With a lot of point winning, mudslinging and debating about foreign influence, there really isn’t that much difference between the General Election and the Premier League.
It was only a few months ago that two different Blues came out on top after amassing a lead that the opposition simply weren’t able to match, winning at a canter, ending a much anticipated race in fairly anti-climactic fashion.
In the Election, the Tory party won by remaining true to their tried-and-tested philosophy, even with it proving as unpopular as ever among the masses. In the Premier League, Jose Mourinho did pretty much the same thing. In many ways, David Cameron’s boys are much like Jose Mourinho’s men. Like it or not, the country is Blue right now and it is not changing any time soon, even if it does very little for those at grassroots level.
And the similarities aren’t just confined to the winners either. All through parliament and all through the Premiership are parallels that can tell us how the season before us is likely to unfold.
Weighing up the sackings, signings and sales, here is an analysis of how the season will go, if it is anything like the General Election.
Not too similar from the Lib Dems, Arsenal are a side that now seem destined never to break the hold of the big boys. Arsene Wenger even has a bit of Nick Clegg about him, in that he seems like he can do a better job than the others, but his team simply can’t win when it counts.
IMPROVEMENTS: One of the best teams in the league have now made their weakest position one of their strongest. In one signing the Gooners are arguably the most improved side in the league. For years Wenger has persisted with second-rate goalkeepers but now has one of the very best in the world in Petr Cech, who will also add real winning experience to the squad.
WEAKNESSES: Defensively, Arsenal still lack real quality, especially in depth. Laurent Kolscielny is as good as Per Mertesacker is dodgy. If Kieran Gibbs gets injured, is Nacho Monreal really good enough? Also, if Mathieu Flamini leaves as expected, Francis Coquelin will be the ONLY genuine defensive midfielder Arsenal have in the squad.
SECRET WEAPON: Theo Walcott finally playing upfront in a central role may just see him live up to his long hyped potential, especially surrounded by a few creative geniuses.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 2nd. Arsenal legitimately can field one of the best first-elevens in the world when everyone is fit in their current squad. However, over the course of a long season, the team won’t be able to stay both fit, in form and focused enough to win the league, although Alexis Sanchez will do his best to try and make it happen.
With his every-man demeanour, outspoken manner and deluded amount of self-confidence, Tim Sherwood is much like the average UKIP MP. And with this current squad, he is likely to have as much success as that lot did too.
IMPROVEMENTS: Micah Richards and Scott Sinclair will add established Premiership level ability to the squad at both ends of the pitch, especially as both players will have ambitions of making the England squad for the coming European Championships.
WEAKNESSES: Losing Christian Benteke is a huge loss. New signings Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede will bring pace and physicality respectively, yet goals will still be hard to come by. Even more of a loss will be the tenacity and drive that Fabian Delph brought to the Villa team, something which they will not be able to replace.
SECRET WEAPON: Not so secret after a summer of teenage kicks, Jack Grealish could possibly still kick up a level or two, considering his ability and the faith Tim Sherwood has shown in him.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 14th. In losing Delph and Benteke, the sheer quality of the squad has dropped a level. However, the spirit and positive football Sherwood will bring should allow Villa to scrap through games picking up enough points to stay safe.
A bit like a young, overly positive and slightly naïve new politician running for a seat, Bournemouth will bring a lot of freshness to the league but will ultimately do nothing new.
IMPROVEMENTS: With some really astute signings this summer, Eddie Howe has somehow enhanced his reputation even before playing a single game in the Premier League. Sylvain Distin brings experience to the defence, Joshua King and Christian Atsu add youthful attacking exuberance, whilst Artur Boruc and Adam Federici will ensure a solid goalie throughout the season.
WEAKNESSES: In the Championship the team relied on their attacking prowess, something that simply won’t carry them through 38 Premier League games. There is a lack of depth and proven quality in attack that will inevitably see the team struggle.
