|The Premier League: The most competent league in Europe.|
The Barclays Premier League is considered by many to be the best football league in the world. Not only does the League have some of the world’s finest players, it’s one of the world’s most watched leagues & has a number of quality teams that enjoy large fan-bases around the world. Results are often unpredictable, which makes the league all the more enjoyable to watch.Over recent years, Chelsea have emerged as regular contenders for the Premier League title. Last season though, we didn’t even finish in the top 4. I expect this season to be different, with quality players having already arrived at the club & more players yet to sign. Of course, winning the League again won’t be an easy task. There are a few clubs in England that have enough quality to win the League. Having said that, let us now take a look at 3 clubs who I think will be Chelsea’s direct title rivals:-
|Manchester City: Champions ’12|
1) Manchester City– The defending champions. Manchester City have been a major force in English football since 2008, when they were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The club spent millions of pounds buying quality players. They won the Premier League last season by beating QPR in their final match, making it the first time that the Premier League had been decided on goal difference. Their current squad is full of quality players like Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri & Joe Hart besides others. A squad like that means they will definitely be title contenders next season. Throw in the fact that manager Roberto Mancini has large resources at his disposal & one can expect them to add a few more players to their squad, despite being relatively inactive in the transfer market so far. Expect them to be Chelsea’s toughest & most direct title rivals for next season.
|Manchester United: Champions ’11|
2) Manchester United- The most successful English club in the Premier League era, Manchester United have been a major force in English football for a long time now. The club holds the record for the most no. of top-division titles (19) & came extremely close to adding a 20th League to their trophy cabinet last season, only to be thwarted by Manchester City at the very last minute. Despite finishing 2nd in the League, 2011-12 was not one of United’s better seasons as they won no major trophy at all (if you exclude the FA Community Shield which they won in the beginning of the season!). However, credit must be given to United for fighting right till the end, although I could also criticize them for squandering the lead that they had in the Premier League. Nevertheless, the addition of Shinji Kagawa & Nick Powell show that Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing his team to win yet another Premier League title. Chelsea must not make the mistake of underestimating them.
|Can Arsenal end their trophy drought?|
3) Arsenal– Before you begin to question my sanity, let me finish. It’s true that Arsenal last won a major trophy in 2005 (The FA Cup). It’s also embarrassing that many Arsenal fans actually consider finishing above Spurs in the League an achievement (High expectations, huh?). But Arsene Wenger has shown he means business this season, with the signing of Lukas Podolski already complete, & deals for French players Olivier Giroud & Yann M’Vila expected to be complete after Euro 2012. The club already have quality players in Alex Song, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Robin van Persie, Mikel Arteta & Jack Wilshere besides others. The addition of Podolski, Giroud & M’Vila will only strengthen their squad. Plus, I’m sure Arsene Wenger would want Arsenal to end their trophy drought sooner rather than later (right?). While I don’t see them as favourites for winning the Premier League trophy, expect them to spring a few surprises along the way. Who knows, maybe they’ll win the Capital One Cup…
There are other clubs who will not be easy opponents, but I don’t expect them to be major title contenders. Spurs managed to finish 4th last season, but I don’t think that will happen again. Newcastle United had an impressive 2011-12 season, & it will be interesting to see if they will be able to replicate those performances. Liverpool haven’t been title contenders in a while now, & I don’t expect them to challenge for a major trophy next season, despite having a new manager in Brendan Rodgers. One thing we can expect is another good season of football in the Barclays Premier League. I cannot wait for next season.