SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND -Will Nigel still be smiling come May 2013?
Part 1 of this series can be found here. In the previous post we looked at the title winner and the top 4 battle which will be fierce and not without huge disappointment come the final day. Speaking of disappointment and in all probability no small amount of tears come next May we shall get stuck into the bottom half of the 2012/13 EPL table as predicted by me.
Join me after the jump.
There is very little science or number crunching involved in these predictions. Maybe there should be some form of statistical evidence along the same vein as I have posted here over the summer. But, quite frankly, I like having a girlfriend and the money my job affords me. Those two things would be jeopardized if I started to try and predict future performance and post expectancy numbers for each team so I have left that for a day in the distant future.
QPR. Have brought in some experienced EPL players in an attempt to avoid another relegation battle. Park and Fabio, the latter an loan have joined from Man United. Ryan Nelson Rob Green and Junior Hoilett have also joined which will improve the playing staff no end. Mark Hughes is a good EPL level manager who knows how to gain relative success in this division.
Sunderland weren't great by the stat counts in 2011/12 but in Martin O'Neill they have a very capable manager who always gets the best out of his playing personnel. Sunderland will neither be successful or in any real danger come the end of the season. Will need to be strong at home.
Wigan. It may be Roberto Martinez's last season in charge of Wigan and (hopefully not) of a team in the EPL. Last years late season tactical switch saved their EPL status and it will be interseting to see if he continues with his 3-5-2 hybrid system.
They are a better footballing team than their relegation threatened form of 2011/12 suggests. Need to tighten up at the back. Have two young gems in Victor Moses and James McCarthy.
Swansea were a great possession team under the management of the now departed Brendan Rodgers. Joe Allen has followed his old manager to Merseyside and it will be interesting to see if the Laudrup can continue his predecessors good work. Shot totals for and against in 2011/12 were a worry and their home form looks somewhat unsustainably good. All told Swansea should be fine and moderately successful for a team of their low amount of investment.
West Brom. Excellent away from home and poor at home in 2011/12 under their former manager Roy Hodgson. Can Steve Clarke keep West Brom in the Premier League. I'd say yes with a more even balance of home and away form. A slight risk to fall lower than 15th place.
West Ham. Sam Allardyce knows how to stay in this division with a team who are expected to struggle. Just ask Blackburn what happens when you fire a proven EPL manager. His tactics aren't for the purist, his personality occasionally crass. But he is an EPL manager and he will keep West Ham in the division. He may need some direct and unattractive football to achieve safety, but safety is what he will deliver.
Stoke. I like Stoke, I like the underdog nature of their team and tactics and how they continually bend the numbers to achieve good results. All of which is catnip to someone like me. But they are a near relegation team by the bare stat counts saved only by their good save % but more importantly by their unique ability to get high quality scoring chances very close to the oppositions net, which they take advantage of by virtue of their unique style of football.
Stoke had the worst shots on target totals of all EPL teams, had the 4th worst away form.
May be found out to an extent this season.
Norwich. Scored a lot, conceded a lot. Grant Holt was involved in 40% of all Norwich's EPL goals in 2011/12. He is a player they cannot afford to lose if they want to make a go of survival this year. If the goals dry up there could be a problem for the East Anglian Club.
I like Chris Hughton and think he is a good coach but the squad lacks quality and depth. Two things that can fatal to a teams EPL status.
Reading. Were a strong outfit in the Championship last year, had an excellent defensive record and thoroughly deserved last years success. they have an excellent manager, although one who is unproven at this level.
My notes said they might be run on too tight a budget to survive, their brand new owner just might invest a little more than the previous regime may have done. Still, it probably won't be enough to bridge the Championship to EPL survivors gap. Relegated with pride.
Southampton. The teams rapid rise through the English football pyramid has been impressive but it may also contain the seeds for their EPL downfall. Nigel Adkins is an entertaining manager, but also an astute and realistic man who knows that this 2012/13 campaign will need to waged on a realistic budget.
It will be nice to have the south coast club back in the big time but the skip through the leagues and lack of squad quality will render their EPL stay a brief on. Relegated.