Hello and welcome. I have written exhaustively on the 2011/12 EPL season with topics such as goals, points, shots and quality of opposition. Now the reviews are over, it's time to delve into the previews for the 2012/13 season.
I, never one for fear of being wrong or ridiculed, shall now attempt to predict the 2012/13 EPL final standings at the end of the 38 game season.
Join me after the jump and prepare to laugh and point and maybe, just maybe agree on a few of the team placings!
So, I considered writing this preview and assigning each team a points total along with that teams' predicted finishing place. In the end I decided it was too much guesswork and quite frankly I couldn't make a better go of it than this highly statistical preview of the 2012/13 EPL season that James W Grayson has done over at his blog. Do check it out.
3 year EPL points totals
2009/10 EPL recorded 1035 points (51.75 points per team)
2010/11 EPL recorded 1029 points (51.45 points per team)
2011/12 EPL recorded 1047 points (52.35 points per team)
I shall start by saying that I think the Premier League champions will win the league with slightly less points this year than last years winner. I am of the opinion that Man City and Man united drove each other on to greater heights and points totals by virtue of their close battle. The league should be a tighter pack this year with all the relegation teams hopefully earning closer to 37 points.
Will the gap between the top 2 teams and 3rd place be 19 points as it was in 2011/12? I hope not for the sake of the league's health.
Man City. The best squad in the division could and should continue to grow and gain more vital experience of playing together. Man City have the league's best strikeforce, arguably the most varied midfield corps (and it's best midfielder in Toure). Add in the EPL's best goalkeeper and a top 3 center back in captain Kompany and it's hard to see where it could go wrong.
Tevez is focused, Aguero and Silva bedded in. The only issue I can see that may prevent Man City from winning it in 2012/12 is an injury bug. We were exceptionally lucky last season in terms of injuries but will we be so lucky this year?
Champions with less points but a bigger margin than just goal difference.
Man Utd If Man City have the best squad then Man United have the best manager by a distance. How Ferguson managed to get 89 points out of his depleted, and at times, poor squad was a modern masterpiece of management. At the death his squad just ran out of legs and fresh bodies. Kagawa should be a good addition but he isn't what they vitally need and that is a central midfielder to take the pressure of Carrick. Scoles and Giggs are aging greats, Cleverley has started only 24 EPL games in his career and turned 23 on Sunday. He is no longer a prospect nor does he have the experience to be counted on, yet.
Vidic will help, Ferguson more so. I would like to see RVP sign for United, I think he would be going to the right club and it may be good for the league rather than the player signing for Man City and playing behind Aguero and Tevez.
2nd place but with a widening gap emerging between runners-up and winners.
Villas-Boas had a great reputation at Porto for a high tempo attacking style with the emphasis on wingers and a big front man, sound familiar? Spurs have the wingers and, in Adebayor-who may sign along with M'vila- a big striker who is a truly excellent footballer if not a person in possession of a great attitude.
Villa-Boas should get a good tune out of this naturally inclined attacking team and he may do this with or without Modric. Spurs may not miss him as badly as feared. The defense may need an addition or two, the forward line ditto. I think these additions will happen and Spurs may be good value under this once highly thought of manager.
3rd place capitalizing on other teams instability and inconsistency.
Chelsea. Despite having a poor EPL campaign Chelsea are the Champions of Europe. I still can't believe it, but it's true and in a way they deserve to be champions for the spirit and dogged defensiveness they showed on that run. The EPL was a different animal for them. they struggled, weren't a great team by the underlying numbers but in RDM they may have found a manager who understands this group of players and what tactical set-up they thrive under.
Chelsea's experienced players along with some exciting, if unproven, signings should guarantee them a top 4 place. I am not sure it will be RDM guiding them to that placing come the last game of the season.
4th and should have just enough to beat off their closest rivals.
Arsenal. Even with new signings starting to come on board, issues involving arguably their two best players could decide their 2012/13 EPL performance. RVP (transfer) and Wilshere (cruel injury) are the two key men for me and if van Persie leaves (and Song?) and Wilshere continues to struggle with fitness if not form on his return, then I see Arsenal struggling as we always guess the may do. This year I think they will finally drop out of the top 4.
They will be a wonderful possession team with young players continuing to improve. RVP's potential absence will be too much to overcome.
4th, fun to watch but will be undermined by years of player exoduses.
Liverpool. Rodgers possession football style(albeit a touch defensive with Swansea) should suit Liverpool and bring out the best from Suarez and Gerrard. Liverpool were unlucky with scoring % and woodwork issues all season in 2011/12 and this will change in 2012/13. A higher quality of scoring chances will be created with the new passing and pressing style and there will be less of an emphasis on the ill-informed crossing tactic which dogged Liverpool last year.
6th, better home form will mean more points and a challenge for a top 4 place.
Everton. Perennially slow starters who always finish the season well. Strong, organized and always well coached. The pluses are another year from Moyes and an anticipated full season from Jelavic. the negatives are the forced sales and the shadow of the bank always looming. Everton needed the money more than the player when talking of Rodwell.
They are a strong team who always survive the loss of a player or two.
7th but a little way off 6th place
Fulham. Had the 5th worst away form in 2011/12 with just 17 points. Only a slight improvement is needed in this area to enable Fulham to rise a spot in the table.
Fulham will need a couple more striking options and could do with keeping hold of their key players. Jol is a shrewd manager and one who seems to understand the league and Fulham's limitations within in it. Jol is a good manager who eventually will have a good season in 2012/13.
Newcastle. For a 5th placed finish in 2011/12, Newcastle were a poor possession and shot team who rode on the back of two strikers who, at completely different times in the season, enjoyed such excellently high levels of performance that I feel they must regress next year. If Ba and Cisse regress toward the mean in terms of scoring % and minutes per goal I believe that Newcastle will regress in the EPL also. Goals mean points.
Newcastle are no two man team though. Excellent individual performances from Krul, Colocinni and Cabaye certainly helped. Newcastle had a sensational season in 2011/12 and I think this year they will regress to having a good season and finish 9th.
Under new manager Paul Lambert Villa should be a much improved team. Alex McCleish almost strangled the life and enjoyment out of the team and it's fans last year. Here's to hoping Lerner has got this appointment right.
Lambert is an attacking coach who presided over a Norwich team who scored and conceded a lot. Villa have a better defense and have some forward and midfield players who can excite and win under better management. Looking forward to the continued development of their younger players.