Top Four Preview

I wrote this post before the season started but have only just joined this site so haven’t had a chance to show it, enjoy.

It’s that time again, the Barclays Premier League is coming and once again all the talk is about the race for the top 4. This used to be an exclusive club but others have broken into it and others have faltered out, last years top 3 teams all have new managers some familiar, some less so.

Let’s start with the champions Manchester United; yet again they proved that they are the dominant force in England even after the heartbreak of the 2012-13 season, but we should’ve seen it coming right? They overcame Liverpool’s dominance, they overcame Mourinho’s Chelsea and so it’s just in Sir Alex’s way to overcome their notorious noisy neighbors Manchester City. Now this is the thing… Sir Alex is gone, it’s sad for all football fans but as we all know he retired at the end of last season after an unbelievable career and an unbelievable twentieth title victory. The man who replaces him is one that many predicted; former 11 year Everton manager David Moyes who has proven that he has similar traits to the legend Sir Alex. He did an incredible job at Everton for what he had and what he was given but will he be able to carry on the legacy, deal with the pressure and also bring even more trophies to the most famous football club in the world. My predicted finish is 2nd.

Last years runners up Manchester City; after a long excruciating 44 year wait they had their trophy. This revolution started earlier then that though, 2007 to be precise when the Abu Dhabi United Group purchased the franchise that was then a mid-table club. Nearly 300 million pounds worth of players later they did it, all be it the very last kick of the 2012-13 season they were champions. 12 months later it was gone and so was their heroic manager Roberto Mancini a strange decision? No, high profile players made it clear that they did not agree with Mancini’s management style and it was capped off by a shocking 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup Final to now relegated Wigan. So the owners felt a change was needed, that change comes in the shape of Manuel Pellegrini some of you may not know him too well but he is a former Real Madrid manager! All be it for just one season, but still the Abu Dhabi Group must have picked him for a reason. One thing certainly hasn’t changed in the blue side of Manchester and that’s the spending, after offloading some surplus players they have spent £88.5 million on new talent for this coming season; Brazilian international Fernandinho, two Sevilla stars Jesus Navas & Alvaro Negredo and finally Stefan Jovetic. So enough about their money spending, do City fans need to worry about the current flock of players not being able to cope with their new manager and new set of stars, we will have to wait and see. My predicted finish is 3rd.

So two years running (some what) European Champions and last years third place finishers Chelsea; the fans finally have what they want after interim manager, after interim manager you have your guy. “The Special One” Jose Mourinho has made his triumphant return to the club that he loves and the club that loves him, now if it is anything like his first innings at Stamford Bridge, Premier League beware he could be here to stay this time. I mean Mourinho has proven himself everywhere he’s gone, I’ve heard some grumbles if you can believe it from Chelsea fans saying “what if he doesn’t win anything, will we sack him after a couple of months?” No of course we hope that doesn’t happen but let’s be honest he has been successful everywhere he has been, from Porto to Madrid he has countless winners medals, trophies and most importantly respect, yes he’s arrogant but that’s why people love him. Enough on the manager what about the players, Chelsea seem to be linked with every big star on the market but do they really need them? They have kept their stars in Juan Mata and David Luiz which have both been linked with moves away from the Bridge, although Mourinho was quick to turn those transfer rumours away and laugh at them. Now they have however brought in two noticeable transfers in the shape of Andre Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel while also having many players returning from loans, for example the highly rated young Belgian pair Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne as well as the almost forgotten Michael Essien. With the attacking stars of the Blues from London can they work under the self proclaimed Special One, can he re-produce his magic yet again? Can he replenish his relationship with the old guard? My predicted finish is 1st.

This is where it gets interesting, 4th place the final Champions League spot. There’s a feeling that it is going to be another straight shoot out between the two North London clubs, I agree somewhat but I also don’t think people should write off Liverpool, I know the star striker Luis Suarez has been linked away with Anfield but it looks like he will stay even though he will not play for the first six games of this season due to his ban, but Liverpool have signed some good talent this summer and have also got rid of some dead weight and also under Brendan Rodgers they could play some fantastic football. It will be vital for them to keep Daniel Sturridge injury free and Luis Suarez well let’s just say trouble free, Gerrard is a constant in their team and never let’s them down and I personally think those three are key to give them any chance of returning to the Champions League.

Yet again Tottenham are making it difficult for themselves by finding it nearly impossible to keep their star players, this year it is the left footed goal machine Gareth Bale who won Spurs more points than Van Persie and Suarez for their respective clubs last season. If Spurs do keep Bale will he be as deadly as he was last year, surely defenses would stick an extra man on him or just foul him down the wings so he gets frustrated you would think teams would think of these things? But is Bale just that good, Spurs have done enough in this transfer window to keep them up there for me, with signings like Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and also striker Roberto Soldado I believe they can succeed with or without Gareth Bale. Soldado is a prolific goal scorer and that’s what Spurs have been looking for, an out and out striker so this is where I believe Tottenham will be successful, if they keep Bale on top of their new signings then I can see them potentially breaking into the top 3 for some of the season and easily finishing 4th.

So now we come to Arsenal, we can never write them off really can we? No matter what they are up there, 16 consecutive years in the Champions League but unfortunately I don’t feel there will be a 17th, this is because yet again Arsenal are relying on their current crop of players who let’s face it only just got 4th place over North London rivals Tottenham by a mere 1 point thanks to a last day win at Newcastle. They have a good starting line up but what happens if a few of those players get injured? They don’t have the squad depth capability of United, City or Chelsea who could line up two maybe even three first team line ups, while Arsenal just seem to have faith in their players, which is good in some cases but I do not feel it is in this one, they have good players in Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and the young English talent of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal fans know this already but their team cannot progress to win a title by selling their best players and not bringing any stars in, this year just like many years before they have been linked with big names, Higuain, Suarez and even Rooney just to name a few but have failed with all of them (so far). I feel a change is needed at Arsenal and it is needed fairly soon for them to become the club they used to be, they cannot celebrate finishing 4th like they have won the title. After this I do still feel Arsenal will be up there but I feel for their future, I can’t see them finishing any higher than 5th this year.

I feel I have got all my opinions out, but none of that matters when the season begins. The players, the managers, the goals, the football will do the talking for us as it always does, this season will be the greatest season of all time just purely because of the changes, the returns and the drama of the Barclays Premier League. Enjoy the season I know you will.

Ross Jeram,

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