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Season Preview 2017 – Part 2 08/08/2017

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.


INS: Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid, £70,000,000), Tiemoué Bakayoko (AS Monaco, £40,000,000), Antonio Rüdiger (AS Roma, £34,000,000), Ethan Ampadu (Exeter City, TBC), Willy Caballero (Manchester City, Free)

OUTS: Nathan Aké (AFC Bournemouth, £20,000,000), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus, £17,300,000), Asmir Begović (AFC Bournemouth, £10,000,000), Bertrand Traore (Lyon, £8,800,000), Christian Atsu (Newcastle United, £6,200,000), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford, £5,000,000), Dominic Solanke (Liverpool, Tribunal), Mukhtar Ali (Vitesse Arnhem, Undisclosed), Nemanja Matić (Manchester United, Undisclosed), Alex Kiwomya (Doncaster Rovers, Free), John Terry (Aston Villa, Free), Tammy Abraham (Swansea City, Season Loan), Ike Agbo (Barnsley, Season Loan), Ola Aina (Hull City, Season Loan), Jamal Blackman (Sheffield United, Season Loan), Izzy Brown (Brighton, Season Loan), Fankaty Dabo (Vitesse Arnhem, Season Loan), Jay da Silva (Charlton Athletic, Season Loan), Marco van Ginkel (PSV Eindhoven, Season Loan), Michael Hector (Hull City, Season Loan), Tomáš Kalas (Fulham, Season Loan), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace, Season Loan), Mason Mount (Vitesse Arnhem, Season Loan), Kasey Palmer (Huddersfield, Season Loan), Lucas Piazon (Fulham, Season Loan), Kurt Zouma (Stoke City, Season Loan)

OUR EX-BLUES: Nathaniel Chalobah


RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two late, late defeats at either end of the season that left us higher on brownie points than the more valuable variety.


2016-17 1-2 3-4
2015-16 0-0
2014-15 0-3
2009-10 0-5
2008-09 1-3
2003-04 2-2 / 0-4
1999-00 1-0 1-2
1981-82 3-0
1969-70 1-5


Cahill                 Luiz             Azpilicueta
Moses      Bakayoko      Kanté         Alonso
Pedro                     Morata                  Hazard

VERDICT: So Chelsea are supposed to be likeable now, goes the theory. Don’t think I’d go quite that far.  There’s still something wrong with the length of that loanee list, albeit it’s something that reflects where football’s at in general rather than a crime perpetrated by Chelsea alone (heaven knows we’d hardly be in a position to criticise anyway).  The State of Chelsea has been thrown into particularly sharp relief by the Chalobah transfer which precipitated a degree of hand-wringing and navel-gazing from Chelsea faithful that was easy to sympathise with.  When you’ve got talent like Chalobah that can’t get in the side… OK, you’re spending vast sums on top young players, great.  But a club wants an identity and at least the illusion of a local grounding, and with Terry, whatever you think of him, out of the door the ongoing failure to bring youngsters through is going to niggle, League Champions or not.

As for this season, the Champions’ League will place a big demand on the squad and in Bakayoko and Morata you have players in key positions who need to work.  They might well do, but it’s a source of uncertainty.  Second for me.


INS: Jairo Riedewald (Ajax, £8,000,000), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Steve Mandanda (Marseille, Undisclosed), Kwesi Appiah (AFC Wimbledon, Free), Fraizer Campbell (Hull City, Free), Zeki Fryers (Barnsley, Free), Mathieu Flamini, Joe Ledley, Randell Williams, Loïc Rémy (Chelsea, End of Loan), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool, End of Loan)

OUR EX-EAGLES: Adrian Mariappa, Hayden Mullins, Ben Watson

THEIR EX-ORNS: Jordon Mutch, Andros Townsend

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A grimy point on Boxing Day given some lustre by Harry’s post-match performance, and yet another miserable trip to Selhurst.


