Tag: Arsenal

Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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The Icons.com 2017-18 Season Predictions

So, here we are again. When Leicester City travel to Arsenal on Friday night to open the 2017-18 Premier League season, it’ll be the first of 380 league matches that stretch over ten months and determine the fates of twenty topflight clubs. Win roughly 25 of your 38 matches and you’ll be in with a shout of the title; avoid losing more than 20 times and you should, in theory, stay up. It’s as simple as that, right?

Well, not quite. This is, after all, one of the most unforgiving leagues in all of world football. It’s a division in which the title defence of the two previous champions ended in finishes of 10th and 12th respectively. Where a team with five UEFA Champions League winners amongst its ranks could only muster a measly 13th place in 2016-17. And where a side who finished some 32 points shy of last season’s champions have spent nearly £100million on new recruits over the summer.

This is indeed a brutal league. But that’s exactly why it attracts the biggest audiences, a number of the biggest stars and most certainly the biggest names in management. For the likes of Mourinho, Conte, Pochettino, Klopp, Wenger and Guardiola, this weekend’s action offers the potential first step towards the ultimate glory. But to whom the trophy will go is anyone’s guess.

Giving it our best shot, we, the staff and partners of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the big kick-off. But don’t just take our word, get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions for the season ahead. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

It’s make or break time for Pep Guardiola in Manchester

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Liverpool (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion
Overachievers: Everton – The Toffees have spent big but have invested well this summer. Wayne Rooney‘s return brings valuable experience to a dressing room packed with new and exciting faces.
Underachievers: Arsenal – Last year I predicted that because the Gunners had spent nothing they would falter. This year, despite the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette, the same problems will persist. Wenger should have left years ago.
Golden Boot: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Ederson (Manchester City) – The Brazilian youngster is an improvement on former keepers at the Etihad.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winners: AC Milan

Random prediction: Lionel Messi will become only the fifth player ever to have won five Pichichi trophies after he finishes the season as La Liga’s top scorer.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: West Ham United – The Hammers have finally bought a striker with bags of Premier League experience.
Underachievers: Southampton – After years of gradual progress, decline will finally set in at St Mary’s.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – I always go for Liverpool‘s big money signing…

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winners: Liverpool. Come on, we can all dream!
UEFA Europa League winners: Manchester United will retain the trophy after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages.

Random prediction: Barcelona will improve despite the departure of Neymar Jr. They’ll wrestle the Spanish title back from Real Madrid.

Wayne Rooney has returned to Everton – could his experience bring success to Goodison?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Chelsea – A paper thin squad coupled with the return of UEFA Champions League football should make life tough for the Blues but Eden Hazard will keep them winning.
Underachievers: Manchester City‘s backline – Pep’s back four will improve on last season but they’ll still leak plenty of goals.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian will make a big difference for United but if Liverpool can sign a central defender the title is in the bag.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: Paris Saint-Germain – Neymar Jr will take the Parisians that one step further they need this year.
UEFA Europa League winners: Villarreal – Though Arsenal will surely walk it if only they try.

Random predictions: Dele Alli‘s rise to superstardom continues, earning him a big money move at the end of the season for, let’s say, £200million. From March onwards, a number of players will feign and/or elongate injuries in order to be fresh for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. One of Nathan Redmond or Tom Davies sneaks onto England‘s plane for Russia.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Chelsea (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City
Overachievers: Newcastle United – The Rafa Revolution rolls on. In fact, he even manages to take a handful of points from former employers Liverpool and Chelsea.
Underachievers: Stoke City – Mark Hughes wins the sack race feeling the absence of the brilliant Marko Arnautovic. The rest of the bottom half chews them up and spits them out.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – Manchester City fans will thank their lucky stars for that buy-back clause as the exciting young forward links up with Jamie Vardy to devastating effect.

FA Cup winners: West Ham United – Slaven Bilic’s side overcome Championship opposition in the Final.
League Cup winners: Cambridge Unit- ah, no, we’re out already. Okay, let’s go with Manchester City.

