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Looking Back: Staff Predictions 2019-20

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Last summer our staff peered into their crystal balls for predictions about the upcoming season. Now let’s look back through the retrospectoscope to see how well we read the tea leaves.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League
Jamie Vardy won the 2020 EPL Golden Boot, and none of us at NMA saw it coming!
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Every pre-season the NMA staff publishes an article detailing each member’s predictions for the upcoming season. We also publish an article looking back at the previous year’s guesses. While the forward-looking article is fun, the rearward-looking article is often funny.

We’ll publish our predictions for the upcoming season soon, but for now let’s have a look at how well our staff anticipated the 2019-20 season.

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We’ll begin with our guesses at the EPL’s top four finishers:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Top Four

 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall Actual
 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall Actual
Champion MCI MCI MCI LIV MCI LIV
Second LIV LIV LIV MCI LIV MCI
Third TOT TOT TOT MUN TOT MUN
Fourth ARS ARS (CHE) MUN CHE MUN CHE

All but one of us picked Manchester City to finish first, failing to anticipate Liverpool’s historic campaign that saw them finish 18 points ahead of the Citizens. Only Jeff picked the Reds to hoist the league trophy this season. In fact, our editor correctly predicted the entire top four — in order.

The rest of us overestimated Tottenham, and a late flurry of transfers caused me to change my mind and join Chris in backing Arsenal to finish fourth (but too late for the original article’s table to be updated with my new pick).

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Next up: our picks for the clubs who would be relegated.

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Relegated Clubs

 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall Actual
 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall Actual
18th NEW NEW NEW AVL NOR BOU
19th BRI NOR NOR BRI AVL WAT
20th AVL SHU SHU NOR NEW NOR

Four of us correctly predicted that Norwich would go one-and-done this season, but beyond that, no one was able to guess even two out of the three teams that would ultimately go down. Chris struck out altogether, and Darryl and I named Sheffield United, who actually ended up finishing in the Top Ten. Oops.

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We didn’t fare well with our predictions for the Golden Boot winner either:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Golden Boot

 Predicted Actual
 Predicted Actual
Chris Kane Vardy
David Brian Kane Vardy
Darryl Kane Vardy
Jeff Origi Vardy
Stall Kane Vardy

Jamie Vardy won the Golden Boot, his 23 goals just shading the 22 scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Ings. Raheem Sterling finished on 20, and Liverpool’s Egyptian hitman Mohamed Salah netted 19.

Not only did none of the NMA staff pick the winner, but none of our picks even finished in the top five. Four of us guessed Harry Kane, whose injury-marred season limited him to 30 games and 18 goals, and Jeff picked Divock Origi, who finished with just four.

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The next category was Most Assists, and we did much better here:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Most Assists

 Predicted Actual
 Predicted Actual
Chris De Bruyne De Bruyne
David Brian De Bruyne De Bruyne
Darryl De Bruyne De Bruyne
Jeff Sigurdsson De Bruyne
Stall De Bruyne De Bruyne

Four of us picked Kevin de Bruyne to win this category, and he did. The Belgian rebounded from the previous season’s injury woes to record his 20th assist of the 2019-20 campaign on Survival Sunday, tying the record set by Thierry Henry in 2002-3.

No other player was even close. Liverpool’s dynamic duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson took silver and bronze respectively, with the former posting 13 helpers and the latter 12. Jeff’s pick, Gylfi Sigurdsson, finished with three.

(As an aside, doesn’t it seem like ages have passed since Mesut Ozil set the record for the second-most assists in EPL history? Well, it was only four years ago, when he notched 19. It’s amazing how far Arsenal’s former star has fallen.)

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Although we were lousy at predicting the Golden Boot, we did pretty well guessing the Golden Glove winner:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Golden Glove

 Predicted Actual
 Predicted Actual
Chris Alisson Ederson
David Brian Ederson Ederson
Darryl Alisson Ederson
Jeff Alisson Ederson
Stall Ederson Ederson

All five staff members logically chose the starting goalkeeper from one of the EPL’s two best defenses over the most recent seasons. And again this year, Manchester City was first for clean sheets, and Liverpool joint-second.

