Luka Milivojevic

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Just how wrong? Revisiting Premier League predictions

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Own it.

That’s how I look at Premier League predictions. When you’re right, be happy about your good fortune. When you’re wrong, raise your hand.

But there’s another level to it: Why was I right or wrong? Did a team let me down, or did I vastly overrate/underrate their potential?

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Twenty months ago I pegged Burnley to get relegated with an almost record-low amount of points. The Clarets qualified for the Europa League, and I ate my words (even if Sean Dyche‘s men seemingly out-performed every metric on Earth in spite of stats, like some old man claiming Man City wins because of “better chemistry, not talent”).

Cardiff City
Predicted finish: 20
Actual finish: 18

How wrong was I? Not. As much credit as the Bluebirds got for grinding every week, and as much of a difference as the late Emiliano Sala could’ve been to their fortunes, they completed passes at an almost absurdly-bad 63.9 percent rate while having just 39.1 percent of the ball. It was bad.

Huddersfield Town
Predicted finish: 19
Actual finish: 20

How wrong was I? Not. Huddersfield Town managed a league-worst .4 attempts per game from inside the six-yard box, and were one of only five teams to attempt less than six shots per game from inside the 18.

Watford
Predicted finish: 18
Actual finish: 11

How wrong was I? Pretty wrong. Javi Gracia‘s men were strong against bad teams — for the most part — but never sprung another real upset after beating Spurs to go 4-0 early in the season. Record against the Top Six? 1W-0D-11L.

Bournemouth
Predicted finish: 17
Actual finish: 14

How wrong was I? Eh. The Cherries were never really in trouble thanks to a 6-2-2 start, but man did they ride their luck.

Burnley
Predicted finish: 16
Actual finish: 15

How wrong was I? I’ve learned my lesson. Regardless of how much talent appears to be on a Sean Dyche roster, he’s a rich man’s Tony Pulis and should not be doubted.

The face Sean Dyche makes before he fist fights an entire village. Terrifying. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Southampton
Predicted finish: 15
Actual finish: 16

How wrong was I? With respect to Mark Hughes, I thought Saints’ season would come down to when he was sacked and who they identified to replace him. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s in a good place.

Brighton and Hove Albion
Predicted finish: 14
Actual finish: 17

How wrong was I? A bit wrong, and I pretty much blame Pascal Gross, who back slid from 7 goals and 8 assists in his Premier League debut to just three and three in Year No. 2. The Seagulls didn’t score a single goal from outside the 18.

Wolves
Predicted finish: 13
Actual finish: 7

How wrong was I? It’s not simply about buying players — see: Fulham — but about acquiring hungry players. Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, and several others had points to prove, and Jimenez especially made it well.

Newcastle United
Predicted finish: 12
Actual finish: 13

How wrong was I? To be honest, this went about as I expected given the brutal fixture list to start the season. Had I known Miguel Almiron would’ve transitioned so nicely from MLS to the PL, I might’ve had them 10th.

 (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Fulham
Predicted finish: 11
Actual finish: 19

How wrong was I? Very, but to my defense so were most people. On paper, the Cottagers improved more than even Wolves.

Crystal Palace
Predicted finish: 10
Actual finish: 12

How wrong was I? The stats kinda back me up, and it may be worth noting for next season that the Palace’s results didn’t match its performances. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luka Milivojevic, and Wilfried Zaha gave them difference makers in all thirds of the field, and it’s surprising they didn’t push a bit higher on the table.

Leicester City
Predicted finish: 9
Actual finish: 9

How wrong was I? Not. The Foxes were pretty infuriating all year. Maybe Brendan Rodgers‘ ego and power will match the player power that’s run the club since they won the title. That said, the inconsistency and tumult shouldn’t be a surprise in a season the club had to deal with its owner dying on a match day.

West Ham United
Predicted finish: 8
Actual finish: 10

How wrong was I? Not really. I thought it would take Manuel Pellegrini some time to put his men together, but I didn’t predict the Irons would get a total of 37 appearances from Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, and Carlos Sanchez.

Everton
Predicted finish: 7
Actual finish: 8

How wrong was I? It took Marco Silva longer than expected to get his men humming, but think of this: If Jordan Pickford doesn’t give Divock Origi a derby winner, Everton is going to Europe. I know, I know… chaos theory. But still.

