Other Published Work

Non-sport-related:

East Dulwich Men’s Book Club:

A three-minute video news package produced as part of my NCTJ diploma portfolio, which briefly explains what the club is, and includes interviews with members to gauge an understanding of how much the monthly sessions mean to them.

Sport-related:

Andy Murray: Queen’s Club hope five-time champion is fit to play:

A piece I was able to write and publish during work experience at Sky Sports News.

https://www.skysports.com/tennis/news/12110/11942842/andy-murray-queens-club-hope-five-time-champion-is-fit-to-play


Dulwich Hamlet vs Carlisle United, fans prepare for historic FA Cup first round tie:

This 90-second video fulfilled the mobile journalism requirement of my NCTJ diploma portfolio, and features fans of Dulwich Hamlet and Carlisle United speaking ahead of the Hamlet’s first FA Cup first round match for 21 years.

YE1 Spurs podcast

YE1 Spurs banner

Six regular pundits, aged between 12 and 62, who still believe it is lucky for Spurs when TheYearEndsIn1.

YE1 Spurs is a daily podcast, currently working its way back through the annals of Tottenham time in descending chronological order, to review a different season each day until the Coronavirus pandemic is under control, and the Spurs are back playing football.

Hosted by Podbean @ http://ye1spurs.podbean.com/
Available on Apple Podcasts @ https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ye1-spurs/id1474531217, and other regular podcast providers.

All 15 episodes (most recent at the top):

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Covid-19 and the non-league: Cray Wanderers expect challenging times

Cray CEO talks postponement of football, the team’s great form before this break, and George Taylor’s special day, as London’s oldest football club honoured its centenarian goalkeeper this month.

George Taylor, Cray Wanderers
Centenerian ex-Cray keeper George Taylor was honoured at Hayes Lane this month (photo: @PaulMat51794654)

Cray Wanderers CEO Sam Wright has joined a host of other non-league officials in expressing deep concern for the English football pyramid, if Coronavirus is to close turnstiles indefinitely.

The Isthmian League confirmed the postponement on Friday of weekend and midweek fixtures, with clubs expecting further news regarding this Saturday’s league programme.

Wright, whose side play in the league’s Premier Division, backs the measures, but at the same time fears the highly damaging affect that months without matches could have on the game at that level.

“You can’t be disappointed because ultimately it’s about safety. Most of our fans are older, so is it a risk for them guys going to watch the game, more so than the players who are young, fit and will probably recover OK if they get it [the virus].” Wright said.

“A lot of people who watch non-league football are in their sixties and above. So maybe they looked at it from that perspective.

“But it’s hard. I’m now trying to work out what we’re going to do if we don’t play again this season. It’s a big chunk of income we’re going to lose. What do we do about paying players? It’s a bit of a headache.”

The Isthmian League’s approach mirrored that of the Premier League and EFL, which both suspended fixtures until the beginning of April at the earliest. However, the National League, one step above Cray, went ahead with its schedule, which did surprise Wright.

“I presumed that the National League was also off, because I heard that all of the top end of the pyramid; National League, Isthmian, and all that, were meeting together to consider what we do as the top-end of the non-league pyramid. But we [the clubs] don’t get a say at all really.

“They’re buying themselves a bit of time I think. They’ll make a decision middle of next week, but I think it’s [Covid-19] probably only going to worse over the few weeks and months.

“The big question is going to be what do they do; Premier League, EFL, all of them, if it does get worse as they’re saying and there’s no football till June, mid-June, late-June? You can’t roll this season into the next.”

The inevitable break comes at a particularly inopportune time for The Wands, who sit second in their league following an unbeaten run stretching back to Boxing Day.

Cray, whose, next scheduled home game is not until 29th March charge adults £10 admission, and regularly draw crowds of around 200, with 621 against Enfield Town in October being the season-high.

Wright added: “One thing we were gutted about is that we’re on such a run, and have really got some momentum going: won nine and drawn three since Christmas; unbeaten in 2020. We were raring to go again.”

“If we don’t play this week and next week we’ll probably be alright. It’s if we don’t play the rest of the season that’s the worry, and how that would work out for the non-league pyramid, at our level.

