With the Premier League kick off just weeks away now, the excitement is building for what could be one of the most open title races in years.
Four of last year’s top six are under new management which means that we don’t quite know what to expect from Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and Everton. Here is a progress report on how each side’s squad is looking for the start of another gruelling Premier League campaign.
Tough start for Moyes at Old Trafford
David Moyes has had a rocky start to his career at Old Trafford with all the fuss over the future of Wayne Rooney. Rooney hasn’t been at his best for the past couple of years and given that he was playing first team football since he was 16, he has spent over ten years battling in the Premier League. Like other teenage sensations Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen, Rooney may have burnt out in his late twenties and his best years could be behind him. He is now second choice striker at United aswell with goal machine Robin van Persie being the main man. This might be the time to let Rooney go and Chelsea are keen to take him.
If Moyes does allow Rooney to leave then he will need to bring in a big game player to fill the void left by the England striker. Cesc Fabregas, Marouane Fellaini and Gareth Bale would all be great buys but none are close to being completed as yet. Although it does look like Moyes will get his former Everton left back Leighton Baines before the start of the season. Of the new managers in the Premier League this season, Moyes will be the one with the least pressure on his job as the United board will be less trigger happy than their counterparts at Chelsea and City. But anything less than a title race that at least goes into the last couple of games of the season will be a failure at Old Trafford.
City getting their business done early
Across the city at Eastlands, there is a new man in charge of Man City aswell. Manuel Pellegrini has taken the hotseat from Roberto Mancini and has been given money to spend. City have gone about their transfer business quietly and efficiently this time after the panicking shambles of last summer.
They have already added Fernandinho, £30m and Jesus Navas, £15m to their squad. They also look close to completing the signings of Negredo and Jovetic in the next few days. Carlos Tevez is the only significant first teamer they have lost, so if they can fend off any bids from Real Madrid for Sergio Aguero, then City could have the best squad in the league on paper. It will then be up to Pellegrini to prove himself as a manager in the Premier League by getting the best out of Yaya Toure and David Silva on a weekly basis.
Is Rooney the man for Chelsea?
The special one has returned to Chelsea. Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager in the last ten years is back in the Premier League. He inherits a brilliant squad that has underperformed in the past couple of years domestically. Chelsea have already added Andre Schurrle, £18m and Marco van Ginkel, £9m to their side. If they do manage to land Wayne Rooney they will be a serious threat to City and United.
Mourinho’s main task will be to get the misfiring Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney back to their best. The defence and midfield are already as good as any others in the league, it has been the poor form of Chelsea’s forwards that has seen them fall behind in the Premier League in recent years. Sort that out and Chelsea will be up there come the end of the season.
More frustration for Gunners fans
Arsenal fans will not be too impressed with what they have seen so far this summer. The club spent most of last season saying that they had big money available and were prepared to spend it. So far they have added just Yaya Sanogo on a free from Auxerre. He certainly won’t be enough on his own to close the gap on the league leaders. Arsene Wenger needs to bring in some real top quality players, aged between 24 and 28 at the top of their game, not promising youngsters. In defence of the Arsenal boss, he is trying to do just that. Arsenal have been trying to buy Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain and have bid enough to make either man their record signing. Both are world class strikers and would be a major coup for the Gunners. It’s just that these big players don’t seem to be overly keen to join a side that hasn’t won a trophy for eight years. That is the battle facing Wenger and his board. They do have the money, but can they persuade these top players that the Emirates is a place that will deliver trophies over the next few years? Not an easy sell.
Bale is everything to Tottenham
Outside the top four are Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool. All have reasons to be hopeful that this season could be the one they finally break into the Champions League places. Tottenham set their highest ever points total in the Premier League last season but still missed out by one point. They are certainly getting closer to Arsenal and have already signed Brazilian Paulinho and look likely to add Christian Benteke to spearhead their attack. But their whole season will really swing on whether or not they can keep hold of Gareth Bale. Keep him and they will be favourites for the fourth spot, lose him and seventh will be more likely.
Everton will struggle to keep pace
Everton are the fourth side under new management at the top of the Premier League. Roberto Martinez was good enough to keep Wigan up against the odds for three years but their luck finally ran out last time. They did however, beat Man City in the FA Cup final with an outstanding performance to win the only major trophy in their history. Martinez is tactically astute and a great motivator. He has signed Kone and Alcaraz from Wigan and loaned Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu for the season. Like Spurs though, Everton’s best players could be on their way out of the door. Baines and Fellaini will be both be gone by the end of the transfer window so a bid for the top four will be too much to expect from Martinez in his first season. They should however, be better than the rest of the league and can battle for the Merseyside bragging rights by aiming to finish above Liverpool for the third season in a row.
Rodgers continues to improve Liverpool
Liverpool are the last team in the league with a realistic hope of getting into the top four. Brendan Rodgers improved them last term, and the team will continue to progress under his guidance. They can expect to lose Luis Suarez, probably to Real Madrid, but should be looking to get that deal done sooner rather than later. Having already sold Andy Carroll to West Ham, Liverpool will need at least one new striker brought in. Rodgers has proved he has a good eye for a player so far at Anfield. Coutinho and Sturridge were both instant successes and this is a make or break season for Borini and Allen, both of whom are better players than they have showed in Liverpool shirt so far. If Rodgers can get Suarez out quickly and spend the money wisely then Liverpool should move ahead of Everton and battle with Spurs and Arsenal for fourth place.
There is a roundup of the chances of the big sides in the league. The battle for the title and the Champions League places will be far more exciting than last season. The Manchester sides and Chelsea will give us a three horse race for the title that could well go down to the last day with all three still with a chance. And the North Londoners and Meseysiders will provide a four way fight for the one remaining Champions League place.
Less than a month to go til the big kick off. And who knows what twist and turns in the transfer market we will see before then.
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