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NB96

Barclays Premier League 2016/17

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NB96    806

I didn't see a thread for this last year but I wanted to make one this time around because I think that this will be the most exciting season yet. The new TV deal is worth £5.136bn according to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31379128), which means vast amounts of new wealth will be coming into the league and filtering down into each club. The results of this are obvious, all clubs become wealthier (but particularly the traditionally smaller clubs) and therefore can afford more expensive, higher quality players. This makes the league far more competitive (as if it wasn't already) as every team can strengthen more significantly than before. For example:

  • West Ham bidding huge amounts for players they couldn't have before: £31m for Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette and £25m for Liverpool's Christian Benteke (who has also gained the interest of Crystal Palace), both of which were rejected.
  • Watford being in a financial position to reject bids in excess of £35m for Odhion Ighalo, or £30m for their talisman Troy Deeney.
  • Manchester United having the financial muscle to price out Real Madrid in a potential £105m swoop for Juventus' Paul Pogba.

...and more.

As if these teams become stronger wasn't reason enough, the top managers from Europe are all flocking to the Premier League, making it all the more interesting. The Premier League now boasts perhaps the greatest managerial lineup ever assembled in one country:

  • Arsenal: Arsène Wenger (FRA)
  • Chelsea: Antonio Conte (ITA)
  • Liverpool: Jürgen Klopp (GER)
  • Manchester City: Pep Guardiola (SPA)
  • Manchester United: José Mourinho (POR)
  • Tottenham Hotspur: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

If the Euro 2016 is anything to go by, Conte's Chelsea will be set up to be one of the hardest to beat in the league, with a well-drilled 3-5-2 formation. Guardiola has the reputation of being one of the world's best managers and his possession system may be something the league has not yet seen executed to it's full potential. Klopp's Liverpool appear to be lining up for a counter-attacking system, and this summer's transfer window will be Klopp's first opportunity to make adjustments to the squad and implement his own style of play. Mourinho returns to the league with Manchester United after a nightmare 2015-16 campaign under Chelsea, but is heralded as one of the greatest managers in the world, and with the financial backing of the owners he will be sure to fix up the team. Arsenal are still in search of that elusive striker, with fans not believing Olivier Giroud is capable of leading the line at a world class level. Wenger is under even more pressure than ever before, and it is likely that this will be his last season at the Emirates unless he can deliver a good transfer window and become league champions. Tottenham are also looking to prove themselves after a disappointing end to their campaign, blowing their chance to finish above bitter rivals Arsenal for the first time in over a decade. Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to strengthen the squad and fix the attitude problems within the first XI that caused such a collapse.

Some notable transfers for each club:

  • Arsenal: Granit Xhaka, Takuma Asano, Rob Holding
  • Chelsea: Michy Batshuyai, N'Golo Kante
  • Liverpool: Loris Karius, Sadio Mané, Georgio Wijnaldum
  • Manchester City: Ïlkay Gündogan, Nolito, Oleksander Zinchenko, Leroy Sané, Gabriel Jesus
  • Manchester United: Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba
  • Tottenham Hotspur: Victor Wanyama, Vincent Janssen

Leicester City will be looking to hold onto their star trio: striker Jamie Vardy, midfield destroyer N'Golo Kante and PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez. While Jamie Vardy has rejected an approach from Arsenal and signed a new contract until 2018 with LCFC, the future's of the other two are up in the air. N'Golo Kante appears to be on the verge of a £29m deal to join Chelsea, while Riyad Mahrez has been reported to have refused a new contract offer from Leicester, putting the other top clubs in the league on red alert. If Kante and Mahrez both leave, a mid-table finish would be expected for LCFC.

Rumors have suggested there has been a fundamental shift in Arsenal's transfer policy. Previously the club looked for value in the market, buying cheap players with talent. But with Wenger and the board under ever-increasing pressure rumors have suggested the club are prepared to spend big in order to improve the first XI, especially with star players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez potentially looking to move if the club cannot challenge for the league this season. In particular Arsenal appear be targeting a striker after having been rejected by LCFC striker Jamie Vardy. The club appear to be sniffing around Alexandre Lacazette and Gonzalo Higuain in particular, the former costing around €80m to prize away from Napoli, the latter expected to have roughly a €45m release clause. €30m have already been spent on bringing the Swiss defensive midfielder and captain of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Granit Xhaka. A new winger may also be necessary, with Theo Walcott no longer appearing to be up to scratch, although the young Alex Iwobi may be able to fill in, another winger to partner up with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil may be required too.

