With the football season back in full swing, with some emphatic wins already by the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as the introduction of new coaches to the respective top three teams – what does the 2013-14 football season hold for us?
With the race for the title this season seen as an open contest between the three best teams in England, in my view the title has to go the way of either Chelsea or Manchester City. With the return of the special one, Jose Mourinho, to Chelsea, the title contest is sure to be more competitive than last season. Through the introduction of Pellegrini, who was considered to be a masterful tactician back in Malaga, and not to mention the new signings of Álvaro Negredo, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, and Stefan Jovetic, it is likely that Manchester City will give Chelsea a chase to relish. However, with the firepower of Mata, Hazard, Lukaku, and Schurrle, the attack minded football evident against Hull and Villa, and not to mention if Chelsea grab the services of Rooney before the transfer window closes, it will surely be just enough to edge the former champions this year.
Manchester United were considered the most successful club in England under the now retired Sir Alex Ferguson, and may still have an outside chance of retaining the title. As the new manager David Moyes is still trying to settle into the atmosphere of United, I ask myself: will the pressure of coaching a team under the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson unnerve him? That answer is inevitably yes to a certain degree, as the choice of wording to further anger Rooney shows that Moyes still has a lot to learn when running a club built on such a legendary foundation. United have also failed to make any major signings, which may prove to hurt them, especially in the midfield. Multiple offers for Cesc Fabregas were turned down, along with a double bid for Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.
The battle for supremacy in North London is just another mouth-watering prospect for the 2013-14 season, as the likes of Andre Villas Boas’ Tottenham, and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will battle it out for fourth place. Even though Arsenal have the habit of getting the better of their rivals when it comes to this crucial Champions League placing, Wenger still has a lot more to do, especially in the transfer market as a slew of players have left the Emirates, with no major signings. This may prove disastrous for Arsenal’s continued presence in Europe. Tottenham in essence have enough to edge Arsenal out with the abundance of talent the team possesses – yet it all depends on Bale, and considering the latest transfer news, he looks to be heading to Real Madrid.
Aston Villa’s performance at the weekend, and on Wednesday against Chelsea, may just give us a taste that they will be the surprise team of the season. Paul Lambert had a disastrous campaign last season that saw his team in the relegation zone a number of times. Yet, this may change this season, especially with the emphatic win against Arsenal at the weekend. Paul Lambert has bought wisely in the transfer market, with an outlay of only 11 million pounds. The addition of some fantastic talent adds depth to the team, and the fact the team has not been depleted at all, will only show they might be contenders for a place in Europe.
Sunderland may prove to be the surprise underachievers of the season, especially after a tumultuous campaign experienced last year with abject humiliation to Villa, and a magnificent win at Newcastle, the question that I raise is will they stay up in the top flight? Maybe, maybe not – this team is highly unpredictable, especially under the stewardship of the ever eventful Paolo Di Canio. If the momentum swings the wrong way, the Black Cats may make the dreaded drop. Simon Mignolet is also a big loss to the team, which might add more pressure on Vito Mannone, and further put the Black Cats under pressure.
The promoted team to stay up in the Premier League may either swing in the favour of Hull or Cardiff. Hull’s Steve Bruce has built a young, hungry and capable squad that is able to challenge to stay in the top flight. He has spent wisely by adding enough experience and youth to the team that shows he has a few aces up his sleeve. Also, Tom Huddlestone will bring experience to the midfield, and Scotland’s goalkeeper Allan McGregor brings international pedigree to the squad. Cardiff also have a more than willing side to challenge in topflight football, if Malky Mackay has anything to say – he is a more than capable manager to do this. With the new signings of Medel and Caulker, and a team that comprises Welsh legend Craig Bellamy, it may be just enough for Cardiff to stay in top flight football.
Robin van Persie’s talent as a world class striker should surely see him retain the golden boot. With the likes of many top clubs in England looking for more than capable strikers to help guide their team to the trophy, Manchester United must be sitting back with a smug look on their faces. They also have the world class options of Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck (regardless of Rooney’s fate) and the talent of RvP. Even though United won the Community Shield, they played okay – neither good, nor bad – it was RvP that was the hero with a double. He is the undisputed first-choice starter at United, and he is coming off a season in which he scored 26 goals. He is therefore surely expected to grab a similar haul this season.
So there you have it, bold early predictions may leave the competition wide enough for any of the top five teams to take the trophy, but there may be a few surprises, upsets, and highs which may just produce some fine 2013-14 football memories.