With mere days to go until the beginning of the new Premier League season, it is the time for predictions. 2011-2012 promises to be one of the most exciting Premiership campaigns in many years. At the top end of the table it appears that there will be six teams challenging for honours and competing for that all important top four finish. But who will finish where? Let’s take a closer look at each of the “big six” and consider their prospects for the upcoming season.
Major summer signings: Brad Friedel
Spurs have had a fantastic couple of seasons under manager Harry Redknapp. The gaffer has transformed Tottenham from a midtable club to a team who lit up the Champions League with some phenomenal performances against the likes of Inter Milan and AC Milan last season.
Unfortunately, their prospects for the upcoming season do not look as bright. Much of Spurs’ success in the 2011-2011 period (on the pitch) has been attributed to winger Gareth Bale and midfield playmaker Luka Modric. Although Bale has committed his future to the club, Modric has taken much more persuasion to remain at White Hart Lane as tempting offers came in from Manchester United and Chelsea. The fact that Modric looks unsettled is a worrying sign for the club and its fans. It also doesn’t speak well of what the diminutive Croatian thinks Spurs’ future prospects are, as if he felt they could challenge for Champions League once again then he would surely not want to leave the club.
Nevertheless, Tottenham still have Modric and as long as he plays at his full potential then Spurs are still a threat to the top four. The addition of solid goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the team is a positive move as a safe pair of hands between the sticks was something that Tottenham were sorely lacking last season and it often cost them valuable points. However, Redknapp has still yet to purchase a big centre forward as he hoped and may be very reliant on the dynamic Rafael Van Der Vaart again this season.
Tottenham will have another good season but I think that they are unlikely to crack the top four again. Several of the other big clubs have a lot of money available to them, which Harry Redknapp simply does not. Spurs will fight all season but I reckon they’ll end up at the back of the “big six” pack.
Major summer signings: Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal had a fantastic first half of the 2010-2011 season and looked like a genuine threat to the Premier League title. However, after they lost in the dying moments of the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City, it all fell apart for the Gunners. They began to drop points everywhere they went and ended up outside the top 3 and automatic qualification for the Champions League.
It has been a turbulent summer transfer window for Arsene Wenger too. With Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and others looking very unsettled, a lot of the manager’s time has been dedicated to persuading big players to remain at The Emirates. The signing of Ivorian wide attacker Gervinho is a promising one on paper, and adds a little more width and pace to the team but it really doesn’t strengthen Arsenal where they need it.
With an unproven goalkeeper and a back four which looks increasingly vulnerable, Wenger would have done well to buy big players to fill these positions. As it is, Arsenal will play beautiful football at one end of the pitch, but could lose games at the back due to a lack of organisation and security.
I believe that it will be a close run battle between Arsenal and Liverpool for who secures that all important fourth place. However, I am predicting that the Gunners will drop out of the top four for the first time since 1996 as defensive frailties will cost them important points.