“A lot of clubs work to a really really tight budget line. Will it put a few non-league clubs to the wall? If suddenly for the next few weeks there’s no football at all.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate across the UK and abroad, it has already been a March nobody is likely to forget. But at Cray, the month did begin with a special event, when ex-goalkeeper George Taylor, who turned 100 years old in January, was honoured at Hayes Lane.

Taylor’s football career was cut short by World War II, though he has clearly not been forgotten by Cray Wanderers, who he played his last match for in 1938. Wright reflects on the memorable occasion.

“George had the most amazing day. He’s an unbelievable guy, for 100 years old, everyone was going ‘I can’t believe it!’ He walked onto the pitch on his own, he booted the ball, he lives on his own, he shops still for himself, cooks for himself, and he’s 100 years old!”

“We got a lot of exposure that week which is good for club. We were on talkSPORT, BBC Radio, Sky Sports News. We got quite a few interviews out there.

“We had a little bit of interest from a TV company on the back of it as well, about a possible documentary around London’s oldest football club [Cray Wanderers], the new stadium and that kind of stuff.”

Mourinho Likely Revising Judgement on Spurs Squad

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Mourinho applauds Spurs fans after first game against West Ham in November

Now, with top four hopes fading fast and no FA Cup to compete for, next Tuesday’s second leg in Germany looks astronomically important, as Spurs seemingly have one game to extend their season by another two.

After a fourth straight defeat last night, beaten by Norwich to end Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes, Jose Mourinho is probably now realising that his Spurs squad is not as good as he thought it was.

When appointed head coach in November, following Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking, Mourinho was brimming with praise for the playing staff that he would be inheriting at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But fast forward two-and-a-half months, and a combination of injuries and several disappointing results against immediate rivals, both domestically and in Europe, will surely have the Portuguese re-assessing what he has at his disposal.

“I would love to be on the first of July, but I am not”, Mourinho said last month after defeat to RB Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 first leg, the first loss of Spurs’ current slump. Stark contrast to his sentiments right at the beginning of his reign.

On 21st November 2019, Mourinho said: “Players… the best gift are the ones that are here. I don’t need players, I am happy with the players that I have. I just need time to understand them better to know everything about them.”

Of course he has lost Harry Kane. Son Heung-Min is also a huge miss, plus Moussa Sissoko, who Mourinho named as a particular loss within those post-Lepizig comments. But when appointing a so-called super coach like him, a club and its supporters do expect such problems to be navigated slightly better.

That is what he is paid so handsomely to do after all.

The truth is the slide at Tottenham started long before this season. Form has been no more than satisfactory for at least 12 months, as alluded to in The Year Ends in 1 (YE1) podcast prior to the Leipzig match (https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ye1-on-location-spurs-vs-rb-leipzig/id1474531217?i=1000466284995).

The YE1 team all but agreed that the 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, at the same stage of the Champions League last season, was in fact the last truly convincing Spurs display.

It is another discussion altogether whether or not Pochettino was afforded due backing for his achievements in N17, but what should not be levelled at Mourinho is any kind of suggestion that the poor results of late are a new phenomenon.

Pochettino lost 13 Premier League matches last season, and won just three games from the middle of February. Form which has translated into this campaign under both bosses.

However, that is not to say that Mourinho could or should not be doing better. Why has the defence not improved? Why can he not adapt and find a way of playing without a recognised striker? Especially when he said what he did in November about the quality of the squad.

No manager can ever afford to walk into a club and believe that he cannot do more than the previous guy. But Pochettino also had periods without both Kane and Son. Not so much the double blow, but did nonetheless have to negotiate key absences.

Dele Alli too from last August to October.

Without Kane, there is no guarantee of goals. Not even when Son is available. Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela, Son, Alli and now Steven Bergwijn; they are all extremely talented, yet highly inconsistent players who excite supporters when their names appear on a team sheet.

But by half-time, fans in the stands, their armchairs and on Twitter are calling for changes, and whomever has not started is suddenly the answer; forgetting that they had not delivered from the beginning the previous week.

The loyal Tottenham fan base will have hoped that Mourinho’s side, clearly in transition, could limp over the line into next season’s Champions League, perhaps scooping a trophy too.

