I can’t bloody wait for the start of the Premier League season – and I bet you can’t. Here’s my opinion on the top 5’s chances for the title!
My Winner Pick – Man City
One sentence verdict: Best mix of quality and squad depth, Man City are much better value for the title than Chelsea.
Manchester City seriously underperformed last season, relinquishing their Premier League title to Chelsea without a fight. City fans will be hoping that this coming season sees their side return to form and if so, they could well challenge for the Premier League title. Early season form will be key for City and if they can start strongly then they will be well on their way.
Personally, I think the key to City’s success will be solid squad depth combined with a strong backbone. Hart, Kompany, Kolarov, Toure, Silva and Aguero have played a lot together and link up well. Toure had a bad season in 2014/2015 but still scored 10 goals. They’ve signed two excellent players in Raheem Sterling and Wilfred Bony – both proven goal scorers who add different dimensions to the team – while Delph had some excellent stats for Aston Villa last season.
The difference in price between them and Chelsea is too big for me so I have to go with Man City at nearly double the price.
Chelsea – 2nd?
One sentence verdict: Overly reliant on a number of key players, any injuries would be a big problem and I think their price is too short.
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea have been relatively subdued so far in the transfer window, merely replacing outgoing players with similar style players – Didier Drogba and Radamel Falcao being one such example. Chelsea at present do not need to spend big to strengthen their squad and it may well be that Mourinho holds sway in the transfer window until Chelsea’s main rivals have done their business. Mourinho knows he has cash to spend but will only spend it if he feels he has to. If Manchester United were to sign a player like Gareth Bale then I feel Chelsea would then go out and strengthen but until then, they are unlikely to.
Mourinho will be keen to retain the Premier League title and Chelsea, on paper, look to have the strongest starting eleven. Their squad however is one of the smallest among the top five teams and injuries to any one of the following players would cause them huge problems in my opinion: Ivanovic, Fabregas, Hazard, Costa or Matic. They looked especially lost without Fabregas last time and while they have added Falcao him and Remy aren’t exactly convincing backup strikers to replace Costa if they need to who scored 20 goals himself last season (no offence to Remy!)
Arsenal – 3rd?
One sentence verdict: A big price but their squad still just seems a couple of big names away from challenging and they don’t have the same quality as Chelsea/Man City.
Arsenal finished third last season and another top four finish looks likely to again await them this season. Manger Arsene Wenger has been quiet so far in the transfer window, with the signing of goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea the only real high profile arrival at the Emirates. Wenger is placing his faith in the squad he has and hoping that the talent and stability that it has built over the past couple of seasons can see them now mount a serious assault on the title. Arsenal do have a good squad, with competition for a number of key areas but you feel that they are at least two key signings away from being able to challenge this season.
Ask any Arsenal fan and they will tell you that they need a quality striker but unfortunately for Wenger and Arsenal players of that calibre are in short supply at the moment. If Wenger can find that elusive 25 goals a season striker, then they may challenge, until then a top four finish awaits. They look reluctant to splash the cash again, and there are few excellent strikers on the market. They could snatch second if Chelsea or Manchester City have injury problems, but unless both have some huge bad luck then I can’t see them beating them both, although they could go close at big odds!
Manchester United – 4th?
One sentence verdict: A big season of rebuilding, should be comfortably top 4 but will need time to become Premier League title contenders.
An active summer in the transfer window has seen United sign a number of players including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, while 17 senior squad players have left. The United squad is now very much van Gaal’s and if they fail to fire this season, then you feel the buck stops with him. Rumours still circulate that United are in the market for a ‘stellar’ signing with Ronaldo, Pedro and Gareth Bale muted as being on van Gaals’s radar. The signing of an attacking player in that mould may see United mount a serious challenge for the title, but without a player of that nature, it’s in my opinion likely that United will fall short of regaining the Premier League trophy.
They do look set for an improved season however and a return to the Champions League will be welcomed by the Old Trafford fans after last seasons lack of european action. If they do manage Champions League football then fair play to them – this is a good season to set themselves up for a shot at the title. They may have spent big but so did Chelsea and Manchester City and their squads have had much more time to gel and adapt.
Liverpool – 5th or below?
One sentence verdict: Some solid looking signings but lack the star players like Aguero, Hazard, Toure, Fabregas etc which the teams above them have.
This season is a massive season in the career of Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers. Having failed to spend the cash received for Luis Suarez last summer wisely, resulting in a lacklustre league performance, Rogers has again been backed by the board. The £50 million received from Manchester City for Raheem Sterling has been spent on a number of players including Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino.
Rogers now has to hope that he can integrate these players into the Liverpool squad and look to aim to challenge for silverware this season. Anything less than improved performances on the pitch could see Rogers tenure at Anfield come to an abrupt end. They’ll need some huge displays from their new players though; since selling Suarez they have no player to match Aguero or Hazard, and while they have a solid squad with star players such as Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho they lack that extra star quality through the squad which the teams above them have.