Last season was a bit of a shambles to say the least. We failed to kick on from the Champions League Final appearance in Madrid and the change in management caused quite a lot of upset and upheaval. Yet, here we are in the new season already and Mourinho’s influence on the squad and club as a whole is finally starting to take shape.
But despite the positivity around the club with the second coming of Bale, the question still lingers — can we make the top four this season? Or is a cup win the best we can hope for?
A new strength in depth
Last season’s champions league predictions would never have put Bayern and PSG in the final, but that’s what happened. What’s relevant about this is that we arguably have a better squad than PSG right now, particularly with the signing of both Bale and Reguilon. Fans of other clubs may laugh at that assertion, but it’s a fact. PSG are overly reliant on two players — Mbappe and Neymar. Take them out and you have a mid-table Premier League team.
This season, we ‘re looking particular strong in the attacking third, which is strange to say given that we are already blessed with some incredible attacking players. Both Son and Kane have proven their worth a thousand times over and that’s before we even mention Moura. But it’s the addition of Bale that really has us all on the edge of our seats. This is a man who knows how to take a game by the scruff of the neck and dominate the opposition; a player that gives us an attacking threat from midfield and wide positions that has been missing since Alli’s form fell off a cliff.
It’s been a long time since Jose has been in charge of a team with such strength and depth in both midfield and up front, and it will be interesting to see how he uses the talents at his disposal. We can only hope that we see Jose from his first stint at Chelsea as opposed to the man who was in charge at Old Trafford.
However, if there’s one hallmark of every Mourinho team, it’s the ability to lock down a defence and frustrate opponents. We didn’t see a whole lot of that last season but we’re feeling a lot more positive about our defence for this coming term.
The addition of Doherty and Reguilon on either side of defence has added a new dimension to our back four. Now, we have defenders that can not only be an attacking threat but who can actually defend as well. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but there’s no way Jose (see what we did there) would have sanctioned moves for both players unless he felt we needed to strengthen at the back.
The addition of Hart raised a few eyebrows, but he’s a player with a ton of experience and one who is said to be quite vocal in the dressing room. His ability on the training ground will be highly valued and he can hopefully be an able understudy to Lloris. He came through his debut relatively unscathed and the one shot that beat him was a bit of a wonder strike that not many would have got a hand to.
But perhaps one of our most important signings is the one who will get the least attention. Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg adds much needed steel to the midfield and, if Jose can coach him to be a slightly better passer of the ball, we might just have the midfield engine we’ve wanted for so long now.
Can we do it?
Realistically, we’re up against Chelsea, United, Arsenal, and Leicester for the last two Champions League places. Liverpool and City are highly unlikely to drop out of contention. Despite Chelsea spending crazy money on reinforcements, it’s actually Arsenal that could be the most dangerous from the other four. Arteta has instilled a sense of belief about the Arsenal squad that we just can’t see Lampard replicating at Chelsea. The new signings will take too long to settle in and we can see Lampard out of a job by January. Leicester don’t have the strength in depth and United are a broken club.
So yes, we can do it. In fact, we might even do better than fourth. Just once we finish above Arteta’s lot, we’ll be happy.
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