But in reality, the current campaign is sadly looking more and more like a write-off, and that serious attacking reinforcements are required, while stalwartly defensive assets like Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Danny Rose (out on loan at Newcastle) in fact do not have the second wind in them that they might have had.

Also, forget not that Christian Eriksen has gone, whose stats throughout his six-and-a-half years at Spurs are not to be scoffed at…

On Eriksen, I do have my own theory as to why he wanted to leave England, which goes beyond football. Feel free to DM me @SimRJWright on Twitter to find out what that is.

Now, with top four hopes fading fast and no FA Cup to compete for, next Tuesday’s second leg in Germany looks astronomically important, as Spurs seemingly have one game to extend their season by another two.

AFC Bournemouth Face Pivotal Howe Decision

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Cherries fans visit new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for first time

The emotional aspect that Mr Mostyn will be forced to consider is something he simply does not need to get caught up in; this is not about Eddie Howe, this is about AFC Bournemouth and its identity.

For the first time since promotion to the Premier League, AFC Bournemouth have a decision to make over Eddie Howe’s future.

Having begun 2020 with three Premier League defeats, no goals, and with just one league victory since the beginning of November, The Cherries have slipped to 19th and are in serious relegation danger.

The club is relatively unique in modern terms as a top-flight side boasting a manager, Howe, whose tenure now stretches seven years, not to mention his previous 2008-2011 spell.

But even beside that, it has defied a club of its stature’s customary ceiling in maintaining Premier League status for half a decade, in spite of residing a stadium which would have the second smallest capacity (11,329) in the Championship, plus a modest and understated fanbase.

Notwithstanding all of this, Chairman Jeff Mostyn must make a call which is regular practice for Bournemouth’s largest Premier League compatriots: sack an underperforming manager, or back him to turn fortunes around?

Sentiment will of course be a major factor in this case; you do not need me to regurgitate the Dorset club’s story and Howe’s spearheading role in it, but the emotional aspect that Mr Mostyn will be forced to consider is something he simply does not need to get caught up in. Why?

Firstly, though it is a cliché that no individual is bigger than the club, that is just as much the case here as anywhere else.

Forget loyalty to Eddie Howe. He left them once before, he will get another job. This is not about Eddie Howe, this is about AFC Bournemouth, which will exist (provided it does not mismanage finances again) for generations after this unusually long managerial reign.

However, that is not to say that dismissing Howe is the answer. To reiterate that the club is top priority here, not the manager, it is the identity that Howe has instilled which allows it to operate as it does in the world’s foremost football league; something which sacking Howe could compromise.

Sceptics of the Bournemouth fairy-tale point sharply to Maxim Denim’s significant investment since becoming majority shareholder in 2011, claiming the rise from League Two to the Premier League as just another instance of ‘bought-success’ in English football.

But beyond that, Howe has kept a remarkable core of playing staff from the League One and Championship days, and coached the likes of Simon Francis, Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels to step-up through the pyramid and be competitive whichever division they contest within.

Assistant boss Jason Tindall, coach Steve Fletcher and technical director Richard Hughes the same. The trio are all former teammates of Howe’s there.

Moreover, by virtue of Howe’s positive philosophy, Bournemouth have consistently attracted talented young attackers who are either not making the grade in bigger sides or are plotting to further their development at a Premier League outfit.

In terms of the latter, injured Wales star David Brooks excelled in his first Vitality Stadium season, earning himself interest from the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

But if the club was to dispense with its ethos and switch to a direct or pragmatic style in order to stay with the elite, would it still be that same appealing stepping-stone?

Even a defender like Nathan Aké, hardly propping up a watertight Cherries defence, is continuously scouted by Champions League clubs, as his quality on the ball and place alongside over-the-hill central colleagues or attack-first full-backs allow him to develop comfortably and unscrutinised.

AFC Bournemouth is therefore structured unlike any other Premier League club, so it is not an option for Mr Mostyn to hire a firefighter replacement for Howe to stay up this season.

If Howe has lost his drive to succeed, then that is the only justification to part ways. Not because the club owes him for his work, but because of the identity that the club has under him.

