Last season, from early days the title race would only be contested by the two Manchester clubs and by lets say the 20th match in, United were going to win the title from their cross town rivals even if at the time, the table showed otherwise. The only other team that were real title contenders was Chelsea, but Benitez and his men put the chase for the Premier League aside after crashing out of the Champions League group stages and getting put into the Europa League and focused on winning it and they did, after a 1-0 victory against Benfica, they were crowned champions of Europe again (if you can really call it that)
But this year, a good 4 maybe even 5 teams have an actual chance of winning the premier league. I’ll start of with the current champions Manchester United.
Although they have had a very shaky start, only getting 10 points from a possible 21 and having not really improved the squad during the summer you still can’t completely write off the champions. David Moyes has had a hard time settling in as United’s new boss, dropping points almost every week and losing matches which Manchester United should really be taking all 3 points. They look like they’re missing Paul Scholes in their midfield, a lack of creativity in the middle of the park. A problem I feel could have been solved by getting player like Cesc Fabregas,Thaigo or a Luka Modric but the only real signing they got was Marouane Fellaini. Not to say the Belgian wasn’t a good signing, It just wasn’t what Manchester United needed. Fellaini has self-proclaimed his best position is centre defensive midfielder yet Moyes had a choice of Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Tom Cleverley and even Phill Jones can fill that role of CDM before signing Marouane so what was the need? Fellaini was a panic buy whether Moyes will admit it or not. Can United win the Premier League for the 2nd year running? It seems unlikely but there is still 31 matches to be played and this is Manchester United we are talking about, the do-ers of the near enough impossible.
Now on to the blue side of Manchester where City are looking very strong and serious contenders for the title. After a season without silverware, losing the title to Manchester United and a shock 1-0 defeat to already relegated Wigan Athletic in the F.A cup final saw Roberto Mancini sacked and Manuel Pellegrini took his place. Pellegrini used the funds by the Arabs owners and splashed the cash on new recruits to play for the noisy neighbours Including Stevan Jovetić and Spanish speed demon Jesús Navas. City haven’t had the best of starts to the season, losing to Premier League new boys Cardiff and started their Champions League run off with a convincing 4-0 win against Viktoria Plzen and then getting battered 4-1 by the German powerhouse that is Bayern Munich. The only weak spot in the strong City side is the defence. Apart from Captain Vincent Kompany and maybe Pablo Zabaleta at times, City don’t have a solid defence in terms of good understanding between the back 4. But overall City are looking like serious contenders even if they have had a slip up here and there.
Now onto the Blues, who I personally think will win the Premier League this season. The reason I say this is out of the potential champions, Chelsea have the strongest squad across all aspects of the field. They have one of the best goalkeepers in world in the form of Petr Cech, a defence full of experienced players like Ashley Cole, John Terry and even Gary Cahill has matured as of late, aswell as talents like David Luiz. Their midfield is unbelievable with such a variety of players and such squad depth in the middle of the park. With the likes of Frank Lampard and Juan Mata being able to find a pass out of nowhere and having hawk-like vision to wide players like Eden Hazard and the newly transfered German winger Andre Schürrle their midfield is very strong.
Chelsea’s striking force is the only visible weak spot. With Fernando Torres still just a shadow of the striker he was at Liverpool and Demba Ba, who was bought by Rafa Benitiez back in January for £12m, hasn’t really preformed in a Blue shirt like his golden days back at the Sports Direct arena playing for Newcastle. So José Mourinho was reunited with former player Samuel Eto’o after getting former Barca forward from Russian club Anzhi on a free transfer. Then the problem of picking a main striker arises for the Portuguese manager. With Torres and Ba hoplessly out of form, Eto’o though still a very good player who knows where the back of the net is, is 32 and might not be able to complete 90 mins week in week out. Now that leaves last season’s Belgian wonder-boy Lukaku. He had a poor start to the new season back in a Chelsea shirt, missing the penalty that ultimately lost The Blues the UEFA Super Cup to Bayern Munich, losing to the German club on penalties after a 2-2 draw after two halves of extra time. After this he fell down the peaking order and would be lucky to even make the bench. So on transfer deadline day, with minutes to go, Everton secured Lukaku from Chelsea on a season long loan. Out of Chelsea’s contracted strikers this season, Lukaku has by far been the best out of the 4, scoring 4 goals in 3 apps for The Toffees whereas the other 3 have scored no goals between them only 1 assist by Demba Ba in a total of 6 starts, 2 for each striker. Though this problem may seem big which no doubt it is, Chelsea do have Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata who frequently score or get assists so they should have no problem in getting the goals needed to secure the 3 points when needed.
