Looking At Our Premier League Rivals (Part 3/4)

As another Premier League season draws ever so closer and with our title rivals improving their squad, the excitement now is really setting in amongst not just United fans but fans of the beautiful game in general.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all seem destined to dominate the Top 4 again this season. However there are loudening murmurs coming from Anfield that Liverpool may yet sneak in after their rebuilding which has been made since Kenny Dalglish’s return.

Just like United, City and Liverpool have both spent big this off-season and the expectations really are high for them. But despite that, no United fan should be fearful as we begin the defence of our crown.

After assessing Chelsea and City earlier on today – in articles which you can read here and here, next up I take a look at the team who finished 3rd last season who it appears will be having a very tricky season indeed.

Arsenal

For the most part of last season Wenger’s men were United’s main challengers but (as you guessed it) collapsed when the going out tough and eventually surrendered 3rd place to a late surging Manchester City to finish in 4th leaving the jury out.

There were some positives for Arsenal last season due to the fantastic form of Jack Wilshere who no doubt will be an England regular for years to come. The main concern for Arsenal fans right now is how the team ‘bottled it’ last year surrendering leads to lesser opposition and throwing away points which simply for a side looking to win the title is not good enough!

The defence is a major worry for Arsenal fans. Whilst losing Clichy to Manchester City won’t bother Gooners that much as in Kieran Gibbs they have a younger carbon copy, the facts remain that central defence remains a huge problem for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny failed to impress last season and with Thomas Vermaelen being plagued with injury, surely now is the time for Wenger to splash the cash on either Gary Cahill or Chris Samba to bring power and stability to Arsenal’s defence.

Gervinho doesn’t look to be a bad player, so it will be interesting to see how he links up with Robin van Persie as if they are to be a partnership they will need to do well and score goals. The former Lille hitman will face questions with many fans wondering whether he can deliver 20-25 goals a season that (aside from van Persie) no Arsenal striker has done since the days of a certain Thierry Henry.

Without wanting to kick a team when they’re down, Arsenal do seem to be a team somewhat in a crisis as there are many doubts about alot of their players futures up in the air. Barley since the end of last season, there has been alot of speculation about the long-term futures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas which obviously is not something that Wenger can be pleased about.

Nasri will at most be at the Emirates it seems for one more season. Fabregas could stay for another year but at the same time looks destined to leave the Emirates this season. Valencia’s Juan Mata has been heavily linked with an imminent arrival to the Emirates and according to reports he could take up Nasri’s position on the left while Nasri could be deployed in the middle should Fabregas leave.

I think Arsenal despite having a great set-up will just not be able to cope with so much going on within the club. Key players have started to doub the club’s ambition and even some fans are beginning to doubt Wenger so it could well be his final year in charge.

Arsenal are very much a team in transition right now and need time to rebuild to reach anything near the glory-days of their ‘Invincibles’ team of 2004 and are likley to have a really challenging season ahead.

By Darren Hickey @DHick92