Title Race: Fans 2013/14 Preview


Arsenal POV provided by Gavin Ballantyne
Chelsea POV provided by Josh Morsman @Morsman2010
Manchester City POV provided by Ben Warner @TheBlueView
Manchester United POV provided by Luke Smalley @tattoed_2
Tottenham Hotspur POV provided by Russell Moore

How do you feel your manager performed last season?

ARSENAL Average, Yes we have got top 4 again but the manager and the club very much run Arsenal as a business now rather than the a club that will do anything to win a little silverware. Ok maybe its a good thing we don’t have to rely on a Billionaire owner and the club runs on what it makes and is very close to being debt free as the new Stadium is now only a year away from being paid off already, we also always show a profit every year even with the Big repayments they have on the Stadium. I think that Arsenal feel that the Financial Fair play rules we help them but I just see over clubs finding loop holes in that so they can still spend their money. At the end of the Day Arsenal fans want to see some trophies and not just a money making machine…
CHELSEA We can’t complain regarding Europa win. League position was good but expected with a squad of our caliber, we should really be getting top 3. But it was never going to be about results with Rafa. His hole was dug before he even joined regarding comments he made in the past. Maybe he might have been more respected if he came out, apologized about what he said and then went on to say he’s here to do his best. But we’ll never know.
MAN UNITED They both did exceptionally well 🙂
Sir Alex did what he always did – win. Getting RVP was a master stroke whilst his parting gift of exposing Wayne Rooney’s wanting to leave for the second time (seriously that boy is being dangerously ill advised) and therefore denying Moyes the hassle of it being seen as his sale was, I think, one of his shrewdest moves as Manchester United manager.
Moyes continued to, a hate to use the phrase, overachieve at Everton and left the club on the best possible terms whilst also ensuring they finished about Liverpool for the second consecutive year.
MAN CITY I think he performed well, even though we finished second and didn’t really put up much of a fight. His tactics were what we were consistently what we had come to know and love over the previous few seasons under Mancini. It wasn’t really his fault we were so poor last season, it’s just the transfers we made weren’t good enough, and it really showed when Van Persie was banging in the goals for United, after we’d missed out on him. However, I do believe Mancini had to leave, as we weren’t going to progress too much more as a club with him, so we needed to replace him, as we’ve done now with Pellegrini.
TOTTENHAM Better than I and many others expected given the fact of what happened at Chelsea the season before. There’s a lot to be said for being the right man at the right time.

Are you satisfied with your progress over last couple of years?

AFC No, we have just become a selling club to the other teams in England and Europe, we use to attract the big stars not sell them. 6-8 Years ago we was one of the teams to beat in the Prem and Europe. Now clubs see Arsenal as a team you can take points off rather than a club they look at and say well we are not expected to win this lets just see if we can get a point.
CFC Tricky question, we’ve had some great moments. Munich, Barcelona are the highlights. But also had some bad moments. With our current squad, Mourinho, and a few additions, we can look at pushing on from top 4 and get back to challenging for the title. Overall I’m satisified with the progress, but there’s definitely more to come.
MUFC Couldn’t be happier but I’ve been spoilt haven’t I? Consistent success and we’ve built a team full of young players who have the potential to be some of the best players the premiership has to offer over the next few years. Like I say, I’ve been spoilt.
MCFC I’m not sure really. Obviously, progressing to win the 2011-12 Premier League title is brilliant, and I’m obviously satisfied by that, but we never really built on it the summer after, and it showed. The board messed around with the big transfers (mainly Van Persie and Eden Hazard) and we missed out on them, having to settle for replacements not on the same level, such as Scott Sinclair and Maicon. However, I think that Jack Rodwell and Matija Nastasic will both turn out to be fantastic captures in a few years. However, missing out on those transfers showed and we were inconsistent for a large part of the 2012-13 campaign, often failing to keep a clean sheet too, which cost us.
THFC No. I think we’ve missed out on some quality signings such as Moutinho & Damaio, who I’d like to think would’ve of pushed us higher in the league and into the Champions League.

Were you playing the right formation?

AFC The formation is OK, most teams play the similar way now, Arsenal’s biggest problem is they don’t really have a Plan B anymore. Subs come on and it just becomes like for like, no real tactical change. Sometime a little switch from the 4-5-1 back to 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2 etc. Damn any formation other than just a 4-5-1 could help eject life into a side sometimes. It would just give the opposition something to think about.
The opposition comes into games set up to defend and match you in a certain formation if you change that during a game it will change the way they have to think too.
CFC In the past season at times, no. When Ba came on against City in the semi-final, it worked. I think we’d of all liked to see those two play up top a bit more. Overall the formations and tactical decisions weren’t great in my opinion. Many times our best player would be taken off for someone such as Benayoun, who made little or no impact.
MUFC I think so, yes. The United way will always be fast, fluid attacks on the break. Sadly, the wingers we have at the moment are a bit of a rag tag bunch who either under performed last season (Valencia) or just aren’t good enough to play for the club (Young).
MCFC At times, yes. We were mostly playing the 4-2-3-1 that we’d become used to seeing from Mancini, and that was the most successful one, the one winning the most games, and the won that would have won us the title had we got a big signing last summer. However, for big games, Mancini insisted on playing a “three at the back” formation with wing-backs too, which I never really got my head around. We saw the first of it in the Community Shield against Chelsea, and it wasn’t particularly successful, as we were 1-0 down until we started using a 4-2-3-1 instead, with which we came back to win 3-2, showing the difference in quality.