Another title contender is North London club Arsenal. Yes you read that right Arsenal. Obviously Arsenal aren’t the same club they were say 8-10 years ago with the likes of Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp and Ian Wright to mention a few, but their current squad is looking strong by it slightly weakened by injuries, but on the whole are a strong team. The last transfer window could have cost Wenger’s job but somehow he pulled it off. Let’s break down each transfer Wenger completed starting with the most common type of Wenger deal, A very young player. Wenger got Yaya Sonago on a free from Ligue 2 team Auxerre. Sonago much like his France U21 team-mate Paul Pogba, is dubbed to become one of France’s prized players in the coming years. Scoring 11 goals in 22 apps for the French club, Sanogo got his recognition from the U20 world cup, which was held in Turkey earlier this year which France won by beating Uruguay on penalties after a 0-0 draw. The Frenchman scored 4 goals in the tournament, France’s top scorer and joint 3rd top scorer overall. Then Wenger bought in a former Arsenal player Mathieu Flamini who was at the club from 2004-2008 prior to his move to A.C Milan. Flamini is best played as a defensive midfielder and is known for his strength and his fearlessness when going in for a tackle. When he re-joined Arsenal, alot of fans were skeptical about his return, even Arsene Wenger was reluctant to bring the midfielder back due to the manner he went about when he left the club 5 years ago. But it is evident that bringing Flamini back to Arsenal was one of the best bit of business done by Wenger this summer from Arsenal’s form of late. He has been protecting the back 4 from exposure countless times, most notably in the North London derby against Spurs as their attacks were straight down the middle, not really using the width of the pitch to their advantage thus Flamini threw himself into tackles and dispossessed the Tottenham players many times.
Now onto arguably Wenger’s best ever signing for Arsenal. Bringing Mesut Özil to the Emirates for £42.5m on a 5 year deal, absolutely smashing the previous club record fee which was £15m for Andrey Arshavin which Arsene paid Zenit for the Russian’s services back in 2009. Up to that point, Wenger was the manager of Arsenal by the thinnest of treads, selling his best players 3 seasons in a row, two of which were to rival clubs, failing to get any players he first targeted in the window then after his team beat local rivals Spurs 1-0 Wenger stated that ‘something big’ was going to happen to the club. Wenger done one of the most cleverest moves I’ve ever seen by a manager in order to get a player. He sold Winger Gervhino to Roma, which enabled them to sell Erik Lamela to Spurs which then let Real Madrid splash their cash of £85m to buy Gareth Bale from Spurs which in turn allowed Arsenal to pounce in and buy Mesut Özil from the Spanish giants. Beautifully thought out by the French genius Wenger. Arsenal have had a pretty much flawless start to the season apart from the loss against Aston Villa in the first match of the season. Their Champions League run has also been good, 2 wins in 2 match but now they have BVB next and they will test Wenger’s men to the limit as their defence is very good and will be hard to break down so when they get the chance to score, they must be clinical with their shots. Overall Arsenal are a very good side this year and should make it in the top 4 with ease or could even pipe in a top two finish or maybe just maybe, could Arsenal win the Premier League and end the 9 year trophy drought?
This BPL season is excellent and I’m looking forward to the end to see how the table will pan out at the end of the 38 games.