appears Michael Dier will be played out of position at right back to start the season.

Another area of concern for Tottenham is playing their home games at Wembley Stadium while their new ground is being completed next door to where White Hart Lane once stood. We all saw how playing in a new stadium negatively effected West Ham last year, and that is before even mentioning Spurs’ poor record at Wembley. Spurs will be good, but not good enough to get over that final hurdle and win the league. I see a 3rd place finish.

Last year I successfully predicted that Chelsea would win the league, and despite the sharp criticism I stood by that choice. This year I don’t see Chelsea having the same success. They already had a replacement for Nemanja Matic before they sold him, and they improved their back line with the signing of Antonio Rudiger. New signing Alvaro Morata, a possible replacement for Diego Costa should he leave in January, has not set the world on fire right out of the gate like so many people demand these days of high profile signings. He may still pan out, but right now he is not meshing within the team and his work rate leaves a lot to be desired.

The biggest reason I picked Chelsea to win the league last year was because that did not have any European commitments to contend with, so they could focus solely on the league. This year they will be in the Champions League, and you know they want to win it. That added schedule will have a negative impact on them, which will have Chelsea finish in 2nd place.

With all that said, I predict Manchester City will win the league. They brought in the typical City signings; high priced and talented. They dipped their bucket into the eager to sell Monaco well and came out with two outstanding players in Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy. Not only do those additions add depth at position where they already have one of the best in the world, it also adds strength to a position they were in desperate need of. And that is before mentioning the signings of right backs Danilo and Kyle Walker, another position City were in desperate need to improve.

Since City improved their one area of weakness, and cleared a ton of dead weight off their books (not that City needs extra funds) there should be nothing stopping them. If that wasn’t scary enough for the rest of the league, City’s schedule is fairly easy; especially at both the beginning and end, with ridiculously easy months sprinkled in the middle.




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.


“Same old Arsenal.” A phrase every Arsenal supporter loathes, or at least should. After a jaw droppingly awful run of form; having to come from three goals down to salvage a draw with Bournemouth, losing to Watford a couple weeks later and then right on the heels of that embarrassing loss, suffering another loss, this time a demoralizing defeat to Chelsea. To make matters worse, the Gunners were dropping points at crucial times. Had they managed to take all three point from the aforementioned Bournemouth and Watford games, like they easily should have, they would have been six points behind Chelsea heading into that all important league clash. Instead, they found themselves 12 points adrift afterwards, with their title hopes all but gone.

So the question arises, yet again, who is at fault? On paper this is one of the strongest teams Arsenal has fielded in years. Arsène Wenger has actually spent money, in some of the right areas for once. There should not be any excuses anymore. Does the blame rest on the players, who always appear to take a nonchalant, lackadaisical approach when facing clubs from the bottom of the table? Or does the blame rest squarely on Wenger’s shoulders. Players come and go, but the one constant the last 20 odd years has been Wenger.

This same team beat Chelsea earlier in the season, embarrassing them the same way Chelsea did to them on February 4. There should have been even more motivation to beat them in the return fixture, because it would be a season salvaging win. So Arsenal can’t get up for big games, and they can’t take games against weaker teams serious enough to not fall behind by multiple goals before halftime. Who is in charge of firing up the team? Wenger. Who is in charge of making sure the players’ mentality is in the right place? Wenger. Who is in charge of not letting players become complacent with their spot in the team? Wenger.

Last season everyone saw the first rumblings of the “Wenger Out” campaign. The cries from supporters who want Wenger out as manager, for a multitude of reasons. With the now infamous “Arsenal FC. Not Arsene FC” banner on display at the Emirates summing up the frustration perfectly. This season, after the latest stumblings, you’re starting to see more unrest amongst the fans. In the 2-0 win over Hull City there were a great deal of empty seats, and the atmosphere was dull. It seemed like the crowd was looking to boo more than cheer. I can only imagine how bad the Emirates will be during their next home match after suffering yet another embarrassing defeat at the hands of Bayern, 5-1, which will ironically be against Bayern in the return leg of Champions League Round of 16. Towards the end of last season I was starting to switch camps into the Wenger Out side. But after how this season has been playing out, I’m firmly in the Wenger Out camp.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everything Wenger has done for the club. With the key word there being done. He brought an exciting style of football to the club, helped the club remain successful under financial strictness as the Emirates was ushered in and brought titles, not just trophies. But it’s been far too long since Arsenal have won the title. And if last year was a kick to the groin, following it up with the poor performances this season is stepping on your groin after you’ve fallen from the initial kick.

Wenger has delusions of grandeur. He’s full of excuses without ever actually accepting responsibility for his team’s shortcomings. His refusal to change tactics or adapt to a new style of play that is dictated by the game or opponent is worrisome. The beautiful at all costs approach does not work all the time. Coming out and saying he’d rather play beautiful football than win is an insult to anyone who spent money supporting the club. Bottom line is, this is all getting old. It happens every season, and only worsens as any sort of adversity is faced.

While no one will complain about finishing in the top four year in and year out; it’s sure better than finishing outside it, it’s beginning to foster complacency. It was exemplified in the loss to Watford at the end of January. Where there was no urgency, hardly any effort put in and shell shocked expressions as if the players were thinking “how dare they have the audacity to score on us.”

