The 2014-15 Premier League season is now underway and so is the good old banter about who will finish where! Some teams have changed their squads ever so slightly while other teams have made changes that have resulted in a significantly new look.
Under The Cosh Blog takes an in-depth look at the performances of the Top 7 teams against each other over the most recent seasons. We asses the transfer activity, squad summary, and the realistic finishes that these teams might expect come May.
Do you think you have a better idea about how the teams will fare? Send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments below!
When looking at Chelsea’s performances against their title rivals in the past few years, you can easily see that they are the best team. How is it then, that they have not won the league since 2009-2010? Chelsea dropped points cheaply to teams they should have comfortably beaten. Pundits stated that they desperately needed a striker for an extra attacking element up front since Torres just isn’t good enough. The Blues had the best defensive statistics in the league last season, and it was their attack that let them down. Now, with the arrival of Diego Costa (so far so good), along with club legend Didier Drogba, Chelsea should be able to find the back of the net much more often. Added flair and passing vision in Cesc Fabregas should enhance their creativity in midfield. Could this season be the most straightforward season for them and bring in their fourth title in ten years? There could be some serious pressure on Jose Mourinho to make this a reality.
IN: Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas, Felipe Luis
OUT: Ashley Cole, Samuel Eto’o, Frank Lampard, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, Ryan Bertrand, Christian Atsu (loan)
Top 7 Rank: 1st
League Prediction: 1st
Manchester City have won the title twice in the past three seasons. However, this rather misrepresents City’s success. City’s first title triumph came courtesy of a Manchester United slip-up, while their second title came courtesy of a Liverpool (and more specifically, Gerrard) slip-up. City have been relatively consistent against their Top 7 rivals but are second to Chelsea in total points gained. Their blistering 102-goal attacking force has struck fear into all of their opponents but somehow, they have yet to dominate the pack. Chelsea will be their main challengers for the title with their squad depth and tactical mastery. The arrivals of Fernando and Mangala could add some solidity in the defensive third but their contributions will be hard to measure just yet. Will City be able to dominate on all fronts this season?
IN: Bacary Sagna, Fernando, Frank Lampard (loan), Eliaquim Mangala
OUT: Costel Pantilimon, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell
Top 7 Rank: 2nd
League Prediction: 2nd
Liverpool’s stratospheric rise back into the top spots of English football is commendable. From ten points against its main rivals in 2012-2013 to 22 points in 2013-2014, Liverpool have learned how to convert draws into wins. However, many critics argued that the lack of midweek fixtures towards the end of last season enabled the team to stay relatively fresh for the run-in. The same argument can be made for over half the teams in the league! The truth is, Liverpool’s swagger is back. The main focus is how they will be able to cope with the departure of 31-goal Luis Suarez while adding Champions League fixtures to their schedule. Their challenge will be to avoid injuries and maintain consistency. Will they be able to repeat their 101 goal offensive juggernaut performance from last season? Daniel Sturridge is their key man up front and will have to stay fit for them to be title contenders. A top four finish would seem more realistic, but with this Liverpool team, you don’t know their limit.
IN: Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Javier Manquillo (loan), Alberto Moreno
OUT: Luis Suarez, Iago Aspas (loan), Martin Kelly, Pepe Reina, Divock Origi (loan)
Top 7 Rank: 3rd
League Prediction: 4th
Everton have been consistent against the top teams over the past two seasons despite having a major managerial change. 15 points in 2012-2013 and 15 points in 2013-2014 against top opponents have pundits wondering if Everton are the real deal. Their tactical nous under Martinez has been a revelation. Signing Lukaku and Atsu (loan) will definitely shield them from the loss of Deulofeu and the injury to the outstanding Coleman. Whether Everton will be able to replicate their form from last season will be a big question mark. It is more likely that they will slip a place or two. They will no longer be underdogs now that expectations have increased. A club transfer record to make Lukaku’s position in the side permanent is a serious signal of intent. They will be a team to watch.
IN: Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic, Christian Atsu (loan)
OUT: Mason Springthorpe, Apostolos Vellios
Top 7 Rank: 4th
League Prediction: 6th
Manchester United’s fall has been anything but graceful. Their squad is in a period of transition that makes them highly unpredictable. They are now under the tenure of their second manager since the departure of the great Sir Alex Ferguson and the fans are getting anxious over their performances. One major question that they will face this season is whether they have the grit and determination to overcome their opponents now that the fear factor has disappeared. Having the experience of new manager Louis Van Gaal may be the biggest transfer the club may make this Summer and that would be a worrying sign given the current lack of squad depth. It is possible that without the stress of European competition on the fixtures list that the team could propel themselves back into the top 4, but that might take some time. As it stands, United have accumulated 26 points against top 7 opponents over the past two seasons, but only a total of six points were gained last season. They will do well to secure a Europa League spot this season. Their only way of breaking into the top four this season will be to do better than their bitterest rivals, Liverpool.
IN: Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw
OUT: Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Alex Buttner, Federico Macheda
Top 7 Rank: 5th
League Prediction: 5th
Arsenal aregenerally contenders for the title but their hopes seem to eventually fade away because of injuries and an inability to gain points off their rivals. In the past two seasons, Arsenal have gained 24 points against their top 7 rivals – improving from 11 points in 2012-13 to 13 points in 2013-14, hardly the required standard especially with Chelsea and City gaining well over 20 points each season. With arrivals like Alexis Sanchez to add to the star power of Mesut Ozil who is already established at the club, you get the feeling that a prolonged period without injuries could see Arsenal at the top of the table. The main question for this team is whether they can build on their performances against the smaller teams and “bring it” against their main rivals. It has been a number of seasons now that Arsenal have had a young, vibrant, and energetic squad but their lack of defensive discipline in big matches has seen a few catastrophic meltdowns against title rivals. Their movement and passing is a joy to watch but their main goal this season should be to learn how to win ugly, rather than not win at all. Can Arsenal be taken seriously for a title challenge?
IN: Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, Callum Chambers.
OUT: Bacary Sagna, Lukasz Fabianski, Thomas Vermaelen, Carl Jenkinson (loan)
Top 7 Rank: 6th
League Prediction: 3rd
Tottenham have accumulated the same number of points as Arsenal against their main rivals – 24. Spurs have been desperately trying to break into the top four each season since their brave run in the 2010-11 Champions League that saw them fall to Real Madrid in the Quarter-Finals. After cashing in on Gareth Bale, a number of signings were made that were underwhelming. You get the sense that it could be due to a lack of squad chemistry. Tottenham have been relatively quiet in this transfer window and there is no chance that they will be title contenders. Their main question this season will be whether they can avoid being pummeled outright in the big games. They managed to finish the previous season strongly to solidify their place in the Europa League and will be hoping that they can manage to start this season the same way. An upcoming home fixture against Liverpool will be a good indicator of how well they are placed this season. How will the squad respond to Pochettino? As of now, they are the weakest link of the top 7 and they could very well be battling Everton for a 6th place finish. The Europa League place would be the most realistic goal for the Spurs.
IN: Ben Davies, Michel Vorm, Eric Dier
OUT: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jake Livermore, Heurelho Gomes
Top 7 rank: 7th
League Prediction: 7th
In conclusion, we expect Chelsea to win this title with Manchester City coming a close second. Arsenal are poised to take over the third spot barring injuries. Liverpool should still be able to make the top 4 but realistically they will be behind Chelsea and City, battling with Arsenal for third. Manchester United will be glad to make the top 4, but given the fierce nature of the competition for those spots they will seriously need to step up their efforts. Everton and Tottenham will be battling neck and neck with them for spots 5, 6, and 7.
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