Though that is not to say that another head coach could not replicate this. Indeed, despite all probabilities being that Howe would remain at Bournemouth if the club were to be relegated, there are hungry coaches out there ready to permeate a new voice over the established structure.

For example, Swansea City’s appointments of, first, Graham Potter then Steve Cooper has the 2018-relegated Welsh outfit knocking at the door of the Premier League once again. Comparatively, Bournemouth, still backed by Denim, is a club on an even better footing to rebuild than the Swans.

The best decision AFC Bournemouth can make is to back Eddie Howe to ride out this injury-ravaged campaign, whatever the outcome may be.

Howe must right now pursue results by all means necessary. But long-term, the fairy-tale will be forgotten if Mr Mostyn changes gear at this stage. Indeed, Ian Holloway’s Blackpool side, and the captivating, narrowly-unsuccessful, football it played in 2010/11 is now but a blurry memory for English football fans.

Charlton Athletic 3-1 Stoke City (Saturday 10th August 2019)

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Williams rallies Valley after Aneke puts Addicks back in front

Charlton continued their perfect return to the Championship with a 3-1 victory against out of form Stoke at The Valley on Saturday.

Following relatively surprising opening day results for both sides (Charlton enjoying a 2-1 triumph at Blackburn, Stoke succumbing to a slack defeat of the same score line at home to QPR), Saturday saw divergent spirits surrounding the two clubs polarise further, with Potters boss Nathan Jones’ record, since January appointment, worryingly still reading a poor three wins.

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Jones remains frustrated

By contrast, it’s now an impressive 14 successes from 18 games for Lee Bowyer’s Addicks, a sensational run encompassing the final three months of last season (including the trilogy of play-off fixtures) and a step-up in division.

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Another great result for Bowyer

Jones set up again with the same midfield diamond which laboured to loss against QPR (a performance which “lacked tempo” according to the Welshman), adjusting personnel slightly by replacing Jordan Cousins with Ryan Woods at the base, as well as handing first starts to Liam Lindsay, Stephen Ward, Lee Gregory and on-loan Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan.

Jones’ philosophy, championing forward-thinking full-backs, dominance of possession and nomadic strike duos is clear enough to see, though his Potters sides have so far proven way too easy to defend against, infamously playing out four successive goalless draws in March.

Still, they looked to start sharply: Tom Ince striding straight forward from kick-off, immediately finding left wing-back Ward, who whipped in a dangerous cross which was eventually dealt with by a slightly shaken Charlton backline.

But it was the home side who struck first: Lyle Taylor working an opening on the left-hand corner of the box, before unleashing a powerful strike into the right of Jack Butland’s goal (25’).

A fine hit by Ince to level on 37’, beating Dillon Phillips from outside the box not long after Hogan had struck the bar, may have pointed to improvement from the visitors, who, like on matchday one, hogged much of the ball throughout (54%) without being able to dispense of a generally ponderous tempo.

On the flipside, Bowyer structured his team superbly, opting for two strong banks of four (with attacking midfielder Conor Gallagher dropping, in the turnover, to compose a five in front of defence) to nullify City’s endeavours to utilise width.

Just simply man-marking Stoke seems to cancel out the multitude of their threat, as Athletic wide-men Jonny Williams (left) and on-loan (West Brom) debutant Jonathan Leko (right) tracked Tommy Smith and Ward respectively.

Whilst, going the other way, by committing their (Stoke) full-backs so high up the field, the two mentioned Charlton players (Leko possessing a significant turn of pace) were pivotal in counter-attacking springs, as Addicks transitions embodied an effective directness.

Returning to analysis of Stoke’s impotence, Darren Pratley, returning West Ham loan star Josh Cullen and the aforementioned Gallagher (also on loan, Chelsea) alternated in regard to monitoring of Ince’s runs into the eighteen-yard area, meaning that with each visiting player marked (including strikers Gregory and Hogan, touch-tight throughout the first-half to Tom Lockyer and Jason Pearce), the Potters’ midfield appeared overtaxed for creativity.

Gregory did also hit the woodwork before the break, though it was a Bowyer change in the last twenty minutes that made all the difference: Gallagher moved out to the left, Williams switched to the right and Chuks Aneke came on (69’), replacing an duly worn out Leko, for his debut; and to partner Taylor up top.

