By Zach England:
The Midseason Transfer Window isn’t usually known for the time to make season changing moves. For the most part you, want to battle with the teammates you have currently and the chemistry you’ve built throughout the first half of the season helps propel you to a strong finish. This season was no different. Three of the top five teams, including the league leader, Liverpool, failed to make any moves of significance. Chelsea, on the other hand, made the largest transfer splash by acquiring American, Christian Pulisic. My first thoughts were, “What the @$#!! Chelsea? OF ALL TEAMS??” (I’m a lifelong Manchester United fan, what can I say). After finally finishing the third step of depression, I decided to look at the situation from the lens of an American soccer fan, which I am as well. With this move, Pulisic becomes the highest ever paid American soccer player ever at 57.6 million pounds, while gaining invaluable experience which will only help United States soccer move forward.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next season to watch this American phenom play in the prestigious top flight English Premier League, for he is on loan until the end of the season with his current German Club, Borussia Dortmund. Reigning golden boot winner, Mohammad Salah, continues his dominance and once again leads the league in goals with 16. Arsenal’s Aubameyang is close behind with 15 and two players are tied for third with 14 goals, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. However, with Manchester City, clawing after Liverpool for the league title, watch for Aguero to prove his elite striker status and overthrow Salah for the league leader. One of the greatest rules in European soccer is relegation and promotion, which gives smaller clubs in lower leagues a chance to compete at top flight soccer, and at many times fulfill a major dream of all soccer players.
The way it works; The four bottom teams in the EPL drop to the lower division, the English Championship Division, while the top two teams in the English Football Championship Division get promoted and the next four teams compete in a playoff, with the winner of the playoff gaining the third promotion spot. The four teams that I expect to get relegated are: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff City, and the esteemed Newcastle United. The three teams who will be promoted and get to have their chance to shine are: Norwich City, Leeds United (welcome back from your long sabbatical, but I don’t wish you any luck), with Middlesbrough being the last standing after the rubble and debris clears from what they call the English Championship playoffs.
Predicted Final Top 4 Standings
1. Liverpool (62 pts) - Liverpool hasn’t played this well in years, 30 years to be exact. Liverpool hasn’t won a league title since the English Premier was founded in 1992. Jurgen Klopp has completely changed the culture of this club to a winning atmosphere. Klopp can not only spot talent a mile away but seems to get the best out of his players which is a crucial attribute of a quality coach (See Jose Mourhino for polar opposite example) With City dropping three points in their loss last month to Leicester City, Liverpool finds themselves with a three point lead. They hold their fate in their own hands at this point. If they take care of business day in and day out, Liverpool will find themselves holding the famed EPL Trophy come May.
2. Manchester City (59 pts) - (Manchester is still red, I don’t care what anybody says)
Meh. Pep Guardiola is a mad genius, Sergio Aguero can score goals. Who cares?
3. Tottenham (57 pts) - Losing your top scorer and arguably the best striker in the world until March usually destroys a club. Manager Mauricio Pochettino, however, is on a different level when it comes to building clubs within. Since Harry Kane suffered his ankle injury back on January 13th, Tottenham hasn’t lost a league game since. Elite and experienced Christian Erikson combined with young, but extremely talented Dele Ali are more than capable of stepping up in place of Kane for the time being. There has been an ample amount of rumors going around whether Pochettino will leave to manage Manchester United next year and personally I would be shocked if he did. Pochettino and Tottenham are two peas in a pod, they fit perfectly. Unfortunately, if he does leave White Heart Lane next season, watch for a significant drop. A manager like Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t come around every day. My advice to the owners, do whatever it takes to keep him.
4. Manchester United (48 pts) - Glory Glory Man United! What a difference a little change of scenery makes. To say we were playing bad was an understatement. We went from having so much hope and promise for the season, to our worst start in 29 years. The sacking of Jose Mourinho could not have come any sooner. The Manchester United faithful gave up on him and the players stopped playing for him. He never bought in to the Manchester United way, playing lackadaisical soccer and essentially playing each game for a 1-0 or draw, “as long as we don’t lose” was his motto. New interim manager and Manchester United legend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has brought back the magic to Old Trafford and shifted the culture to the way it used to be. Players are having fun, playing with freedom, and aren’t shackled down to Mourinho’s system. Star players like Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are playing at another level under Ole with Rashford scoring 6 goals in 9 games compared to his 3 goals under Jose. Ole is the real deal and United is here to stay and take back English football. They are currently in 5th place, 1 point behind our hated rivals Chelsea. United may have a tenacious stretch of fixtures coming up, but watch for them to finish in the top four and once again Qualify for the European Champions League next year.