Who will break into the top four?

by Matt Quinn

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
 

The flailing pack

Last season, there appeared to be real cause for optimism regarding the competitiveness of the Premier League. The chasing pack, like rabid dogs sensing blood, cumulatively and individually, threatened the status quo of Sky’s big 4 and the monopoly (or whatever the 4 team term is) that had been held over England’s top division for too long. Everton and Spurs have briefly flirted with the Champions League in recent times, but after some polite fumbling, both ended up being jilted before they could hop into bed with Europe’s elite. However last year, there was a prevailing impression that collectively there was a real determination for a number of clubs to reach the holy grail of the top 4. This new found resolve, combined with Liverpool’s internal turmoil and Arsenal’s late-season implosion really suggested that this year could be the year that the likes of Everton, Aston Villa, Spurs, Blackburn, Man City and Portsmouth made their moves. It is within this framework of hope that I have watched the manifestations of this transfer window….and been left sorely disappointed.

 

Everton

The perennial nearly men, Everton, have yet to sign a single player, with Bill Kenwright admitting that they simply don’t have the money to progress past 5th place. Despite having the best base on which to evolve, the Merseysiders have stagnated and could plummet down the league this year, insofar as you can call dropping from 5th to 8th a “plummet”.

 

Villa

Villa, with a wealthy owner and respected manager have also struggled to attract players to push them onwards and, indeed, upwards. Luke Young, Steve Sidwell, Nicky Shorey & Carlos Cuellarare all solid enough, but they are not the sort of players that would see Chelsea unduly worried about facing. There is still time for Villa to recruit the more progressive type of player but until a suitable replacement is found for the cultured Gareth Barry then more progress is unlikely.

 

Blackburn

Blackburn are seeing their team being decimated after the departure of Mark Hughes, while the supposedly flamboyantly wealthy Man City are having to sell before they can buy. Not signs of top 4 material.

 

Portsmouth

The same could be said of Portsmouth who, with an ageing defence and the necessity to sell quality (Muntari) before they can buy quantity (Kaboul), may have to be satisfied with the memories of last year’s achievements.

 

Spurs

And so it is to Tottenham that I shall pin, wrap and smother my hopes and kisses on this year. With some intelligent strengthening during last winters transfer window, “Magic” Juande Ramos has pushed on, with his signings really capturing the imagination. While I am not convinced about Dos Santos, the arrivals of Modric, Bentley and Gomes will certainly enhance their prospects of catching Liverpool or Arsenal and with talk of more high calibre players on the way, Tottenham appear to be making the sort of dynamic progress to really test England’s elite. The sale of Robbie Keane was certainly a blow but not necessarily a decisive one, with Ramos keen to replace Keane’s effervescent quality with outlandish foreign talent. Indeed, with Ramos’ pedigree I’m going to say that Tottenham will not only grab champions league football next year but will seize 3rd place in the Premier league, displacing both Liverpool and Arsenal. It’s just a pity that more of the chasing pack, and especially Villa, haven’t (to date) been more proactive in their pursuit of the self-anointed impermeable top 4, almost appearing to accept that it is an impossible task. Lets hope Spurs prove otherwise this season.

 

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  • Stevie

    I think it’s true to say the only one of those sides that do have a realistic chance of breaking the top 4 are Spurs, as much as it hurts me to say that as I do find them them rather annoying. But in Ramos they have an excellent manager. I will eat my shoe if Darren Bent scores more then 20 league goals though.

    Villa & co will flatter to deceive once again, as Matt says they have sign good players but none of these players would e good enough for the top 4.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I must admit, the Spuds are looking good pre-season, George Graham seems to think it will take half a season for them to gel, I hope it’s longer. I’ve got a £20 bet that we (Arsenal) will finish at least 10 points ahead of them. It’s vital we get of to a good start.

    Everton need to sign some players, if the Yak gets injured where are the goals going to come on? Cahill seems to get injured to easily these days as does Arteta. I fully expect Everton to finish behind Pompey. In fact, I think Pompey could be the surprise package. In Diara they have one of the best midfielders in Europe, we were stupid to let me go. Crouch & Dafoe will score goals for sure, they do lack genuine width and pace but will be very hard to break down.

    Villa are far to Jackal and Hide for my liking. Brilliant one day, appalling the next. Their signings have simply added much needed depth to the squad, but will hardly inject fear into the rest of league.

    Blackburn will slide down the table finishing 12th. Bentley will be a big loss, he was their main man.

    It’s going to be a very exciting season, I fully expect the champions to be either Chelsea or Man Utd with Liverpool and Arsenal battling for 4th again. The rest will no doubt have their own mini league battle!

  • Martyn

    £20. I cant wait!!!

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    excellent predictions, Everton are in the bottom 6 and Spuds are bottom

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