UEFA Champions League winners: Real Madrid – No-one thought back-to-back titles could be done. Why can’t they make it three-in-a-row with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the top of their game?
UEFA Europa League winners: Lyon – The French side weren’t too far off last season and this year the Final takes place in their own back yard.

Random prediction: A goalkeeper will get on the scoresheet at some stage this season. Liverpool sacrifice the topflight for a deep run in the UEFA Champions League as they reach the semi-finals. Cambridge United win automatic promotion from League Two.

Icons favourite Dele Alli: world football’s next £200million player?

Joe Turnbull, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Stoke City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa Benitez is experienced at Premier League level. I wouldn’t bet against him taking the Toon into the top ten.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Friction between Antonio Conte and the board will be their downfall. New boy Alvaro Morata won’t click and injuries will deplete their squad, leaving the Stamford Bridge side languishing in sixth.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) – Though he cost a lot of money, the Belgian brings guaranteed goals. Lukaku is a fantastic player who will step up to the plate and may even give Jose a long run in the UEFA Champions League.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan – After the summer the Rossoneri have had, it’s difficult to see past them. The English clubs will represent themselves well.

Random prediction: Neymar Jr carries Paris Saint-Germain all the way to the Final but they come up just short to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Matt Sheppard, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Chelsea
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa will finally get to show exactly why he decided to stick by the Toon Army following their relegation the season before last.
Underachievers: West Ham United – There’s lots of hype around the Hammers’ big-name signings but most of them will prove well past their sell-by date.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – The Portuguese international will form a partnership with Kevin de Bruyne that turns into quite something.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Manchester City

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan

Random prediction: Pep Guardiola will resign at the end of the season, following a failure to land the league or UEFA Champions League. Nathaniel Chalobah will be on that plane to Russia next year.

Italian giants AC Milan are well fancied for UEFA Europa League glory

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winners: Arsenal
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Manchester City (3rd), Liverpool (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Arsenal – Without the distraction of trying (and repeatedly hopelessly failing) to win the UEFA Champions League, the Gunners focus on domestic matters. Momentum stays with the team early in 2018 when they would usually falter.
Underachievers: Manchester United – Mourinho has made a number of big money signings but The Special One will be unable to get the team to gel. Without a trophy, Jose gets grumpier by the day.
Golden Boot: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Signing of the season: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) – In a time when we have £200million players, Wenger still finds a bargain in this free transfer.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Villarreal

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will call it a day having finally won the league, bowing out on a high. (I’m going to keep predicting this each year until it’s true!)

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Watford
Overachievers: Huddersfield Town – The Terriers do what many believe to be impossible: they avoid relegation.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Morata for Diego Costa is a mistake while Eden Hazard will be sorely missed during the opening weeks of the season. Liverpool will also struggle under the weight of their busy schedule.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) share the honour.
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian is the missing link in Jose’s midfield. Tottenham‘s first signing of the season will be a close second – whoever it may be!

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Surprisingly, a side outside the top six!

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AS Monaco

Random prediction: Alexis Sanchez will stay at the Emirates but will have a disappointing season. No-one in the Manchester United squad will be banned for more games than Jose Mourinho himself.

Is this the year Arsene Wenger finally wins back the Premier League title?

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, West Bromwich Albion
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Frank de Boer guides the Eagles to a nice finish alongside the big boys.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – The Wembley hoodoo comes for Spurs again.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United) – The Mexican is an absolute steal for what he’ll do on the pitch and pure highway robbery for what he’ll do for the club in the North American market.