Richarlison (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur
Predicted finish: 6
Actual finish: 4

How wrong was I? Like many, I was stunned that Spurs didn’t spend this summer and thought injuries would hurt them. They did, but only to the extent that Tottenham wasn’t able to sustain a title challenge. Spurs rarely gave the ball away, and the only teams that averaged fewer “times dispossessed” than Tottenham’s 9.2 per 90 were teams that never had the ball: Brighton, Cardiff, and Burnley.

Arsenal
Predicted finish: 5
Actual finish: 5

How wrong was I? Spot-on. It was going to take time for the Gunners to come together following a first managerial change in ages, but Arsenal had the offense to challenge for the Top Four. Surprisingly for Arsenal, they averaged just eight dribbles per game, 12th in the PL. Unai Emery had them more cautious than usual.

Chelsea
Predicted finish: 4
Actual finish: 3

How wrong was I? Not. Maurizio Sarri is not for everyone, but he knows how to get results. Granted Gonzalo Higuain was his guy, but he did it without a top striker.

Liverpool
Predicted finish: 3
Actual finish: 2

How wrong was I? Well, considering the Reds had one of the best runners-up finishes of all-time, quite wrong. Mostly, I didn’t expect Mohamed Salah to deliver again and he mostly did (save for a late winter slump).

Manchester United
Predicted finish: 2
Actual finish: 6

How wrong was I? Real wrong. Almost as wrong as United looks for canning Jose Mourinho. The manager needed to leave town, but there was a reason he was playing so packed-in. Ask yourself this: If Ed Woodward gave Mourinho the use of Toby Alderweireld, would Spurs and United be flipped?

Manchester City
Predicted finish: 1
Actual finish: 1

How wrong was I? On point. How good was City? For a club that ranked No. 1 in possession, they were only dispossessed 10.3 times per match. That was the 8th fewest total in the league.

Report: $100M Zaha tells Palace he’s ready to leave

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Wilfried Zaha feels he’s reached his potential at Crystal Palace, and has told the South London outfit he wants UEFA Champions League football.

Zaha, 26, has successfully rebuilt his reputation after failing to make an impact at Manchester United, and bagged a career-best 10 goals in Premier League play this season.

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According to The Daily Mail, he’s told Palace he’s ready to leave Selhurst Park. The Eagles’ reportedly have a $100 million price tag on the Ivorian.

Zaha was one of three stars for Palace this season, joining youngster Aaron Wan-Bissaka and center midfielder Luka Milivojevic in successfully moving the Eagles out of another relegation fight.

If Palace sells Zaha, it would make it even more difficult to allow the 21-year-old Wan-Bissaka to leave the club. Wan-Bissaka was sensational and would’ve been in many Best XIs were it not for Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s amazing campaign for runners-up Liverpool.

What’s next for the Ivorian? Man City and Liverpool don’t seem to fit the bill, but any of the other contenders could fit the bill. And if it needs to be the Champions League, maybe the long-mentioned links to Spurs or Chelsea become a reality.

Crystal Palace 5-3 Bournemouth: Zaha stars in eight-goal thriller (video)

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  • Wilfried Zaha involved in four of Palace’s five goals
  • Michy Batshuayi scores brace
  • Crystal Palace finishes on 49 points
  • Lerma scores stunner just before halftime

Crystal Palace and Bournemouth put on a show in the final match of the Premier League season, combining for eight goals in a 5-3 Crystal Palace win, Sunday afternoon at Selhurst Park. Wilfried Zaha, in what may have been his final game for the Eagles, was involved constantly in Crystal Palace’s attack and finished officially with two assists, though he played a role in two other goals as well.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe went again with 19-year-old Mark Travers in goal, and although he gave up five goals, he wasn’t at fault for nearly all of them, as the Bournemouth defense let Howe down.

With the victory, Crystal Palace and Roy Hodgson finished with 49 points, the club’s highest total in the 38-game Premier League season era.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

This thrilling match for neutrals began with Crystal Palace in full control of the game. Luka Milivojevic came close to scoring inside five minutes, hitting the far post, but it was Batshuayi who finally put the Eagles in front. In the 24th minute, Zaha and Milivojevic worked together to create some space and Zaha’s cross into the middle took a deflection. The ball fortuitously fell right to the feet of Batshuayi, who slotted past 19-year-old Bournmouth goalkeeper Mark Travers.

Batshuayi scored again eight minutes later as Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s terrific cross on the ground from the right was put home to give Crystal Palace a 2-0 lead. Palace’s lead expanded to 3-0 in the 34th minute. James McArthur‘s pass found Zaha clear on goal. The Ivory Coast international’s shot was saved by Travers but re-directed off defender Jack Simpson in for another goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Just before halftime, Jefferson Lerma gave Bournemouth some life, as he unleashed an absolute blast from more than 30-yards out to make it 3-1, and give the Cherries some momentum heading into the break.

