As the Premier League begins its 21st season, the title race appears to be a head-to-head battle between the two Manchester teams, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all fighting for the two remaining Champions League places.
But which team will finish where?
5. Tottenham Hotspur
Under new management, Villas-Boas could re-boost his image with a successful season at Spurs. The 34 year failed to impress the Chelsea boss and as a result, he was sacked. But, with Tottenham and Chelsea having very different goals, a sixth place finish for the North London club would be a great result. Especially considering that with Modric set to leave, and the new manager barely building his own squad, it will take time for AVB to work his magic, which he has demonstrated at Porto.
Even though sixth place would be a success, why would he manage to finish fifth?
The main reason for this is the lack of suitable opposition. Could Pardew replicate last season’s form, and could Brendan Rodgers completely re-work Liverpool’s philosophy and see them finish fifth? Especially considering the lack of depth in the squad outside of the first eleven, I find it hard to see either team put up a major fight for 5th place.
Despite the expected departure of the Arsenal captain, Wenger has silenced his critics by investing in top talent who have proven themselves. Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla could all easily walk into Arsenal’s first team, and I expect that they will show off their finishing ability.
Whilst they won’t be able to challenge for the title or even keep up with Chelsea in third place, they should be able to comfortably finish in fourth place. Considering that Wilshere will be returning from injury, and Wenger wanting to show the result of his ambition, which Van Persie criticsed, it would be an excellent season for the Gunners if they finish any higher than this.
Roberto Di Matteo has clearly got managerial expertise to overcome the odds and win the Champions League, but to continue that form in a 38 game season could see his weaknesses become exposed. In the Premier League last season since taking over, Di Matteo was manager for 11 games, and only managed to win 5 games.
So why will he finish third?
With over £55 million being spent on only two players, it is another huge risk by the Chelsea board. But, he will not be allowed to fail. With a range of options being available to Di Matteo, such as new attacking midfielders Oscar and Hazard, the pressure on Torres should be alleviated. But their success will depend on a few different factors. Firstly if they are to bring in another striker. With Torres being shaky last season and rarely making an impact, it is about time that he will come to form. But, if he is out injured or hits another bad patch of form, the Blues will have to rely on Sturridge, who is not a player who can currently lead them to European success.
Finally, with Terry facing a potential ban by the FA, this could be a clinical point in Chelsea’s season. With Terry being the rock of a shaky defence, if he is to miss a period of the season, this could easily see Chelsea’s season crumble.
The top 2:
This one could go either way. With last season coming down to the final day of the League campaign, United are looking to overcome their Manchester rivals by adding Dortmund star Kagawa to their team. But, with City only responding with Jack Rodwell, the inexperienced and incapable midfielder whilst regarding taking City any further in Europe and domestic trophies, Mancini’s frustration with the City board is understandable.
However, with Manchester City having the better starting XI and more depth in the squad, Kagawa’s arrival is seen more of a necessity than a bonus. But, with Van Persie set for a move to Old Trafford, the strike force of the Dutchman and Wayne Rooney could terrorise any opposing defence.
But, with City yet to spend their full prize money from last season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a world-class player join the Eithad as the window comes to a close. Also, with Van Persie likely to join their Manchester rivals, City could retaliate with a bumper-transfer which could be a defining moment in the Premier League race for next season.
So, with an overall better squad and still money to spend, I struggle to see United re-claim their trophy over Manchester City.
Who do you think will finish in the top 5? Leave your comments below.
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