It was probably a very bad idea to start binge-viewing Breaking Bad at the same time that the transfer window in European football was closing last week (I'm only up to the end of Season One so I will spare you any analogies between Walter White and Manchester United coach David Moyes. You're welcome). But the final days of the window were a head-spinning acid trip that had me fiending for more and more deals to happen, holding on to my iPhone for dear life trying to make it confirm or deny Arsenal rumors I knew were untrue, or where they?
I would wake up every morning and the first thing I would do was check the Mirror Football app for mention of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez. This was the most persistent tidbit, however far-fetched it seemed. Were we really going for a player that was involved in a racial row with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and then bites Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic at the end of the season?
Or were we going to break our transfer record for Wayne Rooney, who was truly unsettled at Manchester United?
The chairman, Ivan Gazidis, promised a high like we had never felt before. A new shirt sponsor and our stadium debts paid off meant we could dream of signing anyone, Gazidis told us. We would have cold sweats thinking of the possibilities of bringing back Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, signing Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain or maybe a goalkeeper? How about Iker Casillas? Famously frugal Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger kept stringing us along with little hits here and there, rumors of players we would never get, could never get, would never pay for.
The amount of hate hurled at Wenger was impressive (I was throwing Molotov cocktails in his direction as well, I must admit). We could not believe the incompetence of this organization and were about to lose it big time.
Until we got Mesut Ozil... and now we want another hit.
Mesut Ozil's signing was a transcendent moment for the team. A statement of intent, the dawn of a new era of better players coming in, a genesis of a German revolution at the club. But more importantly, it means that they will finish top four over their biggest rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs. The teams that finish in the top four qualify to play in the Champion's League, the most most prestigious club competition in the world.
I said it on our radio show when we did the Premiere League preview, the team that will win this year's English Premiere League is NBC. Almost every major team improved, and even the lesser sides have been able to sign some impact players. But I digress.
My top four prediction:
The return of Jose Mourinho means two things at Stamford Bridge: they will win playing a non-attractive yet effective brand of football and the locker room will be polarized. Frank Lampard, part of the AARP crew that ex-coach Andre Villas Boas tried to send off to play golf, is back in the squad. Is that really the best for Chelsea though, when you have the talents of Oscar, Juan Mata and now Willian at your disposal? Marco Van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle are sparkly luxury items in the display case, ready to showcase their sublime skills. In case that wasn't enough, Samuel Eto'o comes in from Anzhi Makhachkala, motivated to be one of the only players to win the league title in 3 different countries.
This is another stacked squad, and barring any injuries to a rather fragile defense, will be neck to neck with Chelsea for the title. I have a feeling new coach Manuel Pellegrini will give Samir Nasri more playing time. He is still a very gifted player that can contribute spectacularly when (and if) he's up for it. And having Edin Dzeko on the pitch for more than 5 minutes at the end of games can only improve his confidence. Goalkeeper Joe Hart needs to refocus a bit, but the goals will be flying in from the strikers and the midfield.
They didn't sign a striker and resigned a defensive midfielder (Mathieu Flamini) that was dropped by his team. However, Olivier Giroud has shown he can be a game winner, and Theo Walcott is in brilliant form. AC Milan let Flamini go, but he can go straight into the squad because he knows the Arsenal way and provides a bit of defensive steel. Oh, and two words: Mesut Ozil. People that say the team didn't need another creative midfielder because we already have an incredible one in Santi Cazorla are missing the point. They will run defenders ragged with their tiki taka, hopefully they won't forget to put the ball in the net which they had a tendency to do before.
I am a bit surprised the Manchester United faithful haven't fully turned against new coach David Moyes. They sure are being patient with a coach that lost against their bitter rivals Liverpool and botched this transfer window. Besides having to over-pay for Everton's Marouane Felliani and bringing in Guillermo Varela (yea, don't know who he is either), they did not address their biggest issue: playmaking. Moyes should have realized Cesc Fabregas was stringing him along, there was no way he was coming back to the Premiership if it wasn't with Arsenal. So he wasted time going after Fabregas, while he could have gone for Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder or Kevin Strootman (who went to Roma). Flirtations with Thiago Alcantara were equally fruitless, he chose to go to play with his former coach Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. I still pick them to have a good season because there is still quality on the squad and their forward Robin Van Persie is such a sick player.
What is your top four prediction?