SECRET WEAPON: Highly rated 23 year old Callum Wilson scored 20 goals in the Championship last year as the star of Bournemouth’s forward-line. Strong, quick and a composed finisher, Wilson could become a sought after property come the end of the season.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 15th. The squad will have already been full of confidence after their stupendous run in the Championship last year and the signings they have made will have only added to this. There will be difficult times but Eddie Howe has what it takes to keep the team up.
As stated earlier, Chelsea are the footballing equivalent of the Tories; as unpopular as they are uncaring about their unpopularity. As strong as ever, the team will be hard to dethrone, just like the political party.
IMPROVEMENTS: Asmir Begovic and Radamel Falcao are good players but not really improvements on what Chelsea had last season. If anything, their strength will come from another year together under Jose Mourinho.
WEAKNESSES: The team heavily relies on two players to take them from a good team to a great one. Should anything happen to both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s season could fall apart.
SECRET WEAPON: Willian has become a Mourinho favourite and with his starting position almost certain in the side, the nimble Brazilian will have the opportunity to really show his quality.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 1st. Mourinho has the know-how, the experience and the quality, whilst if need be he also has the ability to sign a top footballer for nearly any fee. A thoroughbred defence and cultured attack make this Chelsea team unstoppable right now.
Certain constituencies have favourite candidates that just fit them. The brash and often aggressive Alan Pardew is the perfect man for the South London club and someone that is certain to win the fans’ vote time and again.
IMPROVEMENTS: Signing Yohan Cabaye is a real coup for Palace. The classy French midfielder will bring the quality of the club up a level in the way in which he pulls the strings from midfield. Patrick Bamford and Connor Wickham will also add different dimensions to what is already a dangerous attack.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness for the club will be the fact that after two seasons in the league now, other clubs will know how to counter Crystal Palace’s strengths. Stopping them from using their pacey, tricky wingers will reduce their attacking threat immensely.
SECRET WEAPON: On loan from Chelsea, Patrick Bamford looks a born goal-scorer, having a natural knack of finding himself on the end of tap-ins. With enough service from Palace’s plethora of wingers, the boy could have a storming season.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 10th. With the manager issue seemingly over, Palace look to be going from strength-to-strength. The side will be more cohesive and full of players desperate to show they are ready for the next level. This could be a good year from Palace, with a cup run possible too.
Like the Tories, over the last 12 months the Blues haven’t looked good. However, again like the Tories, they simply have better representatives than their opposition. This season Everton can help keep the top half of the table blue.
IMPROVEMENTS: Even with just two first team signings, both have been significant. Back comes potential superstar Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona, now permanently, along with Tom Cleverly, someone that will help Roberto Martinez continue to implement his philosophy on the side.
WEAKNESSES: The club will be relying on a new generation of young defenders this year, supporting the injury prone Phil Jagielka and young John Stones. Bedding in these prospects together could be really detrimental to just how good a talented squad could do this season.
SECRET WEAPON: Gerard Deulofeu is a genuine world-class talent that was simply unable to get enough game time with Pedro, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi ahead of him at Barcelona. Quick, very skilful and a player that plays no traditional position, the Spaniard is a game-changer of a footballer.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 8th. The team is actually brimming with potential attacking superstars, each capable of winning a game on their own. Without European football to deal with, Everton could have a really exciting season.
If ever a Premier League manager was Nigel Farage, it is Nigel Pearson. Brash, largely disliked, yet still good at his job, the two Nigel’s both even found themselves in the strange situation of going from in charge, to not in charge and back to in charge of their respective groups in the last 12 months. The only difference is that Nigel Farage is for now, still in charge.
IMPROVEMENTS: Shinji Okazaki brings energy and the ability to score upfront, whilst Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs should add steel to the defence. But do these players improve the level of the squad? Probably not.
