The Battle of the Six Kingdoms - A Premier League Preview 2017/18

Go on let’s have one more go at the Game of Thrones analogies as we have a ponder about what is to come, I enjoyed those and if you did...

Go on let’s have one more go at the Game of Thrones analogies as we have a ponder about what is to come, I enjoyed those and if you didn’t manage the biblical length of the A to Z of preseason bit I did you would have missed them. If you don’t know now what I am going on about, then frankly you must have been under a rock for the last seven years. Or you live in the land of Scouse, where they are permanently frozen in 1988; still wearing shell-suits, sporting tightly curled perms and cussing Maggie Thatcher.

Us: Chelsea are House Targaryen - A predilection for complete madness, no objection to annihilating all the other p*ssies on their way to the top and the rightful inhabitants of the Premier League throne)God I feel better after the fancast this week. It's amazing what a couple of hours of sodding about and talking sense will fellow fans will do. Even I was starting to get sucked in by the Press Plebs and their spunk-trumpeting clickbait. 

Top four please. And last eight in the Champions League would be a great reentry into the competition. Though his demeanour is rather like a teenager consistently denied wifi at the moment, I don't think that Antonio is exaggerating particularly when he says this will be the toughest season of his managerial career. High expectations, less than ideal, though not disastrous summer of transfer business, a squad that looks very light for four competitions. Personally I'd have no issue sacking off the two cup competitions - handing them straight to the kids and concentrating on the big two. But let's hope that by the time the window closes it hasn't come to that. If they know what is good for them, the board are scrambling to bring in the squad players he wants. The higher ups can't possibly do nothing. Right? Pissing off Antonio irreparably within a couple of months of a surprise title win that even shut Robbie Savage up for five minutes would be a ludicrous state of affairs. It'd be like me bagging Charlie Austin then packing him in because I can't be arsed. Unthinkable. Self destructive. And worthy of repeated punches in the face from someone who cares deeply about your mental state until you see the error of your ways. To paraphrase Conte himself, you can’t eat at a £100 pound a plate restaurant with a tenner in your pocket, so they have got work to do.

I think a lot of fans think it’s just a case of offering money and a deal is done. It wish it was that f*cking easy. But if the board do fail us, Dave could end up being the key to our season in the crunch games both at home and in Europe. I’d expect him to end up utilised as a wingback on one side or another in tougher games. Moses and George Michael (No, still not been to the barbers Marcos Alonso) played out of their skins last season, but if we are to go deep into European competition they will both have to kick on again. I had a few gins last night and started to wonder: if Costa's solicitor had kept his trap shut would we have got desperate enough to use him? It might have been the football equivalent of drunken make up sex that just prolongs the inevitable for a bit longer. Perhaps until Atletico were able to sign him back. Could have worked. Anyway, I've sobered up now and remembered the look of death of Antonio’s face every time a journalist asks about Diego. 

If we have offered £25m for Oxlade-Chamberlain then that sounds remarkably low. From what I hear this deal has long been more likely (pending Arsenal’s reaction to an actual bid) than most of the other names we have been linked with. He might not be Sanchez, but he’s a grafter, and one of the only one of theirs with backbone for a fight when the going gets tough, which will no doubt appeal to Conte. I sincerely hope that £37m for Drinkwater is another clickbait fabrication. If not, Emanalo is going to feel like Winston Churchill outlining his plan for the Gallipoli campaign to the rest of the Cabinet in 1915 when he asks Roman to sign that cheque. Even when you slap on the English tax he's not worth more than 20. I have no secret squirrel insight on this one, but if we were to pay any more than 25 we'd be mugs. Incidentally, I doubt Roman's impending divorce is going to have any impact at all on our spending. Firstly, his wife’s company is reliant on his cash and also, her family is minted. So she's got money. That and if Roman didn't pull out a prenup after his last ex-wife stung him for 150m he'd be a lunatic. It isn't worth even contemplating where we might finish yet. Ask me again at the beginning of September.

