The Premier League calendar is just a little bit messed up this season (thanks Gianni Infantino) but we’re close enough to the halfway point of the season that we can take a look back at the pre-season predictions made by Vendetta’s esteemed footballing brains trust.
Prior to the season commencing, we asked our panel an even dozen questions. Let’s see who was on the money and who was as on point as Infantino was when he made his ‘rousing’ pre-World Cup address.
Let’s start at the top. Who wins the league?
Seven writers. Seven Manchester City selections.
You can’t blame us, surely! City remains just as dominant a force as they have been in recent seasons, though nobody could predict that Arsenal would perform as wonderfully as they have. To that point, the word ‘Arsenal’ failed to appear in any of our responses to this question.
Who claims the other Champions League spots? In order of league finish, please.
Kudos to Trey Daubert, Alex Cervantes, Aarav Raina and Garrett Burroughs who at least picked Arsenal to make the top four, though nobody foresaw nouveau riche Newcastle crashing the party. Jarrod Prosser was the only man to believe in the ten Hag era getting off to such a fast start in the red half of Manchester.
So who did we miss?
Jarrod, Aarav, Alex and Gavin all thought that Conte Effect wouldn’t have kicked in so swiftly….alas, Spurs are struggling.
As far as Chelsea are concerned, Gavin Daly, Max Everett, Trey and Garrett didn’t anticipate that having a loaded American coming in as owner could have such negative consequences on an English footballing institution. I mean, there’s literally zero precedent of that happening, right???
None of our writers predicted that Liverpool would be languishing outside the top four.
Who’s going down? Relegation picks, thanks.
The prevailing theme in these responses was that the three promoted clubs – Bournemouth, Fulham and Nottingham Forest – would all go straight back from whence they came. Fulham are thriving under Marco Silva, but the two are struggling.
The bottom third of the Premiership is a mess with as many as eight (!) teams in the relegation dog fight. So you would think that with so many targets to hit, our writers would have covered everybody, right? Wrong.
Trey was the only person who saw the surprising Fulham sitting outside the bottom three. He and Max tipped Bournemouth to be better than what their former boss thought they would be. Max and Gavin were the only two to pick Forest to fall away.
The biggest outlier was Max tipping everybody’s 2nd favourite team, Brentford. No sophomore blues for the Bees and their weird, Lego looking stadium.
Whilst Prosser would be thrilled at Liverpool’s relative demise, he’s distraught that the very real Premier League demise of his beloved Everton. Only Trey and Alex were wise enough to pick the blundering Toffees to go down.
Of the other teams just outside the Premier League bottom three, though very much within touching distance, Aarav and Trey both picked Leeds to go down, clearing not trusting of their countryman Ted Lasso Jesse Marsch. Prosser picked bottom of the table Southampton, as did Garrett.
Amazingly, none of our ‘experts’ foresaw Wolves struggling as they have, despite all of the warning signs being there. The appointment of Julen Lopetegui may right that ship (though he’ll need to find a metric shit tonne of goals from somewhere) it can’t be seen as anything other than a miss from the Vendetta boys.
Where will YOUR team finish?
As always, we’ll address the elephant in the room: Gavin.
He’s a Luton fan so really couldn’t give a crap about the Premiership. Especially given his beloved Hatters currently sit outside the top six in the Championship and have lost beloved manager Nathan Jones to Southampton. Still, they’ll get to see Jones again when they play Saints in the 2nd tier next season. That’s nice.
Let’s take a look at the Arsenal contingent. Did they have faith in their Gunners? Well, kind of. Both Aarav (prediction: 3rd) and Trey (4th) thought that The Arsenal would be in the mix, though presumably quite a way behind Manchester City, rather than five points ahead at the time of writing.
Max (Tottenham – 4th) was close enough to bang on regarding his Spurs, though given all of the negative discourse surrounding them, it’s somewhat of a surprise that Tottenham are still holding onto 5th place.
Our Chelsea fans Alex (5th) and Garrett (3rd) must feel bitterly, bitterly disappointed with what they’ve seen so far. The new owner has messed up more than he’s made good. They dispensed of a proven world class manager to bring in a boss that might be brilliant in time, but has never experienced Win Now pressure in his managerial life. It’s all looking a little bleak at Stamford Bridge.