Klopp appears to be in the market for a defender after an injury to the promising 19-year-old Joe Gomez may leave Klopp without three of his first choice back four for the start of the season. Additionally, rumors had previously suggested Klopp wished to bring Bayern Munich's Mario Götze to Liverpool appear to have been quashed after reports have come out to suggest Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund are close to a €28m deal to bring him back to his former club.

Pep Guardiola appears to be taking a long-term success approach by targeting several younger players, such as Everton defender John Stones and Schalke winger Leroy Sané. They have already signed the versatile Ukrainian wonderkid Oleksander Zinchenko, 19, from Russian outfit UFA. However he also needs to fix the defense; with captain Vincent Kompany's injury problems worse than ever before, the need for both new fullbacks and at least one center back could mean an entire new back four will be seen by the end of his reign. Some journalists have suggested City are willing to bid in excess of £50m for Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29. Rumors had previously suggested City were closing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund, however they have since died down. BVB are not expected to sell their star striker, as fans are already becoming frustrated with the departure of captain Mats Hummels to Bayern Munich, midfielder İlkay Gündoğan to Manchester City and right-winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United. Rumors also suggest Guardiola wants to bring German central-midfielder Toni Kroos to Manchester from Real Madrid, but the potential signing of Paul Pogba by Manchester United may strengthen Madrid's resolve to keep the midfielder, especially with a potential one-year transfer ban looming over Real Madrid who are looking to win the Liga BBVA back from Barcelona.

José Mourinho's Manchester United have gotten off to a flyer this transfer window, having already signed three out of four of Mourninho's priority targets. The fourth target is widely believed to be Juventus' Paul Pogba, 23, a former Manchester United youth product. Widely considered to be the possible best central midfielder of the future, Juventus wish to retain Paul Pogba but a bid of around €100-120m is expected to be accepted. Reports have suggested the finishing touches on this deal could be hashed out this weekend, with a medical potentially taking place next week, although the player is still on holiday after his Euro 2016 heartbreak in the final against Portugal. If the deal doesn't work out, Mourinho may turn his attention to PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi, 29, who wishes to test himself in the Premier League. The future of Manchester United's youth products, particularly the impressive Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, will also be under scrutiny, as Mourinho does not have a reputation for moving youth products into the first XI. Additionally the back-four of MUFC may yet be adjusted further, it would be considered a surprise if Mourinho saw Bailly and Smalling as his first choice centre-back pairing, the former being a promising but still inexperienced young defender. The future of right-back Matteo Darmian is also in doubt after a disappointing first season, as is Dutch winger Memphis Depay.

The Premier League is the most viewed and most competitive league in world football right now. The race for the top four will be interesting, as around 6 clubs appear to be challenging for the title, and clubs such as Everton and West Ham strengthening further to challenge for a place in Europe's elite competition. We may see the overall points total for each team decrease this season, and for many to come. As the competition gets stronger, more points are going to be dropped by all teams. We may start to see more and more champions with low-70's points totals for example, whereas just a few years ago Manchester United lost the title to Manchester City on goal-difference, both having finished on 89 points.

My predictions for the league table, mainly based off transfer activity, managers and their potential first XI:

 

1st Manchester United - Champion's League
2nd Chelsea - Champion's League
3rd Manchester City - Champion's League
4th Tottenham Hotspur - Champion's League
---------------------------
5th Arsenal - Europa League
6th Liverpool - Europa League
---------------------------
7th West Ham
8th Everton
9th Southamapton
10th Leicester City
11th Crystal Palace
12th Stoke City
13th Swansea City
14th Sunderland
15th Watford
16th West Bromwich Albion
17th Middlesborough
----------------------------
18th Bournemouth Relegation
19th Hull City Relegation
20th Burnley Relegation

There's probably a litle bias but I'd agree with either Chelsea or Manchester United at first place as of right now.

The full fixtures list for all clubs can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jun/15/premier-league-2016-17-fixtures-week-by-week-list-football

What are your predictions for the title race, and why?