FA Cup winners: Manchester City
League Cup winners: Everton

UEFA Champions League winner: Chelsea
UEFA Europa League winner: Celtic

Random prediction: My prediction that Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic would move to the Premier League didn’t come true in 2016-17 but he will crush it in Germany this season, becoming one of the darlings of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That move to England will be a superstar signing come the summer of 2018.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



Icons Staff Make Their 2016-17 Premier League Predictions

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

Such is the nature of Leicester City’s 5,000/1 title triumph last season that it would seem ridiculous to suggest we’re at the starting blocks of the most unpredictable season ever. And yet, with the addition of even more superstars to the most competitive major league in Europe, there are sure to be a whole host of twists and turns over the course of the next ten months.

So, with managerial heavyweights Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola going toe-to-toe in Manchester, just down the road from a Liverpool team beginning to fit Jurgen Klopp’s mould, while Antonio Conte adapts to life in London beside Premier League veteran Arsene Wenger and exciting young boss Mauricio Pochettino, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Trying to make sense of it all ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off, the staff and partners of Icons.com have given their answers to the biggest questions. But we’d like to hear from you on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages: don’t be shy, give us your predictions for the season ahead and check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League icons past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea
Relegated: Bournemouth, Burnley, Hull City
Underachievers: Arsenal – The Gunners have spent nothing this summer; manager Arsene Wenger should have gone two seasons ago.
Signing of the season: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Mane is an honest and hard worker, he’s just the player Jurgen Klopp’s side need right now.

FA Cup winner: Tottenham Hotspur
League Cup winner: Manchester United

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Juventus

Random prediction: This will be Arsene Wenger’s last season at ArsenalPep Guardiola will be key to Manchester City‘s success.

Dan Jamieson, CEO and Managing Director

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Watford, Sunderland
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Alan Pardew produces good attacking teams and if they were to get him, Christian Benteke could be the difference.
Underachievers: Arsenal – This is is the year when Arsene Wenger’s transfer philosophy is exposed as fundamentally flawed.
Signing of the season: Loris Karius (Liverpool) – The goalkeeper may be injured now but he will be a star by the end of the season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – I liked him before he moved to Dortmund and he should suit Manchester United’s UEFA Europa League endeavours.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona will get back on top.
UEFA Europa League winner: Sevilla would seem an obvious choice.

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will not sign a new contract. Manchester United will suffer from squad shuffling and rotation issues as they try to find the right combinations. Pep Guardiola will complain about English football’s congested fixture list within months.

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Sergio Aguero remains one of the Premier League’s most fearsome strikers, can he lead Man City to the title?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityManchester UnitedChelseaArsenal
Relegated: Hull City, Burnley, Swansea City
Overachievers: Arsenal – The Gunners have spent nothing again and will no doubt have 10+ injuries and yet somehow they’ll still manage to finish among the biggest spenders on the globe.
Underachievers: Manchester United – All that money… what a waste of all that money…
Signing of the season: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – The attacking midfielder was expensive but will be key to Liverpool’s pacy frontline. Nathan Redmond will be useful at Southampton.

FA Cup winner: Liverpool
League Cup winner: Chelsea

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: Manchester Uni- no, not really! Juventus or Benfica.

Random prediction: I’ll be laughed at for my prediction about Sadio Mane. Despite all the summer spending by Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne will remain key to their success. 

Margaret Plunkett, Head of Customer Service

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester UnitedArsenal, Manchester CityChelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Southampton, Burnley
Overachievers: Arsenal – My beloved Gunners will remain in the top four despite not spending umpteen millions on new players.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs have an excellent manager but his players will let him down again this season.
Signing of the season: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: Atletico Madrid

Random prediction: Sam Allardyce will bring success to England at last.

Wayne Rooney Testimonial: Manchester United v Everton

Can Jose Mourinho bring Manchester United back into title contention with an expensively assembled new-look side?

