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Looking back through the window...

By Scott Milne :  02/09/2008 :  Comments (9) :
Arsenal: Lost too much quality & experience this summer with Hleb, Flamini & Gilberto Silva. Nasri looks quality, but didn't bring in any real quality otherwise. Without Cesc they looked clueless. Playing Eboue in midfield seems strange to me as well. Either play amazing, unbeatable, sexy football - or are completely useless.

Aston Villa: Glad they kept Barry from the Reds, but means that they're still strong enough to push us for position. Milner could be a great signing and Friedel definately is. Not convinced by either Shorey or Luke Young and Cuellar did well for one year in Scotland, so not really proven yet - not much for pace at least. Sidwell could be on the bench and a waste of 5m - Reo-Coker's been playing really well and hasn't spent most of the last year playing reserve football. Losing Melberg is a massive blow and they've not got much depth up front if either Carew or Agbonlahor get injured.

Blackburn: Robinson for Friedel?! - there goes about 10 goals more conceded per season minimum. Rate Vince Grella highly ever since I lived in Oz and saw a lot of him, but no clue about Villenueava, Danny Simpson, Keith Andrews etc. Loss of Bentley's huge in terms of creating chances - they'll be hoping that Pedersen has a less anonymous season than last time out. Lucky if they're top 10 this season, Santa Cruz is already injured and can't see him staying after this year (get in there Moyes!)

Bolton: This time last season they had a front 2 of Diouf & Anelka, this time around it'll be Elmander & Smolarek, both new to the Prem & to the team and probably lacking Diouf's desire or Anelka's enigmatic talent. Just can't see where their goals will come from, luckily, they're still strong at the back (Shittu & Muamba are good Bolton-style signings) and will be back playing ugly direct football, happily holding off attack after attack in return for a couple of chances each match.

Chelsea: Everything is theirs to lose this year. Gotten rid of almost all the dead-weight and signed well. Reckon Deco's been the best creative midfielder in Europe for a while now and will thrive away from Ronaldinho & Iniesta etc. Bosingwa's class and means that Essien can be deployed in midfield where he's immense. Both have settled well and a fully fit Chelsea has to be just about the best team realistically assembled, with no clear weakness other than the clash of too many inflated egos!...

Everton: Stronger than this time last year. No two ways about it, everyone released or sold has been replaced by a player of higher quality. With 5 out and 5 in, the squad's still on the small side, but with the likes of Rodwell, Baxter & Gosling clearly ready to spend more time with the 1st XI than the reserves, we're (I am) in a happy place!. Get Saha fit and he could be the best bargain in our history, hope Fellaini proves to be our best ever signing!

Fulham: Umm... Where to start?!. They've almost gone out and brought in a new starting XI, considering the likes of Hangeland & Nevland were only brought in in January, they are completely unrecognisable from this time last year. On paper, they're much stronger, hope AJ can do well for them, Zamora, Gera & Schwarzer are quality signings as well. Will stay well clear of relegation, but whilst much improved, still have some way to go before they start dreaming about Europe (maybe via a cup actually). Should've kept Steven Davis - looked/looks quality at Rangers.

Hull City: Were the weakest of the 3 promoted teams, but have signed very well except for up front. Boateng, Halmosi, Geovanni, Gardner and now maybe Cousin are all of a high enough standard that they could continue to pull off some surprises as long as they don't lose the plot and go down 5-0 on a regular basis!

Liverpool: Bad summer for our red friends!. Think Keane and Torres are too similar to work well in tandem and that £20m really should've gone on Barry. Dossena looks nowhere near top 4 Premier League quality and I'm not convinced Riera will prove worthy either. Lost a dangerous tactical option with Crouch gone as well as a lot of width with Kewell & Riise gone. Got a feeling that Rafa's got to deliver at least an improvement this season or he'll be off. Lucky to still be in the Champ's League as well as to win their first 2 league matches - has to run out soon, doesn't it?!.

Man City: So glad that their takeover didn't happen until the last day of the window, they could've seriously bought themselves a top 4 finish had they had more time. Robinho's a massive boost, as is Wright-Phillips. Not sure about Jo, Zabaleta or Glauber, just have to hope that they don't adjust to the league or each other too quickly - if they're ahead of us come January, they're almost guaranteed to stay there!.

Man Utd: Berbatov's good - but £30m+ good?!... Quality startling XI, but they lack the depth of Chelsea and better hope that they have a good season regarding injuries. Players like O'Shea, Fletcher, Possebon and the da Silvas surely have to be used at an absolute minimum. Surprised they didn't bring in a quality right-back, doubt Neville will ever get back to his best and Brown's a good stand-in, but not a world-beater by anyone's measure.

Middlesbrough: Southgate's done well to create a real sense of unity through his team, good work ethic and self belief despite not having anyone other than Downing that would walk into a top team. Alves should have a better season now that he's more settled and Wheater keeps getting better and better. Can't say I know much about Digard or Emnes but Hoyte's a good solid player and should replace Luke Young no problem. Question losing Schwarzer and not bringing in someone proven, similarly, losing Boateng and Rochemback means they're down two experienced, solid-as-you-like central workhorses.

