Saturday, August 16, 2008

EPL starts again

With the Beijing Olympics in full swing, almost no one is paying any attention to the start of the EPL. One has to wonder why in the world didn’t they push back the start of the season like every else did, but that’s a different question altogether. I can’t see anyone outside the Top 4 winning the title…again, but here’s my thoughts of the teams.

Top Teams this Season
Chelsea- Chelsea made the best signing in the off-season; his name: Luiz Felipe Scolari. I feel a little for Avram Grant as he has done a pretty good job with Chelsea. But like with Sven-Goran Eriksson at Man City, it just wasn’t enough for his paymaster. One good thing is that Chelsea will play a more attractive blend of football this year so that’s something to look forward to. They are the most likely champion of the new season for me.

Arsenal- So Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb have left for AC Milan and Barcelona already. I say, “So what?” Arsene Wenger has done the most important thing; he had managed to hang on to the core of the team. Emmanuel Adebayor, William Gallas and Cesc F├ábregas are still together, and with the maturing of Theo Walcott, I feel that Arsenal will still challenge for the title this year. Wenger also made a few smart buys. Newcomer Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri (criminally ignored in the Euros) will help Arsenal in the title chase. Well done Wenger!

Manchester United – The transfer market this year can be summed up by this: “The Saga of Cristiano Ronaldo”. The on/off, will he/ won’t he saga lasted too long for everyone’s comfort but in the end, Ronaldo did not get the move to Real Madrid that he wanted. An unhappy Ronaldo is a problem for Man Utd because he was the reason they won the title last year. I think a lot will depend on whether Sir Alex Ferguson managed to get Dimitar Berbatov. If Berbatov goes to Old Trafford, they will be in with a shout.

Liverpool- Robbie Keane is a good player but £20m is too much for him. Manager Rafael Benitez made some strange decisions in the transfer market this summer. Robbie Keane to replace Peter Crouch? They are 2 totally different players. I’m afraid how well Liverpool do this season will depend on the form of Fernando Torres again. He was great last season and he might have to be even better this year for Liverpool to have a chance at the title.

Most Likely to go Down
Man City- I admit this is a long shot. The wheels came off for Man City at the end of last season, but even then, that was no reason to fire manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. Eriksson did a great job, better than most people thought he would, but it wasn’t enough for Thaksin Shinawatra. Mark Hughes is a good manager but is Mark Hughes better than Eriksson? I highly doubt it. They will start the season without a striker as all of them are injured and from what I’d read, Man City fans haven’t warm up to Hughes yet as he is an ex-Man Utd player. That plus Thaksin’s cash-flow problems mean that this could be a long season for long-suffering Man City fans.

Hull City- Who is Hull City? Hull City is a 104-year old club who will make history this season by playing in the top-flight of English league football for the first time. It will be a short trip. I look at the Hull’s team-sheet and only George Boateng, Geovanni, Marlon King & Anthony Gardner are recognized names. That’s not enough I’m afraid.

Stoke City- Reports say that Stoke City is keen on signing Newcastle's Abdoulaye Faye, great because they need all the help they can get. No offence but if the biggest names on your squad are Ricardo Fuller and Dave Kitson, you will be in trouble. They will need a lot of organization and spirit to stand a chance this season.

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