2016-17 1-1  0-1
2015-16 0-1  1-2
2012-13 2-2 0-1
2011-12 0-2 0-4
2010-11 1-1 2-3
2009-10 1-3
2008-09 2-0 0-0 4-3
2007-08 0-2 2-0 2-0
2005-06 1-2 1-3 0-0 / 3-0
2003-04 1-5 0-1
2002-03 3-3 1-0
2001-02 1-0 2-0
2000-01 2-2 0-1
1998-99 2-1 2-2
1995-96 0-4
1993-94 2-0


Tomkins              Dann            Riedewald
Ward                 Milivojević           Puncheon          Van Aanholt
Zaha                           Benteke                  Townsend

VERDICT: It must have been on the way up to Turf Moor for GT’s last game in 2001.  I don’t remember that, but checking the records it must have been.  “You can’t rely on bloody Portsmouth for anything”, said ig, which was obviously true.  The particular relevance was the preceding Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat to Palace at Fratton Park that had stolen from the world the prospect of Palace dropping into the third tier.

Similarly, last season in which Palace spent a month or so at the beginning of the year in the bottom three feels like a missed opportunity.  Four wins on the hop, including our miserable visit to Selhurst, put pay to that tantalising prospect.  The team always looked far better on paper than a relegation side, which was obviously half the fun… now, Frank de Boer is the wild card and a change in formation and emphasis is an unknown and a risk although, again, we’re not in a position to criticise and have survived such summer revamps before.  The squad looks thin and vulnerable to injuries in particular places, but who knows, in this constipated transfer market perhaps they’ll sign half a dozen players before the end of August.  In the meantime, a prediction of fifteenth with a big margin of error.


INS: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, £30,000,000), Davy Klaassen (Ajax, £23,500,000), Josh Bowler (Q.P.R., £1,500,000), Nathangelo Markelo (Volendam, Undisclosed), Boris Mathis (Metz, Undisclosed), Henry Onyekuru (Eupen, Undisclosed), Sandro Ramírez (Málaga, Undisclosed), Cuco Martina (Southampton, Free), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, Free)

OUTS: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, £75,000,000), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, £10,600,000), Tom Cleverley (Watford, £8,000,000), Courtney Duffus (Oldham Athletic, Undisclosed), Aiden McGeady (Sunderland, Undisclosed), Arouna Koné (Sivassspor, Free), Connor McAleney (Fleetwood Town, Free), Josef Yarney (Newcastle United, Free), Jack Bainbridge,  Delial Brewster,  Michael Donohue, Tyrone Duffus, Russell Griffiths, Connor Hunt, James Yates, Tyias Browning (Sunderland, Season Loan), Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest, Season Loan), Brendan Galloway (Sunderland, Season Loan), Matthew Pennington (Leeds United, Season Loan), Joe Williams (Barnsley, Season Loan), Enner Valencia (West Ham United, End of Loan)

OUR EX-TOFFEES: Tom Cleverley


RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A bullish Okaka-fuelled win at Vicarage Road in December, and an inconspicuous defeat at Goodison in the miserable run-in.


2016-17  3-2
2015-16  1-1 2-2
2006-07 1-2
2000-01 1-2
1999-00 1-3 2-4
1983-84 0-2


Coleman        Williams        Keane            Baines
Gueye          Schneiderlin
Davies                      Rooney                    Mirallas

VERDICT: The thing about Everton this season is a subtle change in lighting.  Seventh last season, very comfortably better than the morass behind them but ultimately eight points short of United in sixth, further than we were from Saints in eighth.  In a League of their own then, quite literally, very much the best of the rest after Leicester’s insubordination of 2015/16.

So in the meantime a few things have happened.  Romelu Lukaku has gone…  a huge loss, a reliable source of goals and the fulcrum of the attacking play.  On the flipside a huge amount of money has been spent on players very early in the window.  Keane and the extraordinary Pickford look good signings, Klaassen and Sandro less known quantities, Rooney could be brilliant or not, plausibly.  A revamp that was needed with an ageing senior squad, albeit there are a number of good kids pushing on too.

