With the first three weeks of the season complete and the transfer window now shut here’s a few pointers to the season ahead
Southampton might be the Blackpool of 2010/11 –
In recent Premier League seasons promoted teams such as Blackpool, West Brom and Swansea have attempted to stay up with an open style of play that has made them extremely entertaining to watch. However this does not always work out in these teams avoiding the drop. Blackpool were cruelly relegated a few years back after playing some attractive football. This season Southampton could be a team that everyone loves to watch but they may end up going down due to this. After watching the Man Utd game on sunday you couldn’t help but be impressed at how the Saints took the game to Utd. Until Paul Scholes came on the game was end to end stuff and Southampton looked like they were going to steal an unlikely but deserved victory. But it was not to be after some bad defending towards the end of the game. The reckless tackle for the penalty and the awful defending for the corners that led to the equaliser and the winning goal are a sign that the saints are vulnerable at the back. They have not been the worst team in the league this season so it is a shame that they are yet to get off the mark. However the harsh reality of the top division is now setting in and although I will be keen to watch them play, i would not be as keen to put money on them staying up.
With not long on the clock at Upton Park it was evident that Carroll’s loan deal to West Ham will probably be a success. The only thing that seems like stopping this is injuries. West Ham are a direct team that look to move the ball forward quickly. This suits Carroll and he had some excellent link up play with Kevin Nolan. His hold up play was good and even when he was not winning the ball in the air he was drawing a lot of interest from Fulham’s defence which opened up space for his teamates. With Matt Jarvis to come back into the team Carroll should get plenty of crosses in the box aimed at him. Carroll had a considerably lower amount of aerial duels at Liverpool than he did at Newcastle but at West Ham he should be the focal point of their attack. At Liverpool Suarez was always the main man so the ball was often played in to his feet. Big Sam loves a target man so expect Carroll to get plenty of balls played up to him and crosses. With Kevin Nolan feeding of the scraps from Carroll’s flick ons and knock downs I expect both to have a successful season and steer West Ham to a mid table finish. Whether or not West Ham decide to pull the trigger on a reported £17 million transfer fee next summer for Carroll, I doubt he will be back at Liverpool while Brendan Rodgers is still there.
Brendan Rodgers has a near impossible task on his hands –
After the dust settled on Rodgers move from Swansea this summer he must have looked at the squad list and thought to himself what a big job this really is. With Gerrard and Carragher nearing the end of their careers at the top and a host of underperforming recent purchases Rodgers has took on an almighty task at Anfield. The likes of Henderson, Joe Cole, Downing and Charlie Adam failure to produce at Anfield along with Rodgers unlikely to use Carroll in his system it was always going to be a busy transfer window for the ex Swansea boss. Fabio Borini was signed from Roma after scoring 9 in 24 games for them last season. Liverpool paid a little over £10 million pounds and with the potential upside for a guy that’s only 21 he is not a bad replacement for the outgoing Dirk Kuyt. He also spent £15 million on Joe Allen from his previous club Swansea. Allen is an excellent passer of the ball and fits Rodgers system perfectly. With Gerrard and Lucas playing alongside him this could be a very balanced middle three but i have reservations that either of these two can stay fit enough in a season that will include the Europa League. Once the transfer window shut and Liverpool had missed out on Clint Dempsey and Daniel Sturridge and let their record signing go out on loan it was clear that Rodgers has got a long way to go to turn this great club around. I admire Rodgers for his belief and think he will turn it round in time but failure in the transfer market from the club may well have just set him back 6 months in his project. With a passionate fan base and a board that seem not willing to spend big it will be interesting to see how long the project lasts? Will Rodgers adapt his approach for a more ‘win now’ mentality, I’m not so sure.
Arsenal have learnt how to defend –
With Arsenal not spending no money on defenders in the transfer market it seems odd that they have improved so drastically in this area. Steve Bould has come in on the coaching side and it seems to have worked wonders. The back four look more organised than they have for years. This is turn should give more confidence to the midfielders to go and play there typical passing style of play. Jack Wilshere is set to return in a month or so and that should further solidify the Arsenal team. Without van Persie Arsenal seem to have no egos in the team and have played some decent stuff so far. If Giroud and Podolski can start finding the back of the net this team could surprise a few this season. Carzorla for me is the signing of the summer. Not cheap at £16 million but for him to have come into the league and impressed so much so early I suggest he won’t take long pay back his fee with performances like the one at Anfield. As he settles in to the tempo of the league he will only get better which should alert other premiership teams to start game planning for him. A great addition to our league.
QPR are in big trouble –
A massive wage bill, average players and a bitter manager should see QPR fighting relegation this season. Firstly QPR have been reckless in the transfer market signing players on huge wages such as Onuoha on £60,000 a week. I admire the fact that QPR are willing to throw some money at staying in the Premiership but instead of spending wisely and in areas they needed to strengthen they have spent on well known players that have seen better days. Zamora, Cisse, Young, Wright-Phillips, Dyer, Boswinga and Johnson to name a few are players that are all on the downturn of their careers. Kieron Dyer has barely played in recent years, Zamora and Cisse have never been prolific scorers while Wright-Phillips has not been the same since his career damaging move to Chelsea. The same story repeats through most of the squad. Paying Joey Barton to not play for them typifies what a mess the club are in and this does not stop at the players. Mark Hughes seems more interested in what his ex employers Man City are doing than his current employers are. The welshman had a great career as a player but he has so far not lived up to this as a coach. What probably does not help either is that Hughes teams over the years have not played the most attractive football so don’t expect fans to be patient with him. If the worst does happen and QPR go down many of the players are reported to not have wage reduction clauses in their contracts and QPR will surely go into financial meltdown. The decision to sign Julio Cesar was further evidence of poor decision making. Rob Green who was only just signed had one bad game and QPR was straight into the transfer market for a new goalkeeper. I have never thought Green was the greatest but by signing him they must have seen something in him. Although this seems to have disappeared in 90 mins? I really do think that QPR are a good bet to go down and Mark Hughes to not see the season out is far from unthinkable. I wonder if the reality has hit Esteban Granero yet as to what he has got himself into.