With the first two weekends of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season now complete the cobwebs have well and truly been blown away. This is what I think each team challenging for the title and in some cases their Premier League survival is currently lacking. Due to the nature of the transfer window by the time you read this it could be completely obsolete. So now I am going do my best to analyse what each team needs.
Arsenal – With Alexis Sanchez coming in from Barca, there is no doubt that the North London club has considerably boosted their strike force. However Arsenal have always been good with the ball, it is when they don’t have it Arsenal struggle. With Vermaelen
going in the opposite direction and Mertesacker, well, being Per Mertesacker I think Arsenal are set to struggle defensively again unless they but a quality centre back and with rumours growing that Wenger is going to compete with van Gaal for the signature of Mats Hummels it looks like he feels the same way. I also think if Arsenal ever want to win the league again Arsenal have got to learn to win ‘ugly’.
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert is attempting to build a team full of kids. But, despite the risk of sounding like Alan Hansen, a team of young players means one thing. Inconsistency. This inconsistency has been a feature of Villa’s game for the past few seasons. Villa also seemed to struggle with out the goals of Benteke last time out. The best case scenario would be the purchasing of two or three experienced players (one of which being a striker) to give the team a solid backbone. However if Villa’s recent transfer record is anything to go by, they are more likely to sell their only experienced player (Vlaar) than bring in any more players.
Burnley – ‘The Clarets’ had a pretty potent attack built around Ings and Voakes last season. However a Championship successful attack (unless improved) is rarely successful. Sean Dyche has added only one new striker in the form of Marvin Sordell also from the Championship. Without further attacking additions I can see Burnley struggling to find the back of the net against tougher Premier League defences.
Chelsea – Big Money has been spent and a number of players have left Chelsea, but I think they have brought in some real quality. I’d agree with Mourinho’s recent comments that Fabregas is a ready-made Lampard replacement. Defensively Chelsea look solid and if Mourinho can keep both his goalkeepers happy Chelsea will have one of the best
goalkeeping line ups in the world. I think you could argue that Chelsea could do with another striking option. With Drogba now injured and Torres being in the form of his life (sarcasm) Mourinho is left only with Diego Costa and considering the recent strikers to play at Stamford Bridge there is a 50/50 chance that Costa is as big a flop as E’eto was.
Crystal Palace – Palace without Pulis could be in serious trouble. The former Stoke City boss was taking steps to bolster the defence through the signings of Dann, Hangeland and Kelly. Palace need to add a few more attacking options but even if they do, I think that without Pulis Palace could be in for a rough season. Neil Warnock has had a number of chances at the Premier League and although he is without doubt a good manager, so far in his career, when it has come to the big time his teams have struggled.
Everton – Looking back at last season’s record Everton were very reliant the goals of Lukaku particularly in the league. While the striker is fit and in form this is fine. However having paid £28 million for the Belgian it is almost inevitable for the front man to now get injured or suffer a form slump. Signing E’eto is a decent bit of business. In the latter half of last season he score a few goals for Chelsea, he may be able to get the goals which help Everton to another Champions league contending season. Otherwise I expect Everton to be just as solid at the back as they were last year and with the recent midfield signing of Besic is a very good addition. The Bosnian impressed at the World Cup and will add quality and hard work to the midfield.
Hull – The loss of Shane Long could be a big one if he isn’t replaced. Steve Bruce is looking at signing Danny Welbeck. My concern would be whether he will score the same number of goals that Long did for the Tigers in the second half of last season. Signing Michael Dawson from Spurs will be a very good defensive addition. But for Hull the ability to score goals is the issue.
Leicester – Nigel Pearson has brought in Matthew Upson from Brighton but whether this will be enough to strengthen ‘The Foxes’ defence is debatable. I think Pearson’s men, much like Burnley, could struggle this season. Further defensive and offensive additions are required.
Liverpool – Rodgers seems to have recognised last year’s frailties, bringing in a number of new defenders. However a second quality goalkeeper needs to be brought in to compete with Mignolet for the number one slot. It is only then with competition will Rodgers get the best out of the Belgian. Cardiff’s David Marshal and Tottenham’s now number 3
keeper Brad Friedel for me are worth considering. Most importantly Liverpool have got to be another striker to replace the goals lost from the sale of Suarez. I don’t Balotelli will be able to score the number of goals Liverpool need to challenge for the title again. However if the Italian behaves himself he has the ability to help the club to a top four finish. However looking at the number of new signings brought in Liverpool could suffer the same fate as Tottenham considering the number of new names that have been brought in.
