Posted Saturday, August 11 2012 at 19:30
It’s time, the new season kicks off next Saturday and as is customary it’s time to look forward and think about how the season will play out for different clubs.
Manchester City are in terms of personnel, pretty much unchanged from last season, there are rumours Edin Dzeko will leave but that’s neither here nor there.
The big difference for Man City this season is the availability of a committed Carlos Tevez. Together with Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero that is a frontline capable of delivering another title.
The big question is whether City have improved mentally from last season when at times the nerves of a title race appeared too much to bear for the City millionaires.
There were also repeated incidents of training ground bust ups and this lack of character nearly cost City the title last season. It is possible that winning the league last season will have cured these issues and improved the attitude and mental character of the club.
Can City do it again? Was it a onetime thing? This is the big challenge for City this season, whether they are starting a dominant run or they have had their moment in the sun.
Manchester United have not changed crew as much as their fans and Sir Alex Ferguson himself wanted. United have failed to sign Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura. It is easy to see why Ferguson wanted them, both are young, technically gifted attackers who play with flair and their arrivals would have changed the complexion of United’s play completely.
United did get a gifted young attacker in Shinji Kagawa but whether he alone is enough to inspire a new swagger in United’s play remains unknown. But there is no doubt he will greatly improve United’s forward play.
This makes the capture of Robin Van Persie critical for Ferguson; he can lessen the blow of missing on all those signings and land a world class player. That deal can change United’s season although as Ferguson admitted Arsenal are playing hardball with the deal.
Chelsea are massively improved for the new season, Eden Hazard and Oscar are remarkable talents and to add them to a Champions League winning team is remarkable. Whether they fit in with their teammates and the manager can work out a formation to accommodate them we await to see.
Tottenham now under Andre Villas Boas have also had a quiet transfer window with one key arrival, Gylfi Sigurdsson, from Hoffenheim.
The exit drama of Luka Modric and the wage demands of Emmanuel Adebayor have defined their preseason but Spurs have enough talent in house with Gareth Bale, Lennon, Van Der Vaart, Sandro, and Scott Parker to maintain their high standards.
North London neighbours Arsenal have done plenty of business with the arrivals of Luka Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Carzola; the latter two are the key signings. It says a lot that Van Persie was not satisfied that these players would add enough to make Arsenal a top contender but his exit hovers heavily on Arsenal’s season and could overshadow the early stages of the same.
Wenger is also on the trail of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid. That is the signing Arsenal needed – a central playmaker – whom they have lacked since the exit of Fabregas and Nasri. Carzola can play central but that is not his best position.
How do I think the season will end? I think if United get Van Persie they win the title hands down and Chelsea come in second. Without Van Persie I still think United and Chelsea will be the top two but Chelsea could just edge it but Man City are third either way while Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool will do battle for fourth.