Six minutes later, Charlton retook the lead: Aneke coolly finishing just in front of the penalty spot (75′).

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Aneke after debut goal

Meanwhile, Jones’ changes, opting for further attacking width with the introductions of Mark Duffy (69’) and Thibaud Verlinden (78’), operating either side of lone forward Tyrese Campbell (brought on 61’), did not trouble the home side.

On 83’ it was 3-1, with industrious yet classy midfielder Gallagher finding the net for his first professional goal. Again, for Charlton, one dispatched from within the box.

An extremely encouraging start for Charlton
All in all, Charlton’s high energy approach, enhanced by a particular directness on the break, yet aided too by an effective mix of pace, creativity (notably through Williams) and, crucially, ruthlessness will give them a great chance in the majority of Championship games this season.

There’s a good 20+ goals in Taylor, and starts to a season like these really build early momentum; the kind which, in a number of the division’s previous years, including on a handful of occasions for promoted sides sustaining their previous campaign’s spirit, can initiate top-six or even top-two charges. Compatible with this, Bowyer said afterwards that “the lads are gaining confidence from these results”.

The loss of Anfernee Dijksteel to Middlesbrough in the final days of the transfer window may however prove damaging, with long-serving right-back Chris Solly, as reliable as he is and has been, now the only orthodox option in the position.

Moreover, in trying to play out from defence, the Addicks do occasionally get caught out. Namely, goalkeeper Phillips (jointly left red-faced with Naby Sarr for similar reasons at Wembley during the play-off final in May) being pressed right the way back to his byline at one point on Saturday. Solly did also seem to have been identified by Stoke for potential weakness on the ball.

An overriding positive though for Charlton is the remarkable spirit around The Valley, an atmosphere which has not always been forthcoming in recent years:

Having been relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2015/16 season, following a turbulent campaign consisting of three managers, supporters’ much publicised discontent with owner Roland Duchatelet reached toxic levels, with many holding the Belgian owner accountable for upsetting the club’s harmony and progress at the time of his January 2014 takeover: first sacking club legend Chris Powell, then proceeding to rather haphazardly appoint a string of managers with no English football experience (including three Belgian compatriots and Israeli Guy Luzon), all whilst providing little to no explanation as to any measured strategy.

Today however, though Duchatelet’s poor communication with the fanbase continues to bitterly frustrate the loyal Addicks following, the feel-good factor around manager Lee Bowyer is, for the time being, seemingly numbing widespread desperation for a change of ownership.

Yet more disappointment for Jones
For Stoke, it’s been a difficult period since relegation from the Premier League in May 2018, and having replaced Gary Rowett in January, Nathan Jones’ waves at Luton (notably League Two promotion in 2018, responsibility for the first half of the club’s 2019 League One championship, and a points per game ratio of 1.8, the highest of any Hatters boss) have not followed through into The Potteries. Indeed, the Welshman’s revolution has yet to take shape, and looks a long way off doing so based on Saturday’s toothless display.

Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke on Saturday evening, Jones maintained that his side are “creating enough chances”, but conceded that “goals win games” and “that’s what we’re [they’re] not doing”.

View From RowZ’s 2019/20 Premier League Preview

Where your team will finish and why, how many points they’ll achieve and who’ll top your goalscoring charts.

1st- Manchester City
They will become the first team since arch-rivals Manchester United in 2009 to secure three successive Premier League titles.
With a squad so lavishly stacked, a manager [Pep Guardiola] unrivalled in the art of interchanging countless individuals into his unequivocal philosophy and the combination of Guardiola’s ability to keep players unwaveringly motivated, along with recognition from these superb footballers that they couldn’t be in a better place, I’m expecting another ridiculous tally of points from City.
99 points
Top goal scorer- Raheem Sterling (24 goals)

2nd- Tottenham Hotspur
Having limped through a wretched obstacle course last season, in the form of a campaign which effectively rolled on from 2017/18 and the World Cup (by virtue of extreme involvement from Spurs players in the latter stages), Mauricio Pochettino’s side have finally had time to refresh, aided even more duly by three exciting transfer additions.
Now entering phase two of the Pochettino era, as well as full season No.1 in the glorious Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Spurs look ready to at least sustain conversation with City this year.
89 points
Top goal scorer- Harry Kane (25 goals)

