Many have stated that Manchester United again, are favourites to claim the Premier League title, so why is this?
Well basically it’s because we won the title last year and have not weakened over the summer. i.e. the departures of Paul Scholes, Wes Brown, Edwin Van der Sar & John O’Shea are not seen as large enough to cost us in games this season.
Many people may debate this fact as the depth Brown & O’Shea provided us in defence will be missed, the unparalleled vision and passing ability of ‘Sat-nav’ (Scholes’ nickname with fellow United players because he could find anybody on the pitch with a pass) and perhaps the largest chick taken out of our armour is the loss of the Edwin Van der Sar as the anchor of our defence.
Of course the new summer signings are taken into account when looking at this, offsetting the gap I have mentioned due to the previous mentioned departures. I have already spoken about how I felt about the signings of Young, Jones & De Gea when they signed earlier in the summer.
I think with the games we have seen so far everybody is over the moon with how quickly Young and Jones have settled into the club, slotting into the team, both perhaps playing a much larger role in the early days due to injuries sustained by Valencia, Ferdinand and Vidic.
There have been question marks over De Gea, which I have also voiced my opinion about previously. I think he has looked stronger game-by-game and as we go further into the season, there’s no doubt once he gets a better grasp of the English language and becomes more comfortable in the Premier League that he will improve.
However it’s not fair to expect him to come in and offer us the same security and organisation that Edwin did when he joined us. After all when we signed the Dutchman from Fulham in 2005, he came to us with the experience of a full (and successful) career behind him whilst De Gea is still only 20 having had only 2 seasons first team experience behind him. Despite that though I believe the best will come from him in
The main point of this blog is to look at our rivals summer spending & judge them by this same ‘measure’. I’m going to have a quick look at the major In’s and Out’s at each club, along with my opinion as to how their business over the summer will affect their success in the upcoming season.
IN: Aguero (£38m), Nasri (£22m), Clichy(£7m), Savic (£10m), Hargreaves (Free)
OUT: Given (£3.5m), Boateng (£11.8m), Boyata (Loan), Adebayor (Loan), Santa Cruz (Loan), Bellamy (undisclosed)
City have made it into the Champions League this year, and so have added some quality to their squad, whilst trimming off the excess. They’ve spent big this year (shock) again, but the real story is the Carlos Tevez saga.
Firstly he announced he wanted to leave the cub, the club to be fair said ‘ok but you’re not going cheap.’ A deal was almost done with Corinthians earlier in the summer but fell through, following that there was rumours of heavy interest from Inter Milan who were trying to perhaps off-load Wesley Sneijder before bringing in Tevez.
Now that the transfer window has closed, Tevez is trapped at least until January. It will be interesting (and could have a great effect on City’s results) whether he can still perform to the best of his abilities or if he will spit out the dummy and try to force through a move in the Winter transfer window.
Sergio Aguero was obviously brought in to replace Tevez at the club, now with them both there it could lead to a prolific partnership between the Argentinian team-mates rather than Tevez being made second choice behind the new signing.
I think that City already had the basis of a good squad and feel that the players they have brought in during this transfer window will add to this squad. Unfortunately I have to admit I can see them as major challengers this year.
It is all going well at the minute for them with some impressive early victories. So it can be easy to get carried away, as with the same standards we set ourselves, we will see where they are, come Christmas-time and judge them from then. We will also see how their team bonds and will react when things start to get tougher on them. As always Mancini will face the pressures of keeping all his ‘star’ players happy in such a large squad.
IN – Lukaku (£18m), Mata (£29m), Romeu (£4.35m), Meireles (£12m)
OUT – Zhirkov (£13.2m), Benayoun (Loan)
Many people may not have heard of Romelu Lukaku, being a major football buff that I am (not really, bought him of Football Manager before) I have heard of him. He has an impressive record in the Belgian league and at international level.
In the few interviews I have seen he also comes across as very intelligent, stating how he understands how lucky he is and how he expects it to take time before he becomes a regular first team member for Chelsea. He has the build and power of Drogba and perhaps he can bring a similar goal scoring record, without the attitude. Only time will tell.