Alistair Hunter, Editorial Assistant

Premier League winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester CityManchester UnitedChelseaTottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Hull City, Swansea City, Watford
Overachievers: Middlesbrough – If only Aitor Karanka can glue the pieces together, there’s genuine talent on Teesside in Marten de Roon, Viktor Fischer and Alvaro Negredo.
Underachievers: Leicester City – The fearless Foxes won’t be as lucky with injuries again this season. Regardless, the Premier League has an inexhaustible love of seeing successful teams fail. The bottom half beckons for Claudio Ranieri’s miracle men.
Signing of the season: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) – He’s getting on a bit, yes, but the Premier League will suit this brash, physical phenomenon. That secret yoga routine has kept him nimble.

FA Cup winner: Manchester City
League Cup winner: Cambridge United – At the time of writing, the U’s have just dumped out Championship side Sheffield Wednesday to reach Round Two. Wembley calls…

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona – There’s no way you keep Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez quiet two years in a row.
UEFA Europa League winner: PSV Eindhoven – The Dutch side finish third in their UEFA Champions League group then battle to victory in Stockholm under Phillip Cocu, an achievement that’ll earn the boss a move to a top European side.

Random prediction: Dele Alli will continue his remarkable rise at Tottenham Hotspur. There will be at least one nine-goal thriller as the league’s porous defences are exposed by one of Europe’s finest collection of attacking midfielders.

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester United, Manchester CityTottenham Hotspur, Chelsea
Relegated: Hull City, Burnley, Bournemouth
Overachievers: Everton’s play will be the opposite of last season’s: not sparkling but very efficient. David Moyes will guide Sunderland to a solid season.
Underachievers: Liverpool‘s inconsistency will result in a paltry mid table finish. Arsenal will fail to qualify for a UEFA Champions League spot and Arsene Wenger will quit next summer.
Signing of the season: Ilkay Gundogan – The German will be a key player for Manchester City from day one.

FA Cup winner: Manchester City
League Cup winner: Chelsea

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona 
UEFA Europa League winner: Internazionale under Frank de Boer

Random prediction: Harry Kane will again finish the season as Premier League top goalscorer. Injuries will disrupt the debut season of Zlatan Ibrahimovic but at the end of season he will have played an important role at Old Trafford.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

Dele Alli was red hot for Tottenham last season, will his stock rise yet further this campaign?

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winner: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester UnitedManchester CityLiverpoolChelsea
Relegated: Sunderland, Swansea City, Hull City
Overachievers: Liverpool – The Reds will have momentum with Jurgen Klopp as in charge and the team as a whole will become greater than the sum of all its parts.
Underachievers: Arsenal – The same stagnant strategy with no real leadership on or off the pitch will lead to a finish outside the top four in Wenger’s last season.
Signing of the season: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – The spotlight is bound to be on fellow summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba meaning the pressure is off the Armenian playmaker.

FA Cup winner: Chelsea
League Cup winner: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Atletico Madrid

Random prediction: This will be Arsene Wenger’s last season in the Premier League but he will eventually return to manage here… as England boss.

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winner: Chelsea
Top four: ChelseaManchester United, Manchester CityArsenal
Relegated: Burnley, Hull City, Swansea
Overachievers: Middlesbrough – Boro will be this season’s Bournemouth.
Underachievers: Manchester City – Pep Guardiola will find the Premier League much harder than previous stops. Paul Pogba – There’s no way the Frenchman lives up to the hype and his hefty price tag.
Signing of the season: Andre Ayew (West Ham United) 

FA Cup winner: Liverpool
League Cup winner: Manchester United – Jose Mourinho will desperately want to win silverware in his first season at Old Trafford.

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Manchester United – See above.

Random prediction: The key for any Premier League team to win America’s hearts begins with the smarts to sign Dortmund’s US wunderkind Christian Pulisic and someone will oblige in the January transfer window.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



Icons Weekend Football Preview: Cup Weekend In England; Messi and Ronaldo Both Travel

The Emirates FA Cup

It’s almost the weekend! And that means, as always, there’s a full card of top class football to look forward to. Football that involves our Icons doing what they do best – being iconic. So who’s playing where and when? With a run-down of what our friends are up to this weekend, it’s the Icons Weekend Football Preview

Don’t forget to let us know who you’ll be supporting by getting in touch with our social media team. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let them know how your favourite Icon has gotten on over the course of the weekend. Let’s get started!

