After looking strong at the start of last season, Liverpool tailed off and finished short of their mark, missing out again on silverware. Finally realizing that the league is just as important as the Champions League, Coach Rafa Benitez has been pushing Liverpool’s ownership group to put forth the money to improve the side. Tom Hicks, one half of the Hicks/Gillete partnership that owns Liverpool is having financial difficulties at the moment, going as far as to sell his Major League Baseball club, the Texas Rangers. This made Liverpool’s chances of improving through the transfer window look bleak unless they were to sell off some of their talent.
New Signing: Glen Johnson (Portsmouth)
Returning: Andriy Voronin
Now with the strong attacking force Liverpool still has intact I am expecting them to push for the league again this term, but some uncertainty in the future of many players leads me to believe they will fall short yet again. Rumored to be off before the season kicks off are; Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Javier Mascherano, Andrea Dossena, and Fabio Aurelio. Now if half of these moves take place it could severely damage the club in the upcoming season, as it looks as if the timing would leave them too late to find quality replacements. Closing out the summer though it looks as if Alonso and Mascherano are sure bets to stay with the club, as Liverpool are asking for inflated sums to purchase the players. Avoiding the loss of players is the key for Liverpool going into the new season, and it looks like they will be fine at the start of the campaign but still fall short in the league yet again this season.
A club of questions is what I like to call Arsenal. Will Wenger buy? Will Wenger sell? Is Wenger going to bring in anyone who is not for the Academy? The answers have panned out for Arsenal fans this off season, but probably not in the way they would have hoped. Wenger did buy, sell, and bring in a player that was for more than the Academy, but the chances for improvement from last season do not look promising.
Key Losses: Emanuel Adebayor (Manchester City), Kolo Toure (Manchester City)
New Signing: Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax)
Returning player: Philippe Senderos
With the losses of Togo front man Adebayor and defender Toure, Arsenal’s side has just taken a knock. Arsenal supporters and Wenger have said that there is no need to replace Adebayor, but with the history of fitness among Arsenal forwards I would have to disagree. Arsenal has been looking at the Moroccan international Chamakh from Bordeaux, but has yet to make a move to land the youngster. The loss of Toure could prove greater though as Wenger will have to make a decision. Vermaelen is yet to be tested in the EPL, and while Wenger wanted to ship Senderos back out this season, it is looking more evident that he may have to stay to add depth in defense.
The key to Arsenal this season will be fitness. If the players can stay fit they should be fine and find themselves in the top 4 for yet another season. For some reason though, if they do not manage to keep their forwards fit and struggle with problems in the backline after the departure of Toure, then they could be looking at their first season in many years outside the top 4 spots. Wenger has gambled by building his side through young players, but this will be the season that tells the wale on Wenger. Are the young players able to carry on, or do they drop down the table and allow someone else to join the ranks of the Big 4? Only time will tell, and the season is now fast approaching.