3rd- Liverpool
Ending last campaign as Champions of Europe and the runners-up that people will remember, Liverpool’s mentality will be fascinating to assess: That is, will they proceed with the swagger that their continental title attributes them? Or will the disappointment of cashing 97 points in exchange for a runners-up medal harm their capacity to start, from scratch, another lung-busting pursuit of City?
Like Spurs last season, summer tournament participation from some key players and a lack of marquee investment is likely to hinder the potential for significant improvement.
88 points
Top goal scorer- Sadio Mané (24 goals)

4th- Arsenal
Unai Emery is a top-class manager and is without doubt the man to reshape what had become a stale regime at the Emirates Stadium.
Crucially, the defence will undoubtedly be better, bolstered by two winners in Kieran Tierney (albeit in Scottish football) and David Luiz, to assist the impressive Sokratis and stalwart Nacho Monreal.
Whilst at the top end, they look one of the Premier League’s most potent outfits, leading me to back them for a return to the Champions League, after what will have been a three-year absence.
80 points
Top goal scorer- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (27 goals)

5th- Manchester United
Like Arsenal, gapingly clear defensive deficiencies have been largely addressed. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire look like fine moves, whilst you’d firmly expect David de Gea, off the back of a restful summer (both physically and mentally, the latter in relation to some fierce Spanish national team scrutiny), to rediscover masterful form.
Going forward, United possess a satisfactory cavalry as far as goals are concerned, but there’s still question marks surrounding Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s capacities to meet the lofty demands. Whilst Paul Pogba, last season’s top marksman with thirteen, likely to stay beyond the European transfer deadline (31st August for Spain, France and Germany) will be expected to contribute again from midfield.
76 points
Top goal scorer- Marcus Rashford (18 goals)

6th- Chelsea
They’ve lost Eden Hazard, been unable to sign anybody this summer (bar Christian Pulisic’s switch, confirmed in January) and welcome into the hotseat an ultimate club legend [Frank Lampard] with just one year of management experience.
That said, Chelsea’s squad is laden with know-how, crisp with young hungry talent and the club, from staff to supporters, is bursting with positivity.
I do believe that a top-four finish is beyond them this term, particularly due to involvement in this season’s Champions League and no guaranteed beacon in the way of goals, though am convinced that Lampard will be afforded the allusive commodity of time to build on a constrained first campaign.
73 points
Top goal scorer- Olivier Giroud (14 goals)

7th- Newcastle United
Troubled, toxic… please insert your description of the summer’s atmosphere on Tyneside.
However, amid Newcastle supporters’ untenable relationship with owner Mike Ashley, footballing mourning of Rafa Benítez’ departure and underwhelmed sentiments towards Steve Bruce’s appointment, it is my honest projection that Newcastle will do very well.
Having lost Salomón Rondón, Brazilian striker Joelinton has arrived from Hoffenheim for a hefty £40m. Described by South American football expert Tim Vickery to be “good with both feet, mobile and [a player with] some physical presence about him”, I’m expecting to see an effective Toon side, steered by a reliable and organised stalwart of English football in Bruce.
Whilst alongside Bruce, there’s a strong local contingent about the place, notably in the form of future England star Sean Longstaff and the returning Andy Carroll; who, if managed correctly, will be a huge asset.
The backline is strong, there’s some class in midfield and the personnel is suitable for a productive, direct approach, utilising pace, dynamism and physical presence.
54 points
Top goal scorer- Joelinton (16 goals)

8th- West Ham United
A fledgling team entering its second campaign under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers have recruited positively, dispensed of the disruptive Marko Arnautovic and are looking increasingly comfortable at the London Stadium.
Goals will be no bother, aided by the arrivals of Sébastien Haller and Albian Ajeti, and creativity is rife in the shape of Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals and long-missed fan favourite Manuel Lanzini.
It’ll be close between them and Newcastle for 7th, though I think, despite Lukasz Fabianski and Issa Diop’s strong performances last season, that their openness will entail a sizeable goals against column.
53 points
Top goal scorer- Sébastien Haller (14 goals)