WEAKNESSES: Losing Esteban Cambiasso is a big blow. The experienced and classy Argentinian was a huge asset to the club throughout the season, playing 31 league games and scoring five goals as a defensive midfielder. Even more of an issue is the club was clearly galvanised through the spirit of manager Nigel Pearson, who was sacked in the summer. New manager Claudio Ranieri is near the complete opposite of Pearson. The relationship between the players and the manager may be a problem for the team. Can “The Tinker-Man” get the best out of this group of players?
SECRET WEAPON: Whilst he did not set the league alight, the mid-season signing of Andrej Kramaric helped the club retain their Premier League status. The 24 year old Croatian has ability and now having had time to adjust following the move, he could get back to the form that saw him score 55 goals in 65 games at his previous club.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 20th. Any way it is looked at, Ranieri is a bad fit for Leicester. In losing the manager that got them promoted and kept them up last season, as well as their best player from last season, Leicester can only get worse, which means relegation.
At times doing extremely well but at times seeming pretty damn mad, Brendan Rodgers has a bit of Ed Miliband about him. Also like Miliband, Rodgers could find that his financial policy is what may ultimately be held against him.
IMPROVEMENTS: In Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino, the club have signed two quality individuals that have potential to become world class. Nathaniel Clyne should solve their long-running right-back issue, whilst James Milner and Danny Ings are very good signings to help the club navigate through 38 Premier League games.
WEAKNESSES: As good as all the signings mentioned there are, at least four of them will be expected to start most games. With a host of signings last season too, Liverpool may regularly be playing a lot of players that have barely played together. And of course, losing the talismanic Steven Gerrard will have incalculable repercussions, from the dressing room to the on-pitch attitude of the players.
SECRET WEAPON: For all the recent signings, Daniel Sturridge is still arguably the most talented player at the club. Quick, skilful, capable of the spectacular and devastatingly clinical, if he remains fit, Sturridge should remind people just how good he really is.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 5th. Regularly using different formations to bring the best out of his players, Rodgers is undoubtedly a quality coach. With the attacking talent and energetic midfielders he has at his disposal, Liverpool will at times look awesome this year. However, with so many comings and goings, the squad will not be able to keep the consistency needed to crack the top four.
The victory of the Tories at the General Election stamps this period of time as the era of the blues. Man City represent this by living up to the Tory philosophy that everything can be sorted with money. They’ve splashed the cash but also made some cuts that have hurt young Englishmen. Man City are oh so Conservative.
IMPROVEMENTS: The Raheem Sterling that played with Luis Suarez was a different creature from the one that played for most of last season. Alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure, Sterling makes Man City even more of a dangerous side offensively.
WEAKNESSES: In David Silva, Samir Nasri, Toure, Jesus Navas and Sterling, the side have too many midfielders that won’t track back. The side last season lacked balance between defence and attack. This does not look like it has been addressed with their signings.
SECRET WEAPON: Fabian Delph has the dynamism to fit perfectly in the midfield of City that is split between defensive minded tacklers and luxury ball players. Able to get stuck in as well as drive forward, Delph could become a first team regular, ahead of the likes of Fernandinho.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 3rd. How well Man City do largely depends on how long Sergio Aguero stays fit. If he can have a full season, there is no reason the side can’t win the league. However, if he gets injured (as now seems inevitable) and results turn bad – especially in the Champions League – the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini could really offset the team’s title chase.
Just like they did with the Labour party, many people expect Utd to come roaring back to the top. Just like the Labour party though, it won’t happen.
IMPROVEMENTS: Finally, the issue of Man Utd’s central midfield has been sorted by Louis Van Gaal. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin provide real quality, different styles and strength in depth in this key area. Arguably, Utd could field the strongest central midfield in the league this season.
WEAKNESSES: The sale of Angel Di Maria means Utd have lost their most talented footballer. Utd also lack anyone other than Rooney that is proven to work in a 4-3-3, which is Van Gaal’s preferred formation. Having to rely on the same dodgy centre-backs for another year is also a concern. Finally, if David De Gea does leave, Utd will lose their best player of the last two seasons.
