With three weekends of the new Premier League season now completed, we all have a slightly better understanding of how the table may shape up this coming campaign. With this in mind, here is what I predict will happen at the top end of the Premier League..
- Manchester City
It is tough to look beyond the blue half of Manchester when picking the likely winners of this season’s Premier League.
Seven points out of nine has seen the Champions start steadily, if not spectacularly. Man City boast an envious supply of attacking options that no other side in the Premier League can match. With the likes of Aguero and Silva now fully adapted to the English game, and a rejuvenated Tevez, who appears to have put last season’s troubles firmly behind him, there is every reason to think that City will be even more of an attacking threat this time around.
One worry that will be giving Mancini a headache is the team’s defensive vulnerability. Conceding five goals in the first three matches isn’t the hallmark of a Championship winning side and these issues will need to be quickly addressed by Mancini. Having won their first title in 44 years, the pressure will be somewhat lifted at the Etihad this season, so City fans will be cautiously optimistic of retaining that title.
Prior to the season starting, I had Chelsea down for a 3rd place finish, but so far I have been very impressed by the Champions League winners. The summer spending at Chelsea was akin to the early Abramovich years, and the sides early promise in the Premier League indicates that the transfer policy is being vindicated. Last season’s success was based on a very solid defence and the ability to counter attack quickly and efficiently.
This season, Di Matteo appears to be placing more emphasis on attack, and the arrival of Hazard is arguably the best signing of the whole summer. Despite the loss of Drogba, Chelsea have numerous attacking options at their disposal, and the club are finally seeing the best of Torres. After finishing only 6th last season, Chelsea’s fans are demanding a better season domestically, and I am tipping them to get it.
3. Manchester United
If there is one thing that Man United do better than anyone, it is recovering from adversity. Losing the title in the final minute on the final day last season will still hurt all those connected with the club, and there is no greater incentive to reclaim a Premier League crown than to take it off your city neighbours. Yet I just don’t see this United squad being strong enough.
Of course, with the arrival of Robin Van Persie, Man United have acquired a guaranteed goalscorer, and if he can form a partnership with Rooney then we could be looking at one of the all time great striking partnerships. Defensively United look as weak as they have in years, and this may prove their downfall.
There is only one question that has been asked of Arsenal over the last few weeks. How will they cope without Robin Van Persie? A pair of goalless draws in Arsenal’s first two league games did little to ease the fans’ fears. His departure is undeniably a blow to Arsenal, yet history suggests that the Gunners are able to survive big name departures.
A third place finish last season came after the loss of both Fabregas and Nasri, so there is a ray of hope for Arsenal. At least Wenger has brought in reinforcements up front with the summer arrivals of Podolski and Giroud, and three clean sheets out of three shows that Arsenal are finally solving their defensive frailties that have haunted them in recent years. Expect Champions League qualification once more for the Gunners.
Everton are traditionally slow starters, yet this season has began in contrasting fashion for the Toffees. Victory over Manchester United was backed up by an impressive thrashing of Villa. Everton appear strong in all departments, and no team will enjoy a visit to Goodison Park this season.
With Fellaini, Jelavic and Mirallas competing for places up front, Everton shouldn’t be short on goals and a return to Europe may be on the horizon. Looking at the other contenders, Tottenham can’t seem to get going under Villas Boas, and Liverpool will take time to adjust to Brendan Rodgers footballing philosophy. This, therefore, represents a glorious opportunity for Everton to join the top 5, an opportunity I am tipping them to take.
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