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Premier League Champions – again – Manchester City. (Credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

2021-22 EPL: Season Predictions Revisited

After a most exciting finish to the English Premier League season – both at the top and bottom of the table, it’ time to revisit what Vendetta Sports Media’s intrepid band of footballing fans thought would happen in this campaign. Our writers made a series of predictions at the beginning of the campaign. We’ll see just how insightful/delusional those were, as well as checking on those predictions look now compared to the midway point of the season.

Firstly, let’s reintroduce you to our panellists: Jarrod ProsserAarav RainaChris BagdonasAlex CervantesGarrett BurroughsChristian IshooGavin Daly and Max Everett.

Let’s start at the top: Who wins the league?

Seven of our eight writers went for Manchester City to retain the title. Kudos to them! The writers, I mean. Well, kudos to City, too, I suppose.

An extra gold star to Prosser who anticipated the result would be a lot closer than last season. Cervantes also predicted a final day cliff hanger, though undid all of his good work by picking his beloved Chelsea to claim the crown.

All in all, a good start for our team.

Who claims the other Champions League spots? In order of league finish, please.

Not one of our writers managed to nail all three teams in this bracket, let alone the order. So from all of us here at Vendetta: FUCK YOU MANCHESTER UNITED!

All of our team picked Chelsea to finish top four with Bagdonas, Ishoo and Daly all tabbing them to finish 3rd. Conversely, nobody picked Tottenham to Gatecrash the top four. Then again, nobody knew that Antonio Conte’s hair – ably supported on the sidelines by Antonio Conte – would saunter into town and set things straight after professional Very Nice Person, Nuno Espirito Santo was shown the door.

All bar one of our team had Liverpool in the top four, Ishoo and Daly nailing the Reds 2nd place finish.

The clear outlier to this group was Max Everett. He dismissed a Liverpool side that can be ‘often times arrogant’ as a Champions League qualifier. Instead, he plumped for…Leicester City???

The Foxes languished in mid table for the majority of the campaign and looked like slipping into the bottom 3rd of the table before a late run of form saw them eventually finish 8th on the season.

Who’s going down? Relegation picks, thanks.

Again, none of our writers were able to nail all three relegated clubs.

Amazingly, both Garrett and Aarav thought that Norwich could buck their own history and stay up. The were proven very, very wrong.

Garrett also whiffed on Watford, along with Prosser. That pair did manage to redeem themselves by being the only two to see Burnley’s magic ride coming to an abrupt halt.

So who did our ‘experts’ expect to go down, but didn’t?

None from Max, Gavin, Aarav, Chris and Christian had enough faith in the Brentford fairy tale.

Aarav thought a not-yet-cashed-up Newcastle would fall, with Gavin also warning that they might be in danger. $100 million worth of January signings does have a way of allaying those fears.

Garrett picked a pair of eventual over achievers to fall in Crystal Palace and Brighton, the latter of which achieved the best league finish in their 121 year history. Prosser also picked Palace to go down.

Cervantes thought that Southampton, masters of the 9-0 loss, would fall into the Championship. In fairness, it wasn’t a bad shout. Whilst they managed to avoid getting an absolute kicking this season, they very quietly finished 15th with just 40 points.

Where will YOUR team finish?

A quick piece if housekeeping: with Gavin’s beloved Luton Town just missing promotion from the Championship, he gave precisely zero fucks about this question.

Our Chelsea Army had the team finishing 1st (Alex), 2nd (Garrett) or 3rd (Christian). Well done, Mr Ishoo.

Our North London contingent of Max (Tottenham) and Aarav (Arsenal) had their teams tabbed to finish just outside the Champions League places. Aarav nailed his prediction whilst Max will happily take the L, given his Lilywhites finished 4th.

Bagdonas had Manchester United to finish 3rd. That didn’t go well.

(An aside, auto-correct kept wanting to change United to Untied. Auto-correct is smart)

Evertonian Prosser thought his Toffees would finish 8th. In unrelated news, he thinks that this is a stupid game.

Which club will flatter to deceive?

Fair play to Gavin; he nailed this one. For all the talk of United as a ‘crisis club’ it was the Grand Old Lady of Merseyside that was mired in a relegation battle. Everton’s awful season saw them survive by the skin of their teeth to play in a 70th consecutive top flight season.

