League TablesAfter going 4-1-2 on the month, you’d think I was more pleased than I currently am. But after getting out of the starting blocks so strongly with three wins, we got mired in a three game losing streak before capping the month with a much needed win. We fell just short of my expectations in Premier League play. We did manage to meet my expectations in the Europa League and the Capital One Cup, though.
Blackburn was our swing game this month. We were in the middle of a strong three game winning streak before falling on our faces. Blackburn routed us 0-2 and triggered a mid month swoon that included a tight loss to Man City. Taking home six points out of twelve is ok, but I think blowing the game against Blackburn was more painful than the narrow loss to City. Going into the new year we find ourselves in 8th place, down to spots from last month. We’re two points behind 7th place Swansea and a ticket to the Europa qualifying round with FIVE games in hand. Our Champions League dreams took a step back of sorts as we’re now 8 points behind 4th place Chelsea but have four games in hand.
Well, we certainly finished the drill in our group. What started as an upset result or two culminated in an unbeaten run and a first place finish in group play. We ended with a 4-2-0 record and a +7 goal differential. I’m not sure what I’m more impressed with – the fact that we allowed almost half as many goals as the next best team, or the fact that we scored the most goals (albeit by one goal) in the group! Our opponents in the first Knockout Round will be Napoli and we will travel for the first leg.
We treaded water a bit in December and I hope to start the new year strong. In January we have a whopping NINE games scheduled –Arsenal (1), Newcastle (11), Burnley (Capital One Cup), Sunderland (FA Cup), Newcastle (11), Derby (15), Burnley (Capital One Cup), Reading (17), and Norwich (5). I want to try and win 4 of 6 league games and secure at least 13 out of a possible 18 points in a month that will go a long way towards determining our final ranking. We have almost two months off from the Europa League before we travel to Napoli for the first leg of our matchup. We got real lucky by drawing Burnley in the semifinals of the Capital One Cup. We should be favorites to advance to the finals where we will face off against either Chelsea or Newcastle. And lastly, the FA Cup kicks off and our first opponent is Sunderland, currently in 5th place in the Championship. We shouldn’t have a problem advancing.
Premier League Table
Europa League Table
With the January transfer window open I don’t anticipate signing any new faces. Surprisingly, our weakest rated area (17CA assistant) is… Central defense? Neither of my starters carries even a 3 star CA rating, and only Rocco Sbravati has a PA rating of 3 or better. Our league goal differential is solid compared to the other teams outside of the top three so I’m not rushing to tweak anything here. We have budding star Francis Jose (2 CA, 4.5 PA) playing on the reserve team, and we do have a bid in for another 4.5 PA central defender prospect.
No new faces this month.