It seems like just a month ago we were shocked by the 2011/12 Premier League season’s finish, when Manchester City scored two goals in stoppage time to come from behind and defeat Queens Park Rangers. The victory meant tying Manchester United on points, but clinching the title on goal differential.
Before we jump into predictions and hype for yet another long season, let’s take a quick look at the final table of the 2011/12 season:
Lesson #1: the real biggest threats will be superb on their home field. The Manchester squads kept an impressive combined record of 33-2-3 at home last season. While the reigning champs City will return the bulk of their roster, Manchester United added van Persie to their lineup, who will complement Rooney at the top quite well from the left side. The atmosphere at the stadiums of last year’s the top finishers clearly bring a very real home field advantage, and as the season progresses it becomes an inevitable advantage for the league leaders.
Lesson #2: Every game counts. This is a no-brainer, especially for Man United who had countless games within reach to put them atop rivals City. More interestingly, look at the 3-6 positions: you can see only 6 points separates Arsenal, who qualify for Champion’s League from Tottenham, Newcastle & Chelsea (who won Champions League qualifies automatically). Newcastle didn’t put up a humongous goal differential, but their impressive record at home and on the road put them in contention. Even with the lowest net positive goal differential in the league, they finished 5th, that means they won a lot of close games.
Even with the lowest net positive goal differential in the league, Newcastle finished 5th, which means they won a lot of close games.
Lesson #3: The top teams will stay near the top. Last season was the first in over a decade when the big four (Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool) did not win the title. The last time two of the big four finished outside the top 5 was 1995/96. Considering the strength Manchester City showed all season long, we expect to see one or two new names in the top of the table, but don’t expect the big four to be dethroned any time soon, they have had 4 one-through-four finishes in the last 10 years, including the Red Devil’s threepeat from 2007-2009.
With all the excitement kicking off in less than 24 hours, we’re ready to get back in the action. If you haven’t already signed up for the soccerloco EPL Fantasy Challenge. Use Private League Code283241-80392. Don’t miss Arsenal host Sunderland tomorrow at 7:00AM PDT on ESPN S, plus Manchester United will head to Everton on Monday, catch that game on ESPN2 at noon PDT.