The Premier League is widely regarded as the best league in the world and when you look at the quality of players on offer, combined with the pace and excitement, it’s hard to disagree with that notion. However there is a certain familiarity to the outcome of the league, as not since the Invincibles of 2004 has a team other than Man United or Chelsea won the title. So I wonder if the forthcoming season has the prospect to see a buck in the trend.
Manchester United and Chelsea will undoubtedly be the two teams regarded as the favourites once more, but there is the potential for a more competitive title race next season. The so called big four has branched out and become a big six in the previous two seasons, as Manchester City and Tottenham have both secured a top four finishes. There is still a huge gulf between getting a top four spot and winning the Premier League though. I’m sure the majority of people would still respond with either Man United or Chelsea when asked who they think will win the league next year.
Going into a new season still brings a new optimism for all of the sides involved and Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City will all harbour hopes of a title challenge in the new season. Arsenal were still challenging for the title towards the climax of last season and after victory over Man United at the Emirates a strong run in would have seen them in contention. Unfortunately for the Gunners they weren’t able to build on their victory over United and their title hopes extinguished. Arsenal will approach next season in the same way they have the previous six, with the club once more expectating to win the Premiership. If Arsene Wenger can hold onto his best players and add a top striker and centre back they have the fire power to put a strong challenge together.
Manchester City have unrivalled riches and while money can’t buy you the title it can have a major influence when it comes to adding quality players to the squad. Roberto Mancini made some good signings last season, with the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva in particular having a huge impact on the team qualifying for the Champions League and winning the F.A Cup. With more high profile additions this summer I’m sure that Sheik Mansour will expect his team to be pushing for the title this time around. There is of course the possibility City could encounter the same problems Tottenham faced this season in juggling the demands of the Champions League and the Premier League.
Liverpool’s fortunes have improved dramatically since the start of last season, with the reappointment of Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish a huge factor in this process. Dalglish has added some real fire power to his attacking options in Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, with the latter being a revelation in his first five months in the Premier League. Liverpool have already had the chequebook out once this summer by adding Jordan Henderson to the squad and with more money expected to be splashed out before August Liverpool are looking to build a side capable of challenging for the title. Liverpool have no European distractions next season and will be intent on challenging for the title as they look to get back on level terms with Man United’s nineteen titles.
Tottenham have to ensure they hold onto their best players if they want to get back among the top four, the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart will be determined to get back into the Champions League after tasting it this season. Tottenham will be the outsiders of the six teams for the title but they have the players and the finances to put together a decent run. Harry Redknapp went into last season with the title as a target and there’s no reason why he won’t approach this season in the same way.
Manchester United will be the favourites as they are at the start of most seasons; however it will be interesting to see how they deal with the transition of replacing Edwin Van der Sar, who has been an instrumental cog in their success in the past. It was suggested in the media that the current United side were missing a certain element compared to some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s previous teams. This could bode well for the rest of the challengers going into next season. The other main contenders are Chelsea, who are currently without a manager and looked a shadow of the team who won the league in the 2009-10 season. There are rumours Didier Drogba their goal getting talisman of the past five years could be heading for the exit. However, money will be spent in the summer and a new manager will bring a fresh approach which could bring the best out of £50 million pound man Fernando Torres.
I think the coming season has the potential to bring an open campaign, with a more competitive title race, it would be brilliant to see four or five teams still in contention for the title with five or six games to go. Whether that will actually happen though is very doubtful, but next season does have a chance to be the one that sees an end to the dominance of Man United and Chelsea. In the same way Tottenham and Man City have broken the top four could a team now break the top two?