Though not as bleak as Goodison Park. Revisiting this question made Jarrod (Everton – 15th) very, very sad.
Which club will flatter to deceive?
Jarrod rightly saw Leicester City struggling under the fading facade of Brendan Rogers’ competency. Gavin also mentioned the Foxes, though he hedged his bets a little, stumping for them, Everton (correctly) and Brentford (not so correctly).
Max nailed it with West Ham. A massive net spend for a club of that size only for them to slip into the relegation dogfight? Not what was planned. Another that hedged his bets, Max also mentioned Leicester and Arsenal. As Meatloaf once crooned….
Alex and Aarav both correctly saw Chelsea as stumbling this season. Bonus points for Alex’s self-awareness as a Chelsea fan, resisting the urge to don his blue tinted spectacles.
Garrett and Trey both went with Manchester United as their choice. In any other year of the past decade, they would have be correct. Not this season, though.
Which club will prove a pleasant surprise?
As well as our writers fared on the last question, they certainly bombed on this one.
Let’s hand Alex his bouquets for predicting that Newcastle finding a spare few billion pound behind the couch would propel them into the top half of the table at worst.
Garrett thought Forest would do something. That something was finish 15th, which is where they are right now. Fair play to him.
The rest of us? Ugh…
Jarrod was impressed by Crystal Palace and tipped them for bigger things. They’ve been fine, I suppose. Nothing special. Gavin also thought Palace would do good things.
Gavin was right to say that Fulham play ‘some nice football and will be easy on the eye’ though wrong to say it wouldn’t be enough to keep them up.
Max thought Leeds would finish in the top half of the table. There’s still time for that made for TV underdog story of triumph, but it looks increasingly unlikely.
Trey picked Aston Villa, who have proven so bland and nondescript that they’re changing their name to Aston Vanilla from next season.
Garrett went with West Ham. Ouch.
Golden Boot winner? And how many goals do they score?
The only writers not to overthink this one were Max and Garrett, who each went with the apparently sentient machine that is Erling Braut Haaland. The Tremendous Nordic Meat Shield has already bagged 21 goals in just 15 league appearances. That’s as many goals as Max thought he’d score all season. Garrett predicted 29 strikes, which he may have reached by the time you read this sentence.
Alex and Gavin went with Liverpool’s dynamic Mo Salah, anticipating 23 and 25 goals respectively. Salah has been as much a victim of Liverpool’s lacklustre campaign as anybody with just seven goals to his name thus far.
The rest of our writers looked to North London. Jarrod and Aarav expected 25 and 23 goals respectively out of Son Heung-min. So far he has just the four goals for Spurs. He’ll come home with the wettest of sails, of course.
Trey was definitely drinking the Kool-Aid when he announced the Brazilian Jesus would net 27 times for Arsenal. The summer signing from Manchester City was certainly playing well before his World Cup knee injury, but his tally of five goals suggests Trey may have been a little over excited.
Which signing will have the most impact on their team?
Max was a little indecisive about this question and stumped for Haaland, Raheem Stirling or Ivan Perisic. One out of three ain’t bad, as Meatloaf didn’t croon.
Trey and Garrett also went with the big Norwegian and fair enough, too. He’s had a reasonable start to life in the land of his birth.
Jarrod and Gavin both looked the other side of Manchester, specifically at Lisandro Martinez who, despite his smaller stature for a Premier League central defender, has had a profound impact upon United’s return to base level competency.
Aarav chose Gabriel Jesus who, as covered earlier, was playing very well prior to a knee injury sustained at the World Cup
Alex went for Kalidou Koulibaly. The big Senegalese defender has been good in amongst the doom that surrounds Stamford Bridge. He also gave a shout out to countryman Tyler Adams, who has likewise impressed despite the chaos that seems to constantly engulf Leeds.
And who will flop?
A whole bunch of misses by our crew, here. Some more egregious than others.
Jarrod, Garrett and Max all thought that Jesus wouldn’t save. Frankly, he was leading the line splendidly for Arsenal prior the the World Cup hiatus. He has played his part in Arsenal’s revival.
Aarav thought that Martinez would prove to diminutive to handle the rough and tumble of the Premiership. To this point, he’s been excellent.
