Transfer Movement Could Mean Next Year Will Be The Best Season Yet
Perhaps next season will be the start of a new chapter in recent Premiership history where there is no longer the untouchable top four clubs. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool , other than the last two years have been the top four teams…
Perhaps next season will be the start of a new chapter in recent Premiership history where there is no longer the untouchable top four clubs. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool , other than the last two years have been the top four teams in the 2003/2004 season as well as in 05/06, 06/07, 07/08 and 08/09.
It seems that competition has grown with Tottenham’s emergence and the Man City millions. It is also worth here mentioning Everton, as the only other team to infiltrate the top four of recent years. It all depends on what happens in this transfer window, as there are many interesting players apparently available.
The most vulnerable team of last season’s top-four is probably Arsenal, who found themselves floundering at the end of the season, finishing below Man City and losing to Birmingham in the league cup final. Everyone seems to agree on their basic problems, even if Arsene is apparently blind to them. They need a goalkeeper, a centre back, a commanding central midfielder and perhaps some muscle up front.
There seems to be a few main contenders for a goalkeeper, with Shay Given probably itching to get first team football, as well as Ben Foster probably wanting premiership football next season. These are two very good premiership keepers, and probably not too expensive certainly not for a club such as Arsenal. Cahill and Samba seem to be constantly mentioned with a summer move, but I think a good option for Arsene would again be to look at Birmingham, and two very good premiership defenders, Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, who proved only last season how good they are as Birmingham secured a top ten finish. In that season they conceded only six more goals than Arsenal and Spurs and only two more than Manchester City. It is no coincidence that Birmingham were relegated this season as they were without Dann for 18 games, compared to the season before when Johnson and Dann only missed 8 games between them.
The best option for a commanding central midfielder would be Scott Parker who seems to be definitely leaving West Ham but his destination is undetermined. Tottenham have been the most linked team with Parker but Arsenals need for him I think is much greater. A longer shot for Arsenal might be perhaps Owen Hargreaves, who is available on a free transfer, and apart from the obvious injury problems he is exactly the type of player they need. If there is a chance that he could become fit again he has the relevant experience Arsenal could do with. An older head to keep some of the youngsters in check.
Perhaps something that is not completely urgent but something useful for Arsenal would be to buy someone with some physicality up front, something slightly different to what they have. When Arsenal play, and everything is not going to plan, they never have another option, they can never change. Other teams at the top have variety and can not only play nice football and win but can play ugly football and win. Arsenal need someone who can help them win ugly. Even though he had a fairly useless last season Carlton Cole would fit that description. He may not be the most gifted technically, but he will chase balls and win aerial battles and keep the ball when it is needed. He has proven in the past that he does have quality too and with the service he could get from the likes of Fabregas et al; his goal tally would not be bad.
The next most vulnerable team would be Chelsea, with their aging squad and the possibility of losing Drogba as well as having to cope with someone new at the helm, staying close to the top will be more challenging than ever. They should, however, have the financial muscle to help them. There could be a few comings and goings though at Stamford Bridge with the likes of Benayoun, Zhirkov, Bosingwa, Ferreira on top of Drogba being all possible outings. Key to their success will be getting the best from Torres who more than anyone else last season was disappointing, for both Liverpool and Chelsea. Keeping Essian fit too will be a big help from last season, as will keeping to a system that works, something that Ancelotti did not do. What will be interesting is whether Sturridge is trusted with a first team place or whether a loan move will be in the offing. However, like everyone else Chelsea need to add some quality, and young quality at that. The biggest name that has been linked with Chelsea is Brazilian sensation Neymar, who would be a gamble but is the sort of message that says that they are serious, something that they need to do to stop the Manchester City train running them over.
City themselves should next season go from strength to strength, they have the financial capacity to buy anyone in the world and they have now added a trophy to their cabinet for good measure. With Champions league football as a guarantee they should be able to add some quality to what they already have. What will worry them most of all is whether they can keep hold of Tevez, which with him apparently vowing never to return to the city does not look currently likely. However, Rooney said last season that he wanted to leave and then got rewarded with a new contract, so anything can happen. Edin Dzeko is another player who needs to step up to fill his reputation and price tag next season. Man city do need to rid their squad of clutter though, the likes of Given, Wright-Philips, Bellamy, Adebayor, Bridge, Santa Cruz and Boateng will probably all leave. They could all be good premiership buys.
Liverpool are facing the biggest challenge of all as their dilemma is how to get back into the top four, something I do not think they will be able to achieve next season. They need quality in all areas of the pitch, apart from in goal. It will be interesting to see if Carragher can remain as first choice centre-back or whether Agger can step up a gear to fill his shoes alongside Skrtel. A clearout in midfield is needed as well as adding genuine quality, Henderson has already joined but for 20 million so I fear how much other players will cost. Poulsen, Aquilani, Jovanovic , Ngog and Konchesky are all likely departures. Quality in wide positions is key, and it could be found in Wright-Philips. Larsson would have been ideal on a free transfer but he has now moved to Sunderland. Joe Cole, if he can get up to the form he is capable of, could feel like a new signing too. With Suarez and Carroll they have two very good strikers but a replacement is needed for Ngog who looks way off Premiership quality.
For Tottenham next season is all about keeping their best players, adding a couple of real quality in certain areas, and getting rid of those surplus to requirements. Redknapp seems adamant that Modric and Bale will stay, one thing is for certain it will take a huge sum to prise them away from White Hart Lane. With Jones and Henderson going for 16 and 20 million respectively it would take double that to get Modric and/or Bale. Especially with Chelsea’s 22 million bid being laughed off by Redknapp. Daniel Levy seems to be refusing money until Tottenham get rid of some of the fringe players which means a lot of possible outgoings this season at the Lane. With O’Hara already gone, Keane, Kranjaer, Hutton, Jenas, dos Santos, Bentley, Woodgate and Bassong are all possible transfers. Quality up-front is need for Spurs next season. As is a system that will get the best from Bale, Lennon, Modric, Van der Vaart and Defoe. The latter two seemed as though they could not be played together this season.
The battle for fifth will be just as interesting next season. Sunderland have added well to their squad, Everton with a couple of players, especially strikers, could be threatening to anyone. Aston Villa, if they reinvest the money from Ashley Young’s transfer could still have a good squad. Past these teams the table really does appear to be anyones guess.
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