The Manchester clubs failing in the Champions League may prove a real fillet to the Premier League this season. With both clubs dropping to the Europa League, they will now be playing on a Thursday night alongside their weekend game. So while this means we’ll have United and City endlessly on Sunday/Monday nights and with Chelsea and Arsenal playing on Tuesday or Wednesday, the real winners are potentially Spurs and Liverpool and Spurs in particular.
Liverpool still look a fairly one-dimensional team despite their progress under Dalglish. Suarez is playing well but the rest of his signings are far from unqualified successes as yet. Downing is as good as I thought (poor man’s Adam Johnson) while Henderson is simply not that good. Beyond Reina, the defence is suspect too. That said, they have Gerrard to come back but losing Lucas might be a bigger blow. He marshals the midfield very well.
Spurs, my pet-hate team, are playing some stunning football. While I believe without Ledley King, they are suspect at the back, their midfield and attack is second only to Man City and not by much. Parker would fit into any team (even Spain imo) while Van Der Vaart and Modric provide the passes for the marauding Bale, Lennon and Adebayor, Bale is unplayable at times. Freidel was an excellent signing too. Harry’s team play with such pace and movement, few teams are organised enough to keep up. Forget the opening games of the season, the return fixtures will be far tougher.
Manchester City are still going to win the league so you can forget that. Manchester United are far from a team in transition. They are a team in decline. Their youngsters are far from good enough. You could say they haven’t been for 10 years. Seeing Macheda come off the bench to ‘save the day’ is a sign of the poverty in their ranks. The defence is ageing, the midfield has aged and De Gea may be young but that’s not the point. The season doesn’t wait.
Chelsea will also struggle but their team has some pace and their talent has only just begun its decline. Mata was an excellent signing. They lack the power and confidence of the past but that’s not coming back without Jose. Arsenal are still far from the team they were. They still have far too many players who simply aren’t good enough and the squad lacks depth but they have talent down the spine in Szczesny, Vermaelen, Ramsey and Van Persie and a little pace to get back into the top four. But it will be competitive in there.
Newcastle are now down in 7th, a reasonable position and one I would be happy with at the end of the season. The teams below are no better but without Taylor for the rest of the season, Ba and Tiote for the African Nations Cup, a lot rests on Krul maintaining his form (keeper of the season so far), Coloccini staying fit and Cabaye pulling the strings. The club should have cash to invest in January and a centre back, wingers and cover upfront are vital.
At the bottom, O’Neill will save Sunderland without worry. I predicted Wigan, Blackburn and Swansea would go down. I am sticking with Wigan and Swansea who have started well but will fade. How Steve Kean got the job remains a mystery and how he still has it is equally bewildering but I think either he or a January replacement might just keep them up by the skin of their teeth. I’m not sure why I’ve changed my mind there and it’s not a sure thing but it will be close with Bolton and Wolves.
Merry Xmas folks 🙂