Premier League – Who will beat the drop?

It’s that time of year. Valentines day. Which can only mean one thing – the debate begins as to who will be relegated from the Premier League this year, obviously.

Lets meet the contestants:

Middlesbrough

Now despite being one of the most boring sides in history, Aitor Karanka has organised an average squad into one which doesn’t score, but doesn’t concede either. One of the better looking relegation sides, Karanka will be hoping their genuine talents such as Ramirez and Traore explode between now and May.

 

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We almost scored – can’t be having that

 

Leicester

How the mighty have fallen. In a tactical sense Leicester City are lost this year and look completely demoralised compared to last season’s fairy-tale. Amartey and Ndidi have proved ineffectual replacements for Kante, whilst Huth and Morgan look like they have aged 10 years in 9 months. The worrying thing for Leicester is that there looks to be no stopping this slump in the final chapter of their incredible story.

Hull City

Marco Silva, or ‘that foreign one’ to Paul Merson, looks to have given Hull City a new lease of life. The loss of Snodgrass will no doubt have been crippling to Silva’s squad but Hull will be hoping their new-manager-bounce will last until the end of the season if they have any hope of staying up.

Crystal Palace

It wouldn’t be a proper relegation battle without Big Sam’s presence, not even the small obstacle of the England job was going to stop this icon. However, it seems this year he may have bitten of more than he can chew as Palace look woeful as a team. They seem too reliant on moments of genius from the likes of Cabaye and Zaha and considering their consistency, it won’t be enough.

Sunderland

I can’t imagine anything more demoralising than your manager going into a post-match interview and essentially giving up. Now imagine it happening every week – welcome to Sunderland. Sunderland should have followed in Swansea’s lead and cut their managerial losses early. However they stuck with David Moyes, who seems to be waiting for the sack which never comes.

 

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“What do you mean I need to stay until May?”

Predictions:

18th – Leicester

19th – Crystal Palace

20th – Sunderland

Photos licensed for reuse: Google images

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3 Things 2016 Has Taught the Football World

It’s been a funny old year. And by funny I mean horrendous, for politics, the environment, and for celebrity deaths. But never mind all that, one thing that never fails to give us a reason to smile is football. Here’s three things that the beautiful game has taught us over the past year.

Never Doubt an Underdog

The first half of 2016 belonged to Leicester City. Under the wing of Claudio Ranieri, they became Premier League Champions at odds of 5000/1. If there is one thing that Leicester’s famous title win taught us, it is that even in an age of bewildering transfer fees and super-clubs, any team can still win.

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Leicester provided one of the biggest upsets in modern football history.
Since then Leicester have seemingly inspired more teams around Europe to challenge the dominant clubs. At the end of 2016, RB Leipzig are a win away from Bayern Munich. In Ligue 1, OGC Nice sit five points above last year’s runaway winners, PSG.

When Done Right, Three-at-the-Back is a Winner

As covered in last week’s article, Conte’s 3-4-3 is currently tearing up the Premier League. Few managers have flirted with similar formations before, and fewer still have succeeded. Pep Guardiola is proof that even the best coaches struggle, with his attempt to rotate between a three and four man defence at Bayern Munich being hit-and-miss at best. When coming up against Barcelona in the Champions League, Bayern found out the hard way that the best teams will exploit any extra space left by an absence of full backs. This makes Chelsea’s 2016 squad all the more impressive as they have shown the rest of the world how it’s done.

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Brilliant? Yes. Invincible? Not Quite.
Some are just in it for the money

The news in July that Graziano Pelle swapped Southampton for Shandong shocked and angered many. The Chinese club offered Pelle an eye-watering £260,000 a week, making him the sixth best-paid player in the world. With Carlos Tevez now making the swap, China now has four out of the top ten best paid players in the world and throws up arguments to debate (and possibly future articles…). The fact remains that for all the passion in football, some are just in it to make a living.

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Probably looks cheerier now he makes enough to buy a Ferrari every week.

Photos licensed for reuse: Google images