Long wait over for the English Premier League
Analyse this: Premier League kicks offShare your stories, photos and videos.
Analyse this: Premier League kicks off
The long wait has ended. Weeks of anticipation (somewhat easier to survive courtesy of the Fifa World Cup) have finally brought the dawn of a new Premier League campaign.
And what a campaign we have in store.
Here are just a few of the many storylines to look forward to:
- Manchester United starting a campaign with a third man in charge in as many seasons.
- Jose Mourinho creating a squad in his image as he looks for a third Premier League winners medal.
- Arsene Wenger proving that purchasing an expensive marquee signing wasn't a one off last year.
- Liverpool dealing with far higher expectations and doing so without their biting genius.
Let's start with Louis Van Gaal sorting through the carnage of David Moyes' tumultuous reign. Van Gaal may be a giant ego on legs but he is also one of the greatest managers in the history of football. Will he be able to bring Man U back to their usual title winning standards?
Pre-season form suggests yes, however a look at their squad and common sense tells me not quite yet. I expect them to make top four but can a team with Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as their only established centre backs (as things stand) win the Premier League? No.
We will wait to see what happens by the time the transfer window has closed but currently more money needs to be spent.
For Man U to make top four someone needs to drop out. I see the victim being Liverpool for the following reasons:
- They've lost the league's best player.
- They have Champions League football to deal with this year. Last season they played 43 games in all competitions (Chelsea and City played 57 each) and they really benefited from being able to focus on the league, something that Man U will be able to do this season.
- They are bringing in a lot of new faces, whilst I believe they have bought some real quality, most notably Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic, there is no guarantee that these players will hit the ground running.
Now for the three teams I believe to be genuine title contenders: Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal.
I've been a Chelsea fan since I was 5 and they're my pick for the title. Mourinho is entering his second season in charge and has done a great job at sorting out Chelsea's weaknesses in the transfer market. They now have a top quality striker (finally) and with Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park a midfield to be feared. They also boast the best defence in England and with Eden Hazard causing havoc a genuine contender to replace Luis Suarez as the league's best player.
Arsenal finally ended their silverware drought and could well pip everyone to the title. They have made a world class addition with Alexis Sanchez and with Theo Walcott's return the pace of those two players could finally bring the best out of Mesut Ozil.
Aaron Ramsey also continues to get better and better, however Arsenal may have some problems defensively and a lot rests on the broad shoulders of Olivier Girould. I expect them to make a solid title challenge then bottle it in the closing stages. Lock them in for a top four spot and a last 16 spot in the Champions League.
Finally we have the reigning champions: Man City, a squad of terrifying depth and staggering quality. They may have scraped their way to the title last season but they did so with a manager finding his feet in the league. Sergio Aguero's fitness and Yaya Toure's mindset after some odd outbursts will be key. I expect City to have a far better crack at the Champions League this season and with some very astute signings who's to say they couldn't sweep all before them. Their latest defensive addition Eliaquim Mangala is a huge talent and will make a great partner for the always outstanding Vincent Kompany.
In other areas of the table, Everton could have another great season under the magnificent guidance of Bobby Martinez.
Aston Villa will likely get relegated after some awful transfer business (Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Aly Cissokho... Seriously Paul?)
Stoke and Sunderland will enjoy solid campaigns.
God knows what will happen with Spurs.
Burnley will be the surprise package with Danny Ings firing them to safety against all odds.
Daniel Sturridge, Diego Costa and Aguero (if he stays fit) are three very good picks for golden boot.
Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert appear to be dead men walking and lead the charge for first manager to get the sack.
So there we have it, a quick snapshot of the upcoming season. Saturday promises to be a fantastic night of sport with the Bledisloe Cup preceding Manchester United taking on Swansea.
My only upset for the top seven teams in this round of fixtures is Newcastle nicking a point off Man City... but with the Premier League being so predictably unpredictable who knows what could happen.
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