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+Urthor    10238

A fundamental shift in Arsenal's transfer policy would require an actual shift in the owners, sounds more like wishful thinking from the fans than anything.  The owners still say profits, and Arsenal will still go for cheap deals, because Wegner's approach ultimately gives Arsenal 10-20% more value for money in the long run.  Higuain's buyout clause is low for the quality of player, and Vardy might well be a bullet dodged given he has only clocked up a single season of performance at quality standards.  

Regardless there's a shitload still unaccounted for, by all rights transfer season hasn't even started to ramp up, so we won't really see the impact of the new money until the end.  Most of the real flashy stuff is at the end, the stuff like Ibrahimovic is the exception, because he wasn't a transfer, and he was ridiculously cheap to boot.  

Regardless though the only team that has the potential to attract players taking any sort of unders is Mourinho's United, other than that all the clubs are paying market value for players by and large.  And unlike other sports, especially the NFL and the NBA, unders have never been a big part of football.  

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NB96    806

Part of me thinks maybe I should put Manchester City at 1st place instead of United but right now I'm not too impressed by their signings. Gündogan has dodgy knees (the worst place to get injuries in), Leroy Sané has immense potential but anyone who watches him will tell you he's still very raw. In a few years I expect him to be a very good young player but for this first season I don't expect to see too much from him. Zinchenko is more for the future imo. On the other hand Guardiola is a genius and an innovative manager, he alone makes that squad better let alone bringing in new signings. Their defense is just shocking though really.

And yeah on Arsenal it might be their fans wishful thinking. But from what I understand they're so much pressure now (particularly Wenger) that they might need to break the bank to appease fans. I think Higuain would be expensive though; 36 goals in Serie A is absolute world class, but he's 29 I think. I don't know if he would be able to replicate the form he's had under Napoli. Not to mention media outlets have said Wenger was put off by the asking price for Lacazette, Higuain is almost double that. I probably wouldn't spend that much on Higuain personally. I think Arsenal fans are in for another disappointing summer, and Arsenal might lose their top 4 streak this season now that the league looks like it could be that much tougher.

I just can't figure out why Arsenal don't spend. It just be their greedy owners. They aren't that far away either, they don't have a big rebuilding job like United and City do. They could have gone in real hard for Ben Arfa (free) immediately, then you meet Lacazette's buyout clause and before you know it you're just a centre-back away from having a really solid team. Instead they mess around and let PSG get Ben Arfa, and Chelsea are leading the race for Koulibaly (one of their targets). I guess you can't just buy whoever you want mind you, but I think Lacazette would absolutely leave for Arsenal (Lyon have no choice if they meet the buyout). Instead they bought Xhaka even though they already have a lot of CM's anyway.

Mind you I have seen tweets from journalists suggesting Napoli are willing to accept €50m + Giroud for Higuain, that seems madness to accept from Napoli. Especially if the reports about Juventus moving in for Higuain are true, then again they probably wont wanna sell to a rival.

The worst part for Arsenal is that even if they quite rightly kick out Wenger who do they get to replace him? Maybe Blanc? All the top managers are taken...

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Faint    5719

Definitely don't agree with your table predictions pal!

First and foremost, if Arsenal get a top class striker I think they really could challenge. I disagree with your comment about not needing Xhaka - they've desperately needed some steel and bite in midfield for a long time and he gives them that without taking away from their style.

United winning the league I disagree just because their squad is a mess. Rooney is a shadow of the player he once was, they've got so many great midfielders but they definitely won't click as there is almost too much there. When you've got Rooney, Herrera, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Carrick all competing for the holding spot in midfield it's gonna be tough. What happens to Mata as well you have to ask... and defensively I think they're so unbalanced - Smalling has mistakes in him and it will take more than Mourinho to iron those out. I think the main issue is that most of the players there are really getting old and just don't have the hunger any more, that was showing in multitudes last season and I think it'll take Mourinho at least a few years to turn them into champions again.

Chelsea under Conte I think will be marvelous. Really really impressed by his managing style and the players really do have something to prove after last year. Backing them to be winners.

City could be amazing, could be subpar. Not sure if Pep's style will be able to work in the PL as it's a lot faster and the refs let a lot more go. 

You're hugely overhypying Everton - I'll be surprised if they're top 10 this year. West ham look like they'll be great now Payet has committed his future. Southampton will be very strong again - they've got the perfect setup. 

