|photo by TheGiantVermin||via PhotoRee|
The boss man weighed in on what he thought the season would end like on Thursday's blog. Predictably, he had United winning the Title, followed by City, then Chelsea, then Arsenal. Unfortunately, I think he’s part right (even the blind squirrel, etc . . . . . ), but has missed something big, namely Liverpool. So here’s my “correct” call of this year’s EPL:
1. Manchester United. Regrettably, they’re still the team to beat. It starts in the back with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but now they have some backup strength as well with Phil Jones. SAF is still looking to get ahead of Barca, and so I believe he’s trying to move on to the smaller, quicker, faster players in the line-up. Thus, Ashley Young and his attempts to get Wesley Sneijder. Up front, United’s loaded with talent, and Danny Welbeck may end up making Dimitar Berbatov, last year’s leading scorer, very moveable (back to Spurs?). Tom Cleverly also looked good enough in pre-season to make a run for the Paul Scholes position. United have already spent a bundle, and they may end up shoveling out about 100 Million pounds when all is said and done. That’s what gets you depth and ability at the top level. The only questionmark is the keeper David De Gea, who has so far underwhelmed. Even so, barring lots of injuries they are the favorite. Yick.
2. Manchester City. Despite being outplayed in the Community Shield, this team also has a lot of stout defenders with Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott. They are two deep at pretty much every spot on the pitch, and have the best 'keeper in the EPL. David Silva also continues to impress as one of the best in the EPL. That said, the only issue for City is the striker position and the annual Carlos Tevez distraction. With Tevez they are neck and neck with United. Without him, they are close but not quite there, unless Sergio Aguero is as good as advertised. We’ll see about that.
3. Liverpool. This team’s ownership knows how to assemble a champion, and the moves King Kenny Dalglish keeps making look better every day. First, selling Fernando Torres for 50 MM was a boondoggle, and they’ve spent the money well. Andy Carroll is an imposing scorer in the middle, and he and Luis Suarez are a top flight tandem at the front. Player of the year Charlie Adam is already looking like the go to guy by the rest of the team, and the addition of Stewart Downing gives them the speed and width they need. Questions remain regarding how Dirk Kuyt fits in – presumably on the other flank – but either way he adds depth. The only issue for the Reds is their defense, and the recent signing of Luis Enrique from an imploding Newcastle United team may help. Apparently, they wanted Gael Clichy more, but I actually think Enrique may be better. That said, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger are not at the same level as their counterparts in the Manchesters, and that’s the only reason I put them third.
You may have noticed I haven’t even brought up Stevie G., who will be returning from injury in September. Theoretically, he should be an asset in the center, but I’m not sure how he will fit in with Adam in the middle. He’s struggled to play with Frankie L (why not?) on the England team, and the same could be true of Adam. If it works, they’ve got a shot to go big. If not, third is it.
4. Chelsea. Chelsea hasn’t added much in the offseason. They are getting older. Torres remains a question mark. Michael Essien is out for the year. John Terry wasn’t that much of a factor. Didier Drogba is very old. The purported solution to their problems?: Luka Modric. Modric is a good player – maybe even great – but I’m not sure he’s worth the hype he’s been given. Watching him at Spurs, he’s outstanding with the ball, and moves the play around the pitch efficiently and effectively. However, his shot is poor, and he’s not a strong defender. Would he help Chelsea? Yes. Does he get them over the other three teams? No.
5. Tottenham. For the first time in a long time, Spurs best their rivals in the standings. While Spurs haven’t made many moves, they were overwhelmed with injuries last year, and so with any luck they should be somewhat better than they used to be. Look for Michael Dawson to be solid in the middle, and for Jermaine Defoe to return to form. Gareth Bale also remains young, and could end up taking over most of the offensive production of the team. Unfortunately, questions remain in the back and Defoe notwithstanding, at the front. Plus, they don’t have the depth of the big money clubs. For this reason, I put them fifth.
6. Arsenal. These guys didn’t look good last year, and it looks like they’re losing their best two players. I don’t get it, but I don’t care. I put them 6th, and I put Arsene Wenger on the short list at the end of next year.
So there’s my list. Now let’s get this thing going.
This is Correspondent Ed weighing in for farlieonfootie to kick off the 2011/12 EPL Season.