SECRET WEAPON: Two secret weapons in the Utd side could be the fullbacks, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw. Van Gaal encourages his fullbacks to get as involved as possible in attacks. In Shaw and Darmian, Utd have two that will play on either side that are at a great age, with enough talent to really make a mark with this team.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 4th. The added steel combined with the young talent in the team (Memphis Depay and Adnan Januzaj especially), along with proven players (Rooney, Juan Mata, Michael Carrick), means Utd should improve on last year in terms of performances but they will ultimately struggle to really challenge again, especially considering the extra strain the Champions League will put on the side. The goalkeeper situation may also have a huge effect on how Utd’s season goes.
The Geordie club are like the old backbencher MP that is going madder each year they stay stale in their comfy seat, a bit like Gordon Brown. Months before Election Day, Gordon Brown resigned. Will Mike Ashley – the man bringing the madness into Newcastle Utd – do the same before the end of this season?
IMPROVEMENTS: Extremely talented 20 year old Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic is the next great number nine hope for the Toon Army. Nevertheless, the real improvement comes from the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum, a Dutch central midfielder that looks like a young Clarence Seerdorf. In terms of their new manager Steve McClaren, based on his last few managerial reigns, he won’t do any better than Alan Pardew ever did.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness in the club is the confidence the fans have in the squad. The support of the Toon Army can drive the team on but the signings, including the new manager, are not enough to excite the Geordies and get them firing the team up just yet. A bad start could mean a bad season for Newcastle.
SECRET WEAPON: Ayoze Perez is just 22 and with a full league season under his belt. Scoring 7 goals in 36 games, the nippy Spaniard could be even more of a threat to Premier League defences this year.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 12th. There are some really good players in this Newcastle side (Moussa Sissoko, Tim Krul, Remy Cabella). However, good players do not always make a good team, and with just a few months in charge, McClaren will not be able to change this just yet.
The Canaries are a side that everyone seems to like but no one has any real confidence in. Coupled with the fact not many know about the people that actually make up the side, Norwich this year are a bit like the Green Party.
IMPROVEMENTS: Robbie Brady and Graham Dorrans add British flair to the side but a real improvement they have made is adding the tenacity of midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, someone experienced in the lower end of the league.
WEAKNESSES: The side’s main strikers – Cameron Jerome, Ricky Van Wolfswinker (returning after a loan season) and Gary Hooper – have played over 200 Premier League games, with only 39 goals between them. The team may struggle to score.
SECRET WEAPON: Nathan Redmond is a young British talent that has been able to get regular football and steadily improve his game over the last few years. This season he will be looking to prove he belongs in the top league.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 18th. The side have many of the same players that were relegated from the Premier League two years ago and not much more quality, meaning survival will be very difficult for them.
Despite all the perceived disadvantages they have had, last season the club really rose to prominence with a fantastic season. However, regardless of all their promise, they are set to fade back into obscurity. A bit like Chuka Umunna.
IMPROVEMENTS: Steven Caulker is a very capable defender and Maarten Stekelenburg is a goalie experienced at the highest levels of football. Both will add to what was already one of the best defences in the league.
WEAKNESSES: Losing two of their most reliable players – Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne – will see Southampton struggle to maintain the consistency needed for them to come close to last season’s final placing.
SECRET WEAPON: Energetic and intelligent, Jay Rodriguez is a forward with a lot of potential. Back from injury, he will look to get back on the form that saw him on the verge of making the England world cup squad of 2014.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 11th. This year clubs will know how the Saints want to utilise their attackers such as Graziano Pelle, Mane and Dusan Tadic. Without this surprise element, Southampton will not be able to match their achievements of last season.
Like the Labour Party’s Tom Watson, at first everyone thought Stoke were just there to rile up others with their boorish style. Now, we are seeing some real potential develop. For both Watson and Stoke, this could be a fruitful year.
