Take two: The pre-season Premier League predictions badly in need of a rethink
Posted by  badge Boss on Oct 15
After nearly a third of the Premier League it’s time to rethink those pre-season predictions

The certainty of high summer is in the rear-view mirror and faith in your predictions is falling faster than the leaves from the trees.

So, with the Premier League braced for two rounds of fixtures in the next seven days, here are seven hot takes which the ‘experts’ might want to revisit before they are colder than a penny pincher’s boiler.

The take: Manchester United are bad

United’s Antony (right) celebrates with Marcus Rashford after scoring one of his three goals in three starts (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

When have been bad – that deflating opening-day defeat to Brighton, the 4-0 thrashing at Brentford and a humiliating derby loss at – they have been very bad, but those lows have been few and far between.

The real story is United go into this week’s games with Newcastle and Tottenham having won five out of their last six and sitting just a point outside the top four.

Erik ten Hag has successfully integrated new signings – has three goals in three starts, Lisandro Martinez is approaching cult status and was borderline imperious at times against Everton – while largely diffusing the psychodramas surrounding and .

There have been false dawns before but Manchester United, with an unusual sheen of competence and rare lack of drama, are not bad at all.

The take: Liverpool may win the quadruple

Trent Alexander-Arnold excelled in the Community Shield (Picture: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images)

Pipped for the title by one point last season and runners-up in the Champions League, had to settle for ‘only’ winning the FA Cup and League Cup last season.

When they downed Manchester City in the Community Shield it felt significant, but that was a game in which excelled and struggled. First impressions can be deceiving.

Liverpool now languish in tenth, the injury sidelining Alexander-Arnold feels like blessed relief for the right-back – and he is far from the only player below his best.

Confidence will lifted by the 7-1 thrashing of Rangers but when Liverpool host City on Sunday, belief and expectation in both camps are likely to be a world away from where they were when they last shook hands.

The take: Arsenal aren’t for real

Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal celebrates with teammates after scoring the first goal against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium (Picture: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

This one hurts. For some, including this writer, the jury will remain out on until the road closures are announced for the open-top bus parade.

But even I’m obliged to admit the Gunners’ fast start has gone beyond the flash-in-the-pan phase. Young, vibrant and fearless, Arsenal look strong in every position and while they lack experience, back-to-back wins over Tottenham and Liverpool have given them justifiable belief in their new-found status as potential title challengers.

Sunday’s trip up the M1 to the febrile atmosphere of Elland Road is the sort of visit that often ended in tears under Arsene Wenger, but this incarnation of Arsenal are made of sterner stuff.

The take: Aleksandar Mitrovic can’t do it in the Premier League

Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham in celebration mood after scoring (Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Come on, we all took this stale take out of the fridge over the summer, gave it a sniff and stuck it in the microwave for a reheat.

Trouble is, by the time you heard the pings the big Serb had snaffled six goals in his first six games – twice as many as he had managed in the entire 2020-21 season, the last time Fulham had graced the top flight.

Following a 26-goal haul in the Championship in 2019-20, that modest return fuelled the belief Mitro was a flat-track bully who couldn’t do it at the top level, a theory which survived even after he banged an incredible 43 goals in 44 league games last season.

But dosed up on belief and a huge helping of front-foot football under Marco Silva, has sustained the pace and will hope to shake off an ankle injury when Bournemouth visit tomorrow.

The take: Everton will be relegation contenders

Anthony Gordon of Everton against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at Goodison Park (Picture: Tony McArdle/Everton FC/Getty Images)

The Toffees scraped survival 
with one game to spare last season, then raided relegated Burnley to plug the gaps in their squad. Inauspicious.

With Frank Lampard yet to convince in his third managerial posting, optimism was not abundant on the blue half of Merseyside, particularly after one point from three games.

But rallied with a six-game unbeaten run before running into Manchester United last Sunday.

James Tarkowski and Conor Coady have brought invaluable Premier League nous to the backline, Alex Iwobi has been reincarnated as a passable impression of Lampard in his pomp and marquee signing Amadou Onana gives off strong Patrick Vieira vibes.

There is some introspection needed in Liverpool but, for once, it’s not at Goodison Park. Very weird.

The take: Bournemouth are doomed

Gary O’Neil of Bournemouth, who has taken interim charge of the team following the sacking of head coach Scott Parker (Picture: Robin Jones /AFC Bournemouth/Getty Images)

A spending spree on January deadline-day helped propel the Cherries back to the Premier League but a lack of similar summer investment left most of us assuming they wouldn’t stay there. We weren’t alone.

A 9-0 defeat at Liverpool in late August left without a point from four games with no goals scored and 18 conceded.

In the aftermath boss Scott Parker said ‘we are ill-equipped at this level’ and, when it came to the manager, owner Maxim Demin agreed, sacking him four days later.

We may have to revisit our assessment, with caretaker boss Gary O’Neil on a five-match unbeaten run ahead of winnable games with Fulham and Southampton.

Either O’Neil, a man with no senior management experience, is the new Pep Guardiola or these Cherries may just have some juice after all.

The take: Haaland will find the Premier League a tough step up

Haaland scores the winning goal during the UEFA Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad (Picture: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Nobody seriously thought Erling Haaland would be the Romelu Lukaku of last season, but amid the hype that accompanied his arrival from Dortmund there was plenty of scepticism.

Timo Werner had shown being a prolific Bundesliga scorer was not a guarantee of Premier League success, while Haaland’s old club-mate Jadon Sancho has struggled at Manchester United.

Then there was a bad miss in that Community Shield defeat.

Well, since then the Norwegian annihilator has scored 15 goals in nine league games for – including hat-tricks in three consecutive home games.

His omnipotence is such that, when left on the bench for the match against Copenhagen in midweek, you still half expected him to bag a couple.


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