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As Arsenal prepares to embark on yet another attempt at ending the dearth of trophies since 2005, we can’t look past we are up against. Today, Arsene Wenger talked about the six or seven teams that could very well be going toe to toe with us for the Premier League title. Assuming he is talking about Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City; I think it puts things into perspective to at least look at how they have improved/weakened over the summer transfer activities and see who of those can actually mount a serious title challenge.
Reigning champions Chelsea are for once overshadowed by another Premier League team in terms of spending during the summer transfer window. So far, they have only signed Yossi Benayoun and have lost Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Joe Cole and Deco with Ramires probably still to join. Which means that an already ageing squad just got another year older without the injection of fresh new blood.
While there is no doubt as to their experience, question marks over the fitness and endurance of these players remains. They will be up there to challenge without doubt but I expect them to suffer quite a bit from injuries.Michael Essien missed the second half of last season with injuries and he will be their main man this season. He is a real workhorse but also possess the industry to create something out of nothing. Will not finish as champions but they will be thereabouts.
Community Shield winners, Manchester United have gone about their business early. They signed Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling before last season even ended and have only lost Zoran Tosic, who was not even a fixture in the United side last season. Rio Ferdinand have been struggling with continuous variety of injuries and already looked like he will feature even less this season. A lot of responsibility falls onto the shoulder of Nemanja Vidic to marshal the United defence this season.
Although they have retained the service of Edwin Van Der Sar, let’s not forget that he will hit the big 40 before the turn of the year, so do expect him to be slightly less formidable than usual. However, the nous of Alex Ferguson cannot be ignored and the wily old Scot still have what it takes to muster a squad capable of going the distance. By far the strongest challenger for this season and potential champions.
Champions League newcomer, Tottenham are already being touted to remain in the same competition next season. For a true Gooner like me, that would really be unbearable (I’m trying to be as impartial here as I can). Given that they will face Young Boys of Switzerland in the qualifiers, you can almost be assured that they will get through to the group stages of Europe’s elite cup competition. That, I afraid would be their downfall. Harry Redknapp have not brought in anyone and neither has he lost any.
Which leads to me to think that his squad will be too thin to cope with the European demand. We’ve seen how Everton suffered before and Spurs might just follow suit. Much is depended on the Croatian pairing of Luka Modric and Nico Kranjcar to make things happen in the attacking sense for Spurs. Although their strikeforce are not as fearsome as the rest. I think they will drop out of the top four next season.
Will go through the other 3 in tomorrow’s post.