The other day, CC11 had an interesting fanpost about if we could finish in the top 4. Now looking at our team, we our clearly on the outside looking in as far a Champions League Birth. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a chance, considering the field we have to go up against.
Now, for all intensive purposes, I think its safe to say that United and Chelsea will finish 1-2 (Regardless of what order) and Arsenal should finish 3rd (unless Fabregas is injured or leaves, which is still a possibility). On the other hand, teams that undoubtedly will finish below Everton are, in no particular order, Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Fulham (Especially if they lose Schwarzer and Dempsey), Newcastle, Stoke, Sunderland, West Bromwich, West Ham, Wigan, and Wolves. Now taking the aforementioned teams out, that leaves Villa, Everton, the Red Shite (Liverpool), City, and Tottenham battling it out for spots 4-8. As Everton fans, we know what our team is; if you don’t make sure and check out CC11’s fanpost. But looking at how we stack up against the other 4 teams is interesting.
Aston Villa – Of all the teams in the Premiership, Villa have shown to be one of the most consistent, finishing 6th in each of the past 3 years. Led by a solid tandem in the midfield of Ashley Young and James Milner and young striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa has continued to defy expectations of a slide. However with age starting to show in a couple of key places, changes may need to be made to Villa’s roster in order to keep them in the 6th spot or in order to move higher. Furthermore, the consistent rumors of a Milner transfer to City, which as always is extremely interested, and a possible transfer of Young, this team figures to be significantly weakened in the midfield headed into the season. Look for Villa to compete yet again, but as far as placing, I think a healthy Everton is definitely better than them, and I think Villa is probably a 7th or 8th place team.
Liverpool – Ah yes, our dreaded rivals. In short, last year was awful for them. Significant injuries robbed the team while the ownership group led by Tom Hicks (who owns my beloved Rangers and Stars) continued to draw the ire of fans. Now, rampant rumors persist of upcoming transfers of various key players. Adding fire to the mess, Liverpool’s striker, Fernando Torres, tore a thigh muscle, which is going to keep him out for some time. As for the ownership, it continues to remain in shambles. Although short on money, they have refused to transfer key players, such as Torres, that could have earned them a significant sum. Furthermore, the team continues to get older, especially Steven Gerrard, who flirted with a move to Madrid in the offseason. Like Villa, look for Liverpool to compete yet again, but unless Torres is able to come anywhere near close to his former self, I think its safe to say that we’re better than them, and they’re probably looking at a 7th or 8th place finish.
Man City – Headed into this upcoming season, I think it may seem safe to say that no team has a better combination of buying power and talent as City does. However, as all of us know, this combination does not always lead to instant success. While they are stocked with blue chippers all across the roster and more figuring to be added via transfers, City does have some chemistry issues that were particularly evident when they were defeated by Everton in both matches last season. City, with a constant influx of talent, however, does figure to finish ahead of Everton and should finish in the top 6. However, of the teams ahead of us, I think its safe to say that they are far and away the most vulnerable team.
Tottenham – Of all the teams in the EPL, I find Tottenham the most intriguing. Finishing 4th last season, they broke the grip that had been held by Liverpool on a spot in the Champion’s League. Furthermore, with a solid cast including exciting players in Jermaine Defoe and Robbie Keane, this team figures to be the frontrunner for acquiring 4th place this season. The move that could really put this team over the top, and possibly in contention with Arsenal for 3rd, is acquiring another star striker such as Diego Forlan or Luis Fabiano, with whom they’ve been linked. In my opinion, as it currently stands, I think we’re firmly behind Tottenham, who should finish in 4th place. Hopefully, they are able to do some damage in the Champion’s League this year.
So, looking back on things in summary….
5. Man City
8. Aston Villa
I think of all the scenarios listed, the most likely move for us would be up a spot to 5th if City has any problems. However, that being said, I do think 6th place and a berth in Europe would not be a bad reward at all!