Monday, July 23, 2007
That Scheming Arsene Wenger Has Got Me Worried (Slightly)
It's easy to say that, in the wake of Thierry Henry's departure to Barcelona and the arrival of unproven Croatian league starlet Eduardo da Silva, Arsenal will be the weakest of the big 4 and may even finish 5th behind big spending North London rivals Tottenham. It's a bit bolder to say that Arsenal will not only finish higher than Tottenham, but higher than Liverpool, too. Even bolder to predict a 3 horse race this year for the title between United, Chelsea, and Arsenal and distinct possibility that they could nip the league. Well, that's what I'm doing (-pumps out chest-).
Let's not forget that just last season the "experts" were tipping United to finish 3rd or even 4th and predicting Liverpool and then-defending champs Chelsea for the title. Then this happened.
Chelsea also won their first title in 50 years the season after Arsenal went unbeaten and seemed invincible until we did this. Sure they had millions upon millions pumped into the squad, but I'm just pointing out there seems to be a theme of teams defying the pre-season predictions in recent years.
Now for my actual reasons why I think Arsenal will pose a serious threat to take the title from Old Trafford:
1. Henry leaving means the greatest goalscorer to ever play in the Premiership leaving (yeah, I said it). But Henry leaving also means a whole lot of whining and distractions and prima donna behavior leaving, too. Arsenal had the best record last year against the top 4 teams, beating United twice including once at Old Trafford without Thierry Henry. It's important to note that young Cesc Fabregas set-up Adebayor for the winner with a lovely through-ball.
2. That brings me to my next reason, Cesc Fabregas. Much like how Ronaldo and Rooney rose to the occasion and carried United to victory after van Nistelrooy was sold, I think this is the year that the young Gunners break out from the shadow of Henry and start beating down on teams, led by Cesc. Specifically the lesser teams that they had the most trouble beating last season. Look for the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott, Van Persie and Denilson to have great seasons, too. Also, goalkeeper Fabianski is a bit under the radar but he could be a given a chance and replace the error-prone Jens Lehmann.
That being said it's not like United or Chelsea have lost a step this off-season and both have only gotten stronger. Too close to call for a concrete prediction (cop-out, I know) but I will say it will be a very close 3 horse race for the title (sorry, Scousers, I'm just not buying the hype).