Everton and Arsenal played a cagey 0-0 draw in Duncan Ferguson’s and Freddie Ljungberg’s last game as interim manager of their respective clubs today. Ferguson is unbeaten in the Premier League, having overseen a win against Chelsea and draws against United and Arsenal. He managed to re-energize the Everton squad. Ljunberg’s tenure was less impressive as he was unable to breathe life into an ailing Arsenal team.
Arsenal have appointed Mikel Arteta as their new manager. Even though he only has experience as an assistant coach to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Arteta is somehow highly rated as a coach, with Guardiola and Pochettino tipping him for big things. He was also Arsenal captain under Arsene Wenger and a fan favorite. The decision to appoint him is risky but there are some positive precedents for inexperienced managers.
Guardiola himself took over at Barcelona with little coaching experience. Frank Lampard is doing well at Chelsea. Solskjaer has had mixed results since his blistering start at United but he is steering the club into the right direction. It could all work out for Arsenal, if Arteta can motivate high earners like Ozil and Aubameyang to perform and if the board provides funds to rebuild a mediocre squad.
Farhad Moshiri’s Everton side have gone with a completely different strategy than Arsenal, showing their ambition by hiring three-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian has one of the best resumes in World football, including a Premier League winners’ medal with Chelsea.
Duncan Ferguson has aptly navigated a hot run of fixtures against top six opposition and will join the Italian head coach’s team as assistant. Everton have a well-balanced squad and they have shown that they are willing to spend for top players. Ancelotti could make another Leicester City out of them.
The Premier League’s progressive way of distributing revenue obtained from TV rights is creating opportunities for clubs who were otherwise considered as lesser teams, compared to the established Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal. We can no longer talk about a top six.
There has been talk of a super league for a long time, an idea where the elite clubs across Europe would play each other in a league of their own, instead of their domestic ones. Many clubs have rejected this idea. The Premier League might be turning into a Super League of it’s own soon enough however.
We already have the “top six” teams, who are being challenged by Leicester City and now Everton. Wolves are not far behind, in terms of their personnel and investment in good players. You always have your over-achievers like Sheffield United. That makes ten teams who are really hard to beat and it’s not like games against the other half of the teams are picnics either.
Palace, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Burnley are solid, well-organized teams who can surprise any big fish on their day. They also boast really good players, who are hard to poach due to the clubs’ financial health, like Wilfried Zaha, St Maximin, Fraser and Wilson. Arsenal unsuccessfully tried prying Zaha and Fraser from their respective clubs but none of them came because the clubs do not need the money and ask for exorbitant amounts for transfers.
Even the Premier League’s mid or lower table teams can now afford to buy top players from other leagues in Europe. In 10 years or so, we might see the formation of a Super League in England itself, with league titles being contested way more than before and by a larger variety of clubs.
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