Klopp's liverpool could be really really good this year, I worry about the consistency though - I think they'll beat the likes of Arsenal/Utd/City but really struggle vs the likes of palace, west ham, bournemouth etc. If they can start beating the smaller teams then they'll get top 4 for sure.

 

I'd also say that reading all the "transfer rumours" is stupid - crazy numbers getting thrown around that will not come to fruition. Honestly I've seen arsenal linked with higuain/benzema etc for fucking YEARS and it's NEVER happened...

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NB96    806

Well maybe I'm pushing Man U a little too much right now but you look at the transfers so far and I'd say they've possibly done the best in Europe in the transfer window so far. None of the teams in the league have got as many good signings (Chelsea the closest now that Kante is confirmed), in Europe I think only PSG (Ben Arfa and Krychowiak) and Bayern (Hummels and Sanches) have got much business done because of the Euro's holding everything up. Even Barcelona has been relatively quiet. They sold one or two defenders and bought Umtiti but definitely that's not a massive signing, just a promising kid. I don't know if Mourinho really wants Bailly and Smalling to be his CB pairing, Bailly is still young and learning. Could do with a new right back since Darmian is bad going forward but Valencia hasn't been too bad. The defensive record was good last season but they style of play had like 9 men behind the ball at all times with no ovement and no incisive passes, it's hard to concede playing like that but also hard to score. I really hope Mourinho shows Rooney and Fellaini the door. Maybe Schweinsteiger too.

Chelsea look like beasts with Kante though. I don't think Conte should go with three defenders because that system has never really worked in the PL, and two of them aren't fast enough (Cahill and Terry). Zouma would be fine but I think you don't wanna get caught out on the counter. Still this team

-----------Courtois
-----Cahill - Terry - Zouma
Hazard - Kante - Matic - Willian
-------Oscar/Fabregas
------Batshuyai - Costa/Lukaku

could win the league if the players can adapt to the system. There are rumors that Costa could go back to Atletico and that Chelsea are pursuing Lukaku though. Idk where this system leaves Fabregas and Matic, I don't think you can play both of them because they tend to sit deep. Maybe Matic gets on the chopping block on the back of his poor season, not to mention Juve seem to want him.

Also I don't think I'm overhyping Everton. Their defense was a shambles last season but I think that was down to Martinez. With Koeman as I think they will be a very solid all around team. They have a really talented group of players, whereas Southampton's new manager hasn't got too much to impress with in terms of credentials. I think Southampton have a good squad but they had two very good managers (Pochettino and Koeman) to bring it all together, maybe we'll have to see how Puel does with them.

And yes I also think Liverpool could be very good potentially, top 4 contenders. Klopp seems to look for value in the market but I don't know if there is much value anymore these days. I think English clubs must overpay for players now. Mané looks like he will be a good acquisition, just needs to adjust his consistency and he could be one of the best wingers in the league. I wouldn't have minded Klopp at Old Trafford but I guess it can never happen now he's at Liverpool.

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Faint    5719

They'll undoubtedly be better, but saying they'll win the league is premature considering the huge unbalance in both the team and the squad. They've gone for the big name signings, which doesn't always work out. I question whether a 33/34 year old Ibrahimovic will be nearly as good in a much much more physical and competitive league. Let's not get started on how poor Rooney is and how bad a captain he is.

I genuinely think Klopps liverpool will be excellent if they can get a new LB and keep Sturridge fit, especially with Matip and Kraius being HUGE additions to the first team. Klopp has been really subtle in his purchases but flying under the radar means a lot less on them and means that without European football they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Spurs won't do as well this year. Not because they're not as good, but because every other team is getting considerably better and I don't think that either of their fullbacks are anywhere near the level required to be a top 4 team, particularly this year and I think the good teams can really exploit that. Let's not forget that whilst Kane scores a lot, he misses far more (kind of like the same way Andy Cole did - Kane isn't clinical AT ALL he just gets a shit ton of chances). Wanyama is a great signing, gone under the radar and a very shrewd acquisition. I don't think he's what they needed though.

Genuinely didn't know Koeman had moved to Everton - this does change the perception a bit. Still think they'll finish behind west ham lol.

Has lukaku moved back to chelsea yet? I think Costa is gonna end top scorer again this year to be honest, that's where my money is.

