For every team, success will be by making progress and how much they progressed while failure will have meant they have gone backwards. Every team in the top four has been trying to make strides to go forward yet so far Man U have sold off two pieces of defensive cover which could mean any injuries at the back will hurt them more then last year and it will be hard for them to progress from the incredible achievement last season. Chelsea will be looking to win something and be playing more attractive football, Liverpool will be looking to make a strong title challenge at last. I don't think any of the clubs below us are looking to get 4th, they will hope and look to seize on any of the big four that struggle but think Villa are looking for 5th, Spurs looking to improve into a Uefa Cup spot while Blackburn, Everton, Portsmouth and Man City look to consolidate.
Us? We did incredibly well last season but just finished off the pace due to a mixture of injuries, bad luck, poor defending and exhaustion in key players. The summer transfer dealings have left me concerned but we will see by the end of the season if the dealings have improved the squad short term or if we have taken a step back for the longer term good. In terms of cups and leagues, I expect us to finish in the top four of the league and get past the group stage of the CL, from there my expectations are simply in the knock outs to perform well and not to embarrass ourselves as we did at Old Trafford. I know cup wins take a lot of luck, it is all very well saying "I expect us to get past the third round" if we then draw Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and ties can rest on a little bit of luck. I would like a cup win to give our players a taste of being winners but it isn't vital, nor will I judge the team over how they do in cups. Group stages we can control more and we should be looking to get past that stage each season while the league, best team tends to win. I hope for a title challenge but right now think we are a bit short in a couple of area's so I'm setting my sights on third for this season, I think we can keep up with the other three and just edge out Liverpool as 4th place is going to be a real pain for CL qualification from now on thanks to our firepower. Can we challenge again? Yes, if we start building form after the England/Croatia game and play near our best, a bit more luck with injuries and we can. Do I think we are going too? I fear we are seriously weaker now due to the loss of the creative Hleb, a player who was undervalued by the fans and in tight games, we might miss his spark while our defence hasn't been strengthened considerably, two inexperienced keepers as backup while now nobody who can head the ball.
In terms of more individual matters, Almunia, Gallas and Toure have to show they can be as good a defensive trio as VDS/Vidic/Rio or at least perform better then they have been. Only one goal conceded in four suggests an improvement but there is a long way to go and when teams start to areal bombard us, they must handle it better as a group. If they can't win the ball in the air then pick when and when not to challenge for it and get to the knock downs quicker then the opposition. The other real test I feel is for the squad players to come in and make a case for inclusion, last season Cesc, Hleb, Ade and Clichy ended up running on empty as Arsene didn't seem to want to give the squad players starts if the first choices were ever fit, we need them this time to allow Arsene to give the first choices more rests due to confidence in the second strong. For the likes of Mozart and Van Persie, the challenge is simply to get fit and stay fit, for the new additions like Nasri, Bischoff, Silvestre they will want to show that they were worth the money and can be useful additions, the young players like Walcott and Denilson will be looking to improve as players this season. The team as a whole needs to defended set peices better then they did last season and have started this season. If they manage all that then it will have been a successful season.