Following on from yesterday’s Premier League top four predictions post, Dom Farr concludes with who he thinks will finish in first and second place.
This year I think Manchester City will finish in second position. They have a top quality squad, with an embarrassment of riches in every area of the pitch, no pun intended. With a manager in Manuel Pellegrini who worked his magic on the Costa del Sol at Spanish side Malaga CF, they are indeed in good hands. With match winners such as David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure to name a few, I think they will be a force to be reckoned with once again this season.
However, despite having a big squad with proven internationals, one must be concerned about the current form of Joe Hart. At 26 years of age, he is arguably not yet at his best, but at this moment in time, is arguably in his worst form in recent memory. Hart was at fault for two of Bayern Munich’s goals in the Champions League 1-3 home defeat by the champions, and some below par performances in England’s top flight has lead to calls for England boss Roy Hodgson to drop the current England number one. If City are to stand any chance of challenging this year, they will need the Shrewsbury born stopper at his best.
Despite Hart’s woes, Manchester City have a more than capable deputy in Costel Pantilimon. At 6 foot 8, the towering Romanian has a strong case to replace Hart after some fine performances last season in the FA Cup, only to be controversially replaced for the final by England’s number 1. Perhaps dropping Hart may be a good thing to do for now, to motivate him to improve and capture his best form, whilst giving Pantilimon a run in the team and gaining some more Premier League experience.
Something Manchester City are missing this year is a fit and firing Vincent Kompany. The Belgian centre back has struggled with injury, and now faces an undetermined lay-off with a thigh injury, sustained in Saturday’s win over Everton; having just returned from a groin injury, which left him on the sidelines for 3 weeks. Kompany is an invaluable player to City, he is their leader and in a sense their John Terry, getting his head to every ball, and giving his all for the team. As mentioned with Hart and Pantilimon, this will give young Serbian defender Matija Nastasić an opportunity to stake a claim for the centre back position, and provide some healthy competition for Kompany, Kolarov, Lescott, and also new signing Demichelis. Micah Richards is also capable of filling the void, being able to play at right back or centre back.
As mentioned before, City have an embarrassment of riches. Going forward, they have a midfield to rival the best with David Silva, the powerhouse of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, James Milner, Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and new signings Jesús Navas and Fernandinho. This must provide a selection nightmare for Manuel Pellegrini, but not of the worst kind. Now arguably with more natural width than previously thanks to the acquisition of Jesús Navas, they are able to play in a variety of ways, but are known for playing very centrally. Fernandinho has settled well into the Premier League, but the tough tackling midfielder didn’t look at his best against a top quality Bayern Munich side, being partially at fault for one of the goals.
Up front, the name’s pretty much speak for themselves, with the lethal Aguero and the likes of Edin Džeko, Álvaro Negredo (The Beast) and Stevan Jovetić (Jovetić, a veritable star when signed, has only played 63 minutes in the Premier League so far) to choose from, they are any defender’s nightmare. Expect more of the same from the blue half of Manchester this season.
This season’s Premier League winners in my opinion will be Chelsea. With ‘The Special One’ back at the helm it’s hard to look past them as the favourites. With an abundance of young talent and experience in their squad, despite their shaky start to the season I believe they will eventually top the table.
Mourinho, is one of the best managers around, if not in history, and with his experience, will to win and management style I have no doubts they will mount a serious challenge this season.
Starting from the back, they have one of the best defences in the league with the ever consistent Petr Čech in goal and the likes of Terry, Cahill, Luiz, Ivanovic, Cole, Azpilicueta and Ryan Bertrand in front of him. Mourinho’s preferred pairing this season is Terry and Luiz at centre back, but having extremely capable deputies such as Cahill and Ivanovic to fill in gives Mourinho a similarly positive selection problem to that of Manuel Pellegrini of Manchester City. Expect Chelsea to be a solid unit at the back.
In Midfield a vast array of talent, with the evergreen Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Ramires, Essien, Mikel and new signings, Van Ginkel, Willian and De Bruyne. An absolutely packed midfield with talent spilling out from the bench. It has been mentioned by other journalists, Mourinho could field several midfields; each with their own dimension of play and also the power to make opponents quiver in their boots – squad depth does not seem to be a problem for Chelsea this season.
Up front, Chelsea have Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba, and new boy Andre Schurrle. This is probably Mourinho’s biggest problem, with none of his current forwards in form, he is relying on his midfield for the goals. He will need one of his four forwards to hit some form, as he cannot continue to rely on his midfield for goals. Once upon a time, Torres and Eto’o were 20/30 goals a season strikers, but heading towards the tail ends of their careers, expecting these sorts of figures is less and less likely.
Perhaps investing in a younger striker to learn from the veterans is on Mourinho’s mind for the future? Having said this, it is no secret that Mourinho has made a bit of a blunder letting Romelu Lukaku go to Everton on loan. From what the world has seen of this 20 year old beast of a forward he is pretty much ready for the big stage, netting four times with one assist for the Toffees already this season. A tall, strong, quick striker, he has all the attributes that are most hated by defenders, especially his pace. However, there are elements of his game that he needs to work on, such as awareness and movement, but that will come with experience and time, is he the new Drogba? Would it be worth Mourinho bringing him back? As I mentioned, I believe that Chelsea will win the Premier League, with the main factors being, the Mourinho effect, squad depth and experience.
These are my unbiased predictions, personally, I would love Arsenal to end their trophy drought and win the league, but squad depth and injuries are my main concern for them. I think Manchester United will be able to claw their way back into the top four, led by David Moyes steely resolve and Rooneys big game nature. I believe Manchester City will give Chelsea a good run for their money, but ultimately I think ‘The Special One’ will mark his return with a bang and win the Premier League of 2013/14.
Please share your thoughts and predictions for this season Premier League top 4!