Premier League: Predictions offered a mixed bag of success

John Roycroft looks back at the predictions he made for the Premier League at the start of the season.
Premier League: Predictions offered a mixed bag of success

Manchester City's Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy following the Premier League match against Aston Villa at The Etihad Stadium, Manchester. 

FOR a few minutes last Sunday, it looked like we were in line for the type of Hollywood ending to the Premier League season that would even make Hollywood raise an eyebrow.

But five minutes of determination, and no lack of skill, saw Man City turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory, knocking the wind out of Liverpool's quadruple quest, despite themselves seeing off Wolves 3-1 at Anfield.

With the end of the season, it's customary for me to look back at my predictions for the season just complete and how close I came to getting it right.

Well, let's start with the bright spot. I got the Premier League's top three correct. Now I'm sure many of you will look at that line and say to yourself, 'Oh well done John, you managed to predict that the three sides that finished in the top four for the past five years would finish in the top three this year, how smart you are.

Well, when it's put sarcastically like that, sure it doesn't sound too impressive. But, I retort, that my prediction beat the best forecast attempts made by the entire BBC Sports punditry team of experts and ex-professionals, who disturbingly picked Man United to win the league in a significant number of instances pre-season.

I feel embarrassed that I selected United to claim fourth spot, not to mind putting them down to actually bag the title.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the side's second goal during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield. Picture:  Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the side's second goal during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield. Picture:  Alex Livesey/Getty Images

I certainly felt that Liverpool could have come close to regaining the crown, but by November, I was already fearing that the number of draws the Reds were racking up pre-Christmas would catch them out in the end, and so it's passed.

With Man United managing to even disappoint me for their drive for fourth spot, I obviously had Spurs' and Arsenal's calls wrong, but not by much.

Finding fourth

I had Arsenal to finish in eight rather than sixth, as I saw no real progress coming from the Gunners. Mikel Arteta, to his credit, proved me wrong, but the advances made by his side were a small increment of what is necessary.

I had Spurs in sixth rather than fourth, and that was mostly down to when I was writing the preview, there was still the strong probability that Harry Kane was departing for Man City. His sulk for the first half of the season was costly enough and Spurs could have done a lot better had his head been in the game then.

Mid-table is a mishmash of the usual suspects from Leicester to Southampton and while I didn't exactly ping their final position on each occasion, they were mostly there, or thereabouts.

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti applauds the fans after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, last year.
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti applauds the fans after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, last year.

The exceptions being Leeds and Everton, who I did not suspect would have been dicing for survival, but that was down to not expecting they'd lose their influential managers in Carlo Ancelotti (I wonder what he's doing now?) and Marcelo Bielsa.

The surprise of the season, for me, was Brentford, who I predicted would go straight back down, but I was gladly proved wrong by the excellence of their competitive counter-attack and organised defence that caught many more vaunted sides out. They finished in a solid 13th spot but will now have to work hard to survive the second season in the Premier League, which Leeds can testify is a difficult prospect.

The drop

Watford were the only side relegated that I predicted correctly and in the exact position to get relegated. I did not see Burnley, and especially Sean Dyche fall by the wayside after so many spirited years in the Premier League.

Norwich also went down, outside my prediction, and I put that down mostly to wishful thinking for the Premier League survival of Irish players Andrew Omobamidele and Cork's own Adam Idah. But it was not to be.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland before signing for Man City.
Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland before signing for Man City.

Next

Next season's predictions are already looking similar, with City still top, especially boosting their title credentials even further with the signing of the brilliant Norwegian Erling Haaland.

Liverpool have also already boosted their side with the acquisition of young, free-scoring Fulham sensation Fábio Carvalho. But they must also balance that with maintaining the signature of Mo Salah and Sadio Mané.

 Fulham's Fabio Carvalho has signed for Liverpool.  Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
 Fulham's Fabio Carvalho has signed for Liverpool.  Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Chelsea face the unknown fallout of their disputed ownership over the Ukraine war, while Man United look a few years still off the pace unless new boss Erik ten Hag can really do miracles.

The oil cash washing up on the Northumberland coast makes Newcastle a new genuine threat to the top four hegemony. While Arsenal and Spurs will, no doubt, continue to make their upward push pay off.

Next season's predictions will be a fun exercise but harder than ever, with them throwing in a mid-season World Cup this time, just to make it a real challenge this time. 

More to follow. 

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