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NB96    806

I don't think Lukaku has moved back yet but the suggestion seems to be that Chelsea are considering him. They confirmed Kante's signing yesterday so I think their midfield is the best in the league at this point. They really need 2 defenders though imo. Terry is getting on now, Cahill isn't top class. Zouma is the future of their defense, they seem to be chasing after Napoli's Koulibaly, I wonder if they will phase out Cahill if they do get a new defender. I'd go for Van Djik too if Conte wanted three at the back.

I think people are sleeping on Chelsea but maybe the new manager will be a breath of fresh air for the players.

As for Man U I think we should try everything for Mahrez at all costs, I'd rather him than Pogba if we had the choice. Just offer £50m and triple his wages to £150,000 a week and try their best to convince him that it's only one season out of the CL. Imagine a front four of

-----------Ibrahimović------------

Martial - Mkhitaryan - Mahrez

would be one of the best attacks in the world to me. Probably wont happen though sadly.

Mourinho will hopefully phase Rooney out once he sees that he's past it

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Faint    5719

That is so so sooooo quintisential of a manchester united fan, throw money at it instead of solving it. 

United HAVE got HUGE talent in their squad but instead of nurturing it and trying to improve it, they go "herp derp lets buy someone else!!!" and the cycle repeats itself. United already have fantastic wing/AMF options in Mata, Herrera, Depay, Rashford, Depay, Januzai and now Mkhitaryan. Definitely don't need Mahrez. Pogba is genuinely world class and has proven it over several years so he'd be a great addition, whereas I think Mahrez would just fade into the background at United.

I still think Cahill is very good, reliable and quick. But agreed, a CB should be a priority for chelsea.

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Aaron    1983

chelsea winning the league is a stretch given where they finished last season and there players are mentally.

 

you have their arguably best players still sitting in a rut form and confidence wise (hazard, fabregas, costa) and a really unpromising back line. 

 

City should be favourites if they buy smart to bolster their incredibly thin and injury prone front line but they just seem to always buy so poor in the last few years. 

 

united are very imbalanced. Rooney is a huge problem for them. They remind me of the utd team which bought in rooney and ronaldo as youngsters. didn't win much for a few years but then went on a rampage (here I'm referring to depay/martial/rashford). 

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Aaron    1983

Everton are awful and have a bunch of overrated players. Barkley, Stones are so overrated. 

Lukaku is excellent though. 

 

Don't expect much from them.

 

West Ham will be dangerous as Payet is a phenomenon. 

 

Liverpool are a mess tbh. 

 

Spurs should invest in their frontline as Kane going missing for the first few months last season cost them the title probably and I think he'll struggle at the start again this season after the Euros which would have crippled his confidence. Ontop of having extra footy to play compared to their equivalent teams (lpool/chelsea). 

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Aaron    1983

The only reason I could see  united winning the league is they have ibrahimovic.. and he wins titles. 

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+Urthor    10238

Chelsea have ages to find form though, and on paper they're still closish to where they were in '15 give or take if they find that form.  Transfer season isn't close to over.  

 

It's a typical EPL season, there's no way you can predict even the top 4, especially after the last one.  Chelsea could do it, City could do it, and yea Ibrahimovic could do it, fact is that all of the signings Mourinho has made are top notch, even with side unbalanced.  

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Faint    5719

leicester will win it again, jamie vardy is having a party

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NB96    806
2 hours ago, Faint said:

That is so so sooooo quintisential of a manchester united fan, throw money at it instead of solving it. 

United HAVE got HUGE talent in their squad but instead of nurturing it and trying to improve it, they go "herp derp lets buy someone else!!!" and the cycle repeats itself. United already have fantastic wing/AMF options in Mata, Herrera, Depay, Rashford, Depay, Januzai and now Mkhitaryan. Definitely don't need Mahrez. Pogba is genuinely world class and has proven it over several years so he'd be a great addition, whereas I think Mahrez would just fade into the background at United.

I still think Cahill is very good, reliable and quick. But agreed, a CB should be a priority for chelsea.

