10, but there’s a lack of creative players in the squad. Two teams will most likely be happy to qualify for Europe, but might need extraterrestrial assistance to penetrate the top four. They finished second only to Chelsea, who beat the crap out of everyone for 38 games. If Walcott plays up front, Ramsey will either play through the center with Özil out right, or be a good soldier on the wing. 3″ data-chomp-id=”1375386115360189285″ data-asset-url=”http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–0wcQNoc8–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1375386115360189285.jpg” data-format=”jpg”/>
You’ve made it to the third and final installment of our Premier League preview, and what lies below is a rundown of what we at Deadspin consider the six (6) least bad teams in all of England’s top flight. But a trip to the Europa League this season would augur better days ahead, and both clubs are eminently capable.
Of the seven first-teamers bought in 2013, three–Paulinho, Capoue, and Chiriches–were sold this offseason. This is dumb, but this is Manchester United, and so they need to keep pace with the murderer’s row of rivals that surround them.
If you’re a slave to narrative and/or to Arsenal, you might argue that the cries by fans and pundits alike for manager Arsène Wenger to retire with his lovely wife to the south of France signified rock bottom, the dark night just before dawn. (Benjamin Stambouli, who was bought in 2014, was also sold this summer.) Now, at the dawn of the 2015-16 season, there’s debate to whether the subsequent spending spree was failure.
THE TITLE RACE
Let’s not overthink this.
Even within this tier, though, there is a clear divide in talent and thus realistic ambitions. What’s more, his partner Eliaquim Mangala, who was bought from FC Porto for nearly £30 million (!!!) sucked too, and seemed to almost purposely get lost in the treeless, perfectly and purposfully manicured lawn just as opposing teams were baring down on goal. Wenger committed to a more pragmatic 4-1-4-1 last season, with wingers that dropped back to help on defense when pressured and pushed forward into a 4-3-3 with the ball, and as a result boasted the third-best offense and defense in the Premier League.
The two players, on £140,000 a week, were the joint highest-earners in the club. 10 after being an absolute terror in spurts last year:
Their midfield boasts Cesc Fàbregas and Nemanja Matic, who are two of the best midfielders in the league, and winger Eden Hazard, who is the best player in the league. But we’re pretending we do anyway. The quartet are expected to contribute immediately, joining Liverpool’s core of Sturridge, Gerrard successor Jordan Henderson, Brazilian starlet Philippe Coutinho, and center back Martin Skrtel.
Their manager, José Mourinho, is the best manager in the league. Mourinho’s opinion is wrong and hyperbolic, but not that wrong and hyperbolic.
John Terry figuratively or literally dies on the field.
Diego Costa misses over half the season, either due to hip replacements or first starting and then brutally ending a fight against an opposing center back.
Chelsea players get bored, start losing, remain bored.
Arsenal sign someone very, very good who both scores and creates lots of goals at an unnatural clip, like Messi.
It turns out Louis van Gaal actually knows what he is doing.
It turns out Manuel Pellegrini actually knows what he is doing.There is a disaster, in Wales, perhaps, large enough to disrupt commerce throughout the United Kingdom, temporarily or permanently halting soccer before Chelsea are able to win it outright on points.
That’s basically it. I’m probably forgetting someone, but whatever; the point is, though Chelsea aren’t deep, they are the best team, and no one has improved enough to overtake them. 3″ data-chomp-id=”1375386115174845797″ data-asset-url=”http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–UN0bxryK–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1375386115174845797.jpg” data-format=”jpg”/>
Even with his success, though, there are still questions. But there are lots of questions. They added six first-teamers, including Argentine winger Ángel di María for over £52 million and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao on a £6 million loan. If Arsenal are going to succeed, Alexis and Özil will have to be able to combine with players like Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla in what is now one of the best midfields in the world to keep possession and turn time on the ball into chances and goals.
Four years ago, still paying off stadium debt and lacking any semblance of direction or ambition, Arsenal blew up their squad, selling best player and captain Cesc Fábregas to Barcelona, and Samir Nasri and Gaël Clichy to Manchester City. Here goes.
But all of these problems were fixable if one only threw money at them, and this summer, when City pried Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, it appeared that’s what was going to go down. In every way, he’s the opposite of the Giroud, Arsenal’s lumbering, brilliant, frustrating target man. If Arsenal don’t buy one, they probably will not. 3″ data-chomp-id=”1375386115592596837″ data-asset-url=”http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–2ewMW7Gx–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1375386115592596837.jpg” data-format=”jpg”/>
This summer transfer window seemed like it would mirror the last one, because Rodgers sold their best prospect and talent off for parts. Because he’s short, slim, and runs faster than rabbits fuck, the right wing is clearly his best position, and so naturally he wants to play as a center forward. Beyond that, it’s a shitshow, and there are moves to be made and plots to be twisted yet, and no one, least of all we at Deadspin, have any idea what’s going to happen. Chelsea won the Premier League easily last year. It was hotly debated whether it was the right move at the time, but in the end, it didn’t matter; Bale was too ambitious to stay, too good not to be pursued, and ultimately too expensive not to sell. Firmino is a fun player who can play up front or in behind the strikers. At some point in the previous year, captain and center back Vincent Kompany fell off a cliff and died, and through blood magic his corpse was reanimated, and he was trotted out in uniform to direct traffic and play defense in the heart of the City back four anyway, and it was ugly and pitiful and at times painful to watch. Both are dangerous because they’re free players who can drift out wide into channels, or knife through the center. Let’s be more realistic: Chelsea are probably gonna do it. Here is a cursory list of that shit, ranked by likelihood:
Clyne is a pretty good right back, and if nothing else, Skrtel will have more experience partnering with either Dejan Lovren or Mamadou Sakho.
Let’s be realistic: there are four clubs that can win the Premier League. With The Special One calling the shots, Chelsea boast the best defense in the league, anchored by one of the best two goalkeepers and an impenetrable quartet of defenders that don’t miss games, don’t make many mistakes, and are led by John Terry, the center back who just won’t die.
Both can break out this season, and both need to, because this is not a good team. The next season, helmed by Ferguson’s handpicked successor, David Moyes, they bought midfielders Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini before finishing seventh and missing Europe completely.
It all certainly seems very exciting. No one knows what this flexibility means for the Reds’ prospects.
. You may have nodded knowingly when the Gunners defeated defending Premier League champions Chelsea, 1-0, on Sunday in the Community Shield, for it signaled that the boys have grown into men, and the stopgaps are anything but, and there are three bonafide bodysnatchers on the pitch, and this might be a team that comes out and Does The Whole Shit. With a Champions League berth, Liverpool would be once again able to sign the world’s best players, and with them, rise again to the Premier League summit. The reinforcements weren’t enough, and they finished third, 19 points behind champions Manchester City. A third striker, Edin D?eko, is moving to Italy, leaving City with only Agüero and Bony as the team’s only forward options. Arsenal will only go as far as the two take them, and for Arsenal to succeed this year, the two need to be on the same page. 3″ data-chomp-id=”1375386114802185829″ data-asset-url=”http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–Axt9hFN7–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1375386114802185829.jpg” data-format=”jpg”/>
The commentator in the AC Milan/Spurs game has claimed that Manchester United have made a huge bid for Harry Kane. 3″ data-chomp-id=”1375386115486614117″ data-asset-url=”http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–0aGh5jLS–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1375386115486614117.jpg” data-format=”jpg”/>