|photo by bb_matt||via PhotoRee|
So, it's time for the first annual farlieonfootie pre-season picks; that's why I've titled this blog accordingly. No pre-season preparation is finished until you've digested the many nuggets of wisdom I'm about to impart, so buckle up, strap in, and get ready for farlieonfootie's semi-famous and sometimes accurate picks.
You know, the ones in which we fully display all our biases and ignorance, and the ones in which our detractors (mainly Columnist Ed's family and friends) will use against us on the off chance they don't come true. Without any further ado, here's our top four teams for next season:
1. Manchester United. Yes, Manchester is Red, and the 2011/12 season will see United win the League for a record 20th time, and put some further domestic space between themselves and Liverpool. Goalkeeping remains the major wildcard, but we think newboy De Gea is more than up to the task, and expect Anders Lindegaard to offer a steady and efficient alternative. The addition of Ashley Young and Phil Jones will make up for the departure of Wes Brown and John O'Shea, and the squad has just been freshened enough to keep on keepin' on. Things to watch: will United sign Wesley Sniejder -- that move will be all about Europe -- and how will the brutal start to United's campaign play out?
2. Manchester City. The Noisy Neighbo(u)rs are creeping closer and closer, but I don't think they have what it takes to win it all -- just yet. I'm picking El Kun to shine this season, and ably replace a certain unhappy countryman. City's main challenge will be keeping control of all the egos and personalities in the locker room (think Balotelli and Tevez), but certainly the talent is there. The Scarved One seems to have come around to the opinion that Adam Johnson is a valuable player, and City's defense should be strengthened over last year with Gael Clichy and Kolo Toure returning to action. Joe Hart in goal provides a steady backstop, and we all know that despite the sexiness of scoring goals, defense wins championships. City are close, but not there just yet.
3. Chelsea. Signing Luka Modric could change my opinion, but at long as Spurs hold out against Roman's checkbook, I don't think the Blues will have what it takes to beat out either United or City. I do expect Drogba to have a significantly better season than last, and Fernando Torres has to find the back of the net -- doesn't he? Chelsea's weakness is in midfield, and that's why I'm keeping my eyes out for Luka. Fat Frank is a year or two past his prime, and combined with Chelsea's creaky defense, I don't think they've done enough to their squad to move up in the standings.
4. Arsenal. Does Arsene Wenger realize he needs a goalie? Apparently not. Does Le Professor realize he needs some new defenders? Apparently not. Has M. Wenger overcome his fixation with pretty but not winning football? Apparently not. Has Arsenal's coach prepared for the expected departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri? Apparently not. Will this be a winning season at the Emirates?
I think by now you know the verdict.
We'll see what actually happens when all the action kicks off Saturday. I can't wait.
This is an excited farlieonfootie for August 11.