City: (House Lannister - After nearly a decade can’t understand why supposedly being a sh*tload richer that anyone else doesn’t translate into world domination. People might be afraid of their ruthlessness, but they also love watching them fail) Well Pep has literally no excuse and nowhere to hide as of now. If doesn't win every domestic trophy with the squad he's got he's a schmuck. So good luck baldy. But then you could have almost said that last year and as usual the criminally expensive sum of City's parts did not translate into a team effort. He’s got to start taking defending seriously. This isn’t Spain or the Bundesliga when you can waltz to a multi-goal win most weeks. I also hope over the summer City's media people have sorted out him picking his nose in interviews. And bought some powder for his head. It's like an eclipse. If you stare straight at it you go blind. They've got to be overwhelming favourites for the league. 

L'Arse(House Tyrell; up their own backsides, smug, ultimately trampled on by everyone. Yes, this makes Wenger Diana Rigg) Cut and past any preseason waffle from the last decade here. Because (happily) nothing changes. They’ve had a worse transfer window than us, in that they have strengthened less and weren’t as good beforehand. I saw a headline that claimed Lacazette (yes I have realised it was him that hit the post by now) had scored 122 goals from midfield in a season. This was in the Ligue 1 though, right? I’m pretty sure I could do that. For Arsenal to win this league, this season, they'd have to a Leicester - that is remain consistent whilst everyone else utterly fails and drops stupid points on a regular basis. Let's see how close to the usual trend they run this year:

Aug/Sep:  Promising start 
Oct/Nov:  Decline in consistency. Dropped points. Probably injuries. 
Dec/Jan/Feb: Annual implosion. Their fans, like the southern Scousers they are, will start bleating  like they don’t deserve it. Then it will be #WengerOut, homemade signs, lame  sit outs conducted by 30 fans, hours of hilarity on Arsenal TV, (blud) possibly a  plane spotted circling the Emirates towing the not very angry slogan Time to Go or  Enough is Enough. 
March/April: Champions League humiliation. Oh no, wait… lol. Scrap for fourth, more Wenger  out, lyrical waxing about the merits and stability of finishing fourth and yapping  about their illustrious history. 
May/Summer: Anguish of realising that Wenger is staying. Cue limited transfer window activity,  and then mismatching delusions that for some reason beating your head repeatedly  against a brick wall is going to have a different effect after a decade. This is the  definition of insanity, you know.

Sp*rs: (House Greyjoy - cockless, whiny, ideas above their station and of no real consequence in the grand scheme of things) If they were to win the league this season it would be a more impressive feat than the one that Antonio just achieved. And that's without factoring in the amount of fixtures - because we didn't have European football and they have got the Champions League to fail at. Again. They want to watch themselves. If they have another trophyless season (God willing, praise Buddha, insha Allah etc) then others will follow Walker's lead pretty sharpish. Apart from Harry F*cking Kane (Try saying it without an obscenity at either end, or stuck in the middle, it’s not actually possible). With his IQ, his brain will probably catch up in about 2020, and then he’ll end up signing a 48 hour a week contract with Marks & Spencer's.

The Scouse Muppets - (House Bolton - Unwashed mouthy northerners with delusions of grandeur and grim and unpalatable customs who need to be kept in their place. By extreme force if necessary) Like us, they are too hard to call at the moment. They haven't (yet) spent money where they needed to. Why aren't they chasing world class defenders with ferocity? They made complete tits of themselves over Van Dijk and then ambled off on a tangent and never came back. At the very least why weren't they in for Harry Maguire? They've bolstered a ropey defence with a squad player and let's not forget they still have two hilarious clown keepers. It's Klippity Klopp all over. Don't get me wrong, they will smash some teams, but their problems will come in the games when they get shut out by the better defenders. Because they will concede. Goal carnage and hoping you're ahead when the final whistle goes does not league winners make. If they were to suddenly pick up Van Dijk, things would be a bit more concerning from the point of view of humanity, but he didn’t have bad defenders at Dortmund and they still conceded all the time. Does he just not know what to do with them? I have visions of him sending them off to play dodgeball while the rest of the squad trains. They will also be rocked if Barcelona manage to get in and poach Coutinho. Fingers crossed. Anyway, who knows, if they don't add further reinforcements at the back by the end of the window I'd be amazed if this finally turns out to be "their year.” (Yawn)

