This is starting, just a little, to liven up. With the final European seasons on the horizon, I now have four confirmed teams to follows, though as of yet only two have actually kicked a competitive league ball. Here’s who the odds have chosen as my sides for the season (see here), and how Fulham and FC Metz did last weekend…
Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 0-3 v Arsenal at home (league game one)
Day one, and Fulham, who the fairly ungenerous bookies had at evens to go down on the opening day of the season, get hammered at home by Arsenal. To be fair, the way the Premier League is at this stage, getting any points at all from the top few clubs when you’re hanging at the bottom is a bonus (hell, Villa got nothing worth mentioning out of the top half until the final few games last year, and still stayed up).
Fulham will clearly be better up-front with the return of Mitrovic, who made a brief late appearance here. He’s a bit of a battering ram but a damn effective one who I expect to finish the season with a good 15 goals. Worryingly, it’s the defence that looks shaky at the moment; the first two goals were scrambly type efforts that Arsenal got the better and suggest this Fulham team might not be quite scrappy enough – Arsenal aren’t exactly known for their fight (the third from Aubangayang was quality). It’s early days, but it could be a long, long season for Fulham, and there’s little to inspire here.
Ligue 1: FC Metz (1/6 to go down) 0-1 v Lille away.
I’m warming to FC Metz. For a team that are such strong favourites to be relegated, they might have lost their opening two, but they’re really holding their own. This time, they hit the crossbar, missed an absolute sitter from a few yards out, and then conceded an 88th-minute winner to Lille that the goalkeeper really should have saved, but just kind of palmed into his own net.
I guess the question for a team that keeps doing things like this – they create chances up-front but are incompetent at finishing them – is can they grow into things. It’s too early to say, but despite opening with two defeats, I’m not sure the bookies have been entirely fair on this one. They do, after all, sit above huge favourites PSG, who they play next. Fingers crossed!
Serie A – Spezia Calcio(1/4 to go down)
The Serie A season has kicked off, so I can now confirm Spezia – the same odds as Crotone with most bookies, but slightly longer with a few – will be my team this year.
The club were promoted via the Serie B play offs after ‘victory’ (it was a 1-1 draw over two legs, but Spezia won by virtue of finishing higher in the table) against Frosinone less than a month ago. The club have existed for over a century, but are far from a glamour club, with no household names and hailing from a city of 100,000 or so on the North West coast of Italy. Serie B has been a relatively rarity in their history, and teh club went bankrupt totally in the mid 00s. They’re going to have a hard time against the likes of Juventus and AC Milan…
La Liga – Elche (8/15 to go down)
La Liga is another division that has kicked off without all its members playing on week one, and those not playing included relegation favourites Elche. The club from Spain’s sunny south east were promoted after one of the most memorable play off winning goals in recent memory, a 96th minute winner from Pete Milla away at Girona, after the two teams had played 180 minutes of promotion-deciding football without either scoring. In the last five years, the club have been as low as the third tier before bouncing back to the top. They’ll play with a small, mainly Spanish squad captained by 40-year-old Nino that does look likely to struggle.
Bundesliga – Current favourites to go down (and therefore to be my club for the season) are Arminia Bielefeld, but this won’t be confirmed until the league season kicks off in a few days. I won’t stick their logo up just yet, as it’s to be confirmed.
The stats (across my five teams)
Played 3 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 3
Goals for 0 Goals against 5
Average score 0 – 1.666