Premier League Roundtable: Preseason

Has United done enough to get themselves back into contention for a Champions League spot? (From @crippledouble)

Louis van Gaal will be entrusted to return Machester United to the Champions League.

Ahmad: I think so. Because of factors both in and beyond their control, I see Manchester United in Europe next season. Liverpool will regress in my opinion, as the loss of Luis Suarez will be tough to overcome. Suarez had quite possibly the best Premier League season ever production wise, but more than anything, Liverpool will miss his ability to fit into any role Brendan Rodgers drew up for him. Whether it was on the left, right, or the center, Suarez contributed and caused havoc.

While Tottenham will undoubtedly improve under Pochettino, they still need a few more seasons (whether or not Daniel Levy will be patient is another story). The same thing applies to Roberto Martinez and Everton.

Louis Van Gaal will improve this squad enough to warrant a top four finish. Manchester United will be in the Champions League next season.

Khalid: United supposedly have a 150m transfer kitty this season. They’ve only spent around 60-70m so far on just two players. Shaw was a priority as Evra was obviously on his way out of the club. The second signing, Ander Herrera,  as also a much needed signing as United’s midfield was a mess last season. They only have three CBs and need at least one more if LvG’s going to play 3-5-2 – which he most likely will. They also need one more midfielder. Fellaini, Cleverley, and Fletcher are good subs, but won’t cut it for LvG. Carrick’s out for a couple of months with an injury but he’s also quite old. Herrera needs a solid partner in midfield. Vidal would be the perfect acquisition if they can manage to get him. He’s willing to leave if Juventus get a good offer, but United seem to be looking at other options. Now as good as LvG is, I don’t think it’ll be as easy as people make it seem to be. He’ll be fighting with teams like Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea for a top four finish. Unless he makes key signings, I don’t think he’ll get United a Champions League spot.

Who is the first manager Louis Van Gaal gets into a spat with on the touchline?

Jordan: ‘Arry. United’s first three games will come out against managers who don’t have the sort of persona or arrogance to clash with Van Gaal. Gary Monk, Gus Poyet and Sean Dyche are all mangers who I just can’t envision doing that. United’s fourth game is against Harry “I’m Not a Fooking Wheeler Dealer” Redknapp and QPR. Redknapp certainly isn’t someone who shies away from drawing attention to himself. He has a long history in English football and won’t be intimidated from LVG. I’d also imagine QPR having Rio Ferdinand could play a role in this.

Khalid: Old Trafford. 75th minute. Hazard scores from the spot in what seemed like a soft penalty call. 1-0. LvG’s barking at the fourth official when Mourinho decides to intrude. LvG loses it and attempts to poke Mourinho’s eyes but is held back by Eric Cantona. Seems too fictional, eh? Well that’s the beauty of the Premier League – AKA THE BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD, WHERE ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. 

If Chelsea fail to win a trophy this year, is Mourinho sacked?

Jose Mourinho won numerous trophies at his first stint at Chelsea but came up empty last season in his return to Stamford Bridge.

Ahmad: Almost definitely. Chelsea’s squad is too good not to get any trophy, and a trophy haul could even be seen as a disappointment. As I wrote earlier, Chelsea are prohibitive favorites going into the season, and if the manager who prides himself on his results fails to get results (for the third year in a row, I might add), Roman will not be happy. Then Diego Simeone takes over.

Faisal: I have no doubts about that. The main reason Mourinho’s style was tolerated in the past was because it lead to the clubs he managed winning trophies. However, clearly patience is running thin for Roman Abramovich and the executives at Chelsea as not only must Mourinho win silverware this season, but with what looks to be  deep squad filled with exciting talent, you would assume that Abramovich wants him to play a more attractive style of football this season. Mourinho is a brilliant manager and I have no doubts that his team will be challenging on all fronts this year. However, whether he does it in a way that pleases Mr. Abramovich remains to be seen. So in short, if Mourinho fails to win anything this year, the honeymoon will come to an end.