I disagree with you about our options on the wing. Mata is so shit on the wing, he only seems to function properly at number 10 (and even then he gets knocked off the ball a little easily, and is slow). Januzaj has yet to step up since his breakthrough season, while Rashford to me should be leading the line for us in two years time rather than be on the wing. He proved himself as a striker with huge potential. Mikhitaryan would be good on the wing but he drifts inside a lot, I think he would work great as a number 10 just behind the striker. I think Herrera needs to prove himself this season because he has been a little disappointing, I wont fault his effort but I don't think his end product isn't there yet at the quality a top top team would demand. I'd give Depay another year just in case but he was truly diabollical last season, just so so so so bad. If his crosses get into the box rather than end up in row Z it would be an improvement.

Our right side was just really really poor last season. No good right wingers, Darmian injured lots and even when he's fit he hardly gets forward and attacks. Mahrez for me adds creativity and trickery, the kind of player you want two defenders to mark. I'd be over the moon with either one but still Mahrez would be awesome. The top teams have a threat from both wings and Mourinho needs to make sure we have something planned. Plus I have a fetish for inverted wingers as well

There seems to be rumors about James Rodriguez being linked to a few PL teams like Utd, City, Chelsea and Arsenal. I dunno if I want another Madrid reject after being snake charmed by Di Maria but you can't fault his stats for Madrid, he just doesn't get game time because Zidane wants 4-3-3 with 3 central midfielders so a #10 doesn't fit in. Not sure why City and Arsenal would want him tho, probably he's off to PSG if I had to guess

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NB96    806

Kinda wish we didn't sign Bailly since we have so many young defenders coming through, more youth defenders than attackers right now and maybe one of them can break through sooner or later

and i agree Wanyama is a great signing for Tottenham, £11m is great value for money

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+Urthor    10238
2 hours ago, NB96 said:

Kinda wish we didn't sign Bailly since we have so many young defenders coming through, more youth defenders than attackers right now and maybe one of them can break through sooner or later

and i agree Wanyama is a great signing for Tottenham, £11m is great value for money

Arguably Bailly is too raw for United, he might not be the bridge player that they needed if they actually did have a bunch of defender juniors coming through.  But hey Mourinho needed a central defender, and needed one bad, he still needs a left back but who doesn't need a quality left back. And he needed his transfer kitty for Pogba.  

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Aaron    1983

If you have the money, Bailley is fine.  Not every good young player will make it. You have a few good homegrown ones but the more the better. 

 

TBH regardless of United's options, if they signed J. Rodriguez + Mahrez, I would be genuinely scared. I think they can sort out their midfielder issues in-house if they really wanted to. I don't see Pogba winning you a title but the likes of Mahrez and Rodriguez definitely can. 

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NB96    806

Now that I think of it, Mahrez is 100% perfect for Arsenal.

---------------ST

Sanchez - Ozil - Mahrez

-------Xhaka - Ramsay

That midfield and attack would be as good as any in the league if the striker they get is any good. Rumors seem to be focused mainly on Higuain, Lacazette, Bacca and Icardi (apparently having anmeeting with his agent this week perhaps???). In fact I'd have them up there as serious title contenders, the only think holding them back being Wenger himself. Well, maybe add one more centre half as well

Off-topic but is it possible to post tweets on this site or does that not work? I noticed I can't post videos the same way I used to before as well.

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Azzaw    64

This season is going to be fantastic, if anything for the managers of the top teams.

United might be able to finally compete this season since Mourinho is an expert in bringing back glory to struggling top clubs, and Zlatan can probably spark that winning mentality they desperately need

Chelsea, especially after signing Kante, are contenders to win the league. If Conte can somehow re-inspire Hazard and Costa finally gets serious they are probably going to be one of the most lethal teams not only in the Prem but in Europe

Liverpool doesn't look any impressive to me honestly. They probably have the potential to at most maybe be the darkhorse team this season if they play with the inspiration and passion that took them to the Europa league final but we'll see. I feel like the fixtures against Liverpool are going to be decisive games for the teams that are in the top 4 this season

I predict City will have the same run of form from last season. I feel like their main focus is gonna be on the Champions League again and I feel like Guardiola might struggle a bit. This is in my opinion probably the weakest team he has inherited (albeit still a good club, but no Barcelona or Bayern) and the first time he is in a league where there are more than 2 clubs competing to win the league. Its gonna be great seeing a club managed by Mourinho play against Guardiola's squad again, made for some great Clasico's in La Liga the previous years.