Ishoo and Prosser thought that Arsenal would be entertaining for all the right/wrong reasons (delete as per your Arsenal fanship). Prosser had them finishing 10th, which was clearly wrong. Perhaps he’s still bitter about that Everton shirt he bought with Arteta’s #10 on the back a mere month before the Spaniard left town. Some people NEVER let things go, do they?

Chris, Gavin and Aarav all through that West Ham’s European adventures would stretch a thin squad to breaking point. Credit to David Moyes – a man who looks to have his old magic back – that he was able to again qualify for Europe whilst reaching the semis of the Europa League.

Alex went rogue and thought that City would flounder. He was right about their European campaign, mind.

As established earlier, Max hates Liverpool.

Which club will be a pleasant surprise?

Jarrod and Gavin both picked Brentford to warm the cockles, though Gavin also predicted them for relegation. Something about having your cake and eating it, too.

Ishoo thought Leicester could break into the elite. He was wrong. As was Raina’s Wolves pick, though Wolverhampton were quite good through the middle third of the season.

Neither were as wrong as Chris and Max who both fingered Aston Villa as big improvers. Despite reinvesting the money they received for talisman Jack Grealish, they hit a brick wall, costing manager and lifelong Villain Dean Smith his dream job. Rubbing salt into the wound, he ended up with the Norwich job.

Alex and Garrett both went for Tottenham which at the half way point of the season looked a poor choice. But the worm turned and Spurs picked up a surprise Champions League qualification, so in the end a great call from those two.

Golden Boot winner? And how many league goals do they score?

Let’s get the Harry Kane brigade out of the way, shall we?

Gavin (27 goals), Chris (26) and Aarav (who didn’t give a predicted goal total) all thought that Kane would take the Golden Boot, be it as a Spur or a Citizen. When we did our mid-season check in, Kane was stuck in the middle of a petulant, pouty funk with just the four goals to his name. The fact that he recovered to score 17 suggests that had he bothered to turn up prior to January, Kane could well have topped the scoring charts.

Gavin predicted a tie between Kane and Romelu Lukaku with Garrett and Max also predicting the big Belgian would win the award outright. About that….

Lukaku’s return to Chelsea and the Premier League was about as underwhelming as you could have imagined. He scored just the eight goals, falling in behind such luminaries as Jack Harrison, Said Benrahma and Emmanuel Dennis. Sheesh.

Alex plumped for United midfielder Bruno Fernandes (pen) who, with his (pen)alty duties handed over to compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo (some housekeeping: Ronaldo was not yet signed when we did our initial predictions) scored just 10 goals on the season.

Prosser and Ishoo both correctly picked Liverpool’s Egyptian wing wonder Mo Salah to win another Golden Boot, though neither had Tottenham’s Son Hueng-min tying him at the top of the table. Salah ended up with 23 goals, falling short of the 27 and 31 that Jarrod and Christian predicted.

Which signing will have the most impact on their team?

Y’know what? Let’s just copy and past this section from our mid-season check in, since precious little has changed as far as our writers predictions are concerned.

Gavin, Aarav and Jarrod all picked Manchester United defender Raphael Varane. The cultured centre back has made more of an impact on the physios table than the pitch, so far.

Ishoo’s take that Solskjaer wouldn’t trust Jadon Sancho proved to be visionary. In a somewhat less visionary move he ended up going for Boubakary Soumare, who has barely played for Leicester.

Alex couldn’t remove his Chelsea goggles in selecting Billy Gilmour. He’s been good for Norwich, but that’s like being the skinniest kid in Fat Camp. When your team is stone motherless last, you can’t claim to have had a positive impact.

Chris stumped for Leon Bailey, who was somewhat of an ‘it’ name at the beginning of the campaign. It hasn’t really happened for the Jamaican winger at Villa, with just the six league starts – all ineffective – to his name.

Garrett has perhaps come the closest to a correct call, here. Ibrahima Konate has been used sparingly by Liverpool boos Jurgen Klopp, though he has looked the goods whenever he has played. Garrett did say that this was a long term signing, who would be brought along slowly. Again, that looks a good call.

Finally, Max’s pick of Lukaku hasn’t really panned out, either.

All in all, a piss-poor effort from our ‘experts’ on this particular question.

Yep. Piss poor.

And who will flop?

All of our writers reclaimed some credit in this section.

Alex and Gavin thought that Jadon Sancho would flatter to deceive. The young winger was shockingly underutilised by Ole Gunnar Solkjaer and whilst his pitch time increased under Ralf Rangnick, his performances did not.

