The Premier League has made it to the mid-season halfway point of the 2013-14 campaign. I know that this is a little late in coming since we are technically past halfway, with match week 21 coming up this weekend, but, better late than never.
My predictions for the second half of the EPL season include filling out all of the places throughout the table as well as Cup tournaments.
The 2013-14 Premier League season has been one of the most exciting in the history of the league. At the time of writing seven points separate Arsenal in first place and Everton in fifth place. From this point it starts to separate with sixth through ninth being separating by ten points. At the bottom of the table there are six points separating 15th from 20th.
The top of the table will be settled primarily by who will be able to keep their players the most fit and playing at the top of their game the longest. As always the relegation battle will be settled by which team can get a run going and get out of the drop zone.
Premier League Predictions:
1. Manchester City – City’s squad is massive and seems to be getting better as the season goes one. It’s hard to see them losing any at this point.
2. Chelsea – Chelsea has perhaps the easiest schedule for the second half of the season with all of their matches against top opposition being played at home.
3. Arsenal – Yes, Arsenal enter the new year at the top of the table, but the injuries are starting to add up and match fitness will become more and more a problem for a squad that is not nearly as deep as Man City or Chelsea.
4. Liverpool – The fourth and fifth places are up for grabs between the two Liverpool clubs. I’m giving Liverpool the edge in part because of Luis Suarez (if he stays healthy), but also because they should be getting many of their currently injured players back at the end of the season. Even with Gerrard out, they have continued to play well, which is good news for their future.
5. Everton – Everton certainly still have a shot at a top four finish. They should also be getting players back from injury for the second half, but they will also need to start getting more goals from their other strikers, and not just from Lukaku, midfielders and defenders.
6. Tottenham Hotspur – Sixth and seventh place is another one up for grabs. While Tottenham are another team that could push for a top four finish, sixth or seventh is more likely for them. While Tim Sherwood has them playing better, they have still shown signs of weakness across the pitch. They are currently relying heavily on Adebayor to get them going and his attitude is not always the best.
7. Manchester United – Missing out on European football next season is very likely. United has already lost more points this season than the whole of last season. Unless they make some massive changes, they will be missing out on Europe for the first time since 1995-96. There have been lots of firsts in David Moyes first season with the current Champions and so far none of them have been positive.
8. Newcastle United – Newcastle has been a quietly consistent team this season. While not storming any barns, they are playing well.
9. Southampton – The Saints have been a good team this season, but they have really dropped out of their early season form and have struggled against the top teams. They should finish comfortably in the top ten and be quite happy with the season as a whole.
10. Swansea City – I’m picking Swansea to finish in the top ten, but those teams around them will be pushing them hard. They came through the holiday fixture period with a few wins and should be able to push on. At the time of writing they are two points behind Hull who are in tenth. What Swansea will need to do is to balance their Europa League commitments with Premier League.
11. Hull City – Hull’s season has been a very solid one. They are in tenth place after 20 matches and shouldn’t have to worry about a relegation battle. There will be concerns if there are any major injuries, especially to Tom Huddlestone or Jake Livermore in midfield. They will also be pushing teams around them and could finish in the top ten.
12. Cardiff City – The hiring of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the big change the team needs to push on and move clear of relegation. I’m predicting that they will get themselves out of a relegation battle and that his appointment will be the catalyst for it.
13. Stoke City – Stoke is another team that has played solid football this season and shouldn’t have to worry about a relegation battle. They will struggle to finish in the top ten, but it is still a possibility if they can string together some results.
14. West Bromwich Albion – West Brom has recently begun to get results and play relatively well. While not necessarily winning, they are doing enough to stay out of bottom of the table, which is good considering how long they went without a manager. Having finally hired a manager, Pepe Mel, they should be able to kick on and move into the middle of the table.
15. Aston Villa – Villa could very easily get caught up in another relegation battle. They have been largely inconsistent and have struggled with getting their tactics right. The biggest struggle has been in the ability of their strikers to get goals. If Christian Benteke can get going, then it will be the boost they need to get clear.
16. Norwich City – Norwich is another team that has been inconsistent and could get sucked into a relegation battle. They have shown recent signs of turning the corner, but need to improve.
17. Crystal Palace – Tony Pulis has never managed a team that was relegated and I’m predicting that he will be able to instill his mentality into this team and pull them out of the drop zone. There is still a good chance that other teams around them will be better and they get relegated anyway, but they have shown signs of improvement lately.
18. Fulham – While Fulham finally moved on from Martin Jol, I think it’s a too little too late. There are still too many players in the squad that are luxury players and don’t have what it takes to get stuck in a relegation battle. I also worry about the number of “cooks” they have, with the old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. With Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins being hired there are now three big personalities at the club and this could lead to clashes.
19. Sunderland – Sunderland is another team that has turned things around, but again, it could be too little too late. They still have issues with consistency and have struggled to string wins together. There is definitely a chance of them pulling clear, but that will be reliant more on the results of teams around them.
20. West Ham United – Unless major changes are made and made very quickly, West Ham are going down. They have looked woeful recently and their morale looks to be destroyed. The fact that their captain, Kevin Nolan, has picked up two red cards this season says a lot for where this team is mentally. The return of Andy Carroll could help, but once again, it’s going to be coming too late for them.
Capital One League Cup: Manchester City – Unless they decide to put this on the back burner and play a youth team in the final, Manchester City shouldn’t have much problem in winning the Capital One Cup. There is always the chance that they get too complacent, but they have more than enough quality to compete in four competitions and win this against either Sunderland or Manchester United.
FA Cup: Chelsea – Jose Mourinho will certainly be targeting this trophy. He seems to have made it something of priority as reference in his many comments about the pride of English football this season.
Champions League: Bayern Munich – I’m predicting the German giants to be the first team to win the Champions League in back to back seasons. They will need to get through some tough competition, but their squad is more than powerful and the tactical nous of Pep Guardiola will lead them to the win.