Arsenal, always on the brink of becoming a fantastic club, are going to fall short, again, if we don't do the obvious and sign a striker. A good one. Since we obviously can't have a fit Walcott a speedy one is preferred, as then Arsenal can finally exploit Ozil's marvelous spotting and passing. 

 

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NB96    806

http://www.football-italia.net/87571/zidane-‘i-pogba-but…’

Sounds like Zidane may look to other options re Pogba like Andre Gomes. Or maybe its just the standard comments Madrid make in a transfer saga.

Our midfield still feels a little unbalanced to me though, like we have one top quality midfielder if we get Pogba, but the other two (I'm logically assuming 4-3-3 formation if we get Pogba) suck, unless Mourinho can make Schneiderlin return to the form shown at Southampton.

People have suggested Mourinho may do more than the four signings he mentioned in his first press conference. Maybe Timothy Fosu-Mensah has earned a place in central midfield, like the holding midfielder allowing Schneiderlin to make those attacking, box to box runs he did at Southampton. But perhaps he's still too young to have such an important role. But probably not, I guess we stick with Herrera for another season as the first choice CMR, with Fosu-Mensah getting game time here and there.

Ruben Neves (FC Porto) would be great if he continues his development, maybe we should keep an eye on him over the course of the year. The kid that defensive quality to be a pivot role, but also works as a deep lying playmaker who passes the ball forwards.

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Aaron    1983

United have loads of talent [schniderlien/schwein/fosu mensah] and since Keane left, were never really built on centre midfielders.  Its a question of is Mourinho going to stick to his rigid 4-3-3 or go to Fergie's flying wingers with a plethora of good strikers available.  I know its unlikely but the striking option of ibra, rooney, martial, rashford reminds me of the old fergie days of rooney berbatov tevez, macheda etc. 

 

Chelsea IF they can revitalise hazard/costa will be a beast but thats a HUGE if! 

 

 

Wijnaldum deal for Liverpool is massive. If Wij can settle into a deeper CM role and replicate his goal scoring prowess and improve his away form, it will end up being the best CM purchase this year. I'm quietly pleased with the deal when u look at the prices for other players. Still we don't have anywhere near a settled frontline with the man of glass still our best striker and biggest problem for continuity. 

Sadly liverpool have too many holes to fill and LB is a gigantic weakness for us. 

 

City have made some wicked signings, fully expect them to challenge if they can get 3 players injury free (aguero, kompany, gundongan).. what a spine... but what an injury prone spine. 

 

 

Mahrez will improve any team in the premier league and why clubs aren't going in for him, I have no idea. If he has ANOTHER phenomenal season; madrid & barca will come calling. 

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Faint    5719

The right side of Arsenals attack is SO weak (could move sanchez to the right but then you get the same problem on the left...), I think I read that sanchez aside in 29 games they had 6 different players in the RW berth that contributed 5 goals and one assist...ONE ASSIST IN 29 GAMES i mean holy shit, I know it's Giroud finishing but still!

 

mahrez got 17 goals 11 assists in the PL last season in 37 games, so he'd be SO SO SOOOO good for arsenal - they really should be going to break the bank to sign him, he suits them way more than vardy would.

Liverpool still in desperate need of a LB, but other than that I really like our lineup atm (especially now skrtel is gone and lucas on his way out). talk of willems coming from holland - what a bloody great signing that would be. hector would be amazing too albeit that's unlikely. striker i dont see as much of an issue as if sturridge does get injured again we still have origi, ings, firminho who can all lead the line. versatility of our amf options really shouldnt be overlooked!  Wijnaldum is such a good signing for us, such a "klopp player" and really really good quality, his time at newcastle he was surrounded by much worse players which wont be the case at liverpool. he's still a risk cos newcastle, but if theres one guy that can bring his best form out consistently then its klopp. i love that liverpool have made £50m in sales of players that wouldnt get onto our bench this seaon (skrtel 5.5m, ibe 15m, smith 6m canos 4.5m, sinclair 4m, allen 13m, vigouroux/rossiter/teixeira 250k-500k each) which really does mean that we have successfully trimmed down an oversized squad and that klopp is cutting out the dead wood (benteke and lucas next please, ty)

utd in their fergie days had ronaldo,tevez,rooney,berbatov - all absolutely world class strikers all capable of getting 20+ goals a season. if you look at it now - you could only really say that about ibra (rooney far worse now than he was then) and ibra is unproven in the PL (i still think hell be quality obviously, but still unproven at PL level). point is that utd going forward is promising, but comparing it to the days where they had cr7,rooney,tevez and berba all flying is crazy. i think mourinho will stick to 4-3-3 with schweinsteiger sitting deep and rooney and one more cm doing the legwork.

