Well my fellow revellers, it’s a mere seven days around the corner; a new Premiership season, all twenty sides wide eyed (some more than others) and believing that they can work wonders in the greatest league in the world as it enters its twentieth year. With this in mind, I’ll give my opinions of what may or may not happen in the league this year and give predictions of what I believe will be the final top six outcome ten months from now.
Whilst the established order of the Premiership was blown up by the emergence of Man City as genuine title contenders, the ongoing consistency of Spurs as top four challengers, and (for the first half of the season anyway) implosion of all things associated with everything Liverpool FC, the idea of the ‘Big Four’ sides in the Premiership was fastidiously undone by the cunning and guile of these two emerging powers from North London and Manchester respectively.
This in mind, added to the fact that Liverpool are actually quite good again now and have scored some very good, if slightly overpriced deals in the transfer market this summer blows up the dominance of the ‘Big Four’ and expands the term over six big sides. In my opinion this season will be a hotly contested competition between the big six sides that consist of Man City, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and the reigning Champions; Manchester United.
As has been the case since the inception of the Premiership, one can never rule out the red boys from Manchester retaining their championship and in this humble bloggers opinion, the trophy will most probably once again be heading to Old Trafford for a twentieth time, much to the disgust and dismay of the reds of Merseyside. Auld Sir Alex has had a mammoth task in replacing a player of the calibre of Edwin Van Der Sar, and I genuinely think David De Gea is the right choice.
Further strengthening of the defence that was so bare bones last season, and the addition of Ashley Young as a further attacking option leaves old Red-Nose with a team just as strong as last year. My only worry is that with the retirement of Paul Scholes, United have lost their best playmaker; something that could be remedied by the addition of Wesley Sneijder if he is able to be pried from the hands of Inter Milan. However, with their hardiness and long experience of title contention, I should see no problem with United retaining their title.
With the destination of the title predicted, the question that remains is what order the rest of the ‘Big Six’ will end up. As I’ve mentioned before, I can see a huge shake up in the established order of the league, and the final league positions will reflect this view. Much as I hate to say it, due to incredible respect for the man, I can personally see this season as being the season that Arsenal fans finally reach the end of their tether with Arsene Wenger. Their tendency to fall apart at the most important of times coupled with a reluctance to spend in the transfer market is most likely to result in a final league position that Gunners fans wouldn’t have been able to even fathom ten years ago. Whilst they have addressed a position that needed serious addressing in their frontline with the addition of Gervinho, Arsenal just haven’t done anything to compete with the teams around them.
A defence that folds like origami at the sight of a set piece has been left weaker than it was following the sale of Gael Clichy to one of their championship rivals and thus far no replacement almost shows that the Gunners are preparing for life on the brink of this clique of six big sides. Furthermore, whether Cesc Fabregas stays at the club or completes his frankly pointless move to Barcelona, the fallout of the fiasco either way will leave Arsenal at ends. Should he stay, the players would know their captain, the man they’re supposed to rally behind, doesn’t want to play for the club. Should he go, the lack of a leader who can motivate and inspire the players like Fabregas can when its needed, would be sorely lost. This in mind, I can see Arsenal struggling to compete with their rivals, resulting in a scrap between their North London rivals Spurs for fifth and sixth place, ultimately having to settle for sixth place thanks to Spurs’ superior squad; the loss of Champions League football being the final nail in Wenger’s coffin.
So that leaves Liverpool, City and Chelsea for second, third and fourth; this being possibly the most difficult part to work out of my predictions. Providing that Liverpool maintain the form they had throughout the second half of the season, I can see Liverpool surprising a lot of people this year. Bringing Kenny Dalglish in to take the reins was definitely the best option after the debacle of Roy Hodgson and his ‘play for survival’ attitude to play. The signings Liverpool have made this summer have been very positive, if slightly overpriced, with Dalglish bringing in good quality homegrown players that have proven they can compete with the showboaty flair of the foreign talent that the English league is swamped with. I believe King Kenny’s faith in the British players will pay off and see them to a third placed finish, possibly with some silverware in the shape of the FA Cup to appease the fans who have been through such hard times over the past two seasons.