But Alisson suffered a calf injury in the season’s opening match and missed the next seven games. effectively scuppering his chances of finishing with the Golden Glove. Meanwhile Ederson sat out only one of City’s clean sheets, finishing with 16 shutouts and the Golden Glove. It was Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson who ended in second place, with 15 clean sheets. Alisson, (along with David De Gea, Rui Patricio, and Kasper Schmeichel) had to settle for third place with thirteen.

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The PFA has postponed the announcement of their Player of the Year award. Kevin De Bruyne is the odds-on favorite to win, but some also tip Jordan Henderson, who won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.

Staff Predictions 2019-20: PFA Player of the Year

 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall
 Chris David Brian Darryl Jeff Stall
Predicted Salah KDB Sterling Robertson Kane
Actual pending pending pending pending pending

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Next was Most FPL Points:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Most FPL Points

 Predicted Actual
 Predicted Actual
Chris Salah De Bruyne
David Brian Salah De Bruyne
Darryl Salah De Bruyne
Jeff Salah De Bruyne
Stall Salah De Bruyne

Here the staff were unanimous: All five of us thought Liverpool’s Egyptian magician would finish the season with more FPL points than any other player. Well, we were almost right — he finished the season with more FPL points than any player except one.

That man, KDB, closed out his 2019-20 FPL account with 257 points in the bank, eleven more than Salah. Salah’s teammate Sadio Mané was third with 221, while TAA (a defender!) was tied with Jamie Vardy for fourth, both on 210 points.

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Although we were of one mind with our choice for Most FPL Points, our thoughts diverged when it came to guessing best performer in Fantrax:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Most Fantrax Points

 Predicted Actual
 Predicted Actual
Chris Salah De Bruyne
David Brian Salah De Bruyne
Darryl Salah De Bruyne
Jeff Origi De Bruyne
Stall Kane De Bruyne

None of us got our prediction for Most Fantrax Points right. KDB reigned supreme here as well, racking up 454 points to Salah’s second-best 417. TAA was just one point behind the Egyptian, with PEA fourth on 397. Stall’s pick, Kane, finished on 158, and Jeff’s choice, Origi, totaled 65.

Highlighting the differences in the scoring systems between FPL and Fantrax, Jamie Vardy was not among the top Fantrax points scorers, but Jack Grealish finished fifth in this format.

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Next was Surprise Player:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Surprise Player

 Predicted
 Predicted
Chris Henderson
David Brian Buendia
Darryl Moise Kean
Jeff Origi
Stall Trossard

Once again Jeff was sanguine on Origi, but the Belgian was never able to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp’s favored eleven despite the previous season’s late heroics and some preseason appearances that hinted he might. He started only six league games, scored only four league goals, and was mostly a bit player in Liverpool’s historic title campaign. He’s lately been linked to a move to Aston Villa, where a role as a regular starter might allow him to better display his talents.

Moise Kean was another staff pick who failed to claim a starting position in his club’s lineup, the emergence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a legit Premier League talent relegating the Italian to a support role. In exchange for a £27M transfer fee, Kean treated Everton to just 2 goals and 2 assists. Still, the player is only 20 years old, so good things may yet be in store for him.

Although Emiliano Buendia was a core member of Daniel Farke’s S11, he only finished with one goal and seven assists — certainly not enough to qualify him for 2019-20’s “Surprise Player.” Still, he was one of the most creative members of Daniel Farke’s team. It would not be a shock to see Buendia playing in the Prem again this season despite the fact that his current club has gone down.

Similarly, EPL fans got to know Leandro Trossard’s name this season. The Belgian put up 5 goals and 3 assists in his inaugural campaign, his goal involvement crucial to low-scoring Brighton’s survival. He’s on our radar now and we’ll be following him closely.

But the winner among us in this category is clear. Given Henderson’s runner-up position for the Golden Glove and his massive contribution to Sheffield United’s run at Europe and top-half finish, I’ve got to give top honors in this category to Chris.

