Well here we are Saturday 8th August and the football lovers around the country see the return of league football in England, although the Championship opened up with Brighton v Nottingham Forest yesterday evening. Noticeably, the 2015-16 season starts a little earlier in August. and this is to enable the domestic season to be completed with a gap to the European Championship finals in France next Summer ( is that a sigh from the partners who done like football?)
The Premier League season looks certain to be exciting with various teams having made various changes over the last few weeks. Will the likes of Norwich, Watford and Premier League debut boys Bournemouth cause and upset the odds, will Chelsea retain the title or can Arsenal bring the title home. Can Manchester United push forward from their fourth place last season. Can Manchester City jump back. Will Liverpool’s new signings turn out better and see the Reds push forward in a future without Steven Gerrard. Can Tottenham finally break into the top four and stay there. Can Crystal Palace push further up the table.
Current Champions Chelsea will look to successfully defend their title being the first club to successfully defend the title since Manchester United retained the title in 2008. A fairly quiet summer for Jose Mourinho in the transfer market in regards to players coming in. The West London club signed Asimir Begovic, Nathan and probably what will be a big gamble, signing Radamel Falcao on loan. Chelsea fans either took in great gulps at the prospect of a struggling striker or were rubbing their hands at the opportunity of seeing the player finally come good.
Several players left the Bridge, notably Petr Cech who moved north to Arsenal and Didier Drogba who bid farewell to the Premier League once more, this time to sign for Montreal Impact, Filip Luis’ short stay in the Premier League came to an end as he joined Atletico Madrid.
The Blues will naturally start as favourites after their dominant season and will hope to continue to rule the roost once more over the coming nine months. I think though that the quest for Champions League glory, may overtake their quest for defending the title and see them miss out on successfully retaining the title.
Staying in London, its Arsenal next. There is much enthusiasm and positivity around the Emirates, it seems to stem from the signing of Petr Cech. Whilst he may have struggled to keep Courtois out the first team at the Bridge, the Czech goalkeeper can bring a certain consistency and confidence at the back. With Arsenal known for their form not kicking in till the latter half of the season, with the addition of a player with such a presence (there may still be others to come in) it will not only give fans hope and players confidence at the back. With various players signing new deals, they will though be hoping that the one backroom team less required this season will be the medical staff and physio. A full fit Arsenal side that Wenger can consistently rely up on will give much belief to the Gooners, who would love to add the Premier League title to the recent FA Cup victories.
I think Arsenal will kick off the season and start early and generally maintain their form and win the Premier League, although it will be tight.
Manchester City will look to forget about the disappointing surrender of their title defence and be hot on the heels of Chelsea and dealing with the threat of Arsenal and derby rivals Manchester United. They certainly made their intentions known with the signing of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, for a fee that could rise to £49 million. Questions were asked about the fee involved. Liverpool fans probably relieved to see the back of the youngster who had not exactly excelled himself in the weeks leading up to his departure. Many including Liverpool fans were thinking that he wasnt worth the big money, especially for someone so young, but when you have a player who doesnt want to stay and a club willing to offer big money for him. Any club would be foolish to say no. There were plenty of comings and goings at the Etihad over the early part of the transfer window and I imagine that there will be plenty more to come before the window shuts once again.
The big question though is whether the club can bounce back. Depending on what happens between now and the end of August, it will take a great effort to overhaul Chelsea or Arsenal. Third place I reckon.
Manchester United will be hoping their summer signings. Having spent just over £83 million, Van Gaal will be hoping that his side can get back into the swing of things. Several players have arrived at the Theatre of Dreams, mostly of an midfield and forward nature. There were many questions asked about the Manchester United defensive frailties at times and despite the signing of Darmian and a goalkeeper, it seems doubtful whether those issues at the back will be fixed. With the ongoing saga involving the future of David De Gea, this is not likely to go away anytime soon. Saying that though, the attacking options are a little on the thin side what with the departure of Robin Van Persie to Turkey and the disappointing Radamel Falcao’s loan ending. Chiqarito maybe back, but with James Wilson shipped out on loan, an injury to Rooney could throw a spanner in the works for United’s attacking options. I would imagine though that before the deadline arrives, another striker will find himself donning the red devils shirt.
This season squad depth may come back to haunt United and with a place back in Europe, they may struggle to repeat the fourth place of last season. I see them finish fifth.
Wrapping up this first part with Liverpool. Last season was one to forget for the clubs fans. Injuries, disappointment, humilation, squad depth issues, the Gerrard contract debacle. This season it’s all change. Rodgers who is very much on borrowed time, strengthened his attacking option with Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Brazilian youngster Roberto Firminho. The attacking element was greatly necessary after the major decrease in goals scored. The Irishman having seen the departure of Glen Johnson has also brought in defensive options in the form of another player from Southampton. Nathaniel Clyne will give the side not only a good defensive option, but the ability to provide good attacking lines, something that Glen Johnson would often disappoint. There is some definite good news for Rodgers though and that is the return of Daniel Sturridge, who was injury hit for most of the season.
With several disappointments leaving the club over the summer, it will free up money for signings that can make decent headway. Looking at the players such as Benteke and Ings, with previously having not so strong support, it is very possible that they can improve on last season.
With fewer distractions and more goal opportunities, I think that Liverpool will put the disappointment of last season behind them and finish fourth. If things are looking bleak by Christmas, I imagine Rodgers maybe looking towards the end of his time at Liverpool.