Another issue is the disagreements amongst supporters. Last year, once the Wenger Out faction starting becoming more vocal and prevalent, you could see fans in the crowd bickering amongst themselves. With the Wenger diehards screaming at the Wenger Outs to sit down and shut up. There needs to be some sort of understanding amongst supporters. There will always be opposing views, but arguing with someone who disagrees with your opinion is simply yelling at a brick wall. If people want to protest let them. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a staunch Wenger Out member. Fighting amongst ourselves won’t accomplish anything. Sending mixed messages to the board won’t bring necessary change. And I think we can all agree that something needs to change.

The sad part is, at this point Arsenal have waited too long to get rid of Wenger even if they don’t retain him past this season. Antonio Conte, José Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancellotti, Massimiliano Allegri , Jorge Sampaoli, Frank de Boer and Jürgen Klopp, just to name a few, all have cushy new jobs at top clubs. The question begs who would want the Arsenal job that will actually take them back to the top? Diego Simeone from Atletico Madrid? Die Mannschaft manager Joachim Löw? Doubt any of them will leave their current jobs. Eddie Howe has been heavily linked with being Wenger’s successor once he departs, but with Bournemouth’s worrisome defensive record this season combined with Howe’s relative inexperience, it seems more and more like a risky venture. Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini are still available. And don’t anyone dare throw Jürgen Klinsmann name into the hat.

So the question begs; what will it take for Wenger to be out as Arsenal manager? Being embarrassed by Bayern in the Champions League? Tottenham finishing ahead of Arsenal in the league? Finishing outside the top four? Any combination of the above? To weed through this convoluted mess, let’s look at past experiences. Arsenal has never won the Champions League (UCL) in their history, let alone under Wenger, with their highest finish being reaching the UCL final way back in 2006. And In recent years they routinely make a Round of 16 exit. Yet Wenger has kept his job. This year is no different as Bayern already comprehensively demolished them in the opening fixture of the home and away series in the Round of 16. Aside from that, Arsenal’s stats are damning. They’ve allowed 3+ goals in four of the last five Round of 16 games, and Wenger’s record in the UCL knockout round is a dismal at best, standing at 15-10-18.

Last year the only thing Wenger could hang his hat on was finishing above Spurs. Leapfrogging them on the final day of the season to finish in second place, Arsenal’s highest league finish since The Invincibles. Arsenal haven’t finished outside the top four since 1994-95, long before Wenger’s tenure, and I think that will be the likeliest thing that would lead to his sacking/dismissal/non-retainment; however the powers at be want to phrase it.

Putting all that in perspective, yes winning the Champions League is extremely difficult. It’s why it’s called the Champions League and not the Europa League. Winning the Premier League is difficult too, but in reality is closer to Arsenal’s grasp than the Champions League. Beating and finishing ahead of Spurs is a matter of pride, but it’s ultimately out of Arsenal’s hands. The problems arise with, yet again, complacency. Arsenal are too comfortable. You could say they’re stuck in a rut, but to be stuck in a rut means you have some sort of ambition. And right now it seems Arsenal have no ambition. They’re perfectly happy with the status quo; finishing in the top four so you qualify for Champions League. Anything better than that is icing on the cake. There is no cherry on top in Arsenal’s book.

Until that mindset changes, which starts from the top, Arsenal will be stuck in this perpetual cycle of mediocrity. They’ll be a team everyone sets out to beat, but can legitimately embarrass. So here we are, on the eve of Arsenal’s FA Cup 5th Round match against non-league side Sutton United. When another non-league club already eliminated a Premier League club yesterday. Surely the disastrous can’t happen… right?






As promised here are my updated Premier League predictions post deadline day; there are none. I am sticking with my original predictions, which can be viewed here. Again, I have not altered those predictions, and never will regardless of how foolish they may pan out to be. I welcome comments, critiques, discussion and screen shots to prove how big a fool (or genius) I am.

The only change I mulled over was putting Manchester United ahead of Arsenal, so United would finish third and Arsenal fourth. Both teams had favorable draws for their respective European competitions, with maybe United getting a more strenuous road facing two tough opponents as opposed to Arsenal’s one. But with that accounted for, and even after Arsenal finally bought a striker (which of course wasn’t the caliber of striker they needed) and shored up their back line with the much needed purchase of Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia, I still don’t see the Gunners being able to challenge for the title. But their streak of top four finishes is safe for another year. And even though United have gotten out to about as perfect a start as their fans dreamed of, I don’t see them being able to keep that pace for the entire season. I see Zlatan and Mourinho derailing things by running their mouths. The second Zlatan doesn’t get the ball enough or Paul Pogba steals the spotlight from him he will go into one of his infamous tirades. Mourinho again will rock the boat too much. Just too many cooks in the kitchen at United and countless distractions can arise from it.

But I’d rather just stick with my first choices and stand behind them, rather than alter things and have egg on my face if original predictions pan out. There just wasn’t enough evidence that convinced me to change things. Nobody made a big enough splash on deadline day to make themselves move up the table in my mind. All anyone did was consolidate their place.

So to wrap up again, here are my relegation picks: Hull City, Burnley and Sunderland.

Top 4 (in order): Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United.

European places (in order, 5-7, accounts for potential domestic cup winner scenarios & other qualifying means. I know typically only 1 English club qualifies for Europa League by league position): Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham

Top Half (in no order) = Stoke City, Everton, Leicester City,

Bottom Half (in no order) = Southampton, Watford, Middlesbrough, West Brom, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Swansea