Can City break in this year? Or will Roy’s Reds return to reclaim their spot?
The obvious contenders this season; Chelsea and Manchester United will still be the favourites to win however have Liverpool or Arsenal got what it takes to achieve the silverware this season? Or will Manchester City’s summer spending be enough to gain them the title?
After narrowly missing out last season, will the additions of Javier Hernandez, Bebe and Chris Smalling help to regain the title from Chelsea? Hernandez will add pace to the front line. In midfield, Paul Scholes is running the show and looks in good shape already this season. But his age could catch up with him over the course of the season and there is a question mark over whether Anderson is a suitable creative replacement after United missed out on Ozil. Defensively, United struggled last year due to injuries and therefore let in sloppy goals late on. This was again the case against Fulham. If Rio becomes fit and Smalling gains some first-team experience there is still adequate cover at the back.
The obvious strengths of Chelsea are still clear from last season: the sheer strength of the midfield and the scoring ability of the strikers will be a determining factor this season. The signing of Ramires will bring speed and youth to an experienced midfield. Yossi Benayoun will also bring an undoubted level of tactical intelligence to the team. Jose Bosingwa hasn’t hit his greatest form for Chelsea yet and so there could be a problem at right back. Keeper Petr Cech looked shaky last season but with Ross Turnbull providing good cover Chelsea should be safe there as well.
With the two main contenders out of the way, Liverpool – with new signings such as Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen – are still title contenders even after their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City. Pepe Reina in goal provides priceless ability, However, the defence in front of him has looked shaky over the past few seasons. With Fernando Torres spending more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, there is also worry over his form which is a problem for Liverpool’s title hopes. Steven Gerrard still provides sheer brilliance in midfield and will continue to do so with the ever emerging David N’gog netting goals.
Even with their passing ability, Arsenal will still struggle this season due to their lack in depth and average quality on the field. In goal, Manuel Almunia is not always reliable and has shown an unfortunate trait of making mistakes. In defence, Thomas Vermaelen still looks to be a quality defender and will be crucial for Arsenal’s title hopes. In midfield, Cesc aside, Denilson and Diaby are not enough to compete against other midfields across the Premier League. Upfront there is undoubted class and new signing Marouane Chamakh will have to do well this season to give Arsenal a target man they have been desperately lacking. Even with the 6-0 drumming of Blackpool, against tougher oppenents they may become unstuck.
It’s been spending galore this summer at Eastlands, but will they gel? Against Spurs, no. But against Liverpool there was significant improvement. With depth and quality, they cannot be ignored but there is no spine to the team. When that is established City will be a force. Chelsea’s spending sprees didn’t always gel – just ask Shevchenko – but this new look City side have serious potential. It may take more than just one season before they begin knocking on the door.