They mean business

Another English Premier League season is round the corner. Priyansh gives a breakdown of the top six teams.

Manchester United

Manchester United begins a season without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm for the first time since 1987. The change of leadership has seemingly weighed heavy on the club’s pre-season preparation.

No major signing, many pre-season defeats and the unsettled future of Wayne Rooney have ensured David Moyes has begun his new job on the wrong note. Yet, it would be foolhardy to discount United’s experience and impressive record in title races. Moyes would prefer to play Robin van Persie alone up front but the composition of his midfield would be dictated by the players he will be able to sign before the end of the transfer window.

Manchester City

Surprisingly, one should not expect any late, frantic transfer activity at Manchester City. The club finished its business weeks before the start of the season, much like Ferguson-era Manchester United.

New manager Manuel Pellegrini, club chief executive Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Begiristain have pursued a coherent transfer policy. A certain type of player has been targeted to meet the demands of the 4-3-3 formation, exemplified by the signings of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic.

Perhaps, the defence could still be strengthened by buying another central defender as captain Vincent Kompany remains injury-prone. Nevertheless, the talent at City’s disposal in the midfield and forward positions means that it should add to its 2011-12 league triumph.

Chelsea

“The Special One” is back and Chelsea is expected to rediscover its title-winning form under him. Jose Mourinho’s return should also mean that the Blues will revert to a 4-3-3 formation, much in use during the Portuguese’s previous tenure at the club.

The signing of Andre Schurrle has boosted Chelsea’s resources in the positions behind the striker but the search for a consistent No. 9 remains elusive. One suspects the difference between a good and an excellent season for Chelsea could only be bridged if the club is able to buy Rooney from United. The defence could be shaky at times as well but no reinforcements are expected.

Much like United under Ferguson in his later years, Chelsea could win the title thanks to its manager’s tactical nous. A little help from Juan Mata would be welcome too.

Arsenal

For all the exciting transfer rumours and bids linking Arsenal to top-quality players during the summer, Arsene Wenger’s biggest signing remains under-20 France striker Yaya Sanogo. The botched-up pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain was very much Arsenal-like while Liverpool seems quite adamant to not sell Luis Suarez for 40 million and one pounds.

It will not beggar belief if Arsenal starts the season with the same squad which somehow qualified for UEFA Champions League last term. Positively, none of the core players have been sold and the team continues to play slick, continental football. Yet, the problem areas have not been resolved and much would depend on Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere to ensure Arsenal’s participation in Europe’s elite competition next season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham seemed to have acquired a squad capable of producing title-winning form until Real Madrid submitted a world-record bid for Gareth Bale. The acquisitions of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli were overshadowed by the talismanic Welshman’s apparent desire to leave.

The fee of 100 million Euros seems to indicate that Spurs will sell Bale before the transfer window shuts on September 2. How Andre Villas Boas fills the void left by the playmaker’s departure will determine the team’s prospects this season. Spurs have not helped themselves in any way by selling talented young defender Steven Caulker to Cardiff and need to immediately sign a centre-back. There’s much quality in the rest of the team, though, to land a top-four finish.

Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers has implemented a transfer policy much similar to Manchester City. Players like Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto have been bought, in addition to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and experienced defender Kolo Toure.

The possession-based, short-passing style being ingrained into the club by Rodgers has led to the departure of players like Andy Carroll while poor performance ensured the selling of Jonjo Shelvey.

For all the coherence, though, Liverpool badly needs Luis Suarez to stay for it to yet again place itself among Europe’s elite. The Uruguayan was always expected to cause a few headaches to the Anfield establishment, but now the relationship may have been damaged beyond repair. If he leaves, Liverpool would have to punch above its weight to qualify for the Champions League.