Premier-League season preview
The Premier League kicks off today, and whilst many football fanatics are still trying to decide who will go down, and who will end up on top at the end of it all, here’s The Upcoming’s Derek Baker thoughts on how this season could pan out.
Despite their defeat to Manchester City last weekend in the Community Shield, Chelsea hold a real chance in winning their first league title since the 2009/2010 season. They have strengthened in key areas, with the additions of Oscar, Marko Marin and Eden Hazard, whilst the recaptured form of Fernando Torres is key too.
They also now possess a manager who has won the FA Cup and Champions League with this squad, and knows how to get the best out of his players. They lost last weekend because of a red card, however losing the Community Shield final is something they’d happily give up if it meant winning the Premier League this season.
Top Four: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal
Although City have only added Everton’s Jack Rodwell to their ranks, their squad remains one of the best in the league. They hold arguable the best defender, most creative midfielder, and natural goalscorer in the league in their ranks, so discounting them would be wrong.
The Red Devils will always be close at the end of the season, as they hold natural born winners in their squad, and a manager who has been there and done it. The transfer of Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund will only aid United’s quest in bagging Silverware after a trophy-less season last campaign, and with Robin Van Persie added to an already impressive strike force, United will be hoping to go one better.
Although Arsenal have spent more drastically this Summer, their additions have been very astute, with the captures of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla all joining the Gunners. Club captain, Robin Van Persie has left to rivals United, but Arsenal are rumoured to be lining up more impressive signings.
Biggest overachiever: Southampton
Despite not being in the Premier League for a number of years now, the set-up at the South-Coast club is one of a Premier League standard. The youth academy is one of the best in England, whilst their facilities can put other Premier League clubs’ to shame. Combine this with their ambition and talented squad, the Saints could go marching onto good things this year.
Biggest underachiever: Queens Park Rangers
Once again, Rangers have spent a large sum of money again this Summer. They survived their first season back in the Premier League last year by the narrowest of margins, Loftus Road may see the squad not living up to the reputation of those who they have brought in. Park Ji Sung, Junior Hoilett and Rob Green are all experienced players, but do they bring enough to the QPR table?
Relegation: Wigan, West Ham United, Swansea City
Despite the miracles Roberto Martinez produced last season, this campaign may prove to be just too much for the Latics. They have lost the goalscoring exploits of Hugo Rodellega, and if Victor Moses leaves, then any threat Wigan post going forward will not be the same. If Wigan are to survive, they will have to replicate the form they showed at the back end of last season, for the whole 38 games this year, which is almost impossible.
The Hammers gained promotion through the play-off’s after defeating Blackpool in last season’s final. However despite leading the way for most of last season, they almost spoilt the year with a awful end to the season which saw them slide ftom the top of the tree into third position. If West Ham want to stop themselves sliding this table, then they can’t let a slump in form like that happen again, and with the loss of Rob Green, that may prove to be too difficult.
Last season, Swansea possessed a winning formula in Brendan Rogers and attractive football. However take the tactical genius out of the equation, along with midfield maestro, Joe Allen, and what are you left with? Relegation. If they don’t find a new way of winning under new manager Michael Laudrup, then last year’s glory days may become a distant memory. Other stars such as Ashley Williams and Scott Sinclair also continue to be linked away from the Liberty Stadium, so how much a hole will their be in City’s team by the time the transfer window shuts?
First manager to be sacked: Paul Lambert
Fans at Villa Park may get impatient once again if Villa don’t find the form that saw them constantly challenging the top six of the Premier League not too long ago under Martin O’Neill. They possess England’s second best finisher in Darren Bent, whilst one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers in Shay Given, which means suggests that they do have the individuals to help them rise up the table, however should another season such as last year’s become repeated, the supporters, and the board, may start to look elsewhere for help.
Top goalscorer: Sergio Aguero
For a player who only experienced his first season in the Premier League last year, 23 goals from the Argentine was a very good return for Manchester City. His pace, strength and runs were all aspects of his game which led to his easy adaptation to the division, and with a season’s experience now under his belt, he could prove to become the reason why City will be again challenging for trophies on all four fronts. He seemed to create a partnership with Carlos Tevez also at the back end of last season, which means, the two of them could prove to as deadly a partnership as Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, or Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
Here’s to another season of exciting action.
Derek Baker, football correspondent