Newcastle: Guthrie looks a real gem, Coluccini could form a very solid partnership with Taylor if he continues to settle in well and Gutierrez already looks the business and doesn't fall-over in a heap anytime he feels a breath on his neck as I've come to expect of many South American wingers. Milner's a loss, but they could still do well if Owen stays fit, Smith, Barton & Butt stay out of trouble and Xisco & Gonzalez prove to be any good. Still always feel that they're likely to screw everything up though.

Portsmouth: Well, we got a lesson in how deadly Defoe and Crouch can be as a partnership and I'm sure we won't be the last team to suffer at their hands this season. Nothing special about the rest of their signings and all it takes is for James to have an off-day or Campbell/Distin to get injured and they'll be in trouble. Strong, physical, well-drilled team, they'll beat the new boys and a lot of the others, but wouldn't stand up to a fully fit Everton and will likely go down to most other top 8 teams, injuries permitting.

Stoke: Can't see them staying up. 7 of their 10 signings came from the Championship and that's where they're destined to play, of the others 1 was unattached and Higgenbotham & Faye aren't really Prem quality either. Play decent football and will find the net a lot, but not as much as they'll have to retrieve from their own. Won't 'do a Derby', but can see them sitting bottom from Xmas onwards.

Sunderland : Question the buying of a bunch of Spurs rejects. Malbranque's quality, but Chimbonda seems like a piece of work and Taino's never really impressed. Reuniting Diouf & Cisse could be a stroke of genius and Ferdinand & McCartney will definitely strengthen their back line. Healy's another puzzle, but I guess he's at least proven at International level and is good cover until Kenwyne gets back. Definitely stronger than last year, but have spent a lot of money and must have a fairly silly wage bill, Quinn's going to be wanting a big improvement and I still can't see them breaking into the top 10.

Tottenham: On paper, impressive. So far on the pitch, not so much so. Definitely stronger throughout apart from up front - from this time last year they've lost Keane, Berbatov & Defoe and only brought in Pavlychenko, he looks fairly tidy, but not good enough to fill all 3 sets of their boots surely, especially playing alongside Darren Bent. Can't argue with the individual quality of Modric, Dos Santos even Bentley but it's down to how they play together. Gomes looked a class above Robinson against Chelsea, but not sure for the other matches and Bale looks much improved. Keep King & Woodgate fit and the defence tight and they'll eventually be climbing back up the table, otherwise though, they could be stuck in midtable since I can't see them scoring nearly as many as last season.

West Brom: Can't see them staying up and will be back down with Stoke. Can't see goals in the team at all, 1 from 3 matches and that was a penalty. Zuiverloon looked good and they'll be pinning a lot of hope on Valero being able to create chances for their less than silky skilled attack. Play like the new Bolton, but without the final bit of ability needed to get ahead in matches then shut-up shop, right now they seem to be intent on just trying to keep a clean sheet. Gera could've made a big difference.

West Ham: Too dependent on Ashton for goals. Cole's not nearly as class and Sears is still young and who knows what Bellamy's ever going to bring and for how long before his next injury. Have lost good players in Ferdinand, McCartney, Ljungberg (when fit) and even Zamora to a point. Fully fit, they'd be a decent team, but another bad year with big names out and I feel they could be really fighting to stay in the top flight. Davenport looks a liability at the back and half the team's likely to get booked or worse every week. Behrami, Lastuvka & Bajner brought in - not going to be inspiring the fans are they!.

Wigan: In my view, the most improved team in the league. Zaki looks like a goal waiting to happen, Cattermole works his backside off so that Palacious and Valencia can do their thing and even Heskey looks to have returned to his best and Bramble was like a wall against Chelsea! Not much depth though but haven't lost anyone they'll really miss and de Ridder & Kapo look handy signings. Foresee comfortable midtable on the back of a strong record at home, stingy defence and Zaki goals.

Reader Comments

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Gavin Wadeson
1   Posted 03/09/2008 at 08:39:08

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Personally, I think we only needed to ’stand still’ (in terms of the quality of our squad) to break into the top 4 this season.

Most teams in the Prem are weaker this season than they were last season. Arsenal, in particular, are a hell of a lot weaker, and are the most likely to fall out of the top 4.

Aston Villa and Man City are our biggest rivals to steal Arsenal’s top 4 spot.

On paper, our squad looks as strong as it was last season. Carsley was the only proper first team regular to leave this summer. Moyes has said that Castillo is his direct replacement. If he’s as good as Carsley, and we’re not unlucky with injuries, we’ve got a good chance of breaking into the top 4.
Graham Atherton
2   Posted 03/09/2008 at 09:50:12

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Considering City will be able to buy whoever in January, if they can stay thereabouts by Christmas they should be able to push into top 4 with Liverpool or Arsenal dropping back.

