Another season is upon us and another thrill a minute ride is imminent. This season promises to be one of the most exciting yet, with money bags, Man City threatening to break the stranglehold of the “big 4”. Here’s my appraisal of the “new Big 5”, so to speak:
Weakened in no small measure by the departures of the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, and the irrepressible Carlos Tevez, this season’s squad looks to be thinner than any in the recent past. Although the arrivals of Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen have brought some respite, it remains to be seen as to how much of the void left by Ronaldo and Tevez will be filled. If he remains fit, there is no doubt that Owen will flourish and rightfully earn a recall into the England squad for the 2010 World Cup. With Ronaldo gone, the onus is definitely on Rooney now. He will, more often than not, this season be played in hes preferred central role and expect him to revel. Berbatov looks leaner, meaner and hungrier and has started the pre
season with renewed vigor, as if to prove a point. With Giggs and Scholes, not spring chickens any more, but still capable of putting in stellar performances, the rest of the squad must get their act together. The defence looks solid and the midfield coming together nicely. Hargreaves, when fit, will be like a new signing and he will be one of the most important players. Ben Foster looks nervy and Kuszczack looks just about passable. Van Der Sar looks to have one more season in him. Dont be surprised if Fergie signs Manuel Neuer,
from Schalke, in spite of his public backing for Foster. Valencia looks to be a solid buy and Nani seems to finally be coming good. The key to winning a fourth successive league title, is undoubtedly going to be the strength in depth of the team and how(and if) the “fringe” players come to the fore.
Yuri Zhirkov seems to be the only major signing for the Blues, but I believe that the most important signing they have made this season, is that of a certain Italian by the name of Carlo Ancelotti. He brings with him a winning mentality and also commands huge respect
from fans and players alike. Yet, there are bounf to be skeptics, especially after the same was said of Phil Scolari last season. The squad looks strong with the ever flourishing partnership of Drogba and Anelka up front. Being well covered in defence and midfield, it is only if either Anelka or Drogba get injured, that cracks might show in the Chelsea armor. They look a strong and solid and is Ancelotti can succeed where Scolari failed, and keep the team united, there is no doubt that they will be a force to reckon with and may even get their hands on that all elusive Champions league trophy.
As ever, a lot will depend on the fitness on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. If the both of them should stay fit all through the season, there is little doubt that Liverpool will be challenging for all the major trophies, come the end of the season. I believe that Xabi Alonso’s absence will be felt deeply and more pressure will be on Mascherano. It remains to be seen as to how well Aquilani will do in the Premier League. The defence looks a little wobbly, though they have the best ‘keeper in the league. Yet again, the bench strength is not too awe inspiring and will have to drastically step up if Liverpool are to win it all, or anything at all.
Adebayor and Toure have gone. Two massive players and although Vermalen has been brought in as cover in defence, it remains to be seen as to how well he adapts to the Premier League. Up front, the return to fitness of Eduardo has been a lifeline to Arsene Wenger
but again, if he were to get injured, they will be found wanting, with Bendtner not looking too menacing. Wenger has once again kept his faith in youth and its about time that his faith is rewarded. A lot is expected of the likes of Walcott, Vela and Gibbs this term and if they can live upto their billing, it promises to be an exciting season indeed for the Gunners.
Manchester “money” City
After an outlay of close to a 100 million pounds on new signings, Man City finally look to be entering the big league. Undoubtedly, they seem to have the squad to compete for all trophies. While the signing of Carlos Tevez has been a coup of sorts, one may question the need of 10 strikers in the squad. The defence looks to be sort of solid, with the arrival of Kolo Toure and the midfield looks to be shaping up well with a good blend of attack and defence. It will be interesting to see how well Mark Hughes controls the egos in the dressing room and whether he players his best eleven, or 11 of his best players. Also, it remains to be seen as to how his players, especially the “big” ones react to his squad rotation policy. If it goes according to plan, then Man City will, no doubt, be challenging for the major honors, come the end of the season.