Can Newcastle finish Top Eight?

Jeremy: Newcastle, as ever, scoured the French market this window and wound up with two solid additions in Rémy Cabella and Emmanuel Rivière, and Daryl Janmaat was a nice pickup from Feyenoord. However, as we know, the most predictable thing about Newcastle is that they’re wholly unpredictable. In what is potentially a make-or-break year for Alan Pardew, I say Newcastle finish ninth on goal difference. Behind West Ham or something. (Do YOU believe in Enner Valencia?)

Jordan: The better Newcastle question should’ve been “What about Ameobi like?”. Newcastle finished tenth last season, with Stoke ninth and Southampton eighth. Southampton has lost pretty much everyone of importance other than Jay Rodriguez at this point, so it looks unlikely they finish eighth. Other than getting Bojan, Stoke hasn’t done much that impresses me. Newcastle did lose Mathieu Debuchy and Loic Remy but Siem De Jong, Emmanuel Riviere, Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella are four good pieces business. I think the shirtless Geordies across the land will be support a team that finishes eighth this year.

Moe: Well, Southampton sold a litany of productive players and are the real life incarnation of a Football Manager career mode (though the idea that they are going to sweat it out to avoid relegation is a bit preposterous), Stoke bought the former boy wonder in Bojan and everyone else… didn’t really do much. It wasn’t like last season where it felt like the mid to lower table clubs beefed up with transfer signings left and right. Plus Newcastle did some solid things with the signings of Emmanuel Riviere, Sime De Jong and Daryl Janmaat. If Riviere could replicate close to the same numbers as Loic Remy and they could have their PDO regress back to the mean, finishing top eight should be attainable.

Does Arsenal avoid finishing fourth?

Alexis Sanchez will be key if Arsenal finishes in third or higher.

Faisal: The potential is there with the acquisitions made by Arsene wenger so far in the transfer window. Alexis Sanchez is a top quality attacking talent that will most certainly help an Arsenal that has somewhat fallen short in the goals department in recent seasons. Mathieu Debuchy is an experienced fullback who had proven himself in the premiership as well as at International level (ironically replacing former Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna), Callum Chambers is an exciting young English prospect with a bright future ahead of him. Playing under Arsene Wenger will definitely benefit him the same way players like Ashley Cole benefitted whilst playing for him. However, as of now, Arsenal have yet to sign a defensive midfielder so until that happens, I’m not quite certain that Arsenal will finish better than 4th place.

You have to also consider how other clubs are looking for next season: Manchester United haven’t got the burden of playing in Europe next year and they’ve looked really strong under LVG so far in pre season so you’d think they’ll be strong contenders for the title this year. Chelsea have strengthened significantly and Man City have made a few strong additions to build on an already fantastic squad. Here’s how I see it: if the transfer window ended right now, I would say Arsenal most likely finishes with United just edging them to 3rd place. However, if Arsenal do manage to secure a top quality defensive midfielder, they’ll have the squad strength necessary to finish 3rd or maybe even higher this year. Whether Arsene Wenger manages to get the best out of his squad remains to be seen.

Moe: Yes. Trust me I would love to live in a world where Arsenal had to fight it out for 4th place once again and make a mockery about another fourth place trophy in Arsene Wenger’s cabinet,  but there’s too much talent for Arsenal and they should find themselves finishing 3rd this time around. Sanchez was a steal at his price and will give Arsenal such an injection on the right hand side or even playing up top if Giroud can’t cut it. It’d also give Ozil another runner alongside Walcott, once Theo returns from his knee injury. Far too often Arsenal looked so constricted and were dying for any width whatsoever. They still need another holding midfielder alongside Arteta who despite his past brilliance is getting a bit long in the tooth and it’ll be interesting to see the experiment with Chambers at CB. Just too much talent for even Arsene Wenger to screw it up.

About Jordan Katz

Journalism student at the University of Maryland and an editor at The Diamondback, our independent student newspaper.
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