An EPL Preview in Emojis

We have made it through a barren summer without soccer, passed through countless transfer sagas, watched some crap CONCACAF, and now we’ve finally made it back to the promise land of the premier league. As the season starts today, I thought I’d be as last minute as possible and put out my predictions for the table right at the deadline/During the first game.

But at this point in the summer/day I’m sure you’ve read plenty of predictions and tables, so I thought I’d spice this one up with the world’s most beloved texting tool and least favorite movie: emojis. One simple image to define a team’s fortunes for the coming year. And of course we are going bottom to top to add suspense.

20- Huddersfield Town: πŸ˜…

Huddersfield are my pick (and basically everyone else’s) to finish at the bottom of the table this year. In reality, they are super lucky that they got into the league to begin with and should be proud of what an accomplishment that is. At the same time, they should be aware that they are playing with the big boys and they should prepare to get their teeth kicked in by the league’s elite. So be happy Huddersfield fans, but also be nervous for the coming campaign.

19- Brighton and Hove Albion: ♻️

This is a team in Brighton that has mounted together two consecutive campaigns in the Championship that went pretty well, and they have finally made the jump up to the EPL. The concern I have with the seagulls is the quality (or lack therof) in the team. One of the bright spots for this club is Anthony Knockaert, but don’t forget that he is essentially a recycled (only a bit of a force) component of a Leicester team that narrowly avoided relegation back in 2014/15.

18- Burnley: βš™οΈ

If I had to describe Burnley in a word it would be grit. They are filled top to bottom with scrappy, hardworking players, and they ahead this summer and added even more of the same in names like Jonathan Walters and Philip Bardsley. But for me, they have almost too much grit and not enough finesse, especially having sold Andre Gray, inarguably there best attacking option last year. Without enough of a threat up front, I see the Clarets going down this year.

17- Swansea: πŸ‘»

The Swans are going to be haunted by a few things this year (not just by the ghost of Bob Bradley). They will inevitably regret not selling Gylfi Sigurdsson earlier in the transfer window if he does in fact leave, which seems increasingly likely. With limited time remaining in the window, I don’t see Swansea being able to adequately replace what the Icelandic midfielder brought to the table. The Swans will just narrowly avoid the drop.

16- Crystal Palace: πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

After a fairly successful season in 2015/16 that saw them reach an FA Cup final (Pardew danced too early), Crystal Palace regressed last season, finishing in 14th. So this season will be crucial in determining what kind of club Crystal Palace really is. They have some talent among their ranks, notably with Christian Benteke leading the line. However, they will have to prove that 2015/16 wasn’t a fluke and that they are deserving of being higher up the table, which is something I’m not sure they can do.

15- Stoke: 🌧

Ignoring the cold rainy nights in Stoke jokes, there is a cloud seemingly hanging over the Bet365 Stadium in my opinion. Stoke is another club that had a decent season in 2015:16, finishing 8th. However last season didn’t not go as well at all, and the team has sold off some of its core players, with Walters, Arnoutovic, and Bardsley all leaving the club, without bringing in proper replacements (at least not for Arnoutovic anyway). Stoke has always been a hard team to play at Bet365 Stadium, but it will be tough for the Potters to take that on the road in my estimation.

14- Newcastle:🎒

Newcastle has definitely been a roller coaster to be a fan of the last few years. After being demoted to the Championship two seasons ago, Newcastle have come roaring back to the big time by winning the second flight last season. I think that Rafa Benitez’s side will fare the best out of the newbies this year, mostly due to the talent in the team and his experience at this level. Keep in mind, Rafa only took the helm of Newcastle at the tail end of their last EPL campaign, so having a full year to navigate these waters with him at the helm will serve to benefit the team. The concern I have is with the consistency of players like Dwight Gayle, who didn’t really seem up to the EPL standard when he was last at this level. The question for Newcastle fans this year will be whether or not the roller coaster ride has ended, or if this is just another high before a drop.

13- Bournemouth: 🚚

Playing in the fourth tier of the English setup not too long ago, Bournemouth have done fantastically to put themselves in their current position, and begin to cement their place as EPL annuals. For their budget, I think the signings of Ake and Defoe are inspired, and the rest of the squad ain’t too shabby either for a team nicknamed the Cherries.

12- Southampton: 🀞

Southampton are crossing their fingers that this team can continue to perform at the level that the Saints fans have come to expect in the past few seasons. The yearly one-way trip for players to Liverpool/Manchester seems to have ended, but Van Dijk’s transfer saga is still a biiiig elephant in the room. If new recruit Lemina can adjust to the EPL quickly, than he will be a great signing as he has shown bright spots at Juventus. This is a team that for my money will regress a bit out from the Europa League contention and down to the middle of the pack, although I still think Gabbiadini is a sneaky dark horse for Golden Boot.