city are going to be wonderful to watch and have the best team, but i've still got the feeling chelsea will pip them, i really do rate conte and signing kante is gonna be huge for them. chelsea have loads of BRILLIANT young players as well - more top class youth talent than any other team in the PL imo and have played the loan system so so well over the past few years which they're really gonna reap the benefits of

barca have signed gomes so fully expect madrid to match utds 100m offer for pogba now. if i was pogba no way would i go to utd over madrid, but the mourinho factor may turn his head slightly

 

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NB96    806

Well Juve have now signed Higuain from Napoli so I assume the Pogba deal is close. The rumors suggest the fee has been accepted, the final hurdle is Raiola's 20% commision. I hope Woodward isn't foolish enough to let Pogba slip through his fingers. With more investment over the next two to three years I hope we'll back to level we showed under Ferguson. Not long ago our name was mentioned alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern; the four of us were the elite of world football.

I dream of us having a midfield and attack to compete with the likes of Barcelona over the next few years. I hope Pogba is the key to beginning the rebuilding process of the midfield that had been criminally neglected for so long. He's so expensive but I want only the best, none of the other three mentioned settle for less and neither should we... hopefully Rashford and Fosu-Mensah will step up for us as ST and CM as they develop over the next three years.

I think Mourinho will continue making more signings after Pogba (assuming we do get him of course). He mentioned something about supplemental signings after the four main priorities were completed. Rumors of wanting an wxperienced CB since ours are all so young. Also a RB, Monaco's Fabinho might fit the bill. Darmian is too defensive in his style of play imo, he'd be better off in Italy.

Not sure why Madrid didn't go for Kante, they need a DM since all they have is Casemiro.

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NB96    806

Loads of tweets from journalists (particularly those from Italy) saying Pogba to United is as good as done. Definately improves our midfield:

On City: based on transfer rumors if they end up with the following first XI how would you expect them to do in the league?

-------------------Hart

Clichy - Kompany - Stones - Zabaleta

------Gundogan - Fernandinho

-----Nolito - De Bruyne - Sané

----------------Aguero

The team looks good to me, but City's first XI is full of crocks. Fernandinho will probably move to CB when Kompany gets injured, Gundogan will be missing for the first few months and has a bad injury record, Aguero picks up injuries more nowadays. Sané looks the business but is still raw and will need a few years yet, Stones was poor last season defensively and Guardiola may need time to iron it out. To me they have some problems, mainly the whole back four is unreliable, need two new full backs, what happens to Sterling etc. They seem to be targeting younger players, Stones, Sané, Moreno, Jesus... their team could be nasty in a few years time if they all develop well, but Guardiola typically stays for 3-4 years so who knows how they will look in the future.

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NB96    806

Thoughts on week 1?

Arsenal and Liverpool are both suspect defensively... who knew. Moreno wasn't up to standard for sure. Liverpool played fast, positive football going forward though. Guess that's the Klopp factor. City have started learning how to play the Pep way but they created very few clear cut chances. They were the better team but had a bit of luck. I think their style of play will take time to learn, Clichy and Sagna coming into central midfield is asking for trouble though - Pep isn't working with Alaba and Lahm anymore. Thought we were weak against Bournemouth in the first half but looked a solid team in the second. Zlatan has 3 goals in 3 games for us now if you count the pre-season at Galatasaray. Need to get rid of Rooney thoughh, he stinks up the attack, gets tackled easily and can't pass accurately under pressure, qualities that are neccessary for a #10. Mata should take his place there imo. On the bright side Bailly looks like a great signing already, not afraid to make tough tackles, capable of playing out from the back too. Reminds me of Vidic, he's just a no-nonsense defender. So excited for him. I was so wrong about Bailly before.

 

Didn't catch all of the games though. Hull beat the champs deservedly imo and Spurs and Everton drew 1-1. Thought Coutinho looked great, wouldn't mind him at Old Trafford behind Ibra. The football is back at last.

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