Monday, June 6, 2011

Premier League Top 4: What's Next in Store?

After all of the excitement, drama, and collapses in this year's Premier League season, Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United have once again become Champions of England. Was it really that surprising? To be quite honest, not at all. Despite having huge hope for the Gunners, once again, the season ended dismally, with the single highlight being the victory against the eventual champions. Now, I'll look over the best 6 teams in the Premier League, and make my views clear on what they should do to succeed next year.

Manchester United (10/11: 1st Place, 80 Points): No matter how much I hated seeing them take the trophy again, I have to admit that the Red Devils have been stellar. Despite, in most people's views, having a weaker squad then their rivals; they're able to achieve the success that other teams can only dream of. A midfield of Carrick, Giggs, Anderson, and Fletcher doesn't even begin to send shivers down the spines of most teams, so it seems like that's the one area that Sir Alex needs to purchase players for. One area that doesn't need purchases is the attack, with Hernandez, Rooney, Nani, and Berbatov providing proper cover. Watching Rooney recover from his scandal, I was amazed when he dropped back behind Hernandez and played numerous passes for the little Mexican, "Chicharito" to easily finish off.  In fact, that's what Hernandez has shown he's best at, poaching. Always at the right place at the right time, usually being able to tap the ball into an open net. Those two, along with Nani, will be troubling many defenses for the next few years in both Europe and England. For the 2012 season, I view Manchester United as the favorites to retain the title. The only real signings they need to make are one or two midfielders, especially a creative midfielder, with Paul Scholes recently retiring. With that, they can continue to grind out results, no matter how hard it seems.

Arsenal (10/11: 4th Place, 68 Points): Oh boy, where do I start with my favorite team? At the beginning of the season, nearly everything was perfect. Samir Nasri was just sublime, Marouane Chamakh was providing wonderful cover for the injured Robin Van Persie, and Jack Wilshere was showing the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world. They were on top of the world in January and February, beating Barcelona in the Champions' League, and strongly contesting the four tournaments they took part in. Then, on February 27th, it all collapsed. Everything. Losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City, knocked out of the Champions' League on aggregate by Barcelona, and knocked out of the FA Cup by Man United. They still had the league right? Nope. A late collapse saw them drop from title contenders to fourth place. So what are they missing? Not to be biased, but Arsenal's attack is formidable, one of the best in the league. Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, and Theo Walcott lead a front-line that can terrify even the strongest defenses. But the defense is a completely different story. As much as Johann Djourou and Laurent Koscielny tried, they couldn't contest battles in the air. More than 50% of the goals Arsenal have conceded have been from set pieces. MORE THAN 50%. For a team regularly contesting the title, that's ridiculous. So it's pretty obvious what's needed. Someone big, strong, even a leader to show a path when times are tough. Christopher Samba has been highly linked, and he ticks all of the needed boxes. So what's gonna happen next year for them? I honestly don't know. It depends on what happens in this transfer market. These next few months will be absolutely crucial for a successful 2011/2012 Premier League season for the Gunners.

Chelsea (10/11: 2nd Place, 71 Points): 2010's Champions went into this season being strong favorites to clinch the title. Sadly, for them atleast, a mid-season collapse in form saw them struggling and falling into third place behind Arsenal. Trying to fix that dip in form, Roman Abramovich reached into his pockets, took out 50 million pounds, and bough Fernando Torres. Now, despite the hilarious outrage of Liverpool fans on the internet, the Reds were happy thanks to their new purchases of Luis Suarez and Andy Caroll. Meanwhile, over at Stamford Bridge, Torres was failing to make an impact. Despite this, Chelsea's form improved hugely, and made a late run for the title, but still missed out. This year has been quite peculiar for the Blues. No trophies? Strange for them. What's been the problem? My guess is that their once world class stars are beginning to show the signs of their age, and there aren't any young replacements. Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, and Paulo Ferreira are all 30 or older. Granted, they do have Torres, McEachran, Ramires, and David Luiz, but that really isn't enough. Most of the aging players still have a few years in them, but for Chelsea, it's time to start looking for replacements. They can't rely on the players they purchased 5 years ago for the next few seasons. This summer, my bet is on Roman Abramovich, oil magnate and Chelsea owner, will go on a huge spending spree before the Financial Fair Play rules kick in.

Manchester City (10/11: 3rd Place, 71 Points): Like Chelsea, the Sky Blues are another team who basically bought their success. 12 years ago, they were dwelling in the third tier of British football, but now thanks the a Sheik Mansour they're one of the best teams in England. I honestly don't know what to think of it. On one hand, I like how their success finally managed to throw off United, whom they beat in the FA Cup semi-final. On the other hand, they finished above Arsenal in the table thanks to their 400 million pounds of spending. Me no likey. Let me outline their most likely plan on how to improve the squad in the summer: LET'S SPEND SOME MOOLAH. They also better hope that Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko finally step up and fill their potential, because they will also most likely have to fill Carlos Tevez's boots. It seems as if he could be moving away from the Mancs, especially since he was told by Sheik Mansour himself that he is allowed to leave. Recently, the team's squad has really been clicking, and towards the end of the season they were, I hate to admit it, playing some great footy. The midfield trio of Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Nigel De Jong can only improve next season, and can soon look like a formidable squad that any team in Europe would be scared to face, if they aren't already. So what can they do to improve? Other than what was stated above, not much really. Maybe a few big name signings could come in, and knowing City, I'm ready for some crazy transfer news.

Now, time for some predictions. It'll be tough to call a winner for next season's Premier League. Honestly, I believe that Arsene Wenger will make the best transfers for his squad, and will end up winning the Premier League title. As for the other challengers, I wouldn't be surprised if they win other silverware in England and abroad. We'll just have to wait and see.

My Predictions for 11/12:
Premier League Winner: Arsenal
2nd Place: Manchester United
3rd Place: Manchester City
4th Place: Chelsea/Liverpool
FA Cup Winner: Manchester United
Champions' League Winner: FC Barcelona
Premier League Top Scorer: Robin Van Persie
Carling Cup Winners: Liverpool
 Player of the Season: I honestly don't know, probably someone British.
Young Player of the Season: Henri Lansbury

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