IMPROVEMENTS: Glen Johnson adds proven Premier League class to the side, whilst Mark Hughes has also added attacking options in Joselu and Ibrahim Afellay.
WEAKNESSES: With Asmir Begovic choosing to be a benchwarmer at Chelsea, the side will need to choose between the inexperience of Jack Butland and the past-his-prime Shay Given.
SECRET WEAPON: Although not prolific, Joselu has been consistent with his goals in the Bundesliga for the last two years. Deceivingly quick for his 6ft3in frame, the product of Real Madrid’s youth team could be the perfect fit for Stoke, especially with Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay behind him.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 7th. The fans at Stoke are lapping at the revolution Mark Hughes is bringing to the Britannia Stadium. Having kept Stoke’s trusted stalwarts and yet again added flair to the side, this may just be Stoke’s best ever season.
Constantly making so many gaffes, yet somehow retaining their position, there is something a bit Ed Balls about Sunderland.
IMPROVEMENTS: Younes Kaboul and Yann M’Vila add physicality and ability to the squad, whilst having Dick Advocat confirmed as manager (for a year at least) adds stability. However, the best improvement Sunderland can make is playing Jermain Defoe as a centre-forward, rather than on the wing as he did at times last season.
WEAKNESSES: The Sunderland midfield lacks anyone capable of doing more than run and/or tackle. The team lack a dimension that will simply keep them rooted in the bottom half of the table.
SECRET WEAPON: A player with over 100 Premier League goals, Jermain Defoe is a proven scorer, capable of both being clinical and spectacular. All he needs is games to score goals and even push for a place in the England squad for the European Championships.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 16th. The club are only slightly more improved than last year. The question is if they are more improved than their relegation candidate rivals. Unless injuries hit them hard, they should have enough to stay up.
This year’s election saw Welsh Party Plaid Cymru, led by Leanne Wood, get a platform to speak alongside leaders of the rest of the parties. A bit like Swansea, without making any waves, she was quietly impressive, showing no fear of competing with the big boys.
IMPROVEMENTS: Andre Ayew is a perfect fit for Swansea. A winger/forward, Ayew has 62 caps with Ghana at just 25 years old and has also scored fifty goals in five seasons at Marseille. With his athleticism and eye for goal, Ayew is a great acquisition for the club.
WEAKNESSES: With only 46 league goals scored for them last season, the loss of Wilfried Bony is evident. The signing of centre-forward Eder, someone less that averaged 7 goals a season in Portugal’s top league, is not going to help that.
SECRET WEAPON: The demise of Michu may have been spoken of prematurely. Once playing like a Player of the Season contender, his cult hero status at the club may just get him the opportunity and the support to find his form again.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 9th. Amassing their best ever points tally last season, Swansea proved they were a Premier League calibre club to their very core. Even though they won’t struggle, there are a few other sides that may overtaken them this season.
In the same way the SNP could only hope for the offer of a coalition to get the chance to be part of a majority government, so Spurs will need one of the top four to slip up for them to have any chance of Champions League football. Will they be given such a chance?
IMPROVEMENTS: Toby Alderweireld played a pivotal part in Southampton recording the second best goals-against record in the league last year. The Belgian centre-back is a solid addition to the Spurs backline. Even more of an improvement is Spurs not sacking their manager for once.
WEAKNESSES: The signing of Alderweireld aside, the Spurs defence is clearly an issue. Last season they conceded more goals than all but four sides in the league. A settled back four is imperative to their chances this year.
SECRET WEAPON: 22 year old Alex Pritchard had somewhat of a breakthrough season last time around, scoring 12 league goals for Brentford on the way to becoming their Player of the Season. The attacking midfielder has vision, skill and a great strike, giving him every chance of making his mark for Spurs this year.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 6th. The side may actually generally improve on their performances from last year but the sides around them have all improved a touch more with some big signings all round.
