It’s fair to say that 2018 has been a bit of a surprising year in football. From the first ever Superclasico at an international final to Manchester City’s “Centurions” side and Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal, there have been many amazing moments that have helped shape 2018 to be an outstanding year in football. As incredible as each of these moments were, I don’t think many people could have predicted any of these events when 2018 had originally started. The following takes a look at five things that I predict will happen in English football, next year.
5) England features in at least two finals
Before you stop reading this post, exit this page and proceed to call me crazy, I feel like I need to mention that this is the most outlandish and bizarre prediction that I have for English football in 2019.
Apart from the obvious Europa League and Champions League finals that will take place in May and June, respectively, there are two other notable finals that will be contested in 2019 – the first ever UEFA Nations League final and also the 2019 Women’s World Cup. While some will obviously call me biased and/or foolish, I would say that England actually does have a good chance of being represented in at least two finals.
First and foremost, London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea are deservedly the current favourites to win the Europa League. Apart from the threat posed by Italian sides Napoli and Inter, I think there’s a big gap in quality between this quartet and the other teams in the competition so there’s a strong chance that at least one of the London clubs will make it to the final. Also, while an English side in the Champions League final seems unlikely, Liverpool proved last season that with just a bit of luck, anything is possible. If either Liverpool or Manchester City strengthens heavily again in the winter transfer window, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them reach the semi-finals of the competition at a minimum.
In regards to the international tournaments that will be contested next year, England are only a win away from reaching the final of the Nations League. I know it’s a cliche statement, but anything can happen in a single football game, next year could be the year England actually reaches an international final. Also, regarding the 2019 Women’s World Cup, it’s fair to say that England will be desperate to go one step further than the side that reached 3rd in 2015. Despite the fact that they’ll be without important midfielder, Jordan Nobbs, for the tournament, there’s still enough quality in Phil Neville’s side to repeat the success story from 2015.
4) Carl Jenkinson becomes the “sole survivor“.
Now this one’s just for a bit of a laugh.
In 2014, Arsenal finally ended their nine-year wait for a trophy after they beat Hull City 3-2 in the FA Cup final. Goals from Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, and Aaron Ramsey secured the silverware for the club. Going into 2019, only five Arsenal players remain at the club that won a winners medal back in 2014: Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, and Carl Jenkinson.
Taking into consideration the current transfer rumours and contract situations at Arsenal, I wouldn’t be surprised if the club sold Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny within the next nine months. Also, given their contract situations, I’d imagine that both Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal will leave the club in the summer when their deals expire.
With Carl Jenkinson’s contract expiring the following year, and his high wage preventing smaller clubs from signing him, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the right-back become the sole-survivor from that infamous 2014 FA Cup-winning squad.
3) Petr Cech announces his retirement
With just over six months remaining on his contract and no sign of an extension or transfer away insight, 2019 could be the final year that goalkeeper Petr Cech plays football.
At 36 years of age, Cech has done it all in English football. The goalkeeper has won numerous trophies during his prestigious career including the Premier League title on four occasions, the FA Cup; also on four occasions, and most importantly the Champions League. In terms of individual awards, the Czech-goalkeeper has seen his name feature in numerous team of the season and team of the year lists and other goalkeeper-related accolades.
While his career at Arsenal has been rather underwhelming, there’s no denying the fact that the goalkeeper is both a Premier League and Chelsea legend. At 36-years-old, there’s not exactly much else that the goalkeeper can achieve in his career. Taking into consideration the fact that Petr Cech joined Arsenal due to his desperation to remain in London, it seems pretty certain that the goalkeeper will want to remain in England’s capital for the foreseeable future.
With his contract nearing its expiration, I’d be very surprised if any London club would even be interested in signing the then-37-year-old. Also, I doubt the Czech-goalkeeper would want to be a backup player for at least another twelve months. Assuming he doesn’t receive a rewarding offer from a London club, I think the goalkeeper would choose to hang up his clubs – and maybe even rejoin his beloved Chelsea in a background role.
2) Manchester United will go all out in the next nine months
This one seems a bit obvious considering the fact that it’s Manchester United, but I think the next nine months will essentially be very expensive for the Red Devils. Following on from the departure of Jose Mourinho as well as the club’s decision to appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjær as their caretaker manager until the summer, I think the club already has their preferred candidate in mind.
Unsurprisingly, it seems like Manchester United will do whatever it takes to lure Mauricio Pochettino to the club from Tottenham, which on its own will cost a reported £40 million. Given the financial struggles that Tottenham are facing, I’d be very surprised if the Argentinian remained loyal to the club considering the lengths the Red Devils will likely go to, to secure his signature.
Assuming Pochettino is the man that Manchester United wants, I can see the club offering the 46-year-old an abundance of perks from a complete say in who should be sold (which Mourinho reportedly lost in his last year in charge), a significant pay rise, and most importantly an initial transfer budget of at least £200 million.
I’d be very surprised if Manchester United kept their position in the Champions League for next season and following on from the chaos during Jose Mourinho’s tenure, it’s going to take quite a bit of time and money before they’re challenging for the Premier League title once again.
1) Liverpool will win in the Premier League
Due to Liverpool and Manchester City’s recent Premier League results, I’ve had to completely rewrite this section and now this prediction doesn’t even seem that random or extreme. Anyways, my most confident prediction heading into 2019 is that Liverpool will finally lift the Premier League title, their first league title in 29 years.
While it’s easy to laugh at Liverpool for their failure to win a trophy in recent years, the work that Jurgen Klopp has done to completely transform this team deserves a lot more praise than he has actually received. The Red’s back-five is arguably the best in the league, their midfield is very solid, and their attack is outstanding too. The current Liverpool team is quite obviously the best its been in at least the last decade. If Liverpool fails to win at least one trophy, this season, serious questions need to be asked.
While many will be quick to mention that their financial situation has helped their recent surge, you need to take a look at the bigger picture that has helped them reach this position.
Firstly, the fact that they somehow convinced Barcelona to sign Phillipe Coutinho for a whopping £104 million, which will potentially rise to £140 million through add-ons, was a marvellous piece of business from the Reds. Personally, I don’t think the Brazillian was even a top-five player in the league prior to his departure and wasn’t worth close to what was paid.
Due to incredible business like this, as well as generating more than £160 million by selling players like Raheem Sterling, Mamadou Sakho, and Jordon Ibe, to name a few, the Reds put themselves into a position where they changed their transfer policy. Rather than go crazy with spending like they did following Luis Suarez’s transfer to Barcelona, Liverpool completely changed their attitude towards transfers which has now helped them become the team they are today.
Their transfer policy of signing top young players (26 and younger) with high ceilings has benefitted them in the long-term because now many players have reached the top of their game, or are close to doing so. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson, and Andrew Robertson, have all been incredible this season and are some of the best players in their respective positions.
Liverpool arguably has the best team in the country and are exceeding everyone’s expectations so far. While Manchester City could turn things around, my final prediction for this list is that Jurgen Klopp’s men will finally lift a trophy this season, and it will be the Premier League title.