 

Arsenal vs Hull City

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud runs with the trophy after winning the English FA Cup final match against Hull City at Wembly Stadium in London on May 17, 2014. Aaron Ramsey scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK == NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

For Arsenal fans, this fixture will have a very familiar ring to it. The Gunners have now faced Hull City in the FA Cup in each of the last three seasons, notably beating the Tigers in the 2014 Wembley final to capture their first trophy in nine seasons. And after a successful defence of their crown last season, Arsene Wenger’s side have not been beaten in the Cup in three years. The French gaffer will oversee his 100th FA Cup match as Arsenal manager on Saturday afternoon and may look to fellow countryman Olivier Giroud to break down what is expected to be a stubborn Hull back-line.

Details: FA Cup, Emirates Stadium, Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 2 HD


Las Palmas vs Barcelona

Barcelona are in irresistible and record-breaking form right now, so any chance to watch them in action is one not to be missed. It’s a shame, then, that their Saturday afternoon clash at Las Palmas will not be on British television, as Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and company look to extend their historic unbeaten run to 32 in all competitions. Messi became the first player in La Liga history to reach 300 league goals during their midweek win over Sporting Gijion – who’ll bet against him adding to that tally tomorrow?

Details: La Liga, Estadio Gran Canaria, Saturday 3pm


Bournemouth vs Everton

Everton v Aston Villa - Premier League

With the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley in the side, Everton have every right to believe they have the potential to win a Cup competition. But inconsistent form has dogged their season and now the FA Cup looks to be their last chance at salvaging a memorable campaign. A trip to the south coast to face Bournemouth, in front of the BBC camera crews, may not be the ideal environment for Roberto Martinez’s team but if Lukaku and Barkley can link up well, the Cherries will have serious issues, as on their day those two are nearly unstoppable.

Details: FA Cup, Vitality Stadium, Saturday 5:15pm, BBC One HD


Malaga vs Real Madrid

AS Roma v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Buoyed by a important victory over AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night, Zinedine Zidane‘s Real Madrid travel to Malaga for a tricky La Liga clash. Cristiano Ronaldo‘s exceptional goal at the Stadio Olimpico showcased everything that’s mesmerising about his game. The speed, power and directness of his touchline sprint and rifled finish proved to be too much to handle for another of Europe’s top teams. But Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and company will need to be on their toes for this trip, as three points will be crucial in their pursuit of the title.

Details: La Liga, La Rosaleda, Sunday 3pm Sky Sports 3 HD


Chelsea vs Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League

The beauty of the FA Cup is that it can pit the Shrewsburys of the world against the Manchester Uniteds (see below) but the Cup is also good for a heavyweight contest or two. And that’s certainly the case here, as Sergio Aguero‘s Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side who suffered their first defeat since Guus Hiddink took charge of the Blues. The hosts may see this competition as their last truly viable chance at silverware this term, with progress in the UEFA Champions League looking shaky after their loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

Details: FA Cup, Stamford Bridge, Sunday 4pm, BBC One HD


Shrewsbury Town vs Manchester United

GettyImages-507433724

Losing star striker Wayne Rooney earlier this week was a big blow to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United and a midweek defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with FC Midtjylland was far from ideal but the Red Devils have extensive experience of seeing off lower league opposition in the FA Cup – especially of late. Shrewsbury are the latest test for the Old Trafford side after Juan Mata‘s goal helped see off Derby County, who went the way of Sheffield United, Preston North End, Cambridge United and Yeovil Town. Can United add to that list with a moral-boosting victory on Monday night?

Details: FA Cup, New Meadow, Monday 7:45pm, BBC One HD


Who will you be watching this weekend? Let us know!

