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02 August 2014

EPL: Three Weeks Out

By // Sports

louis-van-gaal-holland_3104058Possibly because I’m an Arsenal fan, but this seems to be one of the most active transfer windows, specifically when it comes to big players. While we’ve had some big names come to the English Premier League (EPL), we’ve also seen some huge names go, such as the league’s top goal scorer, Luis Suarez.

Whatever your opinion of Suarez, there’s no denying that seeing him go to Barcelona is bittersweet. On that bitter part, the EPL is going to miss a huge talent. He may be a bit of a dirty player, but he plays to win and does nothing short of it. One of the most entertaining players to watch, the EPL just got a bit less exciting. On the sweet side, you don’t have to watch him make your team look silly.

Another big name to leave is Manchester United Legend Ryan Giggs. Even if you dislike United as much as much as I do, which I do – a lot, you can’t deny that seeing Giggs retire is the end of an era. An absolute lesson, the league won’t be the same without him playing. I am glad however, that he’s decided to stay on as an Assistant Manager for the Red Devils.

Some other notable names to leave are Frank Lampard, the Chelsea legend who has gone to join NYFC in the MLS, and Ashley Cole, another English legend who has gone to Roma. Though he didn’t leave the league, washed-up United legend Rio Ferdinand will be seen in a QPR jersey.

There’s also been a large handful of par to sub-par players who have been released, but all the talk has been about these huge names coming to the league. And as much as I hate to say, Chelsea has done a great job at bringing some big names back. They’ve brought in five players so far this window, four of which I think are world class, three of which are undeniably so.

They’ve managed to bring back the man who brought them to penalties to win the Champions League just a few years ago, Didier Drogba. While Drogba to Chelsea will never be Henry to Arsenal, bringing back Drogba is huge for Chelsea, and will surely bring them some firepower up top – something they’ve lacked for years. And along with bringing Drogba back for firepower up top, they’ve managed to bring in Atletico’s Diego Costa. Seeing Costa leave Atletico is a huge loss for them, as they came so close to winning the Champions League, largely in part because of him. He’ll be massive up top for Chelsea, and will be perfect for the type of boring football that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho loves to play.

Chelsea has also managed to snag ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. While I don’t think Fabregas is still in his prime, nor would he be a perfect fit if we brought him back to Arsenal, it’s still hard to see him go to a London rival. Chelsea already has one of the strongest midfields in the league, and bringing him in just gives them more options.

Now, being as unbiased as I can, I really do think that the team that is doing the best business this transfer window along with Chelsea is indeed Arsenal. While they’ve had a couple of key players leave, such as right-back Sagna and goalkeeper Fabianski, they’ve had no trouble replacing them, bringing in Debuchy and Ospina, both who started for their respected teams in the World Cup.

Moreover, Arsenal has brought in one of the best forwards in the world right now, Alexis Sanchez. The 25 year-old Chilean is one of the main reasons why Chile did as well as they did in the World Cup, and will surely have a huge impact on Arsenal and the EPL, as he did with Barcelona this past season.

The other teams that are usually looking to compete for the top four spots don’t seem to have done as much business as you’d think. Manchester United has only brought in two players, Shaw and Herrera. While they do have a new manager, just those two signings are not enough to win them back into the top four, let alone the league.

City has brought in a few players such as Sagna, as mentioned, as well as Fernando. They had a great team last year, and will surely just rely on keeping their top players fit such as Toure and Aguero, and hope to retain their league title.

Tottenham has brought in two players from Swansea: Ben Davies and Michael Vorm. Ben Davies will do well at the back, but Vorm won’t have much of an impact seeing as they already have one of the better keepers in the league, Hugo Lloris. Everton, who are always great to watch and always seem to make Arsenal nervous, have only added two players, which I don’t think will be enough to make the sort of impact they’ll want to make. I figure both Tottenham and Everton will finish 6th and 7th respectively.

Lastly, although Liverpool have brought in a few players from Southampton such as Lambert and Lallana, I don’t think they’ll come anywhere close to the level they played last season without Suarez up top. Going from the best player in the premier league to bringing in Rickie Lambert is not going to cut it. I’ll be surprised if Liverpool make top four with the team they have going into next season, assuming United make some additions before the season starts.

While it’s definitely too early to be making any sort of predictions, I’m going to make some anyways. As mentioned, I reckon that Spurs and Everton finish 6th and 7th, simply because they’re not making enough additions to their team to be able to compete with the other top teams. Liverpool will come fifth, as Lambert and Lallana are not enough to replace Suarez, not to mention that I think Gerrard is also quickly losing his game. United will finish fourth. It is early to make that call, but I think even if Louis Van Gaal makes a complete overhaul in the next few weeks, it’ll take at least a year to sort the team and form that chemistry.

The top three is where I think it becomes difficult to pick. Chelsea, Arsenal, and City all look great. Chelsea and Arsenal, as I mentioned, have both brought in world-class players, but City, the retaining league champions, have proven that they have a team strong enough to win the league. Hoping that Arsenal keep their injuries to a minimum, which I think they will because of new training staff, I think they’ll manage to just scrape by and take the title, with Chelsea coming in a close second, and City finishing third. These predications are of course assuming that there are no massive changes to their current squads, and also assuming United pick up a few players.

It should be a great season to watch, with many teams coming out with whole new squads, and many players playing on new teams. I, like many others, can’t wait for the next three weeks to pass by.

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