A New Dawn - A Look At The Big Boys - Part I
So, it's August again, the English Premier League is set to take over the football world- its supposedly the best league in the world according to UEFA listings, even though none of the top teams got past the quarters in an otherwise English dominated UEFA Champions league. The summer offered us a wonderful World Cup, with the emergence of an international youth philosophy in Germany, the deviation from total football by Holland and a Barcelonesque touch from Europe to World domination by Spain.
It had a lot to offer about team tactics, formations and organization, witnessing the fall of a rigid 4-4-2 of England, who were ruthlessly derailed by the Germans. Other than the tournament, the summer has been stuck to dry speculation on transfers without much activity in the market due to the clubs' inability to spend following global meltdown! .
However, these recession terms do not apply to the Blue side of Manchester, they just keep coming up with the money out of the Sheikh's oil well. It would be interesting to see how they perform as well as accord to newly implemented UEFA Financial Fair play rules. Anyway, without further ado, we'll get down to analyze how the teams challenging for the title will perform in the new campaign.
Tottenham Hotspur - The Spurs are on their high and are in Europe after a long spell of 50 years in the sidelines. They currently field an ambitious manager in 'Arry Redknapp who is looking at top signings and is making claims that this could be Tottenham's chance to repeat the glory days of 1961 and bring home the League title.
But with the new 25 man rule coming in to effect this season, it will force the Spurs to leave Jonathan Woodgate out of the squad as mentioned by the Manager. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are key to their performances. However with an ageing backline and a low yield in the Under-21 department, they don't have a big enough squad to play top football all season long and to land the crown this season.
Prediction - dropping out of the top 4 spot to be leapfrogged by either of Manchester City or a Roy Driven Reds machine!
Manchester City - Citeh have bolstered their squad with World Class talent. Their defence is taking shape with the likes of Jerome Boateng and Kolarov coming in. Roberto Mancini is knitting his defense up tightly with the beast from Cote D'Ivoire Yaya Toure to shore up the space sitting in front of the defensive four, giving the full backs license to attack.
Well, they don't need that however, they've added Valencian Gun powder David Silva to their ranks alongside Carlos Tevez and company. The Spine of the team is complete through Given/Hart (Premier League's best prospect) to Kolarov to Toure to Tevez. It is a new look to the Manc's. However, they will take time to gel as shown by their pre season results.
The coordination of the team lies in the manager's hands at the moment and how they do that will decide on how they finish in the table. Mancini also faces the 25-man rule, Citeh have to cut down 7 to 8 players to fall within the rules. The likes of WC finalist De Jong, To! go striker Adebayor, Kompany and Craig Bellamy already feel the axe hanging near their necks. How they will be sold in the market with their current wage demands would be interesting to see.
Prediction- they will come good this season, they'll do a Chelsea and buy the trophy - but not this year, they will take their time to get their games going, while the other big teams will have a comfortable leeway to bank on. They'll get the elusive top 4 spot this season. But they are a team to watch out for in the future!
Liverpool - The Insolvents as they are called these days are taken over by the Manager of the season 2009-2010 Roy Hodgson. He has started with the signing of Joe Cole on a free transfer. He is pretty much a like-for-like replacement for Yossi Benayoun with a slightly higher affinity towards the treatment table.
Liverpool have the futures of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres decided and they will provide adequate fire power along with a healthy Alberto Aquilani. New Scottish addition 18 year old Danny Wilson will provide cover to the Reds defence. However, they risk losing Argentine Captain Javier Mascherano to the lure of Rafa Benitez from Italy.
Negative as this may be, this might be a new light