What’s the priority this term?

AFC Silverware without a doubt or for the team to be moving forward and being closer to the top spot and pushing for any trophy. That would be progress
CFC We’ve got to look at the league. Considering our two main rivals are under new management, and our squad is ever improving. I think if we prioritize the league then we can gain some real success.
MUFC From a club perspective a top 3 finish. It’s Moyes’ first year and if he can ensure we finish in the top 3 in what will be one of our most difficult seasons ever then that has to be seen as an achievement. I’d like to see us win the FA Cup too.
From a signing perspective we need at least 2 central midfielders but that’s been the case since Hargreaves’ knees revealed themselves to be made of putty.
MCFC I think it has to be to win the Premier League again, after so disappointingly losing it last campaign. All the indications so far say we’re going to mount a serious challenge for the title in our first season under Pellegrini. The transfers have been good and have filled in our stand-out weaknesses, and we also look like we’re in for a few more yet. Pre-season results haven’t been the best so fair, two losses, but we have to remember these mean nothing, and look forward to an exciting season ahead instead, which could see us win back the title.
THFC To finish above Arsenal haha! And to start challenging for top spot.

How do you rate your summer signings so far?

AFC Crap, another Under 21 Striker from France that has potential!
I hope I am wrong about what I’m about to say, I really do
but I think that Arsenal are trying to be a little Clever this year because of the pressure the Club and Manger are under for a Marquee Signings and for the club to really start to challenge again.
So The chairman comes out and says We have 70million plus what we sell to use in the Transfer markets. The Fans think Great but we have heard it before (Same story every year)…
So this time its different. Back page news Arsenal put offer in for Rooney £25mil, Suarez £25mil, Williamson £10mil… Everyone thinks bloody hell Arsenal mean business
I am seeing all this as a little smoke screen…Rooney Valued at 35Mil, Suarez Valued at 40mil, Williamson by out clause at 13mil so it looks like they are interested but knowing full well that these clubs wont let these guys go for the prices they offer. Its a little win win for them, if for some reason a club does except a offer they get a player on the cheap but if they don’t and this is more the case they can turn round at the end of the transfer window and say to the fans we tried our best to land the big names… Thinking this will keep them happy!
CFC It’s been good. Schurrle seems a good addition to the squad. Schwarzer in my opinion was the best option in the GK department, great experience and on a free transfer, great bit of business. I don’t know much about Van Ginkel but have heard a lot of good things, will be interesting to see how he fits in. With the likes of Wallace, Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne coming back from loans, we have got a good amount of talent coming back to us. Lukaku’s ability is there for all to be seen, and again Wallace and KDB should be able to impact our first team if given the chance.
MUFC Only made one because you can count Zaha – Varela. He is what he is; a young, right back who we bought now to save us from being in a bidding war further down the line. From what I’ve seen of him he’s an extremely promising young player and gives us good cover.
MCFC Personally, I rate them very well. Jesus Navas is the kind of player we’ve been needing for a couple of years now, and not bought him in until now, beating Real Madrid to the signing, which shows how good he is. I can see him being first-choice for the majority of the season now, and he’ll be an important part if we’re to win the title again. Fernandinho, despite his heavy price-tag, looks like he’ll prove to be a good signing too. He’s very similar to Yaya Toure, which will allow the Ivorian to make those forays which have been so effective since he signed, but aren’t as much when he is made to play defensively, so bringing in Fernandinho fixes this in the long-term. Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, I think will both prove to be good purchases for us as replacements for Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, who have both been sold over the last few months. We now have four strikers, which means that at any one time, at least one has to be on form!
THFC Paulinho – I’m not sure yet as I’ve only seen him play for Brazil a few times. however of what i have seen and heard around, he looks quality. Need to keep strengthening though.

Where might it all fall apart?