11- Leicester: πŸ€”

2017-18 Leicester will in my eyes be a better version of 2017/18 Crystal Palace in that it will be a big season in determining from a spectator’s perspective what this team’s ambitions are. Coming of the incredible high of 2015/16, last year saw the Foxes take the inevitable step back, although the still managed to make the quarterfinals of the Champion’s League even without one N’Golo Kante. The additions of Ihenacho and Iborra are very telling of where this team want to go, but the trouble is determining whether or not they will get there. Hmmmmm

10- West Brom: πŸ˜‘

West Brom are neither happy nor sad, angry nor calm, nervous nor confident. Folks West Brom are a team that will strive to finish dead middle of the pack 10 times out of 10. The living embodiment of the word meh.

9- Watford: 🍰

Watford had a relatively under the radar season last year, successfully avoiding relegation a second year in a row, but at the same time not making serious overtures at climbing up the table. Then they went ahead and sacked manager Walter Mazzarri and replaced him with Marco Silva, who was the manager of the really, really, reallllly bad Hull of last season. That is exactly why I think Watford is this season’s best bet to win the Sam “Pies” Allardyce sweepstakes, as he always takes over a middling club halfway through a campaign. Why will they finish 9th then you ask? The answer for me is that stranger things have happened, and I really like this Andre Gray signing for the Hornets.

8- West Ham: πŸ‘΄πŸΌ

This transfer window has made West Ham out to look like the English equivalent to the L.A. Galaxy, a professional soccer retirement home. After a less than ideal showing from the Hammers last season under Slaven Bilic, West Ham went out and got…..Zabaleta, Hernandez, Arnoutovic, and Hart. While Chicharito and Arnoutovic both have something left to give in my opinion, all four are EPL throwaways given the chance to live out their days with West Ham. While the squad was for sure improved this summer, it remains to be seen for how long these reinforcements will last.

7- Everton: πŸ”„

Another summer, another key player being sold on for Everton. It seems that Everton are treading water at the moment, clearly outshining the stragglers and even mid-table finishers, yet not being truly able to challenge for Β the Champions League. Will Ronald Koeman take the team to the next level? Signings like Klassan, Sandro and Pickford seem to suggest the answer to that question is yes, but we will have to wait and see if their ambitions are realized this year or if they are going to remain stuck in the loop of successful mediocrity.

6- Liverpool: 🏷

No one team has been as deeply affected by the transfer market this summer than Liverpool. On one end, they are doing all they can to hold on to a player in Coutinho who is for all intents and purposes out the door. On the other, they are doing their utmost to pry Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton to no avail. By the end of the transfer window, these two deals or lack of deals will have completely overshadowed the acquisition of Mohammad Salah, who was a nice pickup early on in the window. I believe that this Liverpool team, assuming Coutinho goes and Van Dijk stays, will be lacking just a little bit in the quality department to challenge for the title.

5- Arsenal: πŸ₯ˆ

If it were possible to exchange several silver medals for one gold, I’m sure Arsenal fans and players alike would gladly clean out their trophy cabinet to do so. Arsenal haven’t won the league since 2004, but have come incredibly close on many an occasion. Unfortunately for gunners fans worldwide, I don’t think they made enough critical moves this summer to realistically make a challenge at the top of the table. Lacazette and Kolasinac were good acquisitions no doubt, but they surely needed one or two more in that vein to fully establish themselves as title favorites in my eyes.

4- Tottenham: πŸ‘£

This current wave of Spurs players has been incredibly frustrating to watch for the last few years, as they have the talent but haven’t been able to do anything with it as of yet. They will showcase as good a product as any EPL team on some weekends, but on others will absolutely shoot themselves in the foot, negating the progress that this young core of Kane, Alli and others has made. I believe that they will really regret not making any serious moves during this transfer window at White Hart Lane.

3- Chelsea: 🍩

When you think about it, Chelsea’s 2017/18 iteration really is a lot like a donut. They are a sweet treat to enjoy on weekends, but have a big gap in the middle (that about exhausts the comparisons I have between a premier league club and a breakfast pastry). Having let Matic and Chalobah leave for EPL rivals, Chelsea are suddenly somewhat undermanned in the middle of the park. Kante is a world-class center mid, but even he can’t do it all himself, and with Fabregas another year older and removed from his prime, I have serious questions about what happens to this team if the midfield drops in quality for any stretch of the season. Replacing Costa with Morata may ultimately be a good move for the club, but I don’t realistically expect an exact duplication of production during Morata’s first EPL season.

2- Manchester United: πŸ‘ˆ

The Red Devils loaded up in a big way this summer, splashing the cash on Lukaku, Matic and Lindelof. On paper they are geared up to have a great campaign…until something goes wrong. We all know that Mourinho isn’t one to swallow his pride, so if/when the team underperforms, who will the chosen one have to point the finger to, beside himself?

1- Manchester City: πŸ’°

For all the people who think that Man United spent ungodly amounts of money this summer, Man City literally spent double that amount of money on some serious talent, including Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, Ederson, Danilo, and Benjamin Mendy. This is a team that is overflowing with talent, and also managed to shed all of the aging squad members this summer. City will be the team to beat and are my pick to win the league.

Can’t wait to look back to see how πŸ’© these ⚽️ predictions were.

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