Down to the final rankings predicted by myself and a few surprises which I’m sure you’ll have something to moan about. Sorry Spurs, I see bad times on the horizon at White Hart Lane, good times over in Scouseland and very good times for the Chelsea and Man City again.
AVB has come in over the summer and to moi, it’s a case of out of the Stamford Bridge frying pan into the White Hart Lane fryer. Big egos in the dressing room, sulky benched players looking for moves away, spindly rodent like over-rated characters achering for moves to Spain and fans hankering after there old loveable boss, AVB really has got his work cut out and I can see it all going pear shaped. I see a bit of dressing room unrest early doors and it could take a few months for the Spurs to sort themselves out. There will be a few more comings and going no doubt with a few of AVB’s countrymen getting their credentials looked over. Chelsea reject Carvaleo is now deemed surplus to requirements at Madrid and is on his way to join fellow old boy Gallas with Dawson being sold onto QPR after being told he will be captain. Now, maybe I’m not a European Cup Winning Manager* but I think replacing a younger quick leader-like English international with an ageing Portugeuse International alongside someone of similar fitness and pace is a no no. Even if he don’t go, more unrest. A plus is the man they got over Brendan Rodger’s Liverpool. I really like the look of Sigardson who was the mutts nuts for swansea after his mid season move. I’d be very happy for him to come in for the want away Modric and reckon the Croatian will soon be forgot about.
Dexys Diamond: Gareth Bale
After him pulling a sickie before the Olympics through some phantom injury and then miraculously playing a blinder a few days later and scoring in the USA tour, Gareth isn’t my favourite Welshman at the present time. I do none the less have him in one of my dream teams so he can make it to me by having the season of his life. I think we are going to see Bale in blistering form over the next 9 months before he says thank you very much and goes to Barca or Real or Man City.
Unlike everyone else, Pardew has been pretty quiet in the transfer stakes this summer and it’s no surprise with the way he turned around the Geordies fortunes with some fantastic buys, his boys should cause plenty of problems again. With organisational nous, plenty of heart & brilliant spine, can this be the year that will see Newcastle back in the Champions League. You may mock but they will have Cisse & Ba together for a whole season & Ben Arfa isn’t too shabby either. Strong in the middle with Cabeye and Tiote and with a back-line boasting clean sheets galore, I think the barcodes could mount a decent challenge for Europe again.The only drawback is their involvement in Europe this season, is the squad up to it, this week sees them play 2 games in 2 days, that isn’t going to help one bit so maybe a Champions League plc isn’t so in reach. I think the positions of 8 to 4 will be very tight this year and with just a 8 or 9 points separating the teams.
Dexys Diamond: Papa Cisse
I had heard a few rumours and stats about the other Cisse this time last year. He was rated by Pardew as a better frontman than Demba Ba and that was enough for me. As soon as he signed, I had him in my dreamteam before he kicked a ball, the rest is history. Sheer dynamite, he makes me horny, his goal against the front wheel skids was for the best goal I have seen since Di Canios a decade ago. 100% Senagal mustard.
Miracles happen all the time around Goodison Park, especially when David Moyles is involved, he truly is brilliant and keeps company with some of the best teams in Europe on a fraction of the budget. I’m not sure how long h will be at the helm of the team but for see another cracking season in the Blue half of Liverpool. In the May post season review, I remarked on the good finish to the season Maroune Fellini had. In the latter months of the campaign, the 6;5 Belgium beanstalk was pushed into a very advanced midfield role and a lot of defences couldn’t contain him. I expect more of the same this season especially now that Tim Cahill has moved on. Another shrewd deal was the another Belgium, Kevin Mirallas from Olympiacos for 4million, 20 goals last season isn’t a bad return and Everton have lacked decent goalscorers in recent years. Without breaking the bank other shopping basket purchases have been Rangers ex Naysmith who should provide some competition in the forward positions. If Everton can keep Baines from the clutches of Fergie, I think we shall see a Toffees defence that gives very little away. Distin and the Jag are a very good unit and Hibbert is very under-rated. Heigtinger can come in as well and all are ably backed up by Tim Howard. Such is my belief in this defence, i’ve gone large with Howard and Jag in my dreamteam and thats without Jack Rodwell in front of them after his defection to Man city.
Dexys Diamond: Nikica Jelavic:
The ex-Rangers man could be missing piece to get Everton back into the big time. Coming in on the last transfer window in the New Year, 11 goals in a half a season is top quality, something the toffees have lacked up front in recent seasons.
