This article is a beast… Enjoy!
EPL Preview – Part 3 of 3
TEAM NAME – WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
STADIUM: Molineux Stadium
Broke ground back in 1889 and has been renovated three times. It holds 32,050 fans. Interestingly enough, there were plans to expand the capacity, which were ultimately shelved in favor of developing their youth academy. As it stands, there is discussion to eventually expand the capacity to a total of 50,000 seats.
2018 RESULTS: 7th in the EPL
- 16 W – 9 D – 13 L
- 47 Goals For
- 46 Goals Against
- 57 Points
PREF FORMATION: 3-5-2
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Neves, Moutinho
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Neves, Jimenez
Raul Jimenez (Benfica) Undisclosed Details
Hong (Yeovil Town) Undisclosed Details
Raphael Nya (PSG) Undisclosed Details
Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht) Undisclosed Details
Tsun Dai (Oxford United) Undisclosed Details
Ethan Ebanks-Landell (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed Details
Michal Zyro (Released) Details
Carlos Heredia (Released) Details
Ben Goodliffe (Released) Details
Aaron Hayden (Released) Details
Diego Lattie (Released) Details
Enzo Sauvage (Released) Details
Christian Herc (Viktoria Plzen) Loan Details
Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) Undisclosed Details
Ryan Giles (Shrewsbury Town) Loan Details
Pedro Goncalves (FC Famalicao) Undisclosed Details
Joao Dias (FC Famalicao) Undisclosed Details
Helder Costa (Leeds) Loan Details
Ryan Leak (Burgos) Undisclosed
Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) Loan Details
Wolves put together the blueprint for moving through the lower leagues and achieving sustained success at the top level. Eyes were opened as they splashed the cash for Ruben Neves and Jota in the Championship. The plan was also to hang around the Prem for the long run. Smart loan deals for Jimenez and Dendonker have now been made permanent transfers. The goal this offseason was to not screw it up, and they certainly haven’t. I’m still waiting for one last piece to make a push for top 6, but until then, they’ll be just outside.
VERDICT: 7th or 8th in the Prem
TEAM NAME – ARSENAL
STADIUM: Emirates Stadium
This is likely more of what you were expecting from these fancy English teams, right? Gigantic and gorgeous stadiums that look similar to what we take for granted in the states. What it lacks in history, it makes up for with aesthetics.
This stadium was opened back in 2006 with a capacity of 60,260. It’s the fourth largest football stadium in England.
2018 RESULTS: 5th in the EPL
- 21 W – 7 D – 10 L
- 73 Goals For
- 51 Goals Against
- 70 Points
PREF FORMATION: Hybrid**
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Xhaka, Ozil, Terrera, Mkhitaryan
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Aubameyang, Lacazette
Gabriel Martinelli (Ituano) Undisclosed Details
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus) Free Details
Petr Cech (Retired) Details
Danny Welbeck (Released) Details
Cohen Bramall (Released) Details
Charlie Gilmour (Norwich) Free Details
Stephan Lichtsteiner (Released) Details
Julio Pleguezuelo (Released) Details
Jordi Osei-Tutu (Bochum) Loan Details
Daniel Ballard (Swindon Town) Loan Details
David Ospina (Napoli) Undisclosed Details
Vontae Daley-Campbell (Leicester) Undisclosed Details
Ben Sheaf (Doncaster Rovers) Loan Details
As you can tell from the formation piece of this breakdown, part of Arsenal’s problem is they are so tactically malleable. You take a team like City or Liverpool, and they are set up to dictate the play and make their opponent adjust. Even a team like Burnley or Wolves know what they are going to do every time they go out.
For me, there is too much tactical fluidity and it leads to confusion and poor results. I’ll leave that down to a first-year feeling out process for Emery, but to date, they have not made the necessary moves to show me they are capable of jumping into the top 4.
On top of all of this, Koscielny is holding out from camp. They need all the help in the world along the backline, and who are they linked with? Ceballos (midfield)? He’s a great piece to add but doesn’t address their direct problem. If they can get Saliba over the line, that will help. However, it sounds like they are a few million pounds off the valuation for Celtic left back Kieren Tierney. He’s a player and exactly what Arsenal need. Yikes, man.
VERDICT: 6th or worse. Top half for sure.
TEAM NAME – MANCHESTER UNITED
STADIUM: Old Trafford
Two things right off the top:
- I had to include the trophy flex.
- I’ve actually walked down this tunnel and got chills typing this out, thinking about how special this stadium really is.
Ground was broken on Old Trafford in 1909 and has been the home for Manchester United ever since. It’s the largest club football stadium in England with a capacity of 74,994. The construction cost? 90,000 pounds! … in 1909.
