With Alex Ferguson Gone, Can Arsenal Take Back Control of the EPL?

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2013

With Alex Ferguson Gone, Can Arsenal Take Back Control of the EPL?

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    Alex Ferguson's strangle-hold on the Premier League is over.

    With the Scotsman having relinquished his vice-like grip over the division, a host of clubs will be looking to take over as top dog.

    No one will be more keen to claim top spot than Arsene Wenger.

    Over the next few slides we analyse the clubs looking to take control of the Premier League, and also the threat they pose to Arsenal's own attempt to assert their dominance.

Manchester United

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    David Moyes was Alex Ferguson's personal recommendation to succeed him as Manchester United manager.

    You can see why: Moyes and Ferguson are cut from the same cloth. Both possess that wild-eyed stare and fiery determination to win.

    However, the United job will be a significant step up for Moyes, who has not won a single trophy in his time with Everton. His record against the big clubs is also notoriously poor: He has never won a Premier League match away to any of United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool.

    Although he inherits a title-winning side, Moyes could be set to lose a major component of that team: Wayne Rooney. A rebuilding job could be required before the Scotsman has even arrived in the job.

    Verdict: Moyes will require a period of adaptation. While he plainly has the attributes to be a fantastic United manager in the long-term, next season may come too soon for him, allowing Arsene Wenger's Arsenal to steal a march on the champions.

Chelsea

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    No one can be certain who will be in charge at Chelsea next season. The only certainty is that it won't be Rafa Benitez.

    The man the press believe will be Benitez's successor is Jose Mourinho.

    If the Portuguese man of war does arrive, Chelsea will be a strong proposition next season. The trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard have lit up the Premier League at times, and the latter two will be emboldened by having fully adapted to English football.

    Verdict: If Chelsea appoint the right manager, they threaten to be one of the Premier League's major forces in 2013-14. Arsenal will have to spend significantly to keep face with their London rivals.

Tottenham

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    Tottenham are a way behind the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. They are still looking to establish themselves as a credible top-four club.

    Andre Villas-Boas has been roundly praised for his work at Spurs, but it's worth remembering that they did finish fourth in 2011-12 under Harry Redknapp: There has not been enormous progress.

    Ahead of next season, Tottenham need to do two things. Firstly, it's imperative that they keep Gareth Bale. Secondly, they need to surround him with players of a similar calibre. I suspect the former will prove easier than the latter.

    Verdict: Andre Villas-Boas is building an attractive side at Tottenham, but they look a long way from title-challengers. I don't expect that to change within the space of a summer, whether Bale stays or goes.

Manchester City

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    As of yet, we don't know whether or not Roberto Mancini will be allowed to keep his job as Manchester City manager.

    Sacking him would seem a strange decision. With Manchester United having lost Alex Ferguson, Mancini ought to be able to capitalise and wrest control of the Premier League over to the other side of the city.

    Let's not forget the Italian already has a Premier League title to his name.

    Verdict: For all his supposed faults, Roberto Mancini is a proven winner. If City keep him, I'd expect them to be front-runners for next season's Premier League. If they dispense with him, all bets are off.

Liverpool

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    Historically speaking, Liverpool think of themselves as one of the Premier League's very biggest clubs.

    The current table tells a very different story.

    Brendan Rodgers will be delighted with the progress his squad have made this season as they've adapted to his possession-based game.

    However, in the short-term his goal has to be getting back into the Champions League. A tilt at the title is still some way off.

    Verdict: Liverpool are not yet in a position to inherit Manchester United's crown.

Arsenal

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    Whether or not Arsenal finish this season in the top four, there is plenty of work to be done.

    Arsenal's team is not currently strong enough to challenge for the Premier League title. However, they have the resources available to change that. Their most recent financial results noted cash reserves of more than £123 million.

    Arsenal do not need a change of ownership. They do not even need a change of manager. What they need is a change of policy.

    Arsene Wenger and the board need to loosen the purse-strings and bring in the quality players that Arsenal need.

    Verdict: If Arsenal can add a top goalkeeper, centre-half and striker, they could be transformed into title-winners.

    The major threat to Arsenal's attempt to topple Manchester United and mount a title challenge will come from Chelsea and Manchester City, although both clubs have uncertainties surrounding the managerial position.

    Arsene Wenger is now the Premier League's longest-serving manager by more than a decade. He has the experience, the conviction and the support required to win a league title.

    Now he just needs the players.

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    What do you think? Are Arsenal in a position to take control of the Premier League?

    Let us know below.