Many of us will know Juan Mata from the Valencia and the Spanish senior & U21 squads. This is a signing I will admit to be hugley jealous of. I have always liked him, and according to the gossip, it appears that he would have been interested in a move to United as well, with his preferred clubs being us, Chelsea or Barcelona.
With ourselves & Barca signing Young & Sanchez respectively it meant Chelsea became the front runners. There was in the week building up to Chelsea signing the young Spaniard a lot of news coming out that Arsenal where looking to sign him and favourites to do so, with actually progress made Chelsea in a very short period of time leaving Arsenal fans as discontented as ever.
My opinion is that in an ageing squad, Chelsea have done well this summer to inject some talented youth. I feel that Chelsea have improved their squad from last year but I am unsure if they will be able to perform consistently enough to compete for the league this season.
Again it is so hard to judge after just three games, but they have struggled for their results so far this term. Before I get to excited about this, it could have the opposite effect to last season where they started so strong and faltered near the end. I think along with City, Chelsea are our main rivals this year, but I feel that the Sky Blues may have overtaken the Royal Blues as our main title contenders.
IN – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£12m), Chu Young-Park (£3M), Gervinho (£10.5m), Jenkinson (£1m), Santos (£6.2m), Mertesacker (£8m), Arteta (£10m), Benayoun (Loan)
OUT – Nasri (£22m), Fabregas (£36m), Clichy (£7m), Denilson (Loan), Vela (Loan), Eboue(£3m), Traore (£1.5m), Bendtner (Loan)
You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from Arsenal fans following deadline day. After Sunday afternoon when United hammered their team 8-2, it was clear that additions were required.
I understand that they were missing a number of first team players but if any Arsenal fans thought that they had a strong squad, that idea was severely knocked out of them on Sunday when the limits & lack of depth of their squad where ruthlessly exposed by a Utd side with the same avg. as the Arsenal ‘Second-string’ of 23years old.
Until the transfer deadline day the only major signing Arsenal had made with any real senior experience was Gervinho, but like many others have written time & time again the Gooners area which needed improving was defence much more urgently than their strike-force. However Arsene Wenger then had to boost his midfield following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Whether it was always planned, if it was a tactic of Wenger or if the United result brought reality crashing down on French manager, he finally got out the cheque book and signed a few more players to sure up his squad. The two most valuable being Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker in my opinion, they bring real experience and class to their squad.
Many people will argue that the loss of Fabregas & Nasri leaves a much greater gap in quality than can be filled by Arteta & Benayoun in midfield. I agree with this but it was essential that these players were brought in our Arsenal could have slipped severely down the table. I feel they could still struggle to gain a top four spot, but with the players they have brought in; there is a base where they can improve in future.
IN – Downing (£20m), Henderson (£20m), Adam (£7m), Doni (Free), Jose Enrique (£10m), Coates (£7m), Belamy (Undisclosed)
OUT – Meireles (£12m), Konchesky (£1.5m), Ayala (£800k), Kyrgiakos (Free), Cole (Loan), Aquilani (Loan), Poulsen (£2m), N’Gog(£4m), Insua (Free)
After last year’s poor showing from Liverpool, along with the sale of their best player, it was important for them to buy well this summer. Unlike Arsenal they wrapped up most of their business before deadline day. Apart from the ‘mysterious’ return of Craig Bellamy, which seems pointless in my opinion even as a back-up. I suppose it can be looked on similar to the reasons we signed Michael Owen.
We know what to expect from Stewart Downing & Charlie Adam so their most exciting signing this summer has got to be Jordan Henderson. He has shown potential is his first few games this season, grabbing a goal in the process. He is not the finished article but has the potential to be a quality winger in the future.
I don’t think on the whole, any of the signings they have made will set the world on fire, but I think they have improved their squad and will be able to fight for a spot in the top four this year. I think it will be between them and Arsenal fighting for fourth spot.
I feel that all our main rivals have improved their squads this season, apart from Arsenal who have salvaged their squad on deadline day but I feel they have not recruited at the level of quality they should have.
I also think that we have improved, we already knew that we will have to perform better than last season (especially away from home) and with the teams around us improving it has only emphasised this point further. But make no mistake about it, this is our title to lose.
By Aidan McAtamney @RedDevil_Review
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