2018 RESULTS: 6th in the EPL
- 19 W – 9 D – 10 L
- 65 Goals For
- 54 Goals Against
- 66 Points
PREF FORMATION: 4-3-1-2
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Rashford, Pogba, Mata
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Pogba, Rashford
Daniel James (Swansea City) Undisclosed Details
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed Details
Ander Herrera (PSG) Free Details
Antonio Valencia (Released) Details
Matthew Olosunde (Released) Details
James Wilson (Released) Details
Regan Poole (Released) Details
Kieran O’Hara (Burton Albion) Loan Details
Changes are afoot in Manchester. The tactical switch is one fans have been requesting for years. Let’s let the young boys run!
With their transfer business to date, they’ve sure up a giant hole at RB and added extreme pace and energy to the attacking third. They are rumored with approximately 500 other players throughout the world so we’ll see how the transfer window closes.
They certainly haven’t closed the gap with the top 2, but a top 4 finish is not out of the question. For me, Pogba is key to them finishing 4th. Even him leaving and bringing in Bruno Fernandes AND Milinkovic-Savic doesn’t fill the need enough. Pogba must stay.
Getting the Maguire deal over the line along with the addition of Wan-Bissaka should sure up the backline. De Gea signing a new six-year deal calms another touching point.
VERDICT: 4th or 5th depending on signings the rest of the way.
TEAM NAME – CHELSEA
STADIUM: Stamford Bridge
The stadium was built in 1876 and has a current capacity of 40,853…insanely small for how well the club has done since current owner Roman Abramovich took over. I can distinctly remember watching games in this stadium on tv and just laughing at how bad the pitch was at the time. He’s improved a lot about Chelsea, but improving Stamford Bridge should be next on the list.
It’s one of the smaller pitches in the Prem at only 112.6 x 73.2 yards.
2018 RESULTS: 3rd in the EPL
- 21 W – 9 D – 8 L
- 63 Goals For
- 39 Goals Against
- 72 Points
PREF FORMATION: Manager Change — 4-3-3
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Willian, Luiz, Alonso
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Jorginho, Willian
Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid) Undisclosed Details
Gary Cahill (Released) Details
Fankaty Dabo (Coventry City) Free Details
Rob Green (Retired) Details
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) Undisclosed Details
Todd Kane (Released)
Ola Aina (Torino) Undisclosed Details
Nathan Baxter (Ross County) Loan Details
Richard Nartey (Burton Albion) Loan Details
Jay Dasilva (Bristol City) Undisclosed Details
Eduardo (Released) Details
Kyle Scott (Released) Details
Tomas Kalas (Bristol City) Undisclosed Details
Mario Pasalic (Atalanta) Loan Details
Charly Musonda (Vitesse Arnhem) Loan Details
Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed Details
Nathan (Atletico Mineiro) Loan Details
Daishawn Redan (Hertha Berlin) Loan Details
Frankly, (no pun intended) this is the team I’m the LEAST confident about at the moment. Chelsea has decent pieces but seems to lack attacking firepower at the moment. They’ve lost Hazard but signed Hudson-Odoi to a new long term contract. Here’s the problem: Hudson-Odoi may not play THIS YEAR, let alone any time soon.
In their absence are William/Pedro/Tammy Abraham/Kennedy/Olivier Giroud. None of these names are striking fear into the hearts of opponents. I like Frank as a manager, but short of some late transfer business, I’m afraid they may struggle to create goals. In saying that, they just created 14 shots and beat Barcelona in a friendly 2-1.
VERDICT: 4th or 5th with United.
TEAM NAME – TOTTENHAM
STADIUM: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
This baby is brand spanking new, having just opened last year. The entire project cost right around 1 billion pounds. It’s occasionally called the “New White Hart Lane,” which is a tribute to the stadium they called home forever before the move.
The stadium is gorgeous, but the cost has certainly been felt by the front office, who failed to sign a player for two straight transfer windows.
The stadium was built to be able to host NFL games as well. The grass surface splits in two, and when retracted, reveals a synthetic turf field underneath.
2018 RESULTS: 4th in the EPL
- 23 W – 2 D – 13 L
- 67 Goals For
- 39 Goals Against
- 71 Points
PREF FORMATION: 4-2-3-1
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Eriksen, Kane, Lamela
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Kane, Alli
Kion Etete (Notts County) Undisclosed Details
Jack Clarke (Leeds) Undisclosed Details
Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon) Undisclosed Details
Michel Vorm (Released) Details
Dylan Duncan (Released) Details
Charlie Freeman (Released) Details
Tom Glover (Released) Details
Connor Ogilvie (Released) Details
Jamie Reynolds (Released) Details
Luke Amos (QPR) Loan Details
Jack Clarke (Leeds) Loan Details
Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid) Details
Vincent Janssen (Monterrey) Undisclosed Details
Why fix what’s not broken? Really, there was fine-tuning needed to make a push into the top 2. People forget that Tottenham was firmly in the Championship race until Christmas. As the top 2 pulled away and Tottenham progressed further in the Champions League, the focus shifted towards that competition. The shift caused Tottenham to slip to 4th in the Prem but allowed them to progress to the UCL finals where they ultimately downed by Liverpool.
