Sunday, 4 August 2013

Premier League 2013/14 season guide: Part 3

In our third part of our season guide we take a look at Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

This is a big season for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool Football Club. Having shown signs of consistency at the end of last season, fans will expect the team to show this form throughout the coming season. Last year's seventh place finish was the second consecutive season that Liverpool had finished below their Merseyside neighbours. With a new manager at Everton, fans will be confident they can finish above their rivals. However Rodgers and Liverpool have more important things to concentrate on other than finishing above Everton. As one of the European greats, Liverpool have been without Champions League football since the 2009/10 season under Rafa Benitez. A challenge for a top four place is expected of Liverpool in the coming season, but one that could prove very difficult.

So far in the transfer window, Rodgers has bought in four new players in Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas. With players leaving Anfield too, Rodgers will require further investment if the Reds are to mount a serious top four challenge this season. If they are to do this then keeping Luis Suarez must remain a priority. The Uruguayan has been the centre of attention this summer with a move out of Liverpool looking probable. With only Arsenal showing any keen interest in the forward, the club have made it quite clear they are not looking to let Suarez leave. Pre-season so far has seen Liverpool win all five of their games without conceding a goal. The first six fixtures for Rodgers men, which Suarez will miss if he remains at Anfield, look very winnable with a home game against Manchester United the only game against a top four rival.

Key Player: Philippe Coutinho

Predicted finish: 6th

Manchester City:
New manager and a new season for a club that will want to get back to winning silverware. Having made a poor attempt at defending their miraculous title win of two years ago last season, the blue side of Manchester may feel that this year could be theirs again. In Manuel Pellegrini, City have an experienced man at the helm. He took previous club Malaga to the quarter finals of the Champions League as well as Villarreal to the semis. Under previous boss Roberto Mancini, City were far from good enough against Europe's elite but now under Pellegrini, fans should expect the 59-year-old Spaniard to take them further this season. His transfer dealings so far have been done a lot quicker than that of Mancini's last year with Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo all making the move to the Etihad.

Both Navas and Negredo arrived from Sevilla with the latter having scored 85 goals in 180 appearances whilst at the Spanish club. With Carlos Tevez leaving earlier in the window to Juventus, Negredo will battle it out with Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero for a starting position upfront. City's opening fixtures have been kind with the first three games including two games against Newcastle and Hull as well as an away trip to the newly promoted Cardiff City.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero

Predicted finish: 2nd

Manchester United:
The general feeling since the arrival of new manager David Moyes is that he has the 'hardest job in football'. Replacing Sir Alex was never going to easy for his successor, and in Moyes, United have a man who did wonderful things at Everton. However now at Old Trafford, he has big boots to fill, a title to defend and Europe to compete in. It's not been easy early doors for Moyes who saw his team defeated twice in pre-season so far. On the transfer side, no-one has signed for the Premier League holders who missed out on Thiago, who decided on linking up Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. It has been made clear that fellow Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas is a target of Moyes' but having had bids rejected for the former Arsenal man, this transfer is looking very unlikely.

If United are to defend last seasons title, then it's essential that Moyes brings in new recruits particularly on the defensive side. United conceded 43 goals last year which meant that they were the third highest team to win the league and concede that many goals in the 21 year history of the Premier League. With Ferdinand ageing and Vidic injury prone, it would be sensible for an established centre back to be bought. Michael Carrick could also do with some help whose workload includes preventing opposition attacks and building his own sides in the process. Moyes' opening six fixtures couldn't have been tougher for the Scot, which sees trips to Liverpool and City as well as a home game against Mourinho and Chelsea.

Key Player: Robin Van Persie

Predicted finish: 3rd

Newcastle United:
What a few months it has been on Tyneside for Newcastle United. If offering manager Alan Pardew an eight year contract wasn't bad enough, owner Mike Ashley decided on making Joe Kinnear director of football at St James' Park. This comes after an appalling season for Newcastle who only just managed to avoid relegation last season, coming after the previous year which saw Pardew guide them to a fifth place finish. Fans will certainly not want a repeat of last year but with the current talent in the squad, a relegation battle should be avoided. With the loss of Demba Ba last year to Chelsea, goals are expected to come from Papiss Cisse who after an excellent start to his career in 2011/12 only managed eight goals last season. Cisse will certainly require a partner to take the burden off his shoulders and with only two weeks left until the new season, it has been rumoured Newcastle are to sign Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis as well as fellow Frenchman Loic Remy from QPR.

With little arrivals in the market so far, Newcastle have managed to keep hold of their core players with Yohan Cabaye reportedly linked with a move to Manchester United. Fabricio Coloccini has also been rumoured to make the move away but having been convinced to stay by Pardew will be an integral player for Newcastle this season. His leadership and experience will be key to the heart of the defence that conceded 68 goals last season, the fourth highest in the league.

Key Player: Yohan Cabaye

Predicted finish: 15th

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