AFC Another season of not winning a trophy! Finishing outside the top 4!
Us finishing 4th last year just papered over the cracks a little. For me as a fan I think maybe a season of finishing 7th/8th might be the kick in the ass that the board needs to make changes within the club over transfers and wages. The board are happy with 4th as its 40million into the club every year. As a FAN 4th is not good enough…
CFC Got to look at the striker department. Lukaku coming back will be great for us, and I’d like to think he’ll be our main man. But we can’t just rely on him. If Torres and Ba don’t contribute with the goals (Especially in the league, Torres!) I think we need to sign one more striker then we should be sorted
MUFC Moyes has a meltdown dealing with the expectation and we finish below Liverpool.
MCFC The last two years, we’ve suffered a big loss in form in January, coinciding with Yaya Toure heading off to the African Cup of Nations for a month or so, disrupting our season and nearly costing us the title in 2011-12. This season though, he isn’t going to be off on a jaunt back to Africa, which should help us hugely in our title challenge this year. However, despite this I still have fears that history could repeat itself a third time, and could cost us in our challenge.
THFC Easy, our strike force or lack of one. And losing Bale.

Who are your main rivals to finishing higher than last season?

AFC The usual suspects, Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs
CFC The two Manchester clubs are the obvious rivals. I’ve also got a feeling Arsenal will do a lot better than last season.
MUFC Chelsea and City (as always)
MCFC It’s got to be Manchester United and Chelsea, no more and no less. They’re both very good teams, with good, new managers and they’ll both be mounting a serious challenge for the title this time round. However, honestly I do feel our squad is stronger, and we are the favourites for the title this time, not them as it was before. You never know in football, but hopefully my hunch is correct and the title will be ours come May.
THFC Arsenal and Chelsea. I can see Chelsea winning the Prem this season.

How do you rate the strength of your main rivals?

AFC Strengths not too sure all in all I think its a good chance for the likes of Arsenal, Spurs to take advantage of new managers in the 3 clubs that finished above them. All mangers are going to need time to bring in new players and get the teams playing they way they want. Which could just leave one or two dropped points and the likes of Arsenal to take advantage…
Man U – Tough season for them, The Rooney saga continues which is bad for them. A distraction Moyes didn’t need to start with. Will be interested on who they sign. Also its going to be the case will Moyes get the same out of the team that Fergie did. Looking at their squad although Fergie said last year its the best squad he had I do disagree a little I just think a great manger got the best out of some average players.
Man City – New manger same as United going to need time to get the squad playing the way he wants, plus they are all of a sudden looking thin up top so need another stricker.
Spurs – same old story will look good, people will talk about them all year, but yet again will finish out side the top 4 🙂
Liverpool – As their manger said they mad progress last year… But finished further down the league than the year before (figure that out) plus they are going to lose Suarez to someone leaving them with who up front…
Chelsea – Mourinho – one word! Yes the pressure will be there for him to do it again after coming back but cant see that being a problem to be honest. They will sign players I’m sure and the squad already looks in good shape.
All in all it could be a very good and open season ahead
CFC A lot of people are writing them off but I still think United are. I’ve always liked Moyes and think he will do well if given the chance. City seem to be a club with too many individuals and not many team players. If they can gel then they will challenge for all competitions, but that’s a big if. I’d say United strengths are clear, for years they have been getting the best out of average players and I don’t think that’s going to change, that’s not a dig at their squad, but I have to credit them for consistently performing. RVP is crucial to them and must stay fit in order to fight for the league, but I feel their defence is week and needs strengthening.
City on the other hand have an incredible squad, there’s no denying it. But they can’t seem to play together consistently as a team, if Pellegrini gets them playing well together then I can see them becoming a force not only in the Premier League but in Europe also. After the departure of Balotelli, and Tevez. I think it’d be wise to get another striker in for them.
MUFC Chelsea have, in my opinion, the strongest squad in the league but desperately need a striker who will guarantee 20 goals a season. If they lose Mata however (even though I highly doubt the rumours) then they would lose their best player.
City have bought well and have definitely improved their squad. They need a striker as well but will probably have announced Negredo signing not long after this is published if not before
MCFC Obviously, they are both two very strong teams, and tough nuts to crack, especially United. They’re both strengthening this summer, but not to the level we are, although there is still plenty of time to change that. United have missed out on some big names this summer, such as Thiago Alcantara, and Kevin Strootman, whilst Chelsea are being linked with names such as Wayne Rooney, which would strengthen them hugely in the fight for the title though. However, I believe that were the season to start right now, City would win it, as we have the stronger squad as it stands.
THFC Arsenal have the strength but can’t see them doing much more than last year. they seem to be all talk in the transfer market and their priority is their spreadsheets. one day it’ll hit them when the inevitable happens and they finish outside the top four. As for Chelsea, like I said with the special one there we ain’t catching them.

Where will you finish (one word)?

AFC 4th 🙂
CFC 2nd!
MUFC 1 word?! Christ … that’s impossible. I’d like to say 1st but I’d genuinely be happy with top 3 as it would show a steady managerial transition
MCFC 1st
THFC 3rd

Michael Owens prediction:
@themichaelowen: An early fun stab at next seasons finishing positions:
1. Man Utd
2. Chelsea
3. Liverpool
4. Man City
5. Arsenal
6. Spurs
7. Everton


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