Hanging on to Eriksen and Kane while adding Ndombele should be considered a win by Spurs fans. Son is a beast. Alli is still developing. They have some questions to answer after Trippier left for Atletico Madrid, and Rose is being rumored to be off as well. Will they invest in fullback depth? Aurier and Davies should fit right into the first 11.
VERDICT: 3rd – I don’t know that enough was added or changed to really challenge first or second.
TEAM NAME – LIVERPOOL
Anfield was originally built in 1884 and has been home to Liverpool Football Club since it’s formation in 1892. The capacity of 54,074 makes it the seventh-largest football stadium in England.
There are future plans to expand the ground to 61,000 seats.
2018 RESULTS: 2nd in the EPL
- 30 W – 7 D – 1 L
- 89 Goals For
- 22 Goals Against
- 97 Points
PREF FORMATION: 4-3-3
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: Alexander-Arnold, Milner, Shaqiri, Salah
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Milner, Salah
|Virgil van Dijk||LIV||38||4|
Sepp van den Berg (PEC Zwolle) Undisclosed Details
Alberto Moreno (Villarreal) Free Details
Daniel Sturridge (Released) Details
Connor Randall (Released) Details
Adam Bogdan (Released) Details
Sheyi Ojo (Rangers) Loan Details
Rafael Camacho (Sporting) Details
Marko Grujic (Hertha BSC) Loan Details
Danny Ings (Southampton) Undisclosed Details
Allan Rodrigues de Souza (Fluminense) Loan Details
Kamil Grabara (Huddersfield Town) Loan Details
The only move made was to bring in a CB for the future. You’d be fair to ask, do the European Champions need major changes? Of course not. However, they aren’t without their flaws. An upgrade over Matip would certainly help. Attacking depth would be nice. (cough* Pepe *cough)
Continuity is the name of the game.
Yep! We have a new champ. City has been amazing champions, and this will not be a run-away, but quite honestly, I can see big changes coming for City this year. Should FIFA do their job and punish City for their transgressions, there could be a major upheaval at City, up to and including Pep moving on.
Klopp isn’t going anywhere and neither are Mane/Firmino/Salah. As Origi continues to add firepower off the bench and van Dijk continues to dominate the back, Liverpool will be a tough out next year.
Here’s the issue…they only lost one freaking game in the 2018 season. How do you improve on that?? Well, they win more. City had 32 wins while Liverpool had 30. Flip that and get the desired result.
TEAM NAME – MANCHESTER CITY
STADIUM: Plastic Stadium —- ONLY JOKING. Etihad Stadium
Originally called the City of Manchester Stadium, the name was changed when the Qatari owners took over the club and began creating a shell system of bloated sponsorships to fund their billion-dollar squad overhaul.
It has a capacity of 55,097 with the latest renovation finishing up in time for the start of the 15/16 season.
2018 RESULTS: EPL CHAMPIONS
- 32 W – 2 D – 4 L
- 95 Goals For
- 23 Goals Against
- 98 Points
PREF FORMATION: 4-3-3
PROJ SET PIECE TAKER: De Bruyne, D Silva, Sane, Gundogan
PROJ PENALTY TAKER: Aguero, Jesus, Mahrez
Angelino (PSV Eindhoven) Undisclosed Details
Rodri (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed Details
Vincent Kompany (Anderlecht) Free Details
Patrick Roberts (Norwich City) Loan Details
Tom Dele-Bashiru (Released)
Aaron Nemane (Released)
Jack Harrison (Leeds United) Loan Details
Aro Muric (Nottingham Forest) Loan Details
Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Loan Details
Fabian Delph (Everton) Undisclosed Details
Philippe Sandler (Anderlecht) Loan Details
Taylor Richards (Brighton) Undisclosed
They are so good. I’m extremely jealous of how they play. Pep brought his style of football to the physical Premier League and made 19 other teams bend the knee. Liverpool is nipping at their heels, but frankly, City left a few points on the table last year. This is going to be a fascinating race that will likely head to the final day, as it did last year.
City fans (are there any?) won’t like this, but Liverpool is going to take it down this year. The goal has always been the Champions League. The focus will be there this year, especially with the threat of future European football suspensions looming.
OTHER INTERESTING STATS
Best Goals/Game Rate (Must play 10+ games) — Top 40
- NO LONGER IN EPL
- CHANGED TEAMS WITHIN EPL
- LIVERPOOL (+250) – 1x
Bottom on Christmas Day
- SHEFFIELD UNITED (+300) – 1x
- ASTON VILLA (+900) – 1x
Top 6 Finish
- LEICESTER CITY (+475) – .21x
Top 10 Finish
- WEST HAM (+125) – 1x
Top Club in London
- Tottenham (+125) – 1x
Tournament Winner and Top Goalscorer
Liverpool & Mo Salah (+1200) – .2