Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013-14 Premier League Post Transfer Deadline Predictions

This post was originally going to be a recap of each clubs new transfer dealings post the original predictions that were posted back right before the season started, but instead I decided to make revised predictions now that the major transfer window has closed. There are some notable changes, so let's see if you can spot them.

1. Chelsea

Despite this being a bit of a puzzling window for Chelsea overall, they are still the best team in the Premier League, and by that they have the fewest holes. Shipping out Romelu Lukaku for an aged Samuel Eto'o is confusing, but adding Willian adds even more depth to a position of ridiculous strength at attacking midfield. They're not thin in defense or at striker, but better depth could help. Fixture congestion could become a problem, but it's doubtful.

2. Manchester United

Yes, their transfer window was a farce. Yes, adding Marouane Fellaini doesn't really address United's problem in that they've lacked a true creative midfielder to help spring their forwards (Mesut Ozil would have been perfect). But, they're still Manchester United. Their defense is stout as usual, and they are lethal at forward. If they realize that Shinji Kagawa is a really good player who could help them massively, then they might win the title. But they'll work out the kinks.

3. Manchester City

I have questions about their transfer policy, to be honest. I like their signings of Negredo, Navas, and Jovetic. But that Fernandinho and Yaya Toure midfield is a concerning one, since there isn't much of a style difference between them, and they've already proven how thin they are at centerback by having to sign Martin Demichelis for actual money (when they could have picked him up on a free in July). There is a lack of variety in attack for them, and Joe Hart is doing everything in his power to make Fraser Forster England's #1 keeper. They're still a Champs League team, but they have more problems than I thought they did at the start.

4. Arsenal

Before I get spit roasted by Gunners everywhere: Mesut Ozil is a great signing for both the Premier League and Arsenal. He makes an already formidable attack even more formidable, and he gives that squad and the fanbase needed morale going into a tough season. But, he doesn't address the fact that they have no defensive midfielders (and the fact that Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshire are made of glass), and that their squad is still very thin at most areas in defense at and striker. As of right now, the morale boost is enough to push them to fourth, but injuries could send this season off the tracks quick.

5. Tottenham Hotspur

Yes, I am a Tottenham supporter, but even objectively they've had the best transfer window in England. They turned Gareth Bale and others into 7 internationals and they still made a profit. The squad has much needed depth added everywhere sans fullback, and having a true number 10 in Christian Eriksen will address their major issue in unlocking a defense. But it will take time for this very new squad to gel together, and how long it does will be the story of the season. If it doesn't take very long, watch out.

6. Liverpool

They quietly had a very solid window, and they addressed my major qualm with them before the season started which was their defense was a bit of a shambles. Adding Sakho, Cissokho, and Ilori will fix those issues. Simon Mignolet has really impressed between the sticks too. Their problem is their lack of firepower without Luis Suarez, and the fact that neither of their forward signings so far (Alberto, Aspas, and Moses) inspire all that much confidence. Their youth could also be a stumbling block. They'll make it a true top 6 this season, but I don't think they have enough yet to challenge the Top 5.

7. Everton

Losing Mr. Fellaini hurts. But they turned him into James McCarthy (who is really good), Gareth Barry, and Romelu Lukaku. The latter of those 3 signings is the most important, because Everton's forwards are pretty bad aside from him. I still wonder about the system in general, and whether it's more style than substance at this stage since they've scored only 2 goals in 3 games. They kept Leighton Baines, which is crucial, but their squad has shown some frailties in the early stages of the season that are concerning. But, they have improved, which means they have jumped...

8. Swansea

Swansea, who have quietly had a very good transfer window making signings that perfectly fit their style of play. They have much needed depth everywhere now, and the squad as a whole is solid. But they will be dealing with new-found fixture congestion thanks to the Europa League, and everyone on the squad will be tested because of that. How they deal with this fixture congestion is going to be the story of their season, and I think they'll deal with it decently, just not as well as I had thought before the season started.

9. Norwich City

I still believe in the Canaries, whose transfer window has been very good for a club their size. Their new options are very good in most places, like Van Wolfswinkel, Hooper, Redmond and Fer, and the squad is deeper as a result. But new questions have to be asked about the style Chris Hughton is playing, and whether these new players fit into it. Their form has also been sketchy, especially away from Carrow Road. They'll be tested early and often, but I think they'll pass most of them.

