As per the new regulations all the clubs have now announced their 25 player squads along with a long list of U-21 players who’ve been registered so that they are eligible to play in the Premier League just in case. You can see complete details of the squad lists and junior players of all the 20 clubs on the official site.
It’s interesting, although not surprising, to note that Chlesea have only given a 19 player list for the senior squad. Many clubs have not filled their quota of 25 senior players. Arsenal with 20, Villa 22, Blackburn 21, Blackpool 24, Bolton 24, Everton 21, Liverpool 21, United 24, Newcastle 23, Sunderland 24, and Wigan with 19 have some room to manoeuvre in the market in January or next summer.
In effect, only Birmingham, Fulham, City, Stoke, Tinies, West Brom, West Ham, and Wolves have taken up their full squad quota.
In such a case the U-21 players will clearly play a vital role as the season unfolds. Not surprisingly, Arsenal seem to have the strongest contingent of young players. I’ve not examined other squads in detail but a cursory glance showed that no other squad had the same level of proven talent at the youth level.
As expected Ramsey, Walcott, Gibbs, Vela, Frimpong, Wilshere, Szczesny and Traore are all part of the junior list, not to mention the likes of Nordtveit, Lansbury, Eastmond, JET, and many other talented youngsters who’ll probably form a big part of the Carling Cup squad.
I might be wrong as I don’t follow the youth football of other clubs but I don’t think any two or three clubs combined have such a strong youth contingent in terms of talent and top level experience.
Chelsea are really taking a huge gamble as their 19 player list is supplemented by the likes of Gael Kakuta, Daniel Sturridge, Jeffrey Bruma, and Borini. We can see the impact of letting the likes of Ballack, Deco, Belletti, Carvalho, and Cole leave with only Benayoun and Ramires coming in. They’ve also allowed youngsters like Di Santo, Scott Sinclair, and Miroslav Stoch to leave.
A couple of injuries in the same area and they could be really short, especially upfront. From a depth point of view I don’t think they have enough. What they do have is a solid track record of not having too many injuries in the same area and key players who have gone years without picking up long term injuries (Essien being the exception that proves the rule!). If it changes this year they will struggle to stay close to the top. Otherwise their key players will always make them strong contenders for any trophy.
United have named 24 players in their senior squad but that includes the perennially injured Hargreaves, past his prime Owen, unsettled Anderson, and completely unproven De Laet. In effect they have a 20 man squad.
They do have youngsters like Macheda, Obertan, Smalling, Bebe and Pogba but none of them is experienced or proven at the top level.
I think United have far better balance and depth in their squad when compared to Chelsea. I’d say they are on par with Arsenal in terms of strength in depth. If Berbatov can improve his performances this season and if the golden oldies stay fit they will be close to the top.
Surprise, surprise! City have taken up their quota of 25! I don’t have to mention the kind of depth they have. Any team that has a bench worth close to a hundred million pounds will not be short of players. I still don’t think they’ve a chance of winning the title but I’ll discuss that in detail in another article on predictions for the season. As far as strength in depth goes, City are probably top of the pile.
Liverpool have 21 senior players including the likes of Stephen Darby and Jay Spearing, while N’gog and Pachecho are part of the U-21 list. I’m not at all convinced they have the depth to compete for the title. Anyway, with Liverpool it’s all down to Gerrad and Torres and this season won’t be much different.
Finally, the Tiny Totts have also taken up their quota of 25. Their junior squad also contains players like Bale, Dos Santos, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, and Sandro. In terms of numbers the Tinies are not so small but when we consider that these numbers include the likes of Bentley and Jenas, it does put their squad in perspective. I think Redknapp has collected plenty of players who are of his own ilk, just short of top level quality. What else can we expect from a f*ck*ng football manager who is not a wheeler-dealer 😉
I think they have some depth but mostly in terms of numbers and not in terms of quality as we will see once their Champions League games start.
In conclusion, City have the most depth but Arsenal and United have the best equipped squads. Chelsea have a smaller but relatively stronger and well proven group. Liverpool look like they’ll struggle and the Tinies are in for a long grind. I do expect many different opinions on this so please feel free to share yours.
For the sake of quick reference you might find the following images useful. The first one has the senior squads of the six clubs I’ve considered and the second one has the list of junior players that I’ve compiled based on my discretion i.e. names I’ve heard of and not out on loan. I’ve not done much research on that so I might have missed someone but players like Traore, Cleverly, and Wellbeck have been left out on purpose. (The images are bigger and will be clearer if opened in a new window, limit on the blog width reduces the clarity.)