Nutty as a squirrels favourite meal, Watford can find themselves anywhere from fighting relegation in League One to promotion to the Premier League within two or three seasons. This mirrors the political career of Harriet Harman, who went from worrying about her position as an MP altogether after being implicated in paedophilia, to being the current acting Leader of the Labour Party. Just like Harman however, Watford won’t last at the top too long.
IMPROVEMENTS: Amidst a host of signings the names Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue stand out. The two midfielders will toughen the centre of the Watford team, giving them much more of a chance to stay up.
WEAKNESSES: Approximately 10 new signings to a team that had over half a dozen players on loan last season. Oh and also, Quique Flores is their fifth manager in the last 18 months. Too many comings-and-goings at the club will cost them any chance of consistency.
SECRET WEAPON: Having scored 20 plus goals for three consecutive seasons in the Championship, Watford forward and captain Troy Deeney has the pedigree to become an established Premier League player.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 19th. The squad has suffered too much upheaval and will likely have a lot more over the next 10 months. This will not aid them in gaining the consistency needed to survive in the Premier League.
George Osbourne has a degree in Modern History and a political background in Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (seriously) yet he remains as Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he has done for five years now. West Brom have had no real quality players, made no real impact in any form but they have been in the Premier League for five years now. The two are both in great positions but no one really knows how they got there, or how they have stayed there.
IMPROVEMENTS: James McClean and James Chester are decent signings but giving Rickie Lambert what is likely to be a final crack at the top flight – and possibly even the England squad – should aid the Baggies no end.
WEAKNESSES: In Ben Foster, Joleon Lescott, Jonas Olsson, Darren Fletcher, Chris Brunt, Stephane Sessegnon and Lambert, the club could be fielding a starting XI with an age of over 300 years old at times. Keeping the energy of the side up will be a struggle.
SECRET WEAPON: Diminutive winger Callum McManaman is a bundle of tricks. Given the right role, he could prove a nightmare for Premier League fullbacks.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 13th. Tony Pulis has what it takes to get a good take from any club he manages and that will be enough to see West Brom stay safely mid-table. How the likes of Saido Berahino and the highly rated Serge Gnabry (signed on loan from Arsenal) do will determine just how far they will go this season.
To some West Ham are a club with history and prestige that deserve their Premier League status. To others they are a side that have been around making too much needless noise for too long. This is what many thought of George Galloway and this Election, his time came to an end.
IMPROVEMENTS: Frenchman Dimitri Payet is a player credited with 21 assists last season for Marseille. The winger is blessed with terrific natural ability and could be a real fans’ favourite for the Hammers. Angelo Ogbonna is a centre-back – signed from Juventus – with the perfect attributes to be a Premier League success.
WEAKNESSES: Slaven Bilic is a manager that wears his heart on his sleeve. Due to this, nerves are already setting in, after an awful start to their season that has seen West Ham stumble past semi-pro teams to qualify for the Europa League, all to the sound of their fans booing. This mentality could hinder them for the entire season if it is shaken off quickly.
SECRET WEAPON: Goalkeeper Adrian played all 38 league games for the Hammers last season, playing a key role in a defence that conceded less goals than the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham. The Spaniard looks to be going from strength to strength.
LIKELY OUTCOME = 17th. The side are going to have more bad periods than good as they look to adjust to their new manager and realise Big Sam Allardyce was doing a far greater job than he was given credit for.
1 – Chelsea
2 – Arsenal
3 – Man City
4 – Man Utd
5 – Liverpool
6 – Tottenham
7 – Stoke
8 – Everton
9 – Swansea
10 – Crystal Palace
11 – Southampton
12 – Newcastle
13 – West Brom
14 – Aston Villa
15 – Bournemouth
16 – Sunderland
17 – West Ham
18 – Norwich
19 – Watford
20 – Leicester
Top Scorer – Sergio Aguero
Player of the Season – Alexis Sanchez
F.A Cup – Man Utd
League Cup – Arsenal