Robin van Persie’s move to Old Trafford says as much about Arsenal’s decline as it does Manchester United’s ambition.
By selling their star striker to United the Gunners seem to be admitting their real rivals are not those chasing the Premier League title but the clubs contesting the minor Champions League and Europa League placings.
|Vincent Kompany the captain of Manchester City lifts the Premier League trophy at the end of the 2011-12 season in May
There is no way Arsenal of old would have sold their best player to United. The best trophy they can now hope to win this season is the Capital One Cup.
Van Persie’s signing is also a set-back to Roberto Mancini and Manchester City. But it is not the fatal blow to their chances of retaining the title that many believe. I still think City will win the Premier League, but United will undoubtedly be waiting in the wings for them to slip up.
Now, let Mystic Sav read your club’s fortune...
1. Manchester City
Champions again. City will retain the title, but will be pushed all the way by United. A full season out of Carlos Tevez will be like having a new signing, but their actual new signing, Jack Rodwell, is one for the future not for now.
2. Manchester United
Fielding RvP in a dream team up front with Rooney means Alex Ferguson’s 20th title could be tantalisingly close come May. Watch out for new boy Shinji Kagawa.
Fantastic signings, notably Oscar and Eden Hazard, and it will be interesting to see if Roberto Di Matteo can fit them into his system. Best bet to break up Manchester clubs’ monopoly, but just short of being champions.
Not before time, Arsene Wenger has dipped his hand into his pocket and made some exciting signings, especially Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. Probably not enough to win them the title, but good enough for Champions League again.
They surprised a lot of people by going to the wire for a Champions League place last season — and they could do it again. Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa have all stayed, so the firepower remains high.
To challenge for a Champions League place, they will have to improve massively on their home form. Joe Allen will be a good addition in midfield, and Brendan Rodgers sets off with plenty of goodwill in the bank... but is it enough?
I still can’t understand the logic of sacking Harry Redknapp, who delivered two top-four finishes and a Champions League quarter-final in three seasons. Luka Modric is unhappy, Emmanuel Adebayor has not been signed and they have a shortage of attacking options.
I bet David Moyes casts envious eyes across Stanley Park at the amounts of money Liverpool have thrown at new players while he continues to over-achieve on buttons. Finished above the neighbours last season, but not this time.
9. Queens Park Rangers
Could be the surprise package — Mark Hughes has strengthened the squad from back to front with Robert Green, Junior Hoilett and Andy Johnson among the new arrivals.
In many ways, the honeymoon period is over for Martin O’Neill. He made such an impact when he arrived at the Stadium of Light last December that the fans’ expectations have been raised. No miracles, but no worries about relegation either.
11. Stoke City
Nothing has changed at the Britannia — it’s still a hostile place to go, Tony Pulis will have his lads fired up and they have added another layer of quality to the squad with the likes of Michael Kightly. Comfortable mid-table finish.
One of those teams who should stay up comfortably without seriously threatening to break into the top six or seven. Hugo Rodallega is a good buy, but they have lost Danny Murphy in midfield.
13. Wigan Athletic
If they could replicate their form over the last 12 games of last season, and roll it out over a whole campaign, Roberto Martinez's boys would be heading for Europe.
14. West Brom
Steve Clarke has been No.2 to Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Gianfranco Zola down the years. Now it’s his chance to prove a point as the man who calls the shots. But Roy Hodgson will be a hard act to follow and it will be heavy going.
15. West ham
Any fans expecting pretty football as Sam Allardyce tries to re-establish the Hammers at the top level will be disappointed. His brief will be to keep them up. The owners will give him more money to spend if they are struggling in January.
Losing manager Brendan Rodgers was a big blow, and I’m not sure replacement Michael Laudrup will find it as easy to pass teams off the park. Like Norwich, they will find their second year in the Premier League much harder than the first.
Relegation candidates, but I think they’ll stay up — just. New manager Chris Hughton has a hard act to follow after Paul Lambert, and opponents will be wiser about Grant Holt’s tricks around the box this time.
18. Aston Villa
Even the arrival of Paul Lambert as manager may not halt the slide. They were atrocious on the run-in last season and haven’t been busy enough in the market this summer.
Another promoted side who may find the Premier League an unforgiving place. Jay Rodriguez has arrived from Burnley to take some of the goal-scoring burden off Rickie Lambert, but they won’t steamroller teams at home in this league.
Brian McDermott did a great job to lead them out of the Championship, and it would be an even greater achievement if he can keep them up. Do they have the quality to survive? Sorry, but the odds are stacked against them.