Welcome to the anuual Severn Sport Big Season Preview for the 2017/18 season!! We have already produced our first ever local preview that can be found here (http://severnsport.co.uk/?p=6432)
now it’s time to turn our attentions to the domestic and continental season which kicks off during the next two weeks throughout all divisions. We have a lot to cover so let’s dive in.
**If you aren’t familiar with our season’s previews here is how it works. Below we will have categories and each Ryan, Kelsey and Matt have picked their choice with a small description. The first letter of their names will show who’s pick we are looking at**
K: Honestly it could’ve been any one of four teams but Mourinho + second season = trophies. The big one is going back to Old Trafford. Manchester United.
R: It kills me to say it but for two years in a row my pick is Manchester City. Any side who can afford to even tease Sergio Aguero being surplus to requirements must be good, right?
M: Manchester City. They have invested well in defence over the summer and Pep has now had a season to settle in and actually build his squad. It will be a closer season but I think City have the edge.
Team To Watch
K: “Spurs are on the way to Wembley, Tottenham’s gonna do I…” you get the idea. How are Tottenham going to fair at Wembley this year? Will there be another title push or will they trail off?
R: It has to be Manchester United. In their quest to avoid 5 full seasons without a title they have strengthend at the back and up front. They just bought in Matic in the middle too so they are a winger away from being back to their best.
M: Everton. A brilliant transfer window for them and with rumours their spending isn’t over they’re 100% the ones to watch.
Team To Struggle
K: Swansea. I really hope they struggle. I hate them.
R: Watford for me. Slowly outstaying their welcome in the same way Wigan Athletic did. Marco Silva had a good honeymoon period at Hull last year but couldn’t save them. Arguably Hull had more about them than Watford did too.
M: Brighton. They haven’t done anything of note in the transfer window at all and I fear for them as the Championship and the Premier League are completely different entities.
Player To Watch
K: It has to be Ross Barkley, wherever he goes. In a World Cup year it will be important for him to hit the ground running wherever he ends up.
R: Keeping up with my Manchester based answers it is once again from United, it is all about Romelu Lukaku. A deal worth potentially ₤90 million is not something to be sniffed at. This 24 year old forward is already a Premier League record breaking striker and has had a very productive pre-season.
M: Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal. He has the ability to fire Arsenal back into the top four and maybe even further. Arsenal strikers tend to go one way or another so for that reason he is definitely one to watch.
K: It was always going to be Wayne Rooney going back to Everton. The best English player ever is an unreal acquisition for Ronald Koeman. He is 13/8 to be in the England World Cup squad next summer, seriously, lump on it!
R: I thought about this in terms of both potential and for the player and for me it has to be the loan signing of Ruben Loftus-Cheek at Crystal Palace. He is a very good young English talent that I have openly said just needs a good loan move at a Premier League club to show us what he can really do. I’ve got my wish!
M: I am going for Alvaro Morata at Chelsea. At 24 years old if he can continue to hit the net consistently he will be well worth the ₤70 million.
K: Middlesbrough. Those pesky Northerners spent so long trying to get back to the Premier League only to come straight back down. But they will be back.
R: They have the manager in place with bundles of potential, they have recruited well and have quality Championship strikers in Gestede & Assombolonga, Middlesbrough look the real deal.
M: I think Middlesbrough will bounce back under the guidance of Gary Monk. He is a man who deserved better than what happened at Leeds and has the managerial ability to guide Boro back to the Premier League.
K: The third best team in Portugal, Wolves. They should stake a claim for a return to the Premier League and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are fighting for the title.
R: I’m going for last seasons beaten play-off finalists, Reading. The Royals have retained Jaap Stam as manager and have looked to recruit just as well whilst keeping the core squad together. They can potentially slip under the radar once more.
M: Fulham. Under the brilliant manager Jackanovic they reached 6th place last year and even though they were beaten in the play-offs they have retained their quality squad and signed players like Tom Cairney to new deals.