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



We’re Back! The Icons.com 2015-16 Season Preview

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, we did it. We got through the summer break. It was tough, sure, but it’s over now. You can put down those barbeque tongs, stick the sun lounger back in the shed and forget all about that fence you probably weren’t going to paint anyway. Because this weekend, in stadiums across the country and around Europe, the football – the proper football – returns. And this season, like almost every season before it, threatens to be one of unmissable drama.

With Premier League legends Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie all parting ways with the English topflight, there’s never been a better time for new icons to emerge and big summer moves aplenty at the Etihad, Old Trafford and Anfield mean there are no shortage of fresh faces among the familiar stars.

At Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – with leading lights in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas – bid to become the first team since 2009 to defend their Premier League crown. But they face a strong challenge from a reinvigorated Arsenal, perennial contenders Man City and a much-strengthened Man United, who have added over £83million of talent over the summer.

Meanwhile, a Gerrard-less Liverpool have flashed their cash and captured Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, among others, while Tottenham will be hoping for more of the same from frontman Harry Kane, who emerged as one of English football’s most exciting young strikers following a frenzy of goals last term.

Newly promoted Watford return to the topflight after an eight year exile while Norwich City look promising after their swift return and there’s more than a sense of intrigue about Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, who were excellent as they romped to the Championship title.

On the continent, there’s more glory expected for Barcelona, led by the irresistible and seemingly unstoppable ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. As ever, Luis Enrique’s side will need to see off Clasico rivals Real Madrid but with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale at his disposal, new boss Rafa Benitez must feel confident of a strong challenge.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 06:  (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

BERLIN, GERMANY – JUNE 06: (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The German title race, as in France and Italy, is decidedly less open. With the additions of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, Bayern will be incredibly hard to catch, though Kevin de Bruyne’s Wolfsburg and Dortmund – with hipsters’ choice Thomas Tuchel taking over from former hipsters’ choice Jurgen Klopp – will try their level best to keep up.

Paris Saint-Germain look certain to retain their Ligue 1 crown, as Angel Di Maria joins Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz – a deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League is the aim.

Juventus will start clear favourites in Italy but the Old Lady has lost some of her favourite sons over the summer with Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Vidal heading away to varying corners of Planet Football. Rudi Garcia’s Roma have been improving season-on-season and could challenge Juve’s dominance should their squad stay healthy throughout the season.

Beside the Premier League, we should look then to the Champions League for competitiveness, where any number of around five or six teams could feasibly triumph. Though MSN make Barcelona the hot favourites, a lack of domestic challenge could help the likes of Bayern, Juventus and PSG, who’ll each be looking to improve on the continent. Whoever wins, we’re doubtless in for a treat as the best in the world vie for the ultimate prize.



Icons’ Staff Make Their Predictions For The 2015-16 Season

 

It feels like an age since Chelsea lifted that Premier League trophy, bringing the 14-15 Premier League season to a close. It’s been a busy summer for almost every club but here we are, at that exciting stage again; the beginning of a new season! Who will emerge as champions? Which signings will prosper? Which will flop? Here is how everybody at Icons thinks the season will pan out at home and abroad…

Icons-memorabilia-3

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Manchester United

La Liga: Barcelona

Champions League: Barcelona

F.A Cup: Southampton

League Cup:  Arsenal

Relegation: Aston Villa, Norwich, Watford.

Surprise Package: Sterling and Harry Kane have poor seasons. At least 2 Premier League managers go before Christmas.

Dan Jamieson CEO and Managing Director

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool

Premier League top scorer: Sergio Aguero

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Bayern Munich – Pep finally gets it right

FA Cup: Liverpool

League Cup: Man City

Premier League bottom 3: West Ham, Sunderland, Leicester

Positive surprise packages: Everyone is saying Bournemouth so that’s boring, how about Sterling to live up to the price tag? Crystal Palace to push for Europe

Negative surprise packages: Louis Van Gaal to be gone by this time next year having spent a third of a billion pounds on everything apart from what they need

Random predictions: The UEFA Champions League is more enjoyable on BT Sport than ITV and no one misses Andy Townsend

 

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, City, Manchester United, Liverpool

Premier League top scorer: Sergio Aguero, if he can stay fit

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Barcelona

FA Cup: Man United

League Cup: Man City

Premier League bottom 3: Watford, Bournemouth, Leicester

Positive surprise packages: Sterling to start 30 games and get double figure goals. Rooney to break England goal scoring record against Switzerland.

