For once again the English soccer is about to grip you for next year or so. And it’s about time. The World Cup finished long ago. Soccer fans were dying to see some quality football action. So good news, English football is back!!! And back for good, for this season a lot is at stake. Not only this will be chance for the reigning champs Chelsea’s chance to make it three in a row, but also for some players. Some who had long due a successful season.
Off Season, the transfer window takes the center stage. And this year for no exception, we saw some hectic work going on for the teams. The first to announce a big one was Chelsea. They got the German skipper Michael Ballack for a free transfer from Bayern Munich, then they were successful is brining in the AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko. They have made themselves stronger team on paper, and I won’t be surprised to see them translate that into a good on the pitch result. But then there is of course the opposition. The trio of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea will be hell bent to stop Chelsea from winning the EPL title for the third consecutive season. But nevertheless the season is promising.
Apart from Chelsea, no other team has been successful in having some big transfers. Manchester United did have a BIG transfer, but against their odds, Ruud van Nistelrooy left Manchester United for Real Madrid. And with that leaves Manchester United another dilemma. Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t signed a single player since their win against Charlton in their last premiership games last season, when Nistelrooy left United. They were well on the verge of loosing Christiano Ronaldo, the talented winger had a memorable game against the England in their World Cup quarter final, but of course that famous Rooney-Ronaldo incident spark all kinds of rumors and predictions that Ronaldo was on his way out of Old Trafford. Certainly Ferguson couldn’t let that happen and he calmed all the rumors by announcing that they are not wiling to sell Ronaldo come what may. And it was absolutely necessary that Ronaldo was retained, as United already suffer from a lack of midfielders. They lost skipper Roy Keane last season, and Paul Scholes was missing for the most part of their important chase to Chelsea in the closing stages of the season, and this year they desperately need some good quality midfielders to make things better, or else they have a difficult season ahead for them. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s departure leaves a big hole in the striking department, not only he has scored 150 goals for the Red Devils, he was also the second highest scorer in the premiership season last season. So will they be able to replace a player who scores 20-25 odd goals a season? Torres certainly has refused to change sides now. And United’s existing forward line will have to help the cause. Rooney will be the main man for them. Saha will now be a first team choice. And Ferguson has announced that Alan Smith, the English forward will take up the role of the striker too. So still not many choices for Ferguson, though in the preseason games Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjær showed good form and scored some goals. Atleast some hope in this department for team manager. United signed the Spurs midfielder Michael Carrick and recently Tomasz Kuszczak. But their old enemy visits them again even before the season has started. Luck has been their biggest enemy, as yet again United suffer injuries even before the premiership has begun, Carrick is injured is his first match for United’s pre season preparations. Scholes and Rooney face a ban in their opening games, as they had been suspended in one of their preseason games. But I’ll still believe that only Manchester United can stop Chelsea from winning the league. Whether they do manage to stop them is a different matter altogether.
Liverpool was certainly the team which had a good run even though they finished 3rd in the league. Steven Gerrard led the team to the FA Cup win as well, the only silverware last season for Liverpool. Rafael Benítez has made the team strong, and ensured the team remains in shape and will be very confident to perform very well. And Liverpool will match Manchester United at times. Craig Bellamy & Jermaine Pennant were their main new signings for the new season. Bellamy will be a player to watch. Peter Crouch should receive a good support from him. And with the likes of John Arne Riise, Steven Gerrard, Luis García & Mark González Liverpool will be a difficult opponent. Djibril Cissé is out on loan for this season to Olympique Marseille.
Arsenal had a bad season. They didn’t have Viera, their skipper, they finished fourth. But Arsenal has a new season, a new stadium, and ofcourse their fantastic striker, Thierry Henry, who signed another deal with Arsenal, which will see him for more years to come at Arsenal. Wegner’s main worry was Henry, as reports suggested that Henry will move over to Barcelona, the Spanish league and European champs. But Henry chose to stay, which is important for the team. Arsenal’s realistic target will be the to perform better than last season, as the team hasn’t transformed in such an extent that we will see them do really well than last season. Robert Pirès left Arsenal to join Villareal. Pirès was really an important player in the Arsenal squad. Dennis Bergkamp has already retired, so two very important players won’t be available in the team this season. Arsenal has got weaker rather than getting stronger. But the team still has the quality to do well. Robin van Persie, Cesc Fàbregas and Mathieu Flamini’s youthful play will be the important factors in the performance of Arsenal this season. No big transfers, so the team is pretty much the same as last year, so they should aim to do better than last season.
Apart from the top four clubs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal only Tottenham did well enough to fight Arsenal for the fourth position. West Ham was also the surprise team last season, and this year they will have high hopes. Teams will fight for their positions in the league. Newcastle United will want to do better under their new manager. Owen suffers from an injury he got at the World Cup, Shearer has retired. Players like Titus Bramble will be the life of Newcastle now. They will have to fight for their places as the competition has really improved, and with teams like Spurs, Hammers doing so well, Toons have a fight at their hands next season.