Mystic Matt’s Premier League Predictions
Regular readers of my blog (which is the same as saying “imaginary friends” in many ways) will know that, when last we saw him, Mystic Matt was in hiding after several Russian gentlemen objected to his continuous slander of a certain London-based football team. Well, it’s impossible to hide forever, and so Matt has spent the last few months tied to a chair somewhere in Siberia, undergoing the worst torture imaginable: watching all of Manchester United’s games on repeat. However, following recent difficulties on the pitch, the Russians were distracted long enough for Matt to escape (rumours that a certain doctor was involved are, of course, entirely spurious), and so…
He’s back! And ready to type up some Premier League predictions with the fingers he has left…
Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool (Sterling (obviously), De Bruyne)
The best attack in the Premier League against Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet. Jurgen Klopp has already made an impact at Liverpool, the team looking far more solid and organised under the German than it ever did under the “outstanding” Brendan Rodgers. But his methods will take time to properly implement, especially given the general lack of tactical intelligence inherent in English football, and he seems to lose another key player to injury every week.
The latest, of course, being Mamadou Sakho, who is quite possibly my favourite Premiership player (he’s like a talented Djimi Traore, a phrase which admittedly constitutes one of the signs of the Apocalypse). Without him martialling the backline and providing incisive passes into the front men, Liverpool will struggle both in defence and attack. Man City, on the other hand, have two of the best defenders in the league in Kompany and Otamendi, currently the best Belgian in the Premier League in Kevin De Bruyne, and morality’s Raheem Sterling stepping up in place of the injured Silva. Oh, and Aguero might be back (so might Daniel Sturridge, but only if he avoids being injured by a light breeze in the next couple of days). Still, at least Chelsea are crap…
Chelsea 2-1 Norwich City (Willian, Costa; Mbokani)
…but they’re still more than capable of beating Norwich, a team that made Liverpool look half-decent earlier in the season. Whilst Chelsea’s back line is increasingly resembling one of those elderly rock bands that reform after losing all their money and realise that while the wallet’s willing the vocal chords just can’t cut it any more (deep breath), Norwich don’t have enough to really exploit that. Having said that, big powerful strikers do seem to be doing well against John Terry in particular, so Mbokani (or Cameron Jerome, although “striker” isn’t the best word to describe him) could snatch something there. Chelsea have better players, even if one of them spends more time telling people they smell than actually playing football, and after 3-1 defeats to both Southampton and Liverpool, won’t want to let Norwich extend the talk of a Chelsea crisis. See, I managed to get through a whole piece about Chelsea without mentioning how much Jose Mourinho is coming to resemble Peter Finch’s character from Network….
Everton 3- 0 Aston Villa (Lukaku (2), Kone)
Everton are in a good place right now. Keeping John Stones at the club over the summer and signing the excellent Gerard Deulofeu (who has scored 5 goals for Spain Under-21s in the last two games) were both excellent pieces of business, and with their passing game, so stale last season, has shown signs of rediscovering its zip and zing this
season. Defensive injuries apart, they should prove too much for an Aston Villa side that approached last summer’s transfer window like a twelve-year-old who’s discovered Football Manager for the first time. Admittedly, they looked much better against Swansea than they have at any other point this season, possibly due to having a manager who realises it takes more to build a team than a gilet, but they’re still weak in both defence and attack and have Alan Hutton in the starting line-up. Expect Lukaku to avoid Micah Richards, who’s actually half-decent, and pull onto Ciaran Clark/ Joleon Lescott, who aren’t.
Newcastle United 2-2 Leicester City (Wijnaldum, Sissoko; Mahrez (2))
Will Jamie Vardy break a Premier League record? Nope- partly because he might not shake off an injury, partly because fairy tales don’t happen in football (oh, Stevie…). Leicester, though, have been brilliant this season. Mahrez has obviously been their creative spark, but Kante, Schlupp, Albrighton and Kasper Schmeichel have been excellent too, and Claudio Raneiri has deservedly shaken off all the critics who deem getting Chelsea into second place somehow proof that he’s rubbish. As for Newcastle… well, sometimes the league table does lie, and they’re better than the 17th place they currently find themselves in. Steve Maclaren is another manager who’s been unfairly pilloried by the media, and despite the annual inexplicable loss to Sunderland the Magpies have looked pretty decent in recent weeks. With the aforementioned Leicester players facing off against Mitrovic, Wijnaldum, Sissoko and the superb if mercurial Florian Thauvin, expect lots of goals in this one.