9th- AFC Bournemouth
Always a top-heavy outfit, yet one which, since promotion to the Premier League in 2015, has never become embroiled in a relegation battle, Bournemouth, having kept hold of key players in Callum Wilson and David Brooks, meanwhile strengthening late-on loaning Harry Wilson from Liverpool, should plough along with vitality (true to their stadium’s title) once again.
49 points
Top goal scorer- Callum Wilson (17 goals)

10th- Leicester City
The Foxes’ summer had been going swimmingly until star defender Harry Maguire’s switch to Old Trafford. And though £80m embodies a hugely healthy financial windfall, there’s no doubt that the side looks weaker now than it did a week ago.
Brendan Rodgers’ team is youthful, emancipated and full of promise, displaying adequate clarity of direction for the fans to give the project time.
Youri Tielemans (as exemplified in my July article Tielemans: The Ace Fox in Leicester’s Skulk) is a young footballer I love, Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury will progress and I can see Leicester enjoying a rollercoaster campaign that’ll renew optimism for the future at the King Power Stadium.
49 points
Top goal scorer- Jamie Vardy (15 goals)

11th- Everton
I anticipate what will be a damaging marginal trailing of Bournemouth and Leicester for Toffees boss Marco Silva.
Superficially, Everton’s business has been good within the transfer window just gone. However, I can still point to cavernous defensive shortcomings, aided not by the losses of Kurt Zouma in defence and Idrissa Gueye at the base of the midfield.
They certainly won’t struggle but will fall well short of the club’s coveted top-six challenge. Something the Goodison Park faithful are unlikely to accept with a smile.
48 points
Top goal scorer- Richarlison (11 goals)

12th- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Again, will not struggle, but are set to find themselves circumstantially constrained to repeat last season’s league form.
It’s easy to forget that Wolves are embarking on just their second season back in the Premier League, after a terrific 7th-place finish (securing Europa League qualification) and an (in the end heart-breaking) FA Cup semi-final.
Commendably, Nuno Espírito Santo pays upmost respect to each competition his team enters, leading me to project another FA or League Cup run and a strong showing in Europe. The latter meaning, of course, the age-old Thursday-Sunday curse.
46 points
Top goal scorer- Raúl Jiménez (14 goals)

13th- Burnley
From last year’s Europa League-qualifying overachievers to 2017/18’s, Burnley, though knocked out of Europe in late-August, began last season on the backfoot, having embarked on the first of an eventual six European ties in July and set themselves an unsurpassable final league position of 7th in May 2018.
With just three wins to their name by the final days of December, Sean Dyche succeeded in reinstalling Burnley’s renowned solidity, in the wake of Boxing Day’s crushing 5-1 home defeat at the hands of Everton.
Retaining James Tarkowski, a late transfer target of Leicester’s, was a key summer victory, whilst homegrown winger Dwight McNeil, duly creditable for 2019’s upturn in results, should shine again.
45 points
Top goal scorer- Jay Rodriguez (9 goals)

14th- Watford
A smartly run club with a smartly managed team, Watford will again renew their Premier League stay with no trouble at all.
Like Wolves, the side they dramatically dispatched to reach what was, unfortunately, a procession of an FA Cup Final against Man City, the Hornet’s have a manager in Javi Gracia who seems keen on a cup run, professing, ahead of the big day in May, that “as soon as I [he] arrived in England, I [he] felt how special The FA Cup is”. So another FA or League Cup run would not be a surprise.
Whilst squad-wise, keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucouré, a fine player, and attaining the services of Danny Welbeck (fitness pending) to supplement an already potent attack containing Gerard Deulofeu, still only 25 and someone I believe has it in him to explode Mahrez-like, bodes well for another refreshing season at Vicarage Road.
45 points
Top goal scorer- Gerard Deulofeu (13 goals)