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We close with our guesses at the player who would fall furthest short of expectations:

Staff Predictions 2019-20: Most Disappointing Player

 Predicted
 Predicted
Chris Mané
David Brian Joelinton
Darryl Joelinton
Jeff Rodri
Stall J. King

Whether Sadio Mané was a disappointment depends on how high your expectations were for him. While he didn’t reach the heights he achieved in the 2018-19 campaign, when he claimed a share of the Golden Boot, he still scored 18 goals and chipped in with 7 helpers. He also had a tendency to switch on when Salah went cold — a fact that played a huge role in Liverpool’s ability to notch win after win after win.

Last summer, Manchester City purchased Rodrigo for a club-record £63M transfer fee, surpassing the sum they paid for Riyad Mahrez the year prior. While the defensive midfielder was not as dominant as, say, a Leicester-era N’Golo Kanté, he did shield City’s back line well enough to help them rack up the most clean sheets in the league. And crucially, during Aymeric Laporte’s long injury absence, Rodri’s steady play at CDM allowed Pep Guardiola to shift Fernandinho into the center of defense to fill in for the Frenchman.

Josh King missed 12 of the Cherries’ 38 league games and ended the season with the joint-worst goal tally of his five seasons in a Bournemouth shirt. His six goals and four assists were not enough to save his club from relegation. Stall was not far from the mark with this pick.

My initial choice for most disappointing player was Lukaku, but Manchester United sold him to Inter Milan just as the Staff Predictions article was published. (He went on to score 23 goals in Serie A this season, so I doubt he’d get Antonio Conte’s vote for “Most Disappointing”). I therefore amended my choice to Joelinton, who was also Darryl’s pick. We chose well; it’s indisputable that the Brazilian was a flop. The £40M that Newcastle paid for him translates to £20M for each of his goals this season.

However, none of us predicted the player who was probably the biggest bust of the season: Tanguy Ndombele. When Spurs paid £70M for him last summer, they thought they were buying a world-class midfielder who would help elevate the club to the next level. Instead you could make an argument that he was the worst 2019 signing in all of Europe.

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Only one of our readers was brave enough to share his predictions, and not surprisingly, that was the one-and-only Ken M. Below are his picks:

  • Champs: Liverpool
  • Second Place: Manchester City
  • Third Place: Arsenal
  • Fourth Place: Leicester City
  • Golden Boot: Aubameyang
  • Assist Leader: KDB
  • Most CS: Alisson
  • PFA Player of the season: Salah
  • Most Points (Official) TAA
  • Most Points (Fantrax) Aubameyang
  • Surprise Player: Che Adams
  • Disappointing Player: Aguero
  • 18th Place: Sheffield
  • 19th Place: Norwich
  • 20th Place: Newcastle

Let him know how you think he did in the Comments!

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JOIN THE NMA MINI-LEAGUES

You will want to have some fun competing in our wonderful leagues of bloggers and community members. Here’s how:

FPL

The Never Manage Alone “BTB” (“Beat the Bloggers”) FPL league has been automatically renewed, so if you were a member last season, there should be no need for you to do anything (except buying your initial roster of course).

If you are new to the league, first set up your account and pick a squad. You can do so by visiting the Official FPL site and registering. Then you can join by clicking on “Leagues” and then “Private Leagues.”

League Name: Never Manage Alone “BTB”

League Code: btojt9

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Fantrax

NMA-17 Fantrax League

NMA-17 allows you to expand your roster to as many as 17 players. Each week, the performances of your best 3 forwards, best 4 middies, best 3 defenders and best keeper will add to your cumulative season earnings.

Join Fantrax EPL’s NMA-17

NMA-11 Fantrax League

NMA-11 limits you to exactly 11 players, no subs. However, you may choose from a range of allowed formations.

Join Fantrax EPL’s NMA-11

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The PFA Player of the Year hasn’t been settled yet. Take the poll below to vote for the player who you think should win that award, and in the Comments, tell us which players you thought were the Biggest Surprise and Most Disappointing of 2019-20. And be on the lookout for our Staff Predictions: 2020-21 article, which will post soon!

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Poll

PFA Player of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Kevin De Bruyne
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    Jordan Henderson
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Mo Salah
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Raheem Sterling
    (1 vote)
  • 14%
    Trent Alexander-Arnold
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    Sadio Mané
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Virgil van Dijk
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Other (specify in Comments)
    (1 vote)
28 votes total Vote Now

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