United: (House Frey - Ensconced somewhere bleak and northern with a rambling lunatic at the helm) If Chequebook Pulis does win the league I predict that he will be unbearable. They look strong, well, like an very expensive Pulis side of meatheads, funnily enough. I’m lost with this supposition that Matic is going to "set Pogba free." Not to mention I have this rant to contribute: Why did you spend nigh on £100m on a man when you needed to spent a further £50m on another man to enable him to look remotely like a footballer and not an intruder who randomly wandered on to the pitch, and judging by the hair got run over by a lawnmower in the process? They could win the league, but it will probably be dire to watch. He won’t care. I’ll just add: Mr. “I won’t be ripped off in the transfer market” has just become the first manager to spend £1bn on transfers. Eye roll. 

What about the rest? It is a big season for Everton. They have had a massive transfer window with all the money they managed to extort out of United. Even in accepting their failure to get Willian or Cesc out of us for part exchange, (snigger) Koeman must be expecting big things. I like the look of Palace more this season than last, obviously because Fatso did the world a favour and left. I predict he’ll be back to bore the living sh*t out of us come the end of the year when someone has been fired. The Eagles shouldn’t be struggling and then scrapping for survival though. Bournemouth, have added some good players. Just never change, little black and red men. No matter the opponent they come out and play football. All hail Eddie Howe. Not so Real Pulis. I predict that during the two occasions I am required to watch West Brom I will want to stab my eyes out with anything sharp I can find in my handbag. Same with Stoke. And WatfordBurnley have added some more going forward with smart business, and they’ll at least be hard to beat at Turf Moor again. Leicester aiming for mid-table? They should be with the names they have bought in. Still don't think they will be repeating any heroics. Swansea have got to hope for better this season. West Ham have brought some good players, but I still hate them. Southampton have changed very little, but still more than Sp*rs. (lol) I think the bottom end of the league is going to be hugely competitive. Huddersfield’s captain has just quit his job four days before the start of the season. Ouch. I don’t know why, possibly because I’ve got a soft spot for the fresh cinnamony doughnuts at the end of the pier, the absurd Pavilion and its WW1 links and stabbing the f*ck out of my feet on the pebble beach, but I think Brighton will do better than them. They’ve had a couple of years to think about playing at this level, I don’t think Huddersfield thought they would be here this time last season. With Brighton it was overdue and as a club, firstly their Captain hasn’t just legged it and secondly, they are better prepared. Newcastle I refuse to talk about until they stop sitting us on the roof with a better view of the John Lewis car park roof across the way than the pitch. Gits.

So sh*t is about to get real, but lets not take life so seriously. Firstly this weekend BT sport actually entertained us for once, with the revelation that Clattenburg, the man with more bravado than anyone else in the refereeing world, sounds like a Geordie Clanger sucking on a helium balloon when he speaks. Aston Villa appear to have ceased to exist as far as the Press Plebs are concerned. I’ve not seen them referred to as anything but “John Terry” for the last fortnight. Chequebook Pulis claims he gave more to Real Madrid than any other club. More of his sanity, perhaps, as by the time he left he had perfected a blank thousand yard stare and abandoned all personal grooming. In fact, dirty, hollow on the inside, he looked very much like he’d just got back from ‘Nam, though in my head he was working as a navvy thirty miles behind the battlefield. Mind you he tidied himself right up to come back to us a few weeks later and he was still a loon. Can’t wash that crazy off. Anyway, you can only hope that PGMOL would have tattooed the word CONSISTENCY on the forehead of every official over the summer. I doubt we’ll see much of an improvement. Not until there is actually some punishment for being really, really terrible at your job. There will be the usual two week bluster from some of them about pulling in the box and then they will forget all about it again and resume normal service. One that makes Southern Trains look like winners. And lastly, you know those infuriating ad campaigns for those pikey accident recovery solicitors? The ones that send you texts about the injuries that weren't your fault that you've never had, and bombard you with a telesales campaign straight out of a Panzer Division playbook? I heard one yesterday. "My name's Michael Owen. And I know what it's like to be injured." I sh*t you not, the worlds most boring man will do anything for money. Jesus wept. And then hit his digital radio with a sledge hammer.

(For more from Alex check our her blog here and take your opportunity to grab her book of last season here!)

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