Now that the new English Premier League (EPL) season has started, all of you who have been eagerly waiting since May can sit back and enjoy what could be the most exciting season in the league’s 21-year history.
For the first time, the top three clubs of the previous year go into the season with new managers, with all eyes especially on David Moyes as Manchester United’s new gaffer, as he looks into building his own dynasty. Jose Mourinho’s homecoming to Stamford Bridge will also be scrutinised, with expectations sky high for fans expecting the Premiership trophy back in West London.
Being completely neutral in this league (except for slight bias for the Villa), I conjured up my Top 5 expectations and what to look out for this season.
1. Depth in squad will prove to be the difference among the title contenders
English football’s finest, with the glaring exceptions of Manchester United and Arsenal, have reinforced their sides with world-class signings after struggling to make any mark in last year’s Champions League.
The inability of champions Manchester United and flowing-football-connoisseurs Arsenal to sign any notable players should be a definite cause for worry, especially since even the minnows are strengthening their squads. Yes, it’s still early days, but their lack of depth will prove fatal in the long run. Amongst all the big teams, shrewd tactics and clever use of their squad will decide who triumphs in the EPL.
2. Expect the big spenders to finally show their muscle
Spending big does not always guarantee success but this year could see that change with Tottenham and Manchester City, who have added fantastic players to their ranks.
With tried and tested players in Europe’s big leagues, expect City’s new kids Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo and Fernandinho to put off England’s grittiest sides. Tottenham’s rich vein of form in the transfer window should be commended, enrolling the likes of Brazilian Confederations Cup hero Paulinho and proven La Liga forward Roberto Soldado.
3. Manchester City to win everything this season
The club has acquired a real tactician in Manuel Pellegrini who has brought in players of serious pedigree. Alvaro Negredo particularly excites me, packing a powerful punch in his game as seen in the recent Audi Cup, as well as the classy Fernandinho who could provide a different dimension with his effective passing and ability to switch between defence and attack. Amidst all their attacking riches though, they should probably invest on more defensive properties to challenge in Europe.
4. Arsenal to fight for top flight survival
Not really… but what is going on with Arsenal’s impotence in signing new players this summer? Considering the club’s lofty ambitions to sign David Villa, Julio Cesar, Luiz Gustavo and Gonzalo Higuain, they have gotten nada, with Sanogo their only purchase so far. Only time will tell how this will affect the club, and I can’t see beyond a Top 6 finish this season.
5. David Moyes will struggle in his debut season as United manager
Moyes has to understand that he is not managing Everton anymore and needs to put aside his “small club” mentality to prove himself among the big lads. I do have great expectations for his United career, and if fantasy is realised, the arrival of Mesut Ozil, Kaka and Ronaldo may be the catalyst for something extraordinary.
My money’s on Manchester City to prise the league trophy back to the blue half of the city. Everton and Tottenham could be surprise contenders, along with perennial challengers Chelsea. I’m no oracle, but we should expect all three promoted sides along with the likes of Sunderland and Stoke to contest relegation, considering their lack of squad competitiveness. But please, don’t bet against Arsenal just yet…
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