Garrett went for United’s noisy neighbours and their £100 man Jack Grealish. He showed flashes but clearly struggled as a cog in a machine, rather than the star man. If Grealish wants encouragement he need look no further than teammate Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian was terrible when he came over from Leicester a few years back. Now he’s one of Pep Guardiola’s most trusted men. It can take a while to find your place in a Guardiola squad. Grealish was awful this season, but he’ll be fine in the long run.

Aarav, Max and Jarrod all picked Arsenal defender Ben White. Whilst the money the Gunners paid for him was preposterous, he had a decent season in the heart of a surprisingly good Arsenal defense.

Christian nominated White’s manager and living lego piece Mikel Arteta.

Credit: David Squires/The Guardian

Arteta is yet to win over many of the Arsenal faithful, but he has made tangible progress as a manager this season. He’s trimmed the fat on his squad and brought through a raft of youngsters. He wasn’t amazing, but he wasn’t a flop, either.

Chris thought that this was a season too soon for Liverpool defender Konate. The Frenchman, who turns 23 today (happy birthday, young man) was used sparingly by Jurgen Klopp, though did look good when called upon.

Who takes out the PFA Player of the Year?

Garrett went for Fernandes to win this award. That’s not going to happen. Nor will Alex’s pick of N’Golo Kante.

The rest of our writers nominated City’s wonderful Kevin de Bruyne to win the award for the 36th consecutive season (subs, please check).

The winner is yet to be announced, though de Bruyne is a finalist alongside teammate Phil Foden, Salah, his Liverpool teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice of West Ham and the bolter: Conor Gallagher from Crystal Palace.

De Bruyne won the Premier League Player of the Season over the weekend and is odds on favourite to take home another PFA award, as well.

First manager removed by ‘mutual consent’?

Given this one was settled before our mid season check in, let’s revisit:

The obvious answer to this question is always ‘whoever happens to be managing Watford’. And so it proved as Xisco Munoz was the first man to go this season. Points to Gavin, Aarav and Jarrod.

There was a fair degree of ‘Arteta Out’ amongst our panel, with Alex, Christian and Max all predicting that the Arsenal manager would be first out the door marked ‘Do One’. His reign at the Emirates has been the definition of one-step-forward-one-step-back, but he survives nonetheless.

Earlier in this piece, we revisited Garrett’s prediction of Palace for the drop. He also picked Vieira to be the first manager sacked. Incorrect on both counts.

Bagdonas made bold call in selecting Ralph Hassenhüttl of Southampton. He continues to mix the sublime with the ridiculous and just about keeps hold of his job. Maybe Chris’ call comes a season to early?

With Watford relegated, this question gets a lot harder next season.

Finally, what will prove the biggest controversy of the season?

Alex and Christian went with the obvious and nominated VAR. As per usual there were plenty of VAR related discourse throughout the campaign.

Garrett said that the league race would be incredibly tight. Not a controversy, as such, but still a very solid prediction that looked unlikely midway through the campaign.

Chris and Alex both looked at the potential failings of Manchester City’s transfer dealings. Chris was correct that Grealish would under perform, though it ultimately didn’t halt City’s run to the title. Nor did it put the club in any apparent Financial Fair Play strife.

Aarav thought outside the box, claiming that Arsenal’s ‘All or Nothing’ series would create some less than savoury talking points. Given the documentary is not yet released, Aarav could look like an Oracle or a goose. Given the history of these documentaries, it’s likely the former.

Jarrod looked to the end of his Evertonian bluenose and noticed that a loathed former manager of their most hated rival had taken charge. Predictably, it didn’t end well and almost caused the Toffees to fall through the relegation trap door.

Max made a bold call that a star signed in the summer would ask out. It didn’t happen, but if reports are to be believed, Ronaldo pushed it pretty close to the line.

Finally, we should all be sad that Gavin’s prediction didn’t come to pass:

It’s the last day of the season. Leaders Chelsea are at home to Watford while second place Man City host Aston Villa. Chelsea lead by two points but Man City have the far superior goal difference. Watford are already relegated but Villa need a point to be mathematically safe. Watford are holding Chelsea while City are winning. Suddenly Jack Grealish pops up in the box and scores an own goal, saving Villa but handing the title to Chelsea in the process. At Stamford Bridge as word creeps through John Terry races from the crowd in full kit to lift the Premier League title. Yeah it’ll probably just be VAR again.

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