This is why I hate predictions. I hate making them, I hate reading about them, and I hate listening to them. When a new season is around the corner in any sport, fans from all over are glued to the pundits to get every last prediction that these so called “experts” can come up with as if any of it matters. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. None of it does, because as many times as we’ve watched sports the one thing it seems that we still haven’t learned is that you can’t predict this stuff. As they say, “that’s why they play the games.”
Of course there are certain things you can predict, such as who will finish in the Top Four (hello Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United) or who won’t be as good as everyone thinks they will be (looking at you Chelsea). The title race? That’s a little bit more difficult, but we still have a pretty good idea of it. But predicting the team that comes out of nowhere to go from bottom of the table club to top half of the table (and there’s always one)? Well that’s damn near impossible, and yet we still try to do it every year.
Enter Leicester City. After a tumultuous summer they were widely tipped by just about everyone to be one of the three worst teams in the league. So of course it only makes sense that Leicester has started the new campaign on fire, and that might even be an understatement.
After two games they sit second in the table, having scored more goals then every Premier League team not named Manchester City. Sure it’s only been two games but who saw them scoring four goals against Sunderland on the opening day of the season? While some might scoff at that and say it’s only Sunderland, they followed that up with an impressive win at Upton Park over a West Ham side that was coming off defeating Arsenal at the Emirates.
Now take a look at their upcoming schedule: their next five games are against Tottenham (H), Bournemouth (A), Aston Villa (H), Stoke (A), and Arsenal (H). Those are four very winnable games before their first test against the Gunners. I’m not saying Leicester will beat all those teams (or any of them) but it’s certainly a great chance to really rack up the points early in the season and really separate themselves from the relegation zone early in the season.
The other team raising eyebrows after two weeks has been Norwich City. Norwich are one of the three new teams to have come up this season and every year it seems at least one or two of the newbies sticks around. This season everyone has predicted that those teams would be either Bournemouth, Watford, or both of them but definitely not Norwich.
Apparently no one told that to the Canaries though as Norwich sits 9th in the table after two games. They only have three points, but it’s not so much about the results as the way they’ve looked in obtaining those results. They looked much better than expected in a 3-1 loss to a frisky Crystal Palace side (well as good as you can look in a 3-1 loss) and then turned the tables in a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland. Their upcoming schedule is favorable as well as they don’t play a top four club until a trip to Manchester City on Halloween (they do face Liverpool in mid September). If Norwich and Leicester can continue to rack up early points, it could really shake up the bottom of the table and give us the great relegation battle that we were deprived of last year.
Of course there is one storyline that we all did see coming, and by “we” I mean “me” since I had been saying all along Chelsea would struggle while everyone else said they’d win the title again.
As I previously wrote, Chelsea won’t be winning the title this season because after all these years Jose Mourinho’s arrogance will finally catch up to him. Mourinho currently thinks he can waltz to the title again without improving his squad at all this summer. In fact, you can even argue that they’ve gotten worse considering they lost Didier Drogba and replaced him with Radamel Falcao (in simpler terms, they lost an aging striker who could score and replaced him with an aging striker who can’t).
After two games Chelsea sit on just one point after being held at home to Swansea and getting demolished by Manchester City. What’s wrong with them? It’s pretty simple actually. On one hand they are getting absolutely nothing from Diego Costa or their midfield triumvirate of Eden Hazaard, Cesc Fabregas, and Oscar. Then on the other hand, they are running into many problems with their paper-thin depth. Right now they’re struggling and they have no other options to turn to. If they choose not to get active late in the transfer market, it’s going to be a long season at Stamford Bridge.