10. Aston Villa

One Kartik Krishnayer of World Soccer Talk remarked that Aston Villa are similar to Borussia Dortmund in that they are building a club, not just a team. The more I have looked into this squad, it makes perfect sense. Their best bit of transfer business was obviously keeping Christian Benteke, but that didn't stop them from making improvements like getting Libor Kozak from Lazio. Their youth is continuing to grow up, and they've proven to be a tough out already this season for teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool. And they've shipped out some hilarious dead-weight too. Paul Lambert's going to have this team do some great things soon, and finishing 10th is just the start.

11. West Ham United

As I wrote in the pre-season preview, West Ham are mid-table malaise personified. They aren't good, nor are they bad. They've spent their window adding Liverpool castoffs, without really addressing depth issues at striker, or the fact that they're just a slightly better version of Stoke. But, a slightly better version of Stoke means they'll end up being comfortably mid-table with no repercussions for anyone at the club. Mid table malaise, everybody.

12. Southampton

I was concerned earlier about their signings not really fixing their problems, but their concentrated efforts have been rewarded somewhat early on. Dejan Lovren has been decent, Victor Wanyama has played better of late, and they signed the Italian-Argentine fireball Pablo "Dani" Osvaldo to help out an already impressive strike force. I also love how they are using academy products as well like Shaw and Chambers, who are really, really good and unfortunately aren't long for the club because of that. Their style is easy on the eye, and will allow them to move up the table some this season.

13. Sunderland

This team is a bizarre one. On one hand, their signings have been mostly good, and they've done it for very little money. On the other, they have a coach who calls out players publicly which could cause him to lose the dressing room fast, and they have absolutely no good creative midfielders to give a potent strike force service. Jozy Altidore is good, but he can't create something out of nothing. They've shown some frailties in defense, and as said before their midfield lacks a true creator. If Ki can turn out to be that man, then Sunderland might be better off than this position. But since I doubt it, they might have to turn to January to fix that problem.

14. West Bromwich Albion

Here's another club with a bizarre transfer window. Lots of loans, very few permanent signings, and overall very little change to the quality of the club. Their problem will be scoring goals, and whether Victor Anichebe and Matej Vydra can do that with this midfield is a question. Stephane Sessegnon is not bad, but not the creator they need. They also have issues at keeper now that Ben Foster has suffered a long-term injury. But Steve Clarke will keep them up this year, just like he how he got them up to 8th last season.

15. Newcastle United

They're in trouble. Only adding in Loic Remy on loan is puzzling, and it doesn't fix any of the many squad issues they have. Even if you think the talent isn't bad, the manager has to be. Alan Pardew has found it hard to get to the players, irrespective of whatever story the media wants you to blame. But the performance, especially the goal-scoring form is very concerning. I don't think Alan Pardew survives the season, and Joe Kinnear managing that squad is even scarier. I wonder if a French manager gets hired if this season goes south fast. That might be the only way to help the squad get back to some of their 2011-12 form.

16. Cardiff City

They have added Premier League quality players almost everywhere, and have spent their funds wisely. Players like Cornelius, Medel, and Odemwingie will help out the already solid core of players held over from the Championship. Their performances against City and Everton have shown that they will be a tough out at home, and they have a decent enough defense and keeper to scalp them some points away from South Wales. On a slightly related note, the Welsh derbies this season are going to be must-watch TV this season, so make that a note for November 3 and February 8.

17. Fulham

This transfer window can be described as a Martin Jol special. They've added older players past their prime to the key positions, and have added some unknown talent from a small league in Europe for little money. They're not that much better, and the concern is where the goals are going to come from. Martin Jol could be the first manager sacked this season, since Fulham are going to be in a very tough relegation fight.

18. Stoke City

I will give credit to Mark Hughes for trying to sign some players who will help make Stoke into a better team to watch stylistically. But then he went out and signed Stephen Ireland on loan. There goes some of that good will down the drain. They will, as always, have trouble scoring goals, and will need to scalp some ugly wins to stay up. It's also interesting how Mark Hughes usually goes to clubs with seemingly unlimited funds, and yet he is still bad. Maybe the trend changes at Stoke where very little was actually spent this summer.

19. Crystal Palace

They've signed a ton of players, and not many of them are really that notable in helping them improve to Premier League quality. They will be a scrappy team to play against, and going to Selhurst Park will be a challenge for everyone, just ask Spurs and Sunderland. But they lack Premier League quality players in most areas that would help them stay up, even if I really want them to because Ian Holloway is a great manager that the Premier League needs.

20. Hull City (Tigers)

Stupid American style nickname aside, they are relying on goals from Danny Graham to keep them in the Premier League. That's all the evidence I need to say they're going straight back down to the Championship.

Consider these my new predictions my final and official ones for the season now that all rosters are pretty much settled.

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