Gavin felt that replacing the wonderful Kalvin Phillips would prove too much for Tyler Adams to take on. Leeds may well fail in their bid for Premier League survival come the end of the season, but it won’t be Adams’ fault. He’s been solid. Likewise Raheem Stirling – Trey’s selection – has been decent, if inconsistent, for Chelsea.
As has Alex’s choice, Darwin Nunez of Liverpool. For all of his comical misses, he’s still scoring goals at a decent clip. He conjures memories of Diego Forlan for Untied, back in the day. He does miss some sitters, but that’s because he’s almost always in the right position to get a shot away. If Nunez gets his finishing sorted, look out Premier League.
Who takes out the PFA Player of the Year?
Six of our writers went with the safe option: Kevin De Bruyne to win. Again.
The rogue voice was Garrett, who sided with the Belgian maestro’s new playmate in Haaland.
Haaland is the current favourite on the vast majority of betting sites, with De Bruyne close behind. So no real surprises from our writers.
For those at home, the next three favourites are Arsenal pair Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka as well as ever reliable Spurs skipper Harry Kane.
First manager, to be removed by ‘mutual consent’?
Not a single Vendetta expert saw Scott Parker becoming the first Premier League boss to be ousted by tying a noose around his own neck and not even making it out of August. Nor did our panel see Thomas Tuchel being the second out the door. Likewise Bruno Lage, who was the next to go. Or Steven Gerrard, who was ousted at Villa in mid October.
Not so good, eh?
When Southampton finally tired of losing by nine goals and parted ways with the affable Ralph Hasenhuttl, we finally had a hit, with Jarrod picking the longtime Saints manager. Prosser also thought Rogers might not last at Leicester, as did Gavin.
Gavin was one of many that thought that Frank Lampard – who may well face the sack in the next 48 hours – wouldn’t last at Everton. Alex, Garrett and Aarav held no faith in the Everton boss.
Max wasn’t sure how the ten Hag revolution would go at Old Trafford. So far, he’s plugged the leaks in the United ship as he begins to steer them toward safer waters.
Trey went for Jesse Marsch for, it would appear, talking smack about Ted Lasso. That’s the sort of deep and measured analysis that you come to Vendetta for, right?
Finally, your most outrageous prediction for the upcoming season.
Let’s start with the misses.
Jarrod’s prediction that Anthony Gordon would force his way into the England squad and play a surprise role in the cup coming home proved to be fanciful.
Djed Spence has played just the four matches for Tottenham. It’s seems unlikely that he’ll establish himself as an upper echelon full back. Sorry Aarav.
Max thought that whilst Manchester City would win the Premier League, they would fail to defeat any of Tottenham, Liverpool or Chelsea. So far they’re undefeated against Chelsea in league and cup, have split their results with Liverpool and are yet to play Spurs. Who thinks that Spurs can somehow hold City twice, with that defense? Nah, me neither.
Trey proclaimed that Pep Guardiola would look to get rid of Jack Grealish by season’s end. Whilst it’s highly unlikely, there’s still time, Trey. There’s still time.
With that out of the way, we did actually nail a few in this section. Somehow.
Garrett claimed that Antonio Conte would blame ownership for transfer failings and that Leicester would finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table. He also thought that West Ham would finish higher in the table than Manchester United. Hey there, Meatloaf!
Alex was on the money in saying that Cristiano Ronaldo would leave Manchester United. He did say that he’d join LAFC. Instead he’s gone to an even more Mickey Mouse league for even more coin in a move that is especially on brand.
As always, we end this section with Gavin’s prediction, verbatim.
With Liverpool top of the league come the winter break for the rescheduled World Cup, Jurgen Klopp will complain that there are more Liverpool players than City players at the World Cup (even if there are not) and claim it’s a fix by FIFA, UEFA, Premier League, and aliens.
Rafa Benitez will pop his head from under the desk, wipe his mouth, and shouts “Facts” before disappearing back under the desk. Liverpool fans will jump on board with this and claim they are the victims and threaten to boycott the World Cup which every other fan will encourage them to do.
They’ll lose the league by a point to Man City and blame Salah’s burnout from the World Cup — despite him not playing — and spending the time eating at McDonald’s and drinking sangrias leading to him coming back to training 30 pounds heavier. All I’m saying is it could happen. This is Liverpool, after all.
He’s remarkably on point, is our Irish brother.