Thought I'd get a discussion going on our rivals performances on and off the pitch.
Liverpool - have spent over a £100m on Suarez, Carroll, Downing, Adam, Henderson but have done little to bring down their massive (CL-sized) wage bill. First XI is still probably weaker than any of last season's top 4. Still need at least two defenders and to offload a fair few players.
Badly need to qualify for the CL after their surge in spending. Risk missing out from financial fair play if they don't.
Manchester City - seem to be largely unaffected by their best player wanting to leave. Have bought a world class player and bought smartly in Savic. Winning the FA Cup, coupled with a year's gelling, should mean a first proper title challenge in decades.
£30m increased income from the CL, another £30m increase from sponsorship will aid their FFP bid. If they can clear Adebayor, Bellamy, Tevez, SWP, Santa Cruz & Bridge, added to Given & Caicedo already leaving - they could save another £40-odd million. Add any transfer fees and they would almost be at break-even.
Arsenal - have had a horrible summer that looks set to get worse as the Fabregas saga comes to an inevitable conclusion. Less than two weeks until the start of the season and Wenger has yet to sign a defender. Fairly typically and tragically has bought a striker as his first signing of the summer, with another young forward seemingly the next player in line. Should be (just about) fine for FFP.
Chelsea - new manager, same squad - one year older. How long before AVB is undermined from above? Much may depend on whether Modric is signed or not.
Still a bit of distance to go for FFP. Have struggled to sell on players on high wages (such as Ferreira, Bosingwa, Anelka).
Liverpool - Despite over-paying (not totally their fault; they could walk away) I think Liverpool have bought solid if not spectacular players. If they add Enrique for 8m I think that's their best bit of business; value (price + ability). They're beginning to look like they've got a decent spine again. Reina, Enrique, Meireles, Downing, Kuyt, Suarez not quite Reina, Carragher, Mascherano, Gerrard & Torres but on paper looks like the beginning of a squad for Top 6. Weakness abound & this may hold them back from Top 4 but without Europe they could be dark horses for the Top 4. I'll reserve judgement till Sept 1st. Regardless who features in Kenny's best 11?
Arsenal - I don't think we'll see the decline that the media are predicting. Gervinho's a good signing. Sczeny is a year older. Koscielny & Djorou are good players & will come on. Not sure who they'll play at left-back but he can't be worse than Clichy has been for a few seasons now defensively. Despite the rumors they've got a settled first-team; Wenger knows his best 11. Injuries will be problematic as they lack quality in depth. The second XI is not as strong as the first XI. I can't see them dropping out of the Top 4 but they need to keep their feet on the ground (Wenger sets this agenda). Going on about about a possible quadruple in March is frivolous; they need to do it on the pitch. Mentally they've needed lifting since CC Final.
Chelsea - Yet to buy anyone. Largely one-dimensional. Playing the same way since 2004. Out-dated style & personnel that teams know how to play against. AVB has work to do. Hearing good vibes from their players. Biggest factor for me is not if they get Modric rather Benayoun. They don't need a ball recycler they need the tricky Israeli's invention & creativity to replace the selfishness of Malouda (last season) & to break teams down/supply ammo to Torres/Anelka. Again I feel the Torres/Drogba battle will define them. Go with Drogba you know what you'll get, Chelsea have a tried & tested way of winning games. Go with the Torres experiment & you risk it all although it could go either way (success). I haven't seen them yet but AVB will probably change the system. They need something from the middle, Essien's injury is probably good for them because he's been flat for 2 years now (not his fault rather injuries). I still think they've got the know how so will be our greatest challengers. Despite their age there is an outside chance that they'll 'come of age' much like we did in 06-07 playing great & winning football. So long as Roman stays out of it they'll be there. 2nd or 3rd
Us - I think we'll win. We now have an outlet on the left (Young) before it was just the right. Squad is bursting at the seams & has quality in depth. The greatest obstacle to us winning will be how our new goalkeeper settles. A seamless transition will make it difficult for others a rocky one will make it difficult for us. If we add Sneijder it can go either way. We may become one of the greatest attacking teams in PL history or one of the most one-dimensional where everything goes through him. Very concerned about burn-out in Evra he's no longer a youngster yet covers great distances although with a good winger on the left he might not have to do it all himself. If no midfielder arrives a lot depends on Carrick's partner (Anderson/Giggs) if they play well we'll play good attacking football if they play badly we'll make it harder for ourselves.
City - 2nd or 3rd. Assembled a very good squad full of very good players. However their greatest hindrance is Mancini who's too defensive. Add to that the countless ego's who will disrupt harmony at any given point. Do they have the know-how to win PL. No. Only Yaya & Tevez have a history of winning (that winning mentality) others may have won it (Clichy & Kolo) but not consistently. They may add but they need to get rid of a few. Current squad is more than the 25 allowed. They have CL so will be fighting on 2 fronts got the squad to cope but I think this will be a season of consolidation in the Top 4 rather than an assault. 2nd or 3rd.