Will Arsenal or Spurs miss out on a top four place this season?
Forget winning the Premier League title, some clubs believe finishing in the top four is success. Sure, it gets you into the lucrative world of the Champions League but there’s nothing like winning trophies.
Spurs finished in the top four last season but have missed out on the riches of the Champions League thanks to Chelsea's Champions League success in Germany. Meanwhile, north London rivals Arsenal have been strongly tipped to drop out of the top four for the past six seasons or so, but the Gunners have always had enough strength to get there in the end. But will they miss out this time round?
Let’s take a look at who our pundits believe will finish in the Champions League places come May.
West Ham fan and Squarefootball writer Mitch Waddon believes it will be the usual faces in the top four this season.
“Once again we will see Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal finish in the top four, and Chelsea have to be the favourites to join them.
“I personally find Steven Gerrard’s comments about Liverpool finishing in a Champions League place laughable, as ‘Pool are simply not the same standard as these other teams.
“City have arguably the best squad in Europe and United and Chelsea will not be far behind them. The only worry is that Arsenal do not score the goals needed to qualify, especially if they lose Robin Van Persie (and I expect him to move on this year).
“However, Tottenham’s squad is likely to be weaker with the probable transfer of Luka Modric and I feel Newcastle’s success last year won’t be repeated again this season. That being said, I expect all mentioned teams to make up the top seven come the end of the season.”
Those four prove to be a popular choice among our panellists. Chelsea fan Joe Tyler believes Chelsea, Man City, Man United and Arsenal will be there simply because ‘they have all been there and done it and, as we saw last season, it is very difficult for anyone else to break into it’.
While West Brom fan Andy Wakeman believes it will be those four simply as they ‘have the biggest budgets’.
Birmingham City fan and Squarefootball writer Steve Coulter predicts City will win the league but that they will be pushed all the way by United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
And Sunderland’s Tony Ratton just doesn’t see the likes of Spurs, Newcastle and Everton being good enough to challenge the top four.
However, Newcastle fan and Squarefootball writer Greg Hall believes Newcastle can only get stronger and they will break through this season.
“Man City, Man United, Chelsea and Newcastle. It’s due to the first three having the strongest squads and Newcastle will pip Tottenham at the post for the fourth spot.”
And Chelsea fan Tapan Jindal agrees, insisting that if the Mags can add a few new faces before the window shuts they could be the surprise package again this season.
But Aston Villa fan and Squarefootball writer Christian Dougherty is expecting Arsenal to miss out at the expense of rivals Spurs.
"I have my top four as Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham. Simply these sides along with Arsenal and Liverpool will make up my top six; in my opinion Liverpool just aren’t quite up to the top level yet, but I have no doubt that we will see improvement under Brendan Rogers. Conversely I can see Arsenal struggling, Giroud and Podolski aren’t capable of making up the goal return lost by the imminent departure of Van Persie. Although this is what is said about Arsenal every year and they still always make top four."
Liverpool will be looking to improve on their eighth place finish last season and Brendan Rodgers has begun shaping the squad his way with the arrival or Borini and Allen, with Carroll on his way out. However Liverpool fan Dave Disciascio believes it will be too soon to see a marked turnaround in fortunes at Anfield and predicts Arsenal, Chelsea, City and United will be in the top four again.
“Manchester United have great depth in their squad. They know how to win and will be eager to regain the title.
“Manchester City are very strong but they need to be careful. Three strikers (not including Adebayor) want to leave and with Savic third choice centre back, yikes! David Silva and Aguero could lift them to another title, but they should battle Chelsea for second.
“The marquee signings of Hazard, Oscar and Marin should see some exciting football played at Stamford Bridge. Can Di Matteo find a formation that suits these signings and keeps Lampard happy? However, their season depends on whether Torres can find the back of the net consistently.
“Finally Arsenal have splashed the cash. Surely with all the money he spent he was able to bring in a world class defender. Their attacking play should be brilliant as usual, but I expect them to finish fourth.”
Manchester United fan and Squarefootball reporter Alex Richert also can’t see past United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
“With Spurs most likely selling Luka Modric, I don’t see them making the top four, leaving it to the usual suspects. Arsenal have bolstered their attack and midfield. Roman Abramovich has already spent millions bringing in Eden Hazard and others and they’re not done. United finished level on points with City, so I look for the two Manchester clubs to duke it out all season, fighting for supremacy.”
However, Manchester City fan Venz DeZoysa believes Liverpool could oust Arsenal and Spurs from the top four.
“It will most likely be a mix of the usual culprits: Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool. I think this season will see a return of the big four. Newcastle will be strong, so too Totthenham and Arsenal but the big Chelsea and Liverpool have had enough time to repair their slip-ups and return to dominating the Premier League.”
Celtic fan Jim Barry believes Cheslea will win the league but who will join them?
"There is no point being controversial here, Manchester United are not capable of finishing outside the top two. It doesn’t matter how bad this club are supposed to be on paper they always challenge for the league title and 2012-2013 will be no different.
"I predict Manchester City will finish third and I also believe that they will not be involved in the hunt for a title coming down the stretch this April. The 2011-2012 season was absolutely terrific as we saw a club that has waited decades finally fulfil a dream, and to do it in the final seconds of the season with your mortal enemy as the victim, was simply too far fetched for a Roy of the Rovers storyline, but it happened! It won’t happen again.
"I really like Arsene Wenger as a manager but I sense that the end of the road is nigh. For that reason I predict that Arsenal will have a difficult campaign and the arch nemesis of Tottenham Hotspur will steal the final Champions League spot. Tottenham may not have too many fans left in Croatia with the departures of Kranjcar, Corluka and possibly Modric but they have made two very astute acquisitions over the summer in the form of Sigurdsson and Vertonghen.
“Villas Boas is a winner, his time with Porto is evidence of that fact. He has a massive point to prove in the Premier League and he is now in an environment free from the politics of Lampard and Terry. I can see Tottenham causing something of a surprise and retaining their top four finish this year.”
Personally I think it’s a closed shop with Arsenal, Chelsea, City and United occupying the places come May. Arsenal have made some astute signings this season, as have Chelsea – who can’t be as bad in the league again, while City and United know what is expected of them.
Calling all football fans: Who do you think will finish in the top four this season? Can you see anyone splitting up the likes of City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea? If so who and why? Whatever your view, we’d love to hear from you.
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