EPL: Revising The Preseason Predictions (Part Two)
In part one of my review of preseason predictions, I discussed the difference between what I thought the table would look like back in August, and what it actually looks like now. Some predictions were fairly accurate, and others (such as my preseason assessment of Hull) were well off.
In this segment, we'll take a look at the rest of the predictions that Jeff Harbert and I made and add some new ones to the list.
I picked: Aston Villa
And...? Villa have indeed surprised many people this season. They currently sit in fourth place, three points ahead of perennial Champions League participants Arsenal. What's more, Villa have already managed to take four points against Arsenal. This could be the difference between the UEFA Cup and the Champions League for the Gunners.
Villa has been successful thanks to an offense that always keeps them in the game. The defense hasn't been particularly stingy, but Villa is consistently getting two or three goals each game.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has been the best of the bunch, scoring nine times and helping ease the loss of John Carew to injury.
I picked: Manchester City
And...? City have been disappointing, there's no doubt about that. But have they been the biggest of the disappointing Premier League teams this season?
No. Far from it.
Blackburn and Tottenham especially have struggled unexpectedly. Blackburn is in the relegation zone, and Tottenham had been there for most of the early season until the arrival of Harry Redknapp.
City merely occupy a mid-table spot. They've had some very impressive results during the season, as well as some very bad ones. They've beaten Arsenal 3-0, Portsmouth 6-0, and Hull 5-1.
Then they've gone and lost to West Brom, the last place team in the Premiership, as well as Middlesbrough, who have been hovering around the relegation zone.
You could consider Man City to be the biggest disappointment based on the fact that they made one of the biggest signings of the summer in Robinho, and have massively underachieved. But I won't. For me, Tottenham and Blackburn have been more disappointing.
I picked: Fernando Torres
And...? Torres has spent a good deal of time on the sidelines this season thanks to various injuries. I had expected him to continue the success he had last season and over the summer with Spain, but injuries have kept him off the pitch so far.
Instead, Nicolas Anelka is leading the Premiership in scoring with 14 goals so far this season. Anelka has been magnificent for Chelsea in the absence of Didier Drogba. After several seasons away from elite clubs, Anelka is proving that he still has what it takes to compete at the very top levels of football.
Amr Zaki, Agbonlahor and Robinho are also enjoying great seasons.
Torres has managed to maintain a high strike rate when he has been playing, netting five goals in seven appearances. But, he hasn't been able to stay healthy. If he can put together a run of appearances in the second half of the season, he may still be able to make a run at top goal scoring honors.
I picked: Samir Nasri
And...? Nasri has been very good, netting four goals in the league for Arsenal, including a brace that beat Manchester United. But has he been the best newcomer?
As much as I'd love to say that Nasri has been the best, I've been very impressed with Geovanni, of Hull. He was a key part of their incredible early season run, run that saw them rise has high as third place in the table.
Geovanni has also already doubled his scoring output from last season, in which he was considered a disappointment at Manchester City.
While Hull has slipped up a little bit as of late, Geovanni's contributions cannot be ignored. They will likely be spending at least one more season in the top flight and they'll have him to thank.
I picked: Giovani Dos Santos
And...? He's made six league appearances for Tottenham and has made no contribution in the stat sheet. It's too early in his Tottenham career to call him a bust, but he has also failed to live up to expectations so far.
I should've picked Deco.
For only £8 million, Chelsea have gotten themselves a midfielder who is still among the premier playmakers in the world. A few seasons ago, it was unthinkable that anybody would be able to sign Deco for so cheap, but Chelsea managed it over the summer.
Perhaps Deco's play has helped ease the pain of missing out on the Robinho sweepstakes.
-Arsenal will recover to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League.
-Liverpool will continue their excellent run of form and win their first ever Premier League title.
-Hull and Fulham, two teams expected to fight for survival at the beginning of the season, will find ways to finish in the top half of the table.
-Stoke will find a way to survive, at the expense of Middlesbrough.
-Tottenham will remain close to relegation zone all season despite 'Arry's best efforts.
-Portsmouth will recover from the loss of 'Arry to finish in the top half.
-West Ham will plummet down the table during the second half of the season.
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