It’s another installment of the EPL Talk Reader Mailbag, and this week we have several excellent questions. So, let’s jump right in.
Question from Ahmed:
After the past couple of months Arsenal have been in a rich vain of form. Do you think this form can continue through next season? If so how could they do this with what signings? Also do you think they will challenge for the title next season?
Morgan: Arsenal has been in fine form recently but it’s always hard to determine how they will perform next year. The team was ravaged by injuries this season so one would hope that they could hopefully avoid that fate next year. If they can stay healthy and hopefully get Jack Wilshere back to full health then they would certainly have one of the top sides in the league. The transfer season is always interesting at Arsenal since they’re usually not known for making large splashes in the market. Yossi Benayoun will be returning to Chelsea but with Ryo Miyachi returning to the team after his fine loan spell at Bolton there probably won’t be much of a drop off from Benayoun. I would look for them to do more selling than buying during the summer, getting the likes of Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtnar off the books. Personally I would look for them to buy another forward to back up RVP and add a little more clinical finish depth to the team. They have (as usual) a fine mix of top young players and great established players but it all comes back to the injuries. Some teams just get hit with the injury bug early and often, it’s not really something you can predict but I certainly wouldn’t plan on them having that same problem next year to the extent they did this year. If their health holds, then I absolutely could see them making a bit of a title push. But I’ll hold off on those predictions until we get a sense of what some of the big spenders (Chelsea, Man City, etc) around them do.
Question from Daniel:
I have recently seen rumors online about the Spurs maybe selling Bale and/or Modric. That coupled with Harry Redknapp possibly leaving for the England job, does that seem like the Spurs taking three steps backward? If they sell them, I don’t think they would bring in Eden Hazard whom they have been linked with in the past. Can you comment on this?
Morgan: Well if they do sell Bale and/or Modric it would certainly free up the funds to bring Hazard in, but at that point I’m not sure he would want to come to a team that lost two of its top players. If Harry were to depart as well Spurs would probably drop from being a top 4/6 team to being more of a top 10 team. Obviously this is all contingent on who they would be able to bring in to replace all three. If they sell both players and are able to reinvest in the squad with Eden Hazard and possibly a top class forward (say a Cavani or a Falcao) then they would be much better off than if they reinvested that money with the Liverpool approach. Losing Harry would be the biggest loss though because, even though they’ve struggled to close out the season, he has been a huge factor in the success of the club. Needless to say their next appointment would be crucial since the last time they changed managers the team was languishing in the bottom half of the table.
Question from Daniel:
When AVB was fired from Chelsea, I had seen articles on online about Pep Guardiola and how Abramovich will throw millions of pounds at him. I also saw articles about how Pep is a so-so manager and basically anyone could manage Barcelona with the talent they have. Is it fair to doubt his credentials?
Morgan: It’s tough to tell how good a manager will perform at a new club, especially when he’s only managed at one club his entire career. Pep had the luxury of familiarity and comfort at Barcelona since he knew how the system worked there. He knew the league, what worked and what didn’t work. He knew how the media worked. Moving to a new club and a new country can often be a huge shock for a manager and if he cannot adapt quickly then it can spell disaster for both him and the club (see AVB). It’s fair to doubt his credentials because he has managed the best team in the world and no one else. If he won the same amount of trophies with Valencia or Sevilla or even Atletico Madrid then I would feel a bit more confident in his abilities to manage other clubs. That’s not a knock on those clubs, but it’s a bit harder to manage when you don’t have 2 of the best midfielders in Europe and Leo Messi on top of that. Even though the FIFA games would have you think otherwise, it’s tough to manage any club, even Barcelona. But I’m going to hold off on saying that he would be an instant success at a team other than Barcelona. Pep could come in to Chelsea and lead the team to a Quadruple in his first season, or he could go the way of AVB. Those are obviously the extreme ends of the spectrum, but that’s really all we have to go on when it comes to Pep.
Question from Aaron:
With RVP winning player of the year, who do you think is the most underrated player in the league?
Morgan: That’s a great question that has had me thinking most of this week about it. When I think about underrated players I try and look at some of the names that aren’t exactly the sexiest in the league. Grant Holt is one name that comes to mind, 13 goals this year for an upstart Norwich side. Steve Morison is another name that comes to mind, even though he’s scored 8 goals this season, 4 of them being “Game Winning Goals” and 7 of his 8 coming in the 2nd half of matches. A bigger name I would throw out would be Mikel Arteta. He has been absolutely vital to Arsenal’s run this year and his absence will be felt greatly in the final games of the season. But for my money it would have to go to Morison. Performing this well in the Premier League for a relatively unknown striker coming into the season and playing such a big role for his club would certainly earn him my honors as the most underrated player. Michael Vorm comes in a close second followed by Grant Holt.
Thanks for all the questions, everybody. Keep them coming in either through the comments section below or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.