Although London has spent the last month immersed in the Olympics, there have been two clubs quietly training and preparing themselves for another EPL season. One team, Chelsea, has the expectations that come with a Champions League victory and the continued standards that come from a club that always makes splashes in the transfer window. The other team, Arsenal, has spent most of the off-season in a “will he, won’t he” situation with talisman Robin Van Persie, but has also made some efficient transfer purchases all while continuing to search for their first trophy in many seasons.
Chelsea will enter the season with many positives in their camp. They finally got the one trophy that “mattered” to Abramovich and they will be able to avoid any chants of “This is what a European Cup looks like,” during their upcoming EPL season. They also saw Fernando Torres performing in the Euro’s and ending the season with a decent scoring rate, leading many to believe that he might have finally gotten over his post-Anfield slump. Despite losing Dider Drogba to Shanghai Shenhua, the performance of Torres and the Englishman Sturridge will be positive enough to make Chelsea look like they will have a very threatening attack.
The rest of the field also sees the return of several players that have seemed to have finally found the proper footing that you need to be able to compete at the highest level in the Premiership. Gary Cahill and David Luiz have started to look more and more consistent for the European Champions, and they will only continue to improve as their careers at Chelsea continue. Oriol Romeu also continues to look like a budding defensive midfielder, although many will hope that Michael Essien can remain healthy for this season. The Brazilian Ramires started to find his scoring boots last season, and it would not be too surprising if his formed continued to improve for another season at Stamford Bridge.
Although they missed out on the top four last season, the Champions League conquest will erase any hard feeling about the Premier League campaign. This season, we look for Chelsea to finish in the top three and possibly be the only team to truly give the teams in Manchester a sufficient challenge to break their hold on the trophy. Although we believe that their EPL finish will improve, another shot at a CL title seems unlikely. We never like to rule anything out, and it might be an easier task now that they have won their first CL, but they seemed to ride the “perfect storm” last season and it would take quite a few small miracles for them to repeat.
Although Arsenal has made the headlines for their captain’s constant transfer possibilities, they have quietly done what Arsene Wenger does best. He has made some quality signings while certainly looking to continue to improve on what he already has in the stables. However, improving on a third-place finish will be difficult for the Gunners. Chelsea look like will be top four contenders again, AVB could make anything happen with Tottenham, and the rumors now look like Arsenal could lose more than just RVP, but it looks like Alex Song could also look for “greener pastures.”
Although many predicted that the loss of Fabregas would be too much for Arsenal to cope with last season, the introduction of Mikel Arteta made sure that some “Spanish flair” was retained. We also are seeing Aaron Ramsey develop into a decent midfielder (albeit a little bit slower than Arsenal fans would hope) and Tomas Rosicky always puts in a solid campaign for his club. The addition of Cazorla will certainly add more speed to the Arsenal squad, and it will certainly be a scary thought to have Walcott attacking down one flank and Cazorla down the other. Factor in that the Spaniard is good for about 7 goals a season and we see another quality purchase by Wenger.
No matter what I say or how I say it, Arsenal will finish in the top four. Every year, thousands predict that they will finish outside the CL places, but Arsene and Arsenal always pull through. I believe that this year will be no different, and the benefit of Tottenham becoming a constant contender only pushes Arsenal to do even better. With their deep squad, cup runs could turn into something, but their track record prevents me from crowning them as winners of anything…yet. The additions that they have brought in may be buoyed by the retention of RVP, but Arsenal will survive (and thrive) with or without Van Persie in the coming season. The only way I see them finishing outside the top four is if they sell RVP, Song, AND get hit by injuries as badly as they did last season. Even with that, Arsenal always seem to have enough magic in the tank to perform. Never bet against the Gunners.
Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on these two London giants? Which team has had the better transfer window?