Premier League rollercoaster: Who will lift the cup?
With the FA Community Shield behind us, it’s time to gear up for the new Premier League season. Those who followed the world’s most competitive football competition were left stunned at the pleasant unpredictability of the season.
Week in, week out, the league table would morph completely. It went all the way down to a nail-biting end; and Manchester City took the title on the basis of a great attack and some major inconsistencies of their rival clubs.
Looking at all the major contenders for the coveted top four Champions League spots this upcoming season, one can’t help but get a little giddy with excitement. Major reinforcements have boosted squads and the pre-seasons’ been a spectacle in itself.
Firstly, there are the current champions, Manchester City, funded by the seemingly endless pockets of the Etihad group and led by great tactician, Manuel Pellegrini; the squad boasts a great depth across the field. Counting their already formidable strike force, consisting of Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo and an in-form Jovetic (with the acquisition of Fernando and Lampard), the team poses a severe threat to any opposition.
Yet, the pre-season hasn’t been all that impressive from the Sky-blues. They were soundly beaten by Dundee United, followed by a couple of unimpressive draws in the Guinness International Champions Cup, both of which Manchester City lost on penalties against Liverpool and Olympiakos, respectively. But the real worry for Pellegrini was the absolute drumming at the hands of Arsenal at Wembley. Granted Kompany was not amongst the playing 11, the 3-0 score line demonstrates the porous defensive line. Add in the fact that Manchester City was playing its trusted 4-3-3 shape, this is something that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Next would be Chelsea. Coming off with a fairly good yet trophy-less season last year, the west Londoners have done a major reshuffle of their squad. With the high profile exits of Lampard, David Luiz, Lukaku and Ashley Cole amongst others, José Mourinho has filled the vacancies with clever signings, including the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Didier Drogba, Filipe Luis and perhaps most importantly, Diego Costa.
The lack of a definitive strike force was a constant lament for the Blues last year, yet when one accounts their pre-season, with only one draw and one loss in seven matches and the performances Costa and Fabregas have put forth , Chelsea fans must be fancying their chances to finally bring a trophy over to Stamford Bridge.
Count in the rock solid defence, the influx of talented youth and an embarrassment of riches on the bench, and of course the ever entertaining Mourinho; it seems arguing with any Blues fan will be a difficult quest indeed.
Liverpool has also emerged back into the English top-flight under the guidance of the brilliant Brendan Rodgers. Coming in second, their performance last year was a sight to behold as they steamrolled opposition. Yet, one has to question the potency of their attack now, after the talismanic Luis Suarez was snatched by Barcelona.
New acquisition Rickie Lambert hasn’t been able to live up to expectation, thus, expectations will be high from Sterling and Sturridge. Their weak defence has been somewhat tended to with the addition of Dejan Lovren, and their pre-season record has been pretty good with the exception of a 3-1 loss to Manchester United on August 4th.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Reds will be to incorporate the Champions League into their schedule; something they’re not used to anymore and their thin squad might not be able to adhere to the burden.
Then we have reigning FA Cup holders and Community Shield winners, Arsenal. After a drought of nine years Arsene Wenger’s squad has lifted two pieces of silverware in a span of four months. This and their performance last season pose a very viable threat to other contenders. Their emphatic win over Manchester City at Wembley shows just how solid the squad has become, even without their German trio of Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker.
New recruits, Alexis Sanchez and Calum Chambers and David Ospina, define good depth as Arsenal seems to be gearing towards a strong showing indeed.
Lastly, there’s Manchester United.
Coming of a disastrous season last year, their biggest signing has been in the dugout in the form of Louis Van Gaal. With the inclusions of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, Gaal has turned around the Red Devils fortunes with a flawless pre-season. Also, with no Champions League to worry about this season, they seem to be in pole position to challenge the top four.
Safe to say that, whatever the table may be at the end of the season, English football fans across the globe are in for an exhilarating journey this season.