Daniel Edwards previews the upcoming English Premier League Season ahead of its return on Saturday.
New managers. New players. New (long overdue) technology. New teams, new kits, new mind-sets, new drama. A new season. What’s going to happen? Who knows?
It is probably the most exciting and intriguing Premier League season in recent years. There are so many questions to be answered. How will Man City’s new players get on? How will Man United cope post Sir Alex Ferguson? What effect will the return of José Mourinho have on Chelsea? Will this be Liverpool’s year? That one was a joke by the way. Where will Rooney, Bale and Suarez be playing their football? And most importantly, will Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher still be working together by October?
Here goes my attempt at forecasting how the season will go in England’s top flight. My favourites for the title are Man City. I think they have, in Pellegrini, a manager who appears to know what he is doing and their new signings, in particular Negredo and Navas, look extremely impressive. I think that Man United’s lack of activity in the transfer market by this stage coupled with the sheer size of the challenge faced by their new manager David Moyes may go against them. As far as Chelsea are concerned, the Mourinho factor will definitely play a big part. He is a winner as a coach but it will be different this time. He doesn’t have a Carvalho, a Makelele, a Drogba, or an in-form Cech or Essien. In saying that, he has got Mata, Hazard and still a very good Frank Lampard, despite his advancing years. They should not be ruled out. That’s as far as I go with regard to potential winners. Arsenal need a world-class player in every position down the centre of the pitch and they currently don’t look like signing one. Tottenham, with Bale or without Bale, with the Bale money or without the Bale money, aren’t there yet.
Then come the rest. Liverpool’s main concern will be holding on to not only Suarez but also Phillipe Coutinho, once he shows himself to be one of the league’s best players. Iago Aspas looks a bargain though at £7 million if pre-season is anything to go by, and he will be sure to contribute well to the team’s standard 6th or 7th place finish. Across Stanley Park, Roberto Martinez may find the step up from Wigan difficult, mainly due to the fact that he’ll have to wipe his own arse now in the absence of Dave Whelan, but having made some astute signings and so far held on to their major assets such as Baines and Fellaini, they will be challenging for those Europa league spots as well. I believe that Norwich will surprise many. They’ve impressed me more than anyone in the transfer market throughout the closed season. Nathan Redmond has looked a quality player with Birmingham and more recently England’s Under 21s. He is a player who Chris Hughton knows well and I think he will be a great player for them. Leroy Fer was almost a deadline day signing for Everton in January, which shows how highly he is rated. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel comes with a big reputation in Europe and Gary Hooper will score goals. I expect them to be right up in the top half and maybe even pushing for the Europa League.
The relegation zone will consist of the three promoted clubs. I can’t see past them with regard to teams not having enough to stay in the division. Cardiff are the best equipped for me; the signing of Steven Caulker is a huge positive for them but it’s the other end of the field where they will struggle. I can see them lacking goals. Crystal palace for me haven’t a hope and Hull just don’t look to be strong enough, despite having a very experienced manager at the helm. Some of the teams that were down near the bottom last year such as Newcastle, Sunderland and Southampton will not be there again and so I can’t see any other outcome for the three promoted clubs unfortunately. The rest of the teams will look after themselves. Swansea will be strong again. Their new striker, Wilfried Bony, possesses an astonishing goal scoring record to go along with his funny name. Aston Villa can go either way. They’ve signed another bunch of Benteke’s or another bunch of El Ahmadi’s, depending on how the season goes.
No matter what happens, the coming season looks to be an absolute belter, full of twists and turns. I have no doubt that there is a huge possibility that absolutely every one of my predictions will be incorrect. But that is why we love this game. Bring it on!
Sport Is Everything. Daniel Edwards.