Negative surprise packages: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United). Depay to have great opening 10 games and then go off the boil.

Random predictions: three managers sacked by Christmas day, Mitrovic to be sent off at least twice for Newcastle, Balotelli to leave Liverpool – celebrations go wrong and fire engines called to Anfield after fireworks mishap.

Margaret Plunkett, Head of Customer Service

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United

Premier League top scorer: Hazard

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Real Madrid

FA Cup: Arsenal

League Cup: Stoke

Premier League bottom 3: Norwich, Leicester, Watford

Positive surprise packages: Jurgen Klopp to manage in Premiership in 2015/16 season

Negative surprise packages: Sam Allardyce to return as Premiership manager

Random predictions: Arsenal to beat Chelsea in a Premiership game to prove Community shield win was not luck or a fluke.

 

Jack O’Neill,  Editorial Intern

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United

Premier League top scorer: Diego Costa

La Liga winners: FC Barcelona

Champions League winners: FC Barcelona

FA Cup: Manchester United

League Cup: Manchester United

Premier League bottom 3: Norwich, Leicester, Watford

Positive surprise packages: Bournemouth to survive by playing positive attacking football. Diego Costa to miss the first month of the season getting a hamstring transplant. Never gets injured again. Jack Wilshere to look on in envy from the Arsenal medical table.

Negative surprise packages: Southampton to become the new Everton and push the top 4 all the way. Everton to become the new Southampton and lose all their best players.

Random predictions: Alan Pardew to lose his cool once again and punch Jose Mourinho on the touchline. Hazard / Oscar / Willian to outscore the Three Amigos in the Champions League.

 

Alistair Hunter, Editorial Intern

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City

Premier League top scorer: Diego Costa

La Liga winners: FC Barcelona

Champions League winners: FC Barcelona

FA Cup: Manchester United

League Cup: Aston Villa

Premier League bottom 3: Sunderland, Watford, Leicester

Positive surprise packages: Bournemouth to escape relegation on the final day of the season; Newcastle and Aston Villa will be reinvigorated – the latter especially so.

Negative surprise packages: Claudio Ranieri will be sacked before Christmas, sending Leicester into a tailspin they fail to recover from. Roberto Firmino will score fewer than five goals for Liverpool, putting more pressure on Brendan Rodgers.

Random predictions: A goalkeeper will score at some point this season. Alan Pardew will have a quiet and controversy-free season.

 

Harm Jan Deuring, Social Content Co-ordinator

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City

Premier League top scorer: Hazard

La Liga winners: FC Barcelona

Champions League: Bayern Munich

FA Cup: Arsenal

League Cup: Manchester City

Premier League bottom 3: Watford, Norwich City, Leicester City

Positive surprise packages: Stoke City playing Brazilian samba football. Spurs impress with youngest team ever, but will end fifth again.

Negative surprise packages: Liverpool, Southampton

Random predictions: Louis van Gaal will get his own dictionary, Depay will do better than Di Maria.

 

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League top 4: Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United

Premier League top scorer: Harry Kane

La Liga winners: Barcelona

Champions League winners: Chelsea

FA Cup: Chelsea

League Cup: Everton

Premier League bottom 3: Norwich, Sunderland, Leicester

Positive surprise packages: Bournemouth stay up, and Matt Richie is the reason why.

Negative surprise packages: Every single signing (aside from Milner) Brendan Rodgers made this summer for Liverpool.

Random predictions: Brendan Rodgers is on the hot seat by week 8.