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Last year’s runners-up go into this season on the back of an almost miraculous title win, made only more remarkable by their dramatic failure to hang on with three games remaining. Despite the late heartbreak, an otherwise successful season has seen the reds reclaim their place amongst Europe’s elite and so it has been a busy summer at Anfield. Liverpool suffered from a crippling lack of squad depth last season and so have invested in terms both quality and quantity, bringing in no less than nine new first team players. However, it is the departure of talismanic striker Luis Suarez that has been the biggest and arguably most important business done on the red half of Merseyside. The mercurial Uruguayan was at the heart of everything Liverpool did last season and the £75million received by Barcelona will be of scant conciliation if the new additions fail to perform.
Javier Manquillo, Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren have been drafted in to bolster Liverpool’s leaky defence, whilst the likes of Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic will add further creativity to an already sparkling forward line up. The shock return of Mario Ballotelli to England should replace some of the quality and drama lost by Suarez, and along with Rickie Lambert will provide an excellent foil to main man Daniel Sturridge. Under the helm of Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool are in safe hands and if the new signings gel quickly, the team will be stronger despite the loss of Suarez. The reds look solid for a top-four place, although a title charge may prove to be just a little too much.
The Champions closed the season as the best team in the country and a squad packed with quality all over the park. It has, then, proved to be a summer of tweaking rather than upheaval for the blue half of Manchester. A quality back-up keeper has been found in the form of Argentinian Willy Caballero, whilst Bacary Sagna finally arrived on a free after flirting with the club for months following the announcement he would not renew his contract at The Emirates. However City have learned from Mancini’s disastrous summer window of 2012 and spent wisely in a couple of positions in the hope of improving their ability to compete on all four fronts. A double raid on Portugese giants Porto has seen the arrivals of Brazilian Fernando and £32million centre back Eliaquim Mangala. Fernando is seen as the idea man to cover the marauding runs of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, whilst Mangala should finally be the long term partner to skipper Vincent Kompany.
City have managed to keep the crux of their title winning team together, handing frontman Sergio Aguero a new deal and Yaya Toura a belated birthday party. City will be weary of the threat posed by a resurgent Chelsea team to their title defence, whilst Arsenal and Liverpool could yet prove to be troublesome rivals too. A recent home defeat to Stoke was a shock, but City are too strong and too experienced to overlook for another title charge. Top two for sure.
A disastrous season for the Old Trafford giants saw them finish outside the top four for the first time in Premier League history and part with “Chosen One” David Moyes. In the case of any club looking to rebuild there are two choices, evolution or revolution; United are choosing revolution. The experience of Louis Van Gaal has been chosen to restore the club back into the Champions League, and it’s been a quite incredible start to the Dutchman’s tenure. A new 3-5-2 formation hasn’t heralded any instant successes as four games in, the team remain winless and disjointed. However, United’s incredible end to the transfer window has seen them smash the British transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria for what could rise to over £60million. But it didn’t stop there: among more solid signings such as Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, United made a huge statement of intent by bringing in one of the world’s premier centre forwards in the form of Radamel Falcao.
It can be argued, however, that United haven’t actually addressed their biggest weaknesses; Herrera looks to be yet another attack minded player instead of the controlling midfielder they crave, whilst Blind, Rojo and Shaw all play left back for their respective international teams. It’s unclear whether Di Maria will remain in the deeper role he excelled in for Madrid last term and how exactly Rooney, Mata, Van Persie and Falcao will fit in together using the 3-5-2. Notable departures include Hernandez, Welbeck, Kagawa and Cleverly as Van Gaal looks to tailor the squad to his philosophy. United fans will take fourth, but to have a chance the team needs to adapt quickly.
Newcastle finished comfortably in 10th last season, despite a disastrous second half of the season after Yohan Cabaye was sold to P.S.G in January. An influx of new faces was needed to get the frustrated fans back on board and once again, Newcastle have dipped into the European market in the hopes of finding value for money. Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere add to the already sizable French contingent at St James’ park and will hopefully improve the stagnant attack of last season. Cabella in particular looks to be an exciting signing, displaying a natural flair as well as direct running and clever passing in his games so far.
Siem De Jong could prove to be an astute addition from Ajax, adding a much needed goal threat with his intelligent runs between the lines, whilst fellow Dutchman Daryl Janmaat is a solid addition at fullback. Jack Colback will have raised a few eyebrows after swapping his allegiances in the North-East, but the former Sunderland midfielder is a shrewd operator in the middle of the park. Newcastle have added a good core of new players, with only Debuchy being a notable departure. They should improve, but are still not as strong as the likes of Everton or Tottenham.