Despite more Crystal Palace pressure in the second half, Bournemouth scored again, as Jordan Ibe‘s low strike from just outside the box in the 56th minute took a deflection and went in past Vicente Guaita, making it a 3-2 game.

From then on, both teams traded goals as it was a wild, end-to-end affair in the second half. Zaha yet again made an impact on the goal, finding the overlapping run of Patrick Van-Aanholt, who fired home to make it 4-2. Joshua King‘s tap-in at the back-post off a corner made it 4-3, and yet Zaha found Andros Townsend on the counter attack, with the veteran attacker finishing past Travers to make it 5-3.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Zaha was subbed off late to a standing ovation at Selhurst Park, with plenty of speculation that he could be off to another club in the summer as he seeks a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League.

Benteke leads Palace surprise at Arsenal (video)

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  • Benteke scores first goal since April 28, 2018
  • Zaha nabs ninth of season
  • Ozil goal forges brief deadlock

Christian Benteke scored a goal and added an assist as Crystal Palace handed much-changed Arsenal a 3-2 set back at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Wilfried Zaha and James McArthur also scored for the Eagles, while Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang posted Arsenal’s goals.

The win boosts Palace into 12th with 42 points, while Arsenal remains fourth with 66.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roy Hodgson‘s men took a surprising early lead through a strangely surprising source, given that Benteke was once a prolific and danger scorer.

With room to operate, the Belgian turned a header past Bernd Leno to put the Eagles on top.

Palace was fortunate not to concede a penalty through an Aaron Wan-Bissaka handball in the box, and Cheikhou Kouyate saw two bids to beat Leno saved by the keeper.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal needed less than two second half minutes to equalize, with Iwobi finding Lacazette with a deft outside-of-the-boot pass. The Frenchman slid Ozil through on goal, and Ozil blasted it near side for a 1-1 score line.

Palace restored its lead thanks to a Benteke flick toward Zaha, with the Ivorian going around Shkrodan Mustafi before beating Leno.

And then it was 3-1, a 69th minute corner kick from Luka Milivojevic finding the back of the goal when James McArthur redirected a header into the goal.

Aubameyang needed a fortunate bounce to line up his shot, but deserved every bit of his 77th minute goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Man City ease past Palace, keep title hopes on track (video)

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  • Man City go top of the table
  • Sterling scores twice; 17 PL goals this season
  • 3 defeats in 5 for Palace

Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park on Sunday to keep their title bid on track.

Two classy goals from Raheem Sterling set them on their way to victory, with Gabriel Jesus grabbing a late goal after Luka Milivojevic had pulled one back for Palace. In the end, Pep Guardiola‘s men won with minimum fuss to put the pressure back on Liverpool, who they have a game in hand of in the Premier League title race.

With the win City momentarily moved back to the top of the table on 83 points, and the reigning PL champs know they will win the title if they win all of their remaining five games. Palace remain in 13th on 39 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

City started brightly and had a big chance to take the lead, with David Silva wriggling away from defenders inside the box and then setting up Sterling who somehow dragged his effort wide.

But Sterling was clinical with his next chance. Kevin De Bruyne played a wonderful ball through to Sterling and he took one touch before clipped a delightful shot into the far top corner to make it 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

Leroy Sane then dribbled at goal and forced Vicente Guaita into a smart stop at his near post and Aguero smashed a shot over the bar. Palace tried hard to contain City but didn’t have many chances of their own as Benteke, Zaha and Townsend struggled to impact the game.

City looked dangerous on the break throughout the game, and should have been 2-0 up as Ilkay Gundogan clipped a lovely ball over the top but three Man City players got in each others way and De Bruyne’s shot was saved by Guaita.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Guaita then saved as De Bruyne’s cross flicked off Martin Kelly and towards his own goal, but Palace’s goalkeeper reacted well down low. Man City doubled their lead in style, as a flowing move saw Aguero, Silva and Sane combine to set up Sterling as he tapped home to make it 2-0.

But Palace set up a nervous finish for City, as Milivojevic curled home a free kick to make it 2-1 after Cheikhou Kouyate caused havoc in the defensive wall.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Despite that scare, City wrapped up in the win in the 90th minute as De Bruyne launched a counter and set up substitute Gabriel Jesus (who looked to be just offside) to slot home the third.

Job done for Man City.