Another disappointing season for Liverpool under King Kenny and I was surprised as everyone, I personally thought they would be challenging for a Champions League place. Times change and I think they have seriously come up trumps with Brendan Rodgers, he will soon have the team ship shape and doing what they should have been doing in recent seasons. I’ve always believed Liverpool has had the quality but not the tactics on the pitch. Apparently Brendan impressed the hierarchy with an 180 page dossier on how he will transform the once great club back to it’s former glory, that looks very promising. It may again take a few months for him to get his ideas across but I think once they get going, they will fly. They have bought well in Borini as well who should add a bit of guile between the middle and up front. Suarez `didn’t have the best of starts last year but i’m sure we’ll see a few more goals from the South American in the coming months. The question on everyones lip is if Andy Carroll will hang about, he can hang in the air for ages but Brendan’s team play on the turf and it may be time for Carroll to swallow his pride and get his ar*e down to West Ham where Big Sam will make the most of his aerial talent (that’s what I’m hoping for anyway!). Rodgers has also invested large in 22 year old midfield ball keeper Joe Allen who along with Britton at Swansea was the the English/Welsh version of the Xavi/Iniesta axis but not as good. He will in time be the midfield playmaker giving Gerrard more license to roam which will be good news for Koppites, I see a good return from Stevie G this term, especially if loanee Nuri Sahin shuts up shop at the back of midfield and let’s the G-man do his thing. At Swansea, Rodgers built his side on possession and having a very robust defence, something Liverpool of a few years back were the proud owners of. With the ability of Agger and the vastly improved Skrtal, Enrique and the rampaging Glen Johnson will have to be wary of Brendan’s strict blue print on possession, positional play, pressing the opposition and winning the ball back. If things click early, The Reds will be challenging for the coveted 4th spot.
Dexys Diamond: Raheem Sterling:
You may think to yourself “who???”, well, I was listening to talksport about a year ago and it was a Liverpool special. Ray Houghton, Alvin Martin and a few others (who I can’t think of of the top of my head) but they was talking to the coaches who had worked with Raheem when he was younger and the current youth coach of Liverpool. They were all marvelling at him saying he was the possibly going to be the best player of the last 20 years to come through the system. I’ve kept a beady eye on him in the paper ever since and think that now he is not going on loan this year, could be his chance to break into the first team, he can’t be any worse than Stewart Downing last year.
Lets forget about RVP, we saw it coming a mile off when he didn’t sort his contract out last year, let us look forward. Coming in up front, we have had Carzola, Podoski & Giroud plus the emergence of Oxlade Chamberlain this year is a big boost for Wenger and i,m hoping he’ll have a good season. Gooner faithful also have the return of Jack, the prodigal son and any long term den readers and podcast listeners all know how I feel about him. I beleive that Carzola may have been brought in to help him along, how many playmakers do Arsenal need though, that midfield is very crowded with potentially Arteta, Wilshire, Carzola and even Poldoski to some extent. Wenger needs to do now is go large for a midfield destroyer to replace, Song, he was a good player who improved significantly last year setting up a lot of attacks and goals but Im surprised Barcelona didn’t go in for someone like Dembele or Tiote, if I was Arsene, I’d be luring them with the promise of Champions League football. It’s all well and good making a profit for the chairman but ultimately, if they didn’t have as much money building up in the coffers, maybe the Arsenal would still have their best players from the last couple of years and some silverware, not to mention very happy supporters. Maybe in a few years, Arsenal will be the richest club in the League due to all the cuts at the mo and all the naughty investments their rivals have been fiddling…….but I very much doubt it.
Dexys Diamond: Jack Wilshire:
After spending a season and half on the treatment table, the future of arsenal will look a whole lot better if he comes back fitter and stronger than before. No one doubts his ability but i’m concerned that he will be the shadow of the promising youngster i first saw in the youth cup final all those years ago. I’ve got a horrid gut feeling that we will see a repeat of the gazza scenario, losing that extra yard of pace after the 91 cup final injury.
The surprise Champions League winners get back to bread and butter of the game with old boy Di Matteo keeping the seat warm for Pep Guardiola with only a 1 year contract. That to me is a bit out of order and I would have told Roman to stick it up it his Roubles but thats just me. What the Russki has done is get in some of the worlds most exciting young talents. Young Samba star Oscar recently starred for the Brazilian Olympic team and is awesome dictating play and spraying it about from the centre of the pitch. He’s a world class player in the making but he will be a bit tired after the tournament so don’t expect him to play every game in the first few months of the season, he will come good though, you mark my words. The other big capture is Belgiums Eden Hazard. Listeners to the podcast will know that I rate the ex-Lille maestro highly and I forsee in time, we are looking a potential Premiership Player of the Season. He’s still young but will soon adapt to the rough and tumble of the league playing on the left and in the middle, he’s got the lot and Premiership defences will pay dearly. The Blues defence takes care of itself with JT, Cahill & Luiz being the the central options with Ashley and Ivanovic at the full back spots but up front could be a bit of a conundrum. The Drog has departed and the only real striker is Torres. Are we about to see Chelsea bring in the Spanish style of playing a packed midfield with no out and out striker, I think it could be if Torres doesn’t cut the mustard early doors. It appears that victor Moses is on his way as well who likes a dribble and a cross, where does that leave Sturridge & Malouda? on the bench i fear, they wont like that. The Kings Road bandwagon missed out on 4th last time but I think they will be too strong going forward and should get a champions league spot without sneaking in through the back door!
