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Thursday, 11 August 2016

A tough season to predict and our possible Achilles heel

It is devilishly difficult to predict a title winner or top four finisher this season with three of the traditional top clubs having new managers.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City all have new man at the helm and are spending money to build the squads they want. Most seem to assume those purchases will be an immediate success and transform them all into the title contenders that none of them were last season.

All three sets of player though have got to learn a new system, a new way of playing as well as getting to grips with how each other plays. How long does that take?

Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool had great and poor performances last season as he was teaching his side how he wanted them to play. It isn't an instant thing. We stayed at the same level for a season while Mauricio Pochettino taught his squad how he wanted them to play.

Tottenham with a season under our belt learning a new system showed improvement, Liverpool will show improvement this season. I don't think it is a forgone conclusion that Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea will be fighting out the top three.

I do think the beginning of the season is vital. While these teams embed a new system, sides like ourselves must take advantage. We need to be winning games from the off so they are playing catch-up with us and not the other way around.

There were signs in the Inter Milan friendly that we had improved, some of the movement was top drawer and Vincent Janssen looks like an excellent purchase. We are still perhaps a central attacking midfield player short, someone who can give Dele Alli a rest.

We kick-off against Everton away, a side with a new manager and players learning a new system. It is a situation we must take advantage of by coming away with a victory. The familiarity of our team and the system we are playing should help tip things in our favour.

When the Champions League kicks in, you would expect us to be playing our first team in that competition or will we mix and match. How reliant are we going to be on our squad players when we rest the 'stars'. We need two sides and while we have it in most areas, the second choices for the three attacking players are a slight cause for concern.

Son Hueng-min should improve this season, will Nacer Chadli be here and who covers for Alli, Josh Onomah? Lamela, Alli, Eriksen look good but what is behind them when we have to rest them and is it strong enough?

That is the one area of concern for me. The transfer window isn't shut, a central attacking midfielder would go a way to addressing our potential Achilles heel. if our first XI were playing each week I'd have us in the Top 4 definitely.

We have a tough season having to contend with playing on two different size pitches, our second string will have to step up to the plate this season.


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