Balague: Manchester City Will Beat Chelsea to the Title, United to Fall Back
With the 2013-14 Premier League season just a matter of hours away, here are my thoughts on the top clubs and how things will unfold between here and May.
The big concern, as ever, is their lack of transfer activity. I put it down to Arsenal's unwillingness to pay the wages other clubs will. Players might not be born dreaming of playing for Arsenal, but this is a club who have qualified for the Champions League 16 seasons in a row. They should be making things happen.
Arsenal have a staff who can spot talent, but they're not being assured enough in the market. The result is a squad that will have to fight extremely hard to make the top four this season. I'm predicting fourth or fifth for Arsene Wenger's men—no higher.
Jose Mourinho will not admit this, but Rafa Benitez did much of the preparation for him. The former Liverpool manager made Chelsea a more solid team, improved their work-rate and addressed the small details.
Mourinho was left needing just one thing—a world-class central midfielder. I'm surprised he hasn't pushed harder to get one, but Roman Abramovich has asked him to work with a limited budget and do what he can with a young squad. Benitez wanted a central midfielder in January, but that didn't work out either.
Chelsea will be right up there, but I don't think Mourinho will get the title he craves in his first season back.
I like Brendan Rodgers and the way he's trying to remodel the team, but it all comes down to Luis Suarez at Liverpool. Without him, they are a team who can only come sixth or seventh. With Suarez, they have a chance to go higher.
Suarez wants to go because he knows the team isn't strong enough to finish in the top four. Liverpool fans don't want to hear it, but that's his concern and the reason why he'll continue to fight for an exit before the window shuts.
United are the most fascinating story of the season. I have a lot of respect for David Moyes and I think he'll stay true to the essence of the club, but he's coaching players of a quality he's never had before. He's also trying to buy players of a quality he's never had to research before.
It's going to take him some time. I think United will take a step back this season and not be involved in the title race. This will be all the harder to bear for their fans because...
City will win the title, and they'll win it relatively easily, too.
They have everything you need. They have a fantastic coach in Manuel Pellegrini, who possesses great tactical awareness and superb man-management skills. People say he hasn't won anything, but he has in Latin America, and those who don't see the Argentinian league as strong need to be better informed.
This summer they've added Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas. They have the best squad in the league.
Whatever happens with the Gareth Bale situation, I think Spurs will finish inside the top four. Roberto Soldado, with support from Paulinho, can really give them a boost going forward. Andre Villas-Boas can push his team to the next level this season.
My biggest concern would be if they sold Bale very late in the window—therefore not having enough time to spend some of the money. But gradually they will become less reliant on him.
My friend Roberto Martinez has a tough job at Everton. He needs to convince the fans to start building from the back. It's a big test for them and it won't be easy.
I'll also be watching Swansea closely—and perhaps the last season of Michael Laudrup there. I expect two or three big jobs to be available next summer, and Laudrup has a chance to further enhance his reputation.
Guillem Balague was talking to B/R's Will Tidey
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?