It’s almost here! The 2021-22 Premier League season starts TODAY when Arsenal visits Brentford for a 3 pm ET / 8 pm UK kick-off. So now is the perfect time to reveal the Cartilage Free Captain table predictions for this coming season.
Each year the writers at Cartilage Free Captain put their heads together to come up with the best, most sensible, and perfect Premier League table predictions known to humankind. Actually, we don’t do any of that — we all put our predictions into a spreadsheet and let it average everything out, but don’t let that distract you from the mystique of our 100% correct predictions. A few days ago we also asked the community for your predictions on that handy dandy online poll. Over 650 of you responded, and the results are in.
Again this year, the masthead rankings and community rankings are again shockingly similar. It’s like we’re finally rubbing off on all of you after years of doing this blog. I’ll include both and then my usual Qualtrics graphics from the community rankings as a means of evaluation.
Masthead Table Predictions 2021-22
Community Table Predictions 2021-22
The title is City’s to lose.
To no one’s surprise, Manchester City is far and away the people’s choice to repeat as Premier League champions, with a staggering 68% of respondents picking them top of the table.
The only real contender: Chelsea, which became the hipster’s choice for champion, if you can consider a noxious club backed by a Russian oligarch with oil money as a plaything as “hipster.” When the only club that seems to have a reasonable chance of knocking off the City Football Group juggernaut is CHELSEA, well that just sucks. Anyway, fully half of respondents picked the Blues to come in second.
Tottenham Hotspur fans are a bit beaten down.
Usually in these polls I can reliably count on Tottenham fans ranking Spurs significantly higher than the masthead thinks is appropriate. It’s a Spurs blog, right? But this year... well, maybe it’s 18 months of Jose Mourinho inflicting psychic damage, or maybe it’s the prospect of Harry Kane yeeting himself to City, but for the first time in a while Spurs fans didn’t vote Spurs into the top four. They did however pick them in fifth, one spot higher than we, the curmudgeonly masthead.
Y’all seriously voted for all three promoted teams to go back down.
It is almost a truism in the Premier League that of the three promoted teams from the Championship, at least one will stay up for a second straight season in the top flight. In fact, the three promoted teams all being relegated has only happened three times in Premier League history, most recently in 2017-18.
So it is a bit surprising to see the Commentariat picking all of Watford, Norwich and Brentford for the drop. The Masthead, however, is higher on the Brentford Bees — we picked them 14th... not exactly comfortable, but also not relegated. Newcastle, however, we think suuuuuuuuuuuck.
Crystal Palace proved to be an enigma. Carrying an aging squad with a bunch of expiring contracts into this season, the smart money early on was to pick Palace for the drop, but they have admittedly made some smart, and young, buys. We think it’s baaaaaarely enough. Y’all clearly do.
Brighton continues to be an enigma.
Remember all the fights we had about Brighton & Hove Albion when half the fanbase was stumping for Spurs to hire Graham Potter? Remember all the arguments about underperforming xG and bad finishing? Well, looks like we’re all split just as much as we were this summer. Look at the variance of the masthead ratings — from 6th to 13th! (The variance of the commentariat isn’t as interesting because someone ALWAYS ranks every club top at least once.)
I don’t know what Brighton’s going to do this season, but whatever it is, we’re probably going to fight about it.
Let’s all have a laugh at Arsenal.
Shout-out to the 15 of you who picked the Gunners to finish 20th. You know who you are, and I salute you.