Dexys Diamond: Ramires
With all the big names coming into a stacked midfield, it may be that an existing member will become the fulcrum of the side. Ramires is getting stronger every game I see him and reminds me of a skinnier Essien in his pomp. He can do all the hard box to box work and let Hazard & co get all the plaudits.
2 Man U
The supposed signing of the season occured last week when Robin Van Persie unsurprisingly made a move away from the Emirates, the final destination was most surprising though. Why would Fergie spend all that money on a top goalscorer when:
1. He already has one of the best in Europe.
2. He already has a handful of others on the bench (ok berbatov may be of and Macheda is pony).
3. He needs to strengthen in other areas, pretty much all over the pitch apart from the front.
Ok, he seems to have found the successor to Paul Scholes in midfielder Kagawa but i think he needs a tough tackling holding midfielder (is Jones up to it yet?)
Vidic’s back but Rio is getting on and is injured again with a groin problem, I think a world class signing here or in the full back positions would have been a wiser investment of almost 30m. Don’t get me wrong, RVP is class but i’m not sure him and Rooney will work to their strengths together. They both like to be the main men, I can see them getting in each others way and i definitely don’t see them repeating last years individual goal figures. I think there will be a lot of rotation up front and the likes of Nani and Ashley Young maybe spending a lot of time on the bench. I mean, Valencia is one of there best attacking players and is filling at right back?, last week Carrick played centre half? It sounds like square pegs in round holes which surprises me with Fergie, was it him who wanted RVP or was he instructed to bring him as a marquee signing because offers for the likes of Hazard didn’t materialise??? Just saying!
As i said, they have Vidic back so that should improve the goal difference a tad, especially as De Gea is settling in after a ropey start last year. Still not sure if it will be enough to overhaul the might of the noisier than ever neighbours, Man City.
Dexys Diamond: Shiwji Kagawa:
I’m gonna ignore the Robin & Roon club and go for the really big capture. Kagawa is the player the Man U midfield has been crying out for since Scholes in his 00s heyday. He can get from box to box, has good vision, awareness, quick feet and chips in with goals. As for assists, I expect him to top the charts come may with all those other goalscorers around him.
1 Man City
Did you know, I predicted them coming 2nd last season on goal difference, Ok i was almost right until deep into injury time & wasn’t exactly gutted. We’ll never see such a dramatic finale to a season ever again and i don’t think i’ll ever be so animated a neutral. This season, i see a similar tight finish with just 1 or 2 points seperating the blues from the reds. The reds have improved but so have City. Jack Rodwell could really make an impact in midfield and there is the small matter of a certain Argie striker of exceptional quality actually wanting to play this year. The man City unit are also a season wiser. Last year was unknown territory for Kompany and co but now they have done it once, the pressure is off. They are stronger as a unit and they have money to spend in January if things are not going to plan. They won’t need it, the squad is already one of the best in Europe and no doubt a few more additions will come in over the next week, one of them being Scott Sinclair. Next stop, ChampionsLeague; they have overhauled the best in England, now they have to to do it in Europe, maybe this season will be too soon but i think it is within reach as they get more experience over the coming seasons.
Dexys Diamond: Carlos Tevez:
Kompany was magnifique last season and I was going to choose the Belgium defender again but i’m going forThe Apache. Carlos was a naughty boy and got taught a lesson missing almost a full season at his peak for behaving like a spoilt brat. He’s back and to ram home that fact, he really looks like he means business. IHe looked lean and mean in the charity shield and walloped in a goal as reminder to everyone that it won’t be all about Agueros goals this year. I beleive him and have chucked a tenner on him as top goalscorer.
So that concludes that mammoth season preview, the fingers are sore and the iphone notes has taken a battering, a bit like a few teams will at the hands of Mancinis mob. In the cups, I fancy Liverpool for the League cup and Chelsea in the FA. I might go for Eden Hazard as player of the season as well, pure class. As for Champions League, i’m going for Real Madrid again and serial bottlers Ivory Coast in the African Nations with Blackpool, Charlton and Nottingham Forest coming up (I bet thats surprised a few people). Here’s to another fantastic season.
*Although I did come 5th in the whole wide world on Fantasy League Pro a few seasons back.