15th- Brighton & Hove Albion
Another club with a robust sense of direction, Brighton are foundationally secure both on and off the pitch: Off it in regard to the bonny AMEX Stadium, savvy owner Tony Bloom, reputed technical director Dan Ashworth (recruited from the England setup) and nomadic head coach Graham Potter; whilst on it in relation to former boss Chris Hughton’s solid footballing implementations, notably centre-halves Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, in front of Aussie stopper Mathew Ryan.
Pascal Groß has impressed since arriving in English football, whilst Aaron Mooy, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard could be inspired acquisitions. Variables pointing towards a relatively worry-free campaign for the Seagulls.
43 points
Top goal scorer- Neal Maupay (14 goals)

16th- Aston Villa
Poked for much of the summer with comparisons to Fulham’s transfer activity a year ago, after their promotion (also, like Villa’s) via the play-offs, everybody is intrigued to see how Dean Smith’s team get on.
Having spent over £100m on no fewer than twelve players, nine of whom are untested in the Premier League, Smith leads his boyhood club back into the top-flight with an arsenal of reinforcements behind him.
As with many promotions, loan players played a massive role last term for Villa, who’ve been able to reobtain Tyrone Mings, Anwar El Ghazi and Kortney Hause. Though not Tammy Abraham or Axel Tuanzebe, who return to Chelsea and Man United respectively.
New striker Wesley is a relatively unknown quantity up top, however goals should materialise sufficiently across midfield and attack to ensure survival.
41 points
Top goal scorer- Wesley (13 goals)

17th- Crystal Palace
Presuming Wilfried Zaha does stay beyond the European transfer deadline, so much, in regard to Palace’s success this season, will depend on whether or not their talisman’s focus will be affected by a summer’s worth of uncertainty surrounding his future. And, indeed, dependent on no January transfer for the Ivorian.
Palace are often a wildcard, registering a large quantity of goals from alternative sources: namely penalties (won by Zaha, converted by Luka Milivojevic), left-back Patrick van Aanholt and ridiculously spectacular wonderstrikes (none more so than Andros Townsend’s stunning volley against Man City).
Bosses don’t come more seasoned this campaign than 72-year-old Croydon-born Roy Hodgson, whilst almost everybody in the Eagles’ squad looks capable of scoring. They’ll just have enough.
40 points
Top goal scorer- Wilfried Zaha (14 goals)

18th- Southampton
The Saints certainly got a bounce from Ralph Hasenhüttl’s appointment last December, though by no means danced to safety.
This campaign, they’ll be looking to finally extract some consistency from the ever-promising Nathan Redmond and will harbour high hopes for 22-goal Championship man Che Adams. Always an encouraging outfit on paper, Southampton have underachieved for two seasons now, leading me to fear for them should they have a rocky start.
Hasenhüttl, in spite of some positive results, was unable to wholesomely transform them into his full throttle approach, and I’m not convinced they’ve reinforced the squad enough to aid the process.
38 points
Top goal scorer- Che Adams (8 goals)

19th- Sheffield United
A similar proposition to that of Cardiff City last season, yet with slightly more about them in my view, Sheffield United have recruited sparingly and predominantly from the league they’ve recently vacated.
Managed, like Villa, by a boyhood fan [Chris Wilder], United (led from the Championship as runners-up by a Yorkshireman, again like Cardiff) will be a fascinating watch, and a side most away from the blue half of Sheffield will wish all the best.
Wilder’s 5-3-2 system is to give the Blades the greatest possible chance of survival, allowing for a firm base (commanded by returning hero Phil Jagielka, see On the Move Like Jaga: Sheff Utd re-sign Jagielka), ample width and a combination of energy and presence (respectively) up front with Callum Robinson and Oliver McBurnie.
36 points
Top goal scorer- Oliver McBurnie (7 goals)

20th- Norwich City
Harsh considering they won the Championship, but Norwich just wreak of a club setting up to yo-yo: in that, relegation followed by promotion the season after this would not shock me.
They won’t disgrace themselves, but it’s just unrealistic to envisage near enough the same squad repeating last year’s freescoring exploits. An incredible 93 league goals were bagged by the champions in 2018/19, but, this time around, even 40 will be a massive challenge.
At the other end, it was far from an unflappable Canaries defence in the title winning campaign, and I anticipate a steep learning curve of a first Premier League season for highly touted young full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis.
35 points
Top goal scorer- Teemu Pukki (9 goals)