Chelsea! Chelsea! Chelsea! If everyone are goin to bet on the same old rich team winnin the league yet again, well they’d have to think deeply again. I think there are discussions by fans about teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham that they’d be content fighting for second place!!! Now that’s rubbish!!!
How can this be???? When a season starts everyone are equal, which would technically mean that even a newly promoted team is in with a chance. Well, Wigan showed that last season, spending much of the first half of the season in the top 5 !!! Such cases are rare though!
The EPL has always lived upto its expectations. It’s such an exciting and unpredictable league and I think Chelsea could experience quite a few upsets this year. Well, last year Arsenal hammered Middlesbrough 7-0 and Chelsea lost to the same team 3-0. This is football and moreover the English Premier League, so anything is possible!!!!!
If one sees the teams on paper, it would take a brave man and someone who has zero football knowledge to actually say that the Chelsea roster isn’t the strongest. Adding Ballack, Obi Mikel, Shevchenko to this already impressive squad could only spell more danger for the other teams, but let’s think of this from another point of view.
Remember when Abramovich took over in 2003, it took one whole season for the side to develop and for the players to understand each other on and off the pitch…I think Chelsea could face a similar situation this year!! They’ve signed far too many players, and all of them being superstars have some kind of an egocentric attitude (something you find in almost all stars)
Bsides, tactically Chelsea have problems as well!!! There’s uncertainty about William Gallas’ future at the club and with Del Horno already out of England, they can only hope that Ashley Cole arrives from their London rivals. So as of now, they lack a proper left back.
Also, the problems are further intensified with the midfield battle. Ballack and Lampard play in more or less identical roles and if Mourinho were to play them in the startin line-up that would mean that either Essien or Makelele would have to watch from the sidelines!!
As for Manchester United, they have lost Ruud to Real Madrid, but they’ve made an important signing in Michael Carrick!!! They’ve lacked a proper central midfielder after the departure of Keane with Giggs and Fletcher playing in that position and even Kieran Richardson taking up that role! But now with Carrick, they’ve got a versatile central midfielder who can spray passes around and also get forward. They are tryin to further strengthen their central midfield options with Marcos Senna linked with a move to old Trafford. And with great players like Rooney, Giggs, Ronaldo, Scholes and Neville in the squad they are in with a shout!
Arsenal-conservative as ever. That’s Arsene Wenger’s style. Never looked too deep into the transfer market. They have attracted one star though- Tomas Rosicky who could possibly fill the gap left by Rober Pires who left the Gunners for Villareal. He’s not the only one who’s left the Gunners’ already small roster. With Dennis Bergkamp retiring and Sol Campbell in Pompey (plus the possibility of Cole and Reyes moving) it seems to be an inexperienced weak squad with the possibility of some young talents getting minutes on the pitch for the main team (a great example would be 17-year old Theo Walcott)… With players like henry on your side, you are always assured of goals especially with great support from midfield and fellow strikers like van Persie, Walcott and Adebayor. In fact , I dare say the Arsenal attack force is the best in the premiership!!
Liverpool.. hmm.. they’ve had a pre-season they’d love to forget!!! A nightmare!! But they did win 2-1 in the first leg of their champions league qualifiers. They have a talented squad with additions like Gonzalez, Craig Bellamy and Jermaine Pennant. But so far they’ve looked far from convincing. I think this wont be a great season for them and they’ll struggle. Hopefully, with their driving force and inspirational captain, they can hope to finish in the top 4 or 3 maybe
That’s not it. The EPL comprises of 20 teams and not just 4. There are the other contenders like Tottenham and Newcastle who have strengthened their squads and could really challenge the contenders or atleast secure a spot in Europe for sure.
And there are these small teams (mostly mid table and bottom half) who may not be contenders but might affect the points of the contenders.
And I think the Wigan wonderboys are definitely capable of doin some damage to the pther teams and finishing in a creditable position. The same with Newcastle united. The team that is really goin to struggle this year is Middlesbrough. Haven’t made any signings and with Southgate retiring (and becoming manager), he has ABSOLUTELY NO COACHING EXPERIENCE!!! THIS COULD WELL TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST EPL SEASONS!!!! (that’s what people tell before the start of EVERY season, and I’m doin likewise)
The English Premier League. Arguably the best league in the world. And this season I think it will be up to our expectations. With more stars coming in and with a very few going out and many swapping clubs inside England, I think 2006-07 will have high quality competition. I only hope that there are lesser contoversies and more of fair-play football in the upcoming season. I shall start off with my predictions. I think at the end of the season the top of the Premiership table will look like this:
Ok, I do know that Chelsea have bought Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko, Obi Mikel and Kalou are in to strenghten their squad. But still I think that Man Utd have a better chance to clinch yet another title as they are a happier outfit than Chelsea. The team has become more solid with the arrivals of Kuszczak and midfield maestro Michael Carrick. Paul Scholes and Gabriel Heinze are fit again. Ruud van Nistelrooij has left Manchester Utd for Real Madrid which many say is for the better of Manchester United. I only hope that they bring in a striker or two along with another holding midfielder (Owen Hargreaves seems to be a perfect fit, Lets see if that can happen). Liverpool have added speed to their team with the signatures of Mark Gonzales and Craig Bellamy. But I still doubt whether the strikers they have would score enough goals to get them any silverware this season. Stevie G would be as important as ever for them. Drastic pre-season friendlies, a narrow win at home in a Champions League Qualifier and finally a win against Chelsea in the FA Community Shield has displayed Liverpool's mixture of fortunes. I can only hope that their performance this season will be consistent and that they do edge Chelsea to finish second. Arsenal, meanwhile, have a weakened squad from last season. I really doubt whether the squad they have now will better their 4th place finish last season. Tomas Rosicky's addition to the squad has strenghthened their attack. But with Chelsea on the verge of buying Ashley Cole and the departure of Sol Campbell has really weakened if not the capability atleast the confidence of their defence. But you cannot take anything away from the back four of Eboue, Toure, Senderos and Flamini as they broke the champions league record of most consecutive clean sheets. With Lehmann, as their custodian, guarding the goal as if there is gold inside, I completely agree with Mr.Wenger that Cole's departure will not be as drastic as expected. Cesc Fabregas has been amazing pre-season, let us see if he can maintain his form during the season and help Arsenal. Overall, I, like any other gunner, hope that Wenger does get in a good defender in terms of experience atleast. Newcastle and Tottenham are in a similar shape, atleast according to me. I think the players whom Newcastle bought last season will fire this season. With Glen Roeder as their manager I do hope something good happens to the toon army. Tottenham, well, cant say much about them. They have been a revelation under the guidance of Martin Jol. I hope the new signings combine well with the already present squad and help them on to a good top 6 finish. For me West Ham will be a surprise package yet again this season. They have an amazing squad and Alan Pardew has made very useful signings when he brought in Robert Green, Lee Bowyer, John Paintsil, and Carlton Cole. They have an amazing talent in Dean Ashton and I really hope that the hammers do well come this season. Manchester City too have made great signings and have sold off most of their squad. Blackburn too, like city, have made value for their money. Aston Villa are yet to buy any player but they have got the golden signature of Martin O'Neill. Randy Lerner, a US business magnate has bought the club and has promised to spend in the transfer market. I really hope something good happens to this historic club. Wigan, this season I think will not be as good as they were last season as most of their hard working squad got dismantled. To me, the biggest disappointment this season will be Bolton and Boro. I dont know why but I get this feeling that they will not be able to perform like last season. In all, it is going to be yet another exciting season of the English Premier League and I too like any other football freak can't wait to see it!!!!
- Manchester United