K: Does anyone actually like Leeds United? Nobody seems to. FC United of Manchester sang about them against Gloucester City last year, strange. Oh yeah, they’ll win the play-offs.
R: I am going for a hattrick. The last two years have seen me talk up Sheffield Wednesday‘s chances of getting promoted through the play offs and twice they have made them and lost. Third time lucky for the Owls.
M: Out with the old average players in with the new foreign playmakers for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Team To Either Watch or Struggle
K: Got to be Aston Villa surely? Chief full kit w*nker John Terry leading them into battle makes them an interesting prospect.
R: Like Kelsey I am looking in the Midlands but I am going for Villa’s rivals, Birmingham City. Harry Redknapp will get a chance to have a full season at the helm at St Andrews and has the pull to recruit some good and big named players. Harry loves a good transfer.
M: Aston Villa for me. They have started to spend some money and now have some experience especially defensively in the acquisitions of John Terry and Christopher Samba. Steve Bruce is also a very good manager who usually gets it right.
Player To Watch
K: My man Rubén Neves (Wolves). Signed him on Fifa last year, ran my midfield for Sunderland. Class player.
R: I’ve mentioned him before but Britt Assombolonga has the ability to fire his Middlesbrough side back into the Premier League, just as long as he stays injuy free.
M: It was a big statement of intent from Wolves when they signed Rubén Neves from Porto. Big fee but promises big things.
K: Scunthorpe. It is a little bit out there but Scunthorpe are an established and quality side in League One.
R: A real yo-yo team is emerging in Wigan Athletic. They have yet to really settle down after being relegated from the Premier League but they should have another good season here.
M: I can only see Wigan Athletic. I predict close to 100 points for them as their squad is still of a decent quality.
K: The front runners in the eyes of the bookies for the title are Blackburn Rovers, I however don’t think they have enough to win the league but will go close.
R: I think Blackburn Rovers will be up there. They are one of the best teams on paper in the league and will be looking to flex their muscles early.
M: Bradford City are the side I tip every year and every year they go close so come on the Bantams, don’t let me down.
K: Wigan Athletic for me. Everyone’s favourite team that are owned by a bloke who once broke his leg in an FA Cup final, did you know that?
R: Following the beaten play-off teams from last seasons theme I am going for Scunthorpe, who would have made the final had it not been for an inspired Steve Morison.
M: The master of League One Kenny Jackett is now at Portsmouth and has bags of experience and has won this league with two previous sides (Wolves and Millwall) so he will be looking to make it a hattrick.
Team To Watch Or Struggle
K: Here is my annual mention for Bristol Rovers. They’ve signed a lot of new faces this year and it might upset the balance of a team that just missed out on the play-offs last year.
R: Bradford City have teased a serious promotion push and were beaten in the play-offs last year. Can this be the year? Who knows!
M: It has been a busy transfer window for Lee Clark at Bury and now boast a squad with the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Chris Maguire. They could go one way or the other!
K: Carlisle United have been a quality team in this league for a couple of years now and this year could be the one.
R: It seems to be a common theme now for sides to come all the way down to League Two to be able to rebuild and recapture some of the glory days. Portsmouth and Blackpool last year, this year I’m going with Coventry City.
M: Last season’s fancied side, especially in the play-offs, Luton Town have been rebuilding year upon year and I think they are finally at the level they need to be to lay down a serious title challenge.
K: Mansfield Town, like Blackburn are the bookies favourite but I don’t see them lasting to win the league but could cling on to 2nd or 3rd.
R: Again I am a sucker for sides who were beaten in the play-offs and I am going for Exeter City.
M: A flying end to the season saw Exeter City propelled into the play-offs and a better start would have seen them in League One this season. They have momentum and have kept their squad together as much as they can.
K: Colchester United came really close last year and missed out on the play offs on the final day. This season they’ve managed to keep and add to their quality squad and are capable of pushing on.
