Throughout last season there were two teams that mounted a “serious” challenge in the title race. Although it did eventually turn out that the challenge wasn’t all that serious since Manchester United still finished 9 points ahead of 2nd placed Chelsea.
Arsenal did eventually finish 4th but they were the apparent main contenders for most weeks of the season only to wilt away at the end. So what will become of these two teams next season? Will they be able to mount a challenge again?
I start with Arsenal because they were going for the quadruple. We all know the story of how Arsenal’s title challenge ended. In their last 6 games of the Premiership season they only managed to win 5 points putting them 17th in the form table. Only Bolton and the two relegated sides, West Ham and Birmingham had done worse.
Will they be able to mount a challenge again next season? Honestly I’m more inclined to think not. With Gael Clichy expected to leave for Liverpool or maybe a foreign side they stand to lose a pretty good left back. Kieron Gibbs is Arsenal’s only back up for this position however he has been proven to be very injury prone over the seasons. Only 2 days ago he pulled out of the England U21’s team.
As for their midfield, it is seeming more and more likelier that Arsenal will lose Samir Nasri to Manchester United. With one year left on his contract, Arsenal will need to sell this summer or risk losing him on a free transfer next summer. Personally I would accept this move, he is a quality player and was one of Arsenal’s stand out performers this season. I really doubt there are many players out there that are available for Arsenal to replace Samir Nasri like for like.
My next point is Cesc Fabregas. He has been having this love affair with Barcelona for years and wants to move back to his childhood club. It is thought that he will finally leave this summer, however with Barcelona coming out saying that they only have a £40million transfer budget this summer, maybe Barcelona will have to wait another season to get their man.
If Arsenal do however lose all three of these players, there isn’t much quality out there ready to be bought in to replace each of these players like for like. All three of these players have been the mainstay of the Arsenal team over the past few seasons. Could Arsenal really afford to lose such players? With most of the teams around Arsenal getting stronger with proven players it is hard to see Arsenal staying in the top 4 without these three players.
The future is uncertain for Chelsea as they do not yet have a manager. They could be hard pressed to replace Carlo Ancelotti however it seems that the man to do the job will be Guus Hiddink. Guus Hiddink did do well in his last spell in charge of Chelsea winning the FA Cup before returning to manager the Russian national team.
It has been widely thought that Roman Abramovich does not want to spend big sums of money at Chelsea this summer having shelled out £75million on both Fernando Torres and David Luiz in January but I can forsee one or two new signings to strengthen their squad.
It does not look like there will be widespread changes at Stamford Bridge and so I concliude that Chelsea will definitely still be up there, most probably challenging Manchester United for the title next season.
The top of the Premiership table has become so much more competetive over the past 2 seasons. If Arsenal do lose 3 of their key players without buying like for like replacements I really feel that they could miss out on a top 4 place. Chelsea on the other hand, although their ageing squad is a year older, still possess some high quality players and I’d expect them to be challenging for the title. Although it is still too early to tell, the way that the current transfer window is going leads me to believe that this is how the season will pan out for our closest challengers from last season.
Do you think I have gone slightly over the top in my predictions? Please feel free to comment below