The English Premier League is considered one of the most competitive leagues in the world, yet there are almost always only two teams with a realistic chance of winning the league title by the time a winner is decided. Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have challenged Chelsea and the two Manchester sides for the title in recent seasons but fallen off over the second part of the season to leave it a two-horse race to the end. This year should most definitely be the most competitive we have seen in the history of the Premier League with all the aforementioned teams challenging at different stages (save for Liverpool who I just don’t think are there yet). However, like in past seasons, the pretenders will fall by the way side and leave Chelsea and the two arch-rivals challenging to the very wire.
Trophy stays in Manchester
Chelsea fans will have an issue with this but in all fairness; I doubt you can buy your way from sixth place to being champions. Last season; determination, grit and pure adrenaline carried Chelsea to an F.A Cup and Champions League double. While those qualities are called upon now and then over the course of the league season, they are not the essentials to triumphing in a nine-month league.
The Premier League is won by the team with most consistency and more often than not; this has to do with balance in the team and the club. While Chelsea has a strong squad and a good manager, they are a team in transition. They have just lost their most prolific player over the last decade and while signing good, young players, there is work to be done to get the team to gel and play well together.
The two Manchester sides were by far the two best and most consistent teams in the league last year. There hasn’t been much tinkering in either team and for this reason, I expect them both to retain consistency over the course of the season, ensuring the trophy remains in Manchester. Whether United regain the title from City or whether the Citizens retain it: is another matter altogether.
Torres finds his scoring boots
The last two years are nothing as Fernando Torres would have expected when he was named as one of the three best players in the world. Injuries, loss of form, an ugly transfer saga and the pressure of a hefty price tag have seen him fall from being the most feared forward in the league to being the laughing stock of the league. If any of these things were an excuse for the Spanish forward, he no longer has any as he’s been fit for long enough, has settled down at the Bridge by now and just top-scored at the just ended UEFA European Cup. Chelsea also has the kind of players to supply him with the ammunition in the likes of Juan Mata, Ramires and new signings Eden Hazard and Marko Marin. And with Didier Drogba out of his way, Torres has everything set for a return to his glory days.
Kagawa to outshine Hazard
When Eden Hazard chose Chelsea over Manchester United, the first news that trickled through from United was that they had completed the signing of Shinji Kagawa. That caused many to suggest that the Japanese midfielder had been signed as an alternative. Comparisons between the two began with stats being thrown around, including comparisons between the French and German leagues where these two arrived from.
This was just United’s way of beating the bitterness of losing out on the signing of a world beater. It is no secret that United wanted to sign both and not either of Hazard and Kagawa. That said, it doesn’t take away the curiosity of the quality of these two.
In many ways, Chelsea may have just gotten the more superior player who will provide the wow-factor to the Premier League for the next couple of years. Shinji Kagawa, I feel, however is more prepared for the English Premier League. Couple that with the fact that he slots straight away into an area of need for United and you expect him to have a much bigger first year than Hazard.
Stoke City relegated
Stoke City have become some sort of a mainstay in the Premier League since their promotion. However, they are also the most un-dynamic team in this league. They rarely change anything, be it tactics, formations and now this summer, it seems; even players. Teams across the league are becoming more accustomed to their “route-one” football and with everyone around them seemingly moving forward, this could be the end of the road for one of the most stubborn teams in the English top flight. Well, at least for now.
Britain’s most entertaining soap opera is on its way back. Roll on August 18th!