The thing is.  The thing is you look at it, and it’s still a team that you’d put odds-on to finish seventh.  And maybe that’s reasonable, maybe you say “you’ve lost your main man, your squad’s getting older, you’ve traded well and broken even, you’re still where you were”.  But the lighting’s different.  The loss of Lukaku will more readily be forgotten than the fact that £30m was spent on a talented but emerging goalkeeper.  Seventh, but the pressure will be on.


INS: Steve Mounié (Montpellier, £11,000,000), Aaron Mooy (Manchester City, up to £10,000,000), Laurent Depoitre (Porto, Undisclosed), Tom Ince (Derby County, Undisclosed), Mathias Jørgensen (Copenhagen, Undisclosed), Scott Malone (Fulham Undisclosed), Danny Williams (Reading, Free), Jonas Lössl (Mainz 05, Season Loan), Kasey Palmer (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Harry Bunn (Bury, Undisclosed), Tareiq Holmes-Dennis (Portsmouth, Season Loan), Jack Payne (Oxford United, Season Loan), Isaiah Brown (Chelsea, End of Loan), Danny Ward (Liverpool, End of Loan)


THEIR EX-ORNS: Leigh Bromby (U18 manager), Jonathan Hogg, Julian Winter (CEO)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A 4-2 win at the Vic in Beppe Sannino’s last game in charge, and a rare off day in the burn-in towards promotion as the Terriers won 3-1 in Yorkshire.


2014-15 4-2
2013-14 1-4
2012-13 4-0 3-2
2000-01 1-2 2-1
1998-99 1-1 0-2


Smith               Hefele         Schindler          Löwe
Hogg          Billing
Ince                             Palmer                  van la Parra

VERDICT: What’s not to like, really?  An unglamorous side propelled into the top flight on the back of a work-your-nuts-off pressing style epitomised by Jonathan Hogg in the middle of the park.  Four years since he left Vicarage Road his departure remains something of an anomaly… he didn’t exactly move on to better things, a bigger club, but nor was he jettisoned because he wasn’t good enough.  Indeed, leaving as he did when he did on the back of an easy-to-sympathise-with desire to move closer to his family left him with that unusual veneer in an ex-player, neither discarding us nor being discarded.

His role in That goal against Leicester, an expertly judged far-post cushioned header cements his place in our history but really there was lots more than that.  An inexhaustible energy and a miserliness with possession, especially in tight corners, endeared him for two years and his tag team with Chalobah and Almen Abdi was the most convincing, well-balanced midfield three we’ve seen at Vicarage Road in fielding that formation.  If, as is argued on Huddersfield messageboards, he’s the defining member of the team there’s going to be lots to like.

But how well they do is kinda hard to judge;  a defence made in Germany got them promoted, but not having seen much of them it’s difficult to assess how well equipped they are for the top flight.  By default you’d be concerned about a side that didn’t perhaps expect to get promoted coming up in the play-offs, and Tom Ince is hardly a talisman for successful Premier League sides, a signing that shrieks of scraping the barrel before the season’s started.  Nonetheless, Town have acted decisively and quickly in revamping their squad which gives them a chance, and a club that has honoured a commitment to charge long-term season ticket holders a mere £100 for their Season Ticket this term is one you’d hope will do well.


1. John Samways - 09/08/2017

Very much enjoying this aperitif before it all kicks off, Matt ……. and looking forward with anticipationto your match day reflections for the coming season.

Re. Huddersfield (great to see them in the Prem) – don’t forget our link with Julian Winter, their CEO and such a key ‘player’ (for good!) in the background for WFC in the all-too-recent ‘dark days’.

Matt Rowson - 09/08/2017

A criminal omission… will rectify later. Thx

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