R: Last year Wycombe Wanderers didn’t get the rub of the green at points throughout the season at all but they are usually good value for a play-off push. Expect this again.
M: Like I said, momentum is key in the lower leagues especially so I am going for Lincoln City. Last year’s FA Cup quarter finalists (I still can’t believe that) have the confidence and ability to achieve back to back promotions.
Team To Watch Or Struggle
K: Last year Newport County really were bad. However having seen them in pre-season they look a well drilled outfit. Their season could go either way really.
R: I am going for Lincoln City here. An FA Cup run and a league winning side who will be looking to build on a wonderful 12-18 months.
M: There is one stand out team to watch this year and that is Coventry City. They’ve strengthened in the right areas thus far and with Mark Robins at the helm anything can happen.
Who will finish higher, Cheltenham or Forest Green?
K: As I said in the local preview, Forest Green. Dale Vince has the resources to back them to the moon and back. I’d be surprised if they finish below Cheltenham.
R: During pre-season Cheltenham have failed to impress in every way. Even their own fans are questioning whether Gary Johnson can take them to the next level. That will either bring the squad together or disrupt any momentum they have. Compare that to FGR who will have a good go at League Two because they have the support and financial backing to do so. Forest Green all the way.
M: I think Cheltenham will struggle so much so I have actually tipped them to go down if you look at the local preview. Forest Green will take over as the top team in Gloucestershire for sure.
K: I am going with Liverpool. Mainly because I think United, City and Chelsea will be too busy battling it out for the league.
R: We are starting to see some of the bigger clubs “take it seriously” over the last few seasons, I expect another one. Let’s go with Chelsea in order to get over what will be some league disappointment.
M: Chelsea. Cups are hard to predict so anything can happen so hey, why not?
K: Everton. I am at the stage where I am not thinking about my picks because I don’t care. So yeah, why not Everton?
R: I am going with Manchester United because Mourinho loves the League Cup.
M: Everton. My team to watch and as I said above, they have that winner in the dressing room in Wayne Rooney so why not some silverware?
K: Again, I don’t care. Manchester City U21s. Whatever.
R: I am going for the U21 side that made it the furthest last season, Reading U21s
M: Lincoln City. They are a proven cup team!
K: AC Milan have had the best transfer window out of any European team. Solid balance of experience and young players.
R: Out of the sides currently in this seasons Europa League you have to look at everyone’s favourite sleeping giants, AC Milan. But looking at the sides in the Champions League I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the third placed sides come into this tournament and take the cup.
M: I have to go with Arsenal. They will win it, get in the Champions League fail in the Premier League but Wenger will get a contract extension.
K: I think an English side could win it this year. If Man City don’t win it then I think Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will. Good value at 12/1 too.
R: I am so scared that Manchester City might win this. I think they have the best chance of the English sides but I am going for Paris Saint-Germain. They should have knocked Barcelona out last year and would have gone far in the tournament, would they have beaten Juventus and Real Madrid? Who knows!
M: There is only one possible winner for me, Barcelona. They seem the best set up to win it this year. In terms of the English sides, Man City will probably go the furthest.
Lastly!!! World Cup 2018 Winner
K: France have a scary depth in their squad, so much so you have no idea how they would line up in Russia. In players like Mbappe they have some of the hottest players in World Football right now.
R: I am torn between two. France and it’s going to sound crazy but I am going for England. What a summer our sides have had this year and why can’t we do well in Russia? Why can’t we just stop being idiots and ripping our young squad apart if they make mistakes or don’t play a certain way? Who cares as long as we win games. #WeWinGames
M: Brazil. They have been very impressive in qualifying and against some of the better teams in International Football. Seeing off sides like Argentina 3-0 is impressive. Brazil still owe Germany and the Europeans for coming to South America in 2014 and ransacking the place.
And that is the complete big season preview for the 2017/18. Strap yourselves in as we are all in to one hell of a ride, culminating in the World Cup in Russia!!