Manchester City – Last Year without Kompany City looked shaky at the back. Without their Belgian skipper City lacked leadership and decisiveness. City have bought 23 year old French International defender Mangala. I doubt that Mangala will automatically become Kompany’s leadership understudy but the French Belgian defensive combination could be the solid centre back partnership that City have lacked.
Manchester United – the loss of both Ferdinand and Vidic could be big for United. As a result van Gaal will have to buy either Blind or Hummels although for him I am sure the Dutch man would rather he get both his men. I also think that the United midfield lacks
pace and van Gaal’s favoured 3-5-1-1 only really works when there is out and out pace in the side. United fans can expect the opposite of a Fergie transfer window. I fully anticipate a flurry of signings as van Gaal looks to strengthen, if these players don’t come I think United could struggle. There is no doubt that Di Maria is a good player but at nearly £60 million I think United have paid well over the mark for him. I also don’t really know where the Argentinian will play, will he play as a wing back or down the middle replacing Mata. The former Real Madrid man has got plenty of pace which Manchester United need but van Gaal has got to make a number of new additions for his team to eve be remotely successful.
Newcastle United – France B has grown in number of this window. Pardew has brought in a number of new strikers to support the struggling Cisse. The real question for Newcastle is whether or not Pardew has found a suitable replacement for Cabaye.
QPR – Harry Redknapp has brought in two quality centre backs in Caulker and Ferdinand to strengthen his sides weakest point. The rest of the QPR squad has got the quality to stay up. I wouldn’t expect many more signings from QPR, the seams to have learnt from previous over buying mistakes.
Southampton – following the loss of Pochettino and the decimation of the squad it seemed that Southampton were doomed to relegation. However following the selling of key players for pretty fair amounts of money Southampton are now rebuilding the squad for a fraction of the price. Signing Shane Long is a good bit of business as the Irish man is a proven goal scorer. Schneiderlin looks at the minute that he might be staying, at least for the first half of the season, which is a big plus for the South Coast club. Lallana and Lovern are sure to be missed but if proper replacements are found the loss of the captain and the centre back isn’t disastrous. I do think Southampton will need another centre back and potentially another creative goal scoring midfielder. I don’t think anyone expects Southampton to be anywhere near as successful as last year but I do expect them to be safe.
Stoke – Now very much a permanent fixture in the Premier League. Despite initial difficulties adapting to Mark Hughes’ style. Stoke now look settled. Not many new faces are moving to the Britannia which can go one of two ways. Either the continuity enables the side to grow and become more successful or the lack of competition can lead to complacency. I think Stoke are safe and don’t necessarily need to make any more buys after adding Bojan and Victor Moses (Moses on loan from Chelsea) to their ranks. But as Fulham proved last year no team is safe from the drop.
Sunderland – After last year’s miraculous recovery Poyet had plenty of things to think about. This window has seen a mass exodus from the North East club. Poyet has brought in talented players for every area of the pitch adding strength in depth. Particularly Jack Rodwell, the young English man has got a point to prove following a season on the bench at City.
Swansea – Gary Monk has brought in a number of attacking players including the return of Sigurdsson. Perhaps the biggest lost could prove to be Michel Vorm. The Dutch man proved solid and dependable between the sticks. Monk had brought in Fabiański and whether the Pole has the quality to replace the Dutchman is very debateable.
Tottenham – Following almost every player under the sun heading to White Hart Lane last season, Pochettino has had a pretty quiet pre-season with his new team. I don’t think Spurs particularly need any players. The club needs continuity to enable the side to gel together and become successful. Perhaps that is the former Southampton boss’ master plan, enabling the side to gel.
West Brom – Since the loss of Odemwingie and Lukaku West Brom have suffered from a sever lack of goals epitomised by last year’s battle for survival. And rather than combating the lack of goals Irvine has proceeded to add 6 defenders to his ranks. With the lack of new front men I can see West Brom struggling again this season.
West Ham – Big Sam guarantees, at the very least, Premier League survival. However following last season the West Ham boss has been told to change the style. It would probably have been easier to change the manager. Considering the change of style any suggestion I make are essentially pointless until I watch them play. An influx of players that will be able to implement this new style have been brought in. Including Erner Valencia, Ecuador’s prolific World Cup striker. If the players and the manager adapt to the new style West Ham will finish mid table but if there isn’t a quick adaption the team and the manager could be in trouble.