We will need to avoid injuries, bed in new players while they play and buy well in January (wide player or creative midfielder) to challenge.

But footy is a funny old game, put a string of wins together and we can be up there.

5 serious contenders for CL would make qualification so much harder, the risk of spending money to do so much higher. If that money is harder to come by then the likes of Liverpool will have to take ever higher risks to qualify - they are by far the most vulnerable. Takeover is their only way forward if City succeed.

Dan Adams
3   Posted 03/09/2008 at 13:26:45

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I like your transfer round up,similar to my own thoughts, I could really see Liverpool drop from the sky 4 this season.
Michael Hunt
4   Posted 03/09/2008 at 13:37:46

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How good would it be, for the whole of top flight football, for Man City and Everton to bag the last two champions league places this year:
think Arsenal would be fine given Wenger’s amazing ability to make stars from promising kids. However, the shite could be totally fucked, possibly having to cash in on Stevie me and Torres just to stay afloat...what a shame that’d be!
With Moyes’ astute management, it could be our shot back at getting our feet under the top table (i.e. Moyes is likely to be better at spending the CL riches than most, expecially the fat spanish waiter)....It aint that unlikely....COYB!
PS. I think the RS’s apparent unbelievable luck, time and time again, is in part down to a confidence bordering on overt arrogance i.e. the smug bastards (players and fans) actually appear to expect to win when they have no ’right’ to. Given that expectation can be a self fulfilling prophecy, maybe we should show a bit kore belief ourselves. For example, did the RS expect to go out to Standard Liege? It dissapoints me that some blues are pessimistic when to my mind, with Cahill returning and Pienaar not far behind, plus Castillo available in the ’Carsley role’, we should feed the Yak and twat them out of sight in the first leg!!
Gerry Dignam
5   Posted 03/09/2008 at 15:57:04

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You should all get real, talking about Everton finising in the top 4 or 5. We will finish about 15th in the league.
After September the only thing we will have left to play for will be the FA Cup. The yanks will sell Liverpool to the arabs within the next month or two and they will move on to a higher level again with Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea. We will be left with Agent Kenwright and his empty pockets and promises. Our only hope is for this man to disappear to Kirkby and never be seen or heard of again. If we dont get rid of Kenwright it will be the same at every transfer window, no money, loan signings and robbing Peter to pay Paul, just to get by. This is just not good enough for our club.
Martin Gray
6   Posted 03/09/2008 at 16:56:51

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Gerry, when Agent Kenwright goes what is your plan? Who will take over? I do not think Bill has been fighting off investors all summer long so I do not know of anybody who is standing by to invest. I get bored with people who shout for action without any idea of what the reaction will be. It just may be that Agent Kenwright is a blessing in disguise. I want the club to progress but I don’t want to follow the example of Leeds. I want the progression to follow the pattern of the last four years - slowly and prudently. We now have the best squad for twenty years, is it better than last year I don’t know yet but I feel it will be. We have had consecutive top six finishes for the first time in twenty years. We have more respect and acknowledgement from the football world now than again since the eighties.

The only place I ever see Everton, and the people who have put us in this relatively good position, Moyes and kenwright, disrespected to any great extent is on this website.

We do not realise how far we have come as a club and whilst it would be nice to have more money to spend the fact remains we do not have it at the moment. COYB
Mike Green
7   Posted 03/09/2008 at 18:19:29

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It?s been reported there were several super-rich parties queuing up to buy City. I do not believe that no one has shown interest in buying us. One myth was certainly dispelled this week - that no one wants to buy Everton due to us competing in the same city as Liverpool.

Back to the drawing board for more excuses.
Barry Sherlock
8   Posted 03/09/2008 at 19:28:17

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I admire your loyalty to BK and I never like to see the man get so much personal abuse from Evertonians. However Gerry has a point. If the RS get sold to DIC then City, RS, Utd, Arse, Chelsea all go to dizzy levels of spending power. We on the other hand will not be able to compete. We do have a good squad now. We have very able players and on our day we will get anyone a game. But no competition is won over one game. We will never have enough strength in depth to compete at the highest level over the course of a season (or longer if we are talking about winning the Uefa Cup!!!).

BK is a blue. But he isn’t rich. And that means we can’t afford the best players. It also means that we can’t afford a big squad because then we will have a wage bill that is beyond our control. BK can’t see unless there is a buyer prepared to buy. So until then all we can do is get behind the team (and the board) and hope for more fantastic European nights and great cup runs.
Steve Grimshaw
9   Posted 04/09/2008 at 06:57:50

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Nobody should fault BK for not having enough money to take the club where we all would like it to go. After all, he?s done more for the club than most of us with our own pitiful resources. Having said that, its been a very tough summer for us,as we were led to expect so much more from the club in the transfer market this summer. I believe we were late getting players and drove down to many blind alleys in search of players, this past 3 months. This may yet severly cost us this season.

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