If the wave of good-feeling and optimism circling around SW6 wasn’t enough with Jose’s re-appointment last month, the release of the Premier League fixtures for the coming season has only added to that feeling and heightened the sense that we can make a real push for the title this season. I said this week that if someone was to offer me 14 points from our first 6 games I’d bite their hand off in a heartbeat. Our first 6 games now read; Hull City (H), Man Utd (A), Villa (H), Everton (A), Fulham (H) & Spurs (A). Take a moment and work our for yourself where realistically we’ll be sitting by the end of September after our game with Spurs. The only game that’ll be moved is the Villa game which will clash with our European Super Cup tie against Bayern Munich. A game that Mourinho will be DESPERATE to win I imagine in order to just remind Guardiola that its a different ball game outside of Spain. This fixture will certainly test Jose’s claim that he’s “mellowed” out since the last time he was here.
Now, from what I’ve heard when talking to people on Twitter, Facebook and the like, the general feeling is that this season will be a season where our younger players who have been out on loan will have a real and genuine opportunity to shine and make a claim for themselves as the future of our Club. I’m not talking about a run-out in the League Cup against a league 2 team. Its all too easy to ‘shine’ against such opposition (with all due respect), what they need is a constant run of games around an experienced spine who can advise them tactically on the pitch during play, this season may not be about coming out “all guns blazing” but building the confidence of the younger guys so they perform consistently under pressure that the Premier League brings. Its a tough league, we all know this but I think with all the managerial changes over this summer, it’ll play out nicely and I feel the top 4-6 will be a lot closer in terms of points come May 2014. Here’s my take on who I feel will be challenging us this season;
Man City – Dispensed on Mancini before the last game of last season and to be honest, we didn’t hear much did we?! Compare that to the press when we’ve lost managers in the past and it doesn’t get close. Poor performance against Wigan in the FA Cup final cost Mancini dear and if that would of happened to Robbie, he’d of got the boot. Already signed 2 players in Jesus Navas & Fernandinho (who ripped us a new one when playing for Shakhtar last season) and linked with just about everyone over Europe. Expect one more signing, probably Isco. Unsure on Pellegrini, won nothing in Europe apart from Intertoto cup with Villarreal but had 2 good seasons with Malaga. Expect a better showing in Europe from them and their first 6 fixtures are all winnable. Manc derby on Sept 21st will be worth a look.
Arsenal – Every season starts with everyone saying Arsenal can compete in the transfer market but rarely do. This summer has started the same and once the transfer window opens on July 1st we’ll see what happens. Laughably linked with Rooney already (I’ve got more chance starting up front with Lukaku against Hull) they tend to be linked with decent players for Wenger to then come out and tell us something completely different. 8 years without a trophy WILL end at some point but nobody knows when. I honestly can’t see it happening again this season unless they get a massive dose of good luck from somewhere. If they spend, who knows but Wenger will be privately HATING the fact Jose is back #voyeurgate
Man Utd – Ok, first thing here is this: Yes Sir Alex has left BUT anyone saying Utd wont be sniffing around come May are slightly wide of the mark. Its the same argument when people say we’d fold if Roman pulled out and left us. The basis and basic fundamentals has been built over many years now and as a business and a club, we’ve grown so much and become such an attractive proposition for any new investor we wouldn’t struggle. Same with Utd, Sir Alex has merely “gone upstairs” so even the slightest hint of the boat being rocked will have him back on the training ground advising Moyes on what is best. However, I do feel that they wont be as strong this season but I don’t know where. I expect them to have a bad run in Europe purely down to Moyes’ inexperience in that environment. May end FA Cup drought but I imagine we’ll have something to say about that. First 6 games aren’t easy with us, Liverpool & City all before October. Wouldn’t want to be Moyes.
I think we’re in a great position. Our first 6 games will give us an idea of where we are and Jose will know how different players will adapt. I’m excited about Andre Schurrle and where he’ll fit in to the system that Jose will employ, as well as Lukaku & Oscar who I’m sure will have an even better season this year. Essien returning and Frank rejuvenated with his new deal we should all be looking at these fixtures today and our entire league programme and be thinking “Lets ‘ave it”
I can’t wait for the Hull game! I’m back from Africa on August 1st so I’ll hopefully be there!
Lets keep this optimism up. Thanks for reading.
Twitter -> @_Chrishamilton