Neil Humphreys: My EPL wish list for 2018
Our columnist lists what he hopes to see in the Premier League in 2018
With the New Year upon us, the English Premier League's heavyweights are throwing away points faster than we're throwing away old Christmas decorations. It's a welcome, topsy-turvy start to 2018 and let's hope it continues.
Here's my EPL wish list for the next 12 months.
1. KEEP DROPPING POINTS, MAN CITY
Unlike Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Crystal Palace gave us a new hope.
Of all the EPL managers, it was Roy Hodgson who pulled off a Jedi mind trick to stop Manchester City's winning streak at 18 games. Heaven knows, the EPL could use more of Hodgson's retro wizardry this year.
The importance of Palace's 0-0 draw on Sunday cannot be overstated. City will still romp to the title, but this season marks the orchestrated beginnings of their omnipotence.
So a few more dropped points between now and May would really help the league's credibility.
Hodgson's Palace have at least showed a way. Going toe-to-toe with City never worked (see Liverpool), nor did parking the bus (see Newcastle United).
But Palace went for a wily combination of the two. High balls were launched throughout, testing City's aerial vulnerability.
Palace managed 10 shots and forced seven corners. Their 4-3-3 allowed Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend to push back City's fullbacks.
Hodgson's formation was defensive-minded, but never negative, a subtle difference that City's upcoming opponents should consider. If City are pressured into dropping more points, the rest of the EPL would certainly appreciate it, both this season and the next.
2. CHEER UP, JOSE
Clearly, Jose Mourinho didn't get the memo. No one died. The year 2017 will be remembered for many horrific reasons, but Manchester United losing a few games won't be one of them.
That's the most exasperating aspect of the United manager's endless finger-pointing. His mind games have been stripped of both humour and perspective.
He's played the press since he was at Porto, but there was always that impudent grin.
But a sense of fun has left Old Trafford.
Certainly, Mourinho isn't expected to play court jester. But he isn't expected to cure serious illness either.
He's managing the world's most popular club, a cherished status that United are at risk of losing if their manager doesn't rein in the whining this year.
By all means, question referees after a poor decision. But the bitching grates when it happens... every... single... game.
So cheer up, Jose. United can't be champions so there's really nothing to be gained from being so churlish.
3. WIN OR WHITHER, SPURS
According to the song, breaking up is hard to do. Not in north London it isn't.
Remember that great Arsenal side with Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka? All three left when the club failed to win a trophy.
Then there was Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, all devoted to the Gunners' cause right up until the moment they left to win trophies elsewhere.
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane may be forced to do the same. The one-club loyalty of trophy-less local heroes like Matt Le Tissier are quirky relics from the 1990s.
They don't exist any more. Besides, Le Tissier scored special goals, but was never coveted by special clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Kane outscored Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo last year. He could join one of them if Spurs don't win something this year.
Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and even Mauricio Pochettino could also be tempted with other offers.
Tottenham's break-up may be swift and merciless, and the last thing the EPL needs is a weakened title challenger.
To keep the players together, Pochettino must stick a medal in their pockets.
4. KEEP THE STARS, KEEP EPL CREDIBILITY
Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld and Philippe Coutinho all have one thing in common and it's a problem for the EPL.
They're all wanted elsewhere.
The upcoming 12 months feel like a genuinely transitional year for English football.
With the last lucrative TV deal, there was hope that smaller teams like Leicester could keep Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. But it hasn't entirely played out that way.
Instead, as every EPL club is now wealthy, only those at the summit can offer something extra. Either an insane transfer fee (for Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and United's Paul Pogba) or a bottomless pit of petro-dollars (City).
Those privileged few at the very top either join Pep Guardiola's revolution in a one-club league or consider a European move. So it's imperative that the EPL hangs on to its household names this year to sustain the league's lustre.
5. STOP INSULTING FANS' INTELLIGENCE
This is plea to EPL presenters, producers and spin-doctors. How about we stop treating the fans for fools this year?
If the game's rubbish, say it's rubbish. Don't say it's "evenly poised" or "on a knife-edge".
The same goes for violent fouls, misbehaving footballers and robotic interviews that offer less insight than a Donald Trump tweet.
Don't patronise. Tell it how it is. We'll keep watching regardless. So if 2018 throws up another 0-0 like that Liverpool-Manchester United dross at Anfield, then EPL commentators should be free to admit that it's less entertaining than a 90-minute colonoscopy.
Happy New Year!