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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.

Man City win FA Cup, seal historic domestic treble (video)

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  • Man City first-ever English team to win domestic treble
  • Silva, Jesus, De Bruyne, Sterling score
  • Watford miss first half chances
  • 50 wins on the season for City

LONDON — Manchester City have done something no other team has managed in the history of men’s soccer in England.

Pep Guardiola‘s side beat Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday to win complete the domestic treble, as they added the FA Cup to the League Cup and Premier League trophies they already won this season.

The winning margin also equalled the highest-ever in an FA Cup final, as Bury beat Derby County 6-0 back in 1903.

David Silva and Gabriel Jesus each scored in the first half against a spirited Watford side who missed several chances, while Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus and then Sterling (twice) all added goals in the second half to complete the rout.

City’s fans were in party mood at Wembley, as Guardiola’s men completed one of the greatest seasons in English soccer history. A sea of sky blue celebrated throughout, as the only blemish on their campaign was their agonizingly narrow UEFA Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Enjoy this City side as long as you can, because we are witnessing history on a weekly basis with them. Monday’s trophy parade in Manchester will be quite the occasion, as Guardiola’s side get to show off their silverware.

The first big chance of the game fell to City as Bernardo Silva got to the byline but his ball into the six-yard box was cleared before Jesus could pounce.

Watford then had a glorious chance to go ahead in the 11th minute as a counter attack set Roberto Pereyra clean through on goal but Ederson stood up to the last second and made a superb stop with his legs.

City controlled the tempo of the game but Watford were dangerous on the break, as another chance fell to Pereyra and he managed to scoop the ball to Abdoulaye Doucoure. His shot was blocked by Vincent Kompany as the ball deflected on his arm but no penalty kick was given by referee Kevin Friend, much to the annoyance of Watford.

David Silva then put City ahead as Raheem Sterling caused Watford problems and won a header before Silva first won another duel, then latched onto the loose ball as his shot deflected off Kiko Femenia and into the far corner to put the Premier League champions 1-0 up.

Before the break Man City doubled their lead as Bernardo Silva’s teasing ball to the back post picked out Jesus brilliantly.

With Gomes stranded in goal after coming off his line, the Brazilian striker hooked the ball goalwards  and Sterling smashed home to make sure even though the ball had already gone over the line. 2-0 to City, who had one hand on the FA Cup trophy.

Watford started brightly in the second half but Man City then hit them on the break as Gomes denied fellow Brazilian Jesus to keep the Hornets in the game.

From the resulting corner Jesus headed home but he was in an offside position, and then Watford continued to press to find a way back into the game. After Aymeric Laporte had headed wide the Hornets broke free but Deulofeu scuffed his shot harmlessly wide as it was that kind of day for Watford.

City then completed their historic feat by launching a rapid counter attack as Jesus won the ball and was then played in by Sterling before setting up De Bruyne to slot home.

De Bruyne then returned the favor as he set Jesus free and he waited until the last moment to slot home under Gomes and wheel away in delight.

Watford kept trying to push forward and that left gaps for City to exploit, as Bernardo Silva then crossed for Sterling to slot home a fifth goal.

Sterling then scored his second and City’s second as he reacted to his own shot which hit the post.

John Stones was denied a seventh late on as Gomes produced a fantastic save down low.

City could have scored a few more late on, as Guardiola’s boys completed the domestic treble with minimum fuss.

VIDEO: Silva, Jesus put Man City on course for historic treble

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Watford had their moments, but it is Manchester City who took their chances early on in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final

David Silva reacted to his own header quickly and his shot deflected off Kiko Femenia and into the far corner to put City 1-0 up against Watford and leave them 45 minutes away from completing a treble of domestic trophies.

Gabriel Jesus added another before the break as Heurelho Gomes allowed a cross to reach his far post and the Brazilian striker hooked the ball towards goal as Raheem Sterling lurked on the line. Jesus was given the goal as it had just crossed the line before Sterling arrived.

If the result holds City will be the first time in English history (in the men’s game) to win all three domestic trophies in the same season.

Click on the link above to follow the second half of the final at Wembley as Watford have cause City’s defense plenty of problems on the break.

Check out the goals from Silva and Jesus below, as El Mago delivered yet another crucial moment to set the Premier League champions on their way.

LIVE, FA Cup Final: Man City v. Watford

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The FA Cup final takes place on Saturday at Wembley Stadium as Manchester City and Watford do battle (kick off, 12 p.m. ET) for the final domestic trophy of the season in England.

[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final ]

If Man City and Pep Guardiola win they will secure a historic domestic treble of trophies, becoming the first team in the men’s game to win all three trophies available to English teams in the same season.

But Watford are more than capable of producing a shock win, with Javi Gracia‘s men possessing a solid defensive unit and the likes of Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu in attack who can cause City problems.

Below are the starting lineups from both teams, as Man City start Gabriel Jesus up front with Sergio Aguero on the bench. Watford start Pereyra, Deulofeu and Deeney in attack and Heurelho Gomes starts in goal in what could be his final game as a professional before retirement.

You can click on the link above to follow live updates from the final, while we will have reaction and analysis from Wembley.


LINEUPS

FA Cup final preview: Man City v. Watford

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  • Man City aim to seal domestic treble
  • Watford’s 2nd FA Cup final in history
  • City last won FA Cup in 2011

Manchester City and Watford go head to head in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (kick off, 12 p.m. ET) as Pep Guardiola‘s men aim to become the first-ever English team in the men’s game to win all three domestic trophies in the same season.

[ LIVE: Follow the FA Cup final

After being pushed all the way by Liverpool to win the Premier League on the final day of the season, City still seem motivated to finish the domestic treble by beating Watford. But Javi Gracia‘s side are well-drilled defensively and dangerous going forward with Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra and Troy Deeney in attack. This will be far from easy for City.

In team news Man City have Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho available to start but Benjamin Mendy remains sidelined. Watford welcome back Deulofeu and Jose Holebas after the former recovered from injury and the latter had a suspension overturned.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on the threat of Watford: “They have huge talent up front, many physical players, good on set pieces and this is a final, we know what can happen. We believe a lot in ourselves and we will have to find the antidote to beat them. It is a cup final, anything can happen like a red card. They can prepare the final better, they can make a strategy we did not expect. In one game, anything can happen. Normally the better team wins but a decision of the referee could make the difference. In the Premier League you have another chance and can be more relaxed, but this is completely different.”

Gracia on the importance of reaching a final for Watford: “I know all the important dates for the club — or finals in this case — but I don’t need all these things to feel more pressure. I know perfectly it is an important day, it is  an important game. I would like to make history with the club — and to do it we need to win. After that we will see if we play another final next season or not, but this is the moment. It is our moment and we have to feel it. I am sure the players know it and they will be ready to give their best.”


Prediction

All signs point towards an easy Man City win, but do not underestimate Watford. Ben Foster has had a fine season in goal and they have dangerous attacking weapons. If Man City have an off day, the Hornets are more than capable of making the most of it. That said, City’s extra quality and attacking options will just make the difference. Man City to win 2-1, in extra time.