A few days ago I, TA, asked BKers to predict the PL top-six at the end of the season. Admir was the only one not predicting a top-four finish for the mighty red and white, and today’s post is an explanation for his reluctance to do so. Most of us tend to will Arsenal higher than a cool analysis of Arsenal’s and our competitors’ positions would permit, and I know Admir as a very analytical blogger with an eye for historic trends and relevant statistics, so I think we should take his views seriously – even though I hope he is very, very wrong! 🙂
These are Admir’s analyses of the six most likely contenders for the top-six (based on final positions by the season’s end):
- Man City – they have incredible attacking variety. So many ballers (two Silvas, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling, Gündogan), one of the finest strikers Premier League has ever seen (Agüero) and a defence without (too) weak points. In the last 77 games they have won 65 (84%!), drawn 6 and lost 6. That’s mental and virtually impossible to match. Their attack is so good that they turn draws into victories on a regular basis and that was the main difference between them and Liverpool in the last campaign (Liverpool lost just one game to City’s four but City won 32 to Liverpool’s 30). The long absence of Sane, a rare classic winger in their team, and a departure of their leader Kompany might be the only two reasons that give hope for the chasing pack.
- Spuds – yes, it’s not just surprising choice but also extremely annoying. If VAR had been introduced two or three years ago, I believe Pochettino would have been at Espanyol, trying to revive his career after a 10th place-finish with red card recorders Spuds. Now, however, it looks to me that they have fixed things properly with Ndombele and Lo Celso while keeping hold of Eriksen and Alderweireld for a while. Their attacking variety is sublime – Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane, Alli…all of them capable of both scoring and assisting.
- Liverpool – whilst Salah has managed to win two Golden Boots in two seasons in England, I still see Sadio Mane as their best forward. They rely too much on their full-backs’ attacking contribution – basically, they are what Emery wants Arsenal to be – which gives us a perfect question: what will happen when either or both of TAA or Robertson gets injured/suspended? The answer is: a dull 0-0 draw or a defeat. Even with our ex Ox back in action, they don’t have enough options from the bench and Klopp’s football – sooner or later – takes its toll. Also, they’ll spend some time playing Club World Championship which means rescheduling games and adding to players’ fatigue.
- Manchester United – they have fixed their defensive problems by signing Wan-Bissaka and Maguire. They still don’t have midfield solutions capable of dealing with teams above them but I believe their defensive superiority over Arsenal and Chelsea will give them advantage over both clubs. Pogba can go from zero to hero and reverse in a single game but he is their best midfielder by far. Rashford, Martial and, maybe, Alexis Sanchez give them attacking guile and it looks to me that counter-attacking football will get them points against every team that opens up too much.
- Arsenal – we have lost Aaron and I fear we haven’t replaced him. We have too many big games until October when we will finally enjoy our full backs Bellerin and Tierney with a remote possibility all our other signings bed in until then. Perhaps our chance to get Champions League is through Europa League again.
- Chelsea – playing Champions League will reduce Lampard’s chances to rotate as you have to play your best players in that competition. That might be a big problem in the Top 4 race with Man United and Arsenal, teams that play Europa League and will have a bigger chance to rotate players. They are under transfer ban and their team is Hazard-less. Aside from Kante, I’d struggle to find one player in their team I’d grab with both my hands and bring to Arsenal. No, not even Giroud who is their best striker. Mind you, they played some exciting football at Old Trafford and the final result was totally undeserved but they looked like Arsenal from our barren years when our youngsters lacked composure, quality and strength at either side of the pitch.