After successive FA Cup wins it seems the pressure of not winning a trophy for 10 years has finally been lifted for the Gunners, meaning they can now focus on being serious title contenders. After watching the Gunners in the Emirates Cup, this squad seems like the one finally ready to mount a title challenge. For this to happen they will need Mesut Ozil to be consistent throughout the whole season and not just half of it. There is no doubt that when Arsene Wenger’s side are at their peak, they play the best football in the country. But as we know, pretty football does not win you titles and I feel that the lack of experience of challenging for titles in this Arsenal side will see them fall short. It will be tight between them and Man Utd for third spot.
Once again last season Aston Villa were in another relegation scrap and I felt that there would be no change for them this season after seeing the sales of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph. They were dealt a further blow when Ron Vlaar rejected a new contract. Whether they will be involved in another scrap all depends on how they do in the transfer market. If they do manage to get Emmanuel Adebayor and Dimitar Berbatov then I think Villa will have a much better season than the last. Tim Sherwood is a good manager who gets the best out of mediocre players and therefore I feel that whilst Villa will still finish bottom half, they will escape relegation.
Having watched some of Bournemouth’s games towards the end of the season I have seen they have a good team, a very good manager in Eddie Howe and play excellent football. They have a tight ground in the Goldsands stadium which holds just under 12000 fans, and I feel that this will be to their advantages. Many teams will not be used to playing at a ground like this which is why I think Bournemouth’s home form will be key to them surviving… just.
The champions have been unusually quiet this transfer window so far, with only Radamel Falcao and Asmir Begovic the notable arrivals. However a team with Jose Mourinho as manager is rarely affected by transfers in order to mount a title charge. The Blues won the league comfortably from start to finish last season with Man City, their nearest challengers, finishing 8 points behind the Blues. However I do feel City and Chelsea are a class above the rest of the pack, and so far with the transfer dealings which City have made, they look set to pip the Londoners to the title.
I’m excited to see Crystal Palace this season and think they will be dangerous, especially if they manage to keep hold of Bolasie. Alan Pardew is the new ‘wheeler dealer’ managing to add Patrick Bamford, Jordan Mutch and key signing Yohan Cabaye to his squad. Add these players to a squad which contains Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha, Glenn Murray, Mile Jedinak and Dwight Gayle, I think Palace will be pushing for the Europa League places.
Roberto Martinez’s side had a poor season for their standards last season, which was affected by injuries and the ‘nuisance’ of the Europa League. Thankfully, as some Blues fans may say, they will not be involved in this year’s competition, which I feel will help their side have much more success this season and, ironically, finish back in the Europa League places. This will be a key year for Ross Barkley, who was in and out of form last season, and will need to perform on a more consistent basis this year if he wants to be in Roy Hodgson’s plans for the Euro’s in France next year.
Nigel Pearson can count himself unlucky to lose his job however I do not feel he should be surprised. Despite pulling off a miracle in keeping Leicester in the Premier League from a perilous position, on a number of occasions last season Pearson acted extremely unprofessional. From strangling an opposing player to the floor to calling a journalist an ‘ostrich’, Pearson was less seen as a manager but instead reminded me of that strict P.E teacher that everyone hated at school. If it wasn’t for who they managed to replaced him with I would be saying Leicester are definitely going down. However Claudio Ranieri is a good manager and I believe an upgrade from Pearson. Estaban Cambiasso will be a huge miss for the Foxes, however Ranieri is experienced and I feel will do enough to keep Leicester up for a second season.
This will be many fans’ first experience of ‘life without Gerrard’ who I feel could still control a game in the Premier League and was pushed out to America way too early. The loss of Sterling will also be massive for the club despite many fans believing that Jordan Ibe will fill his void. The transfer incomings on paper look decent with Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, Roberto Firminho and Divock Origi coming in to strengthen the squad. The only problem is that they all play the same position, with a maximum of two of those 4 actually starting, not to mention Italians Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini still being at the club. Also I still don’t think the defence which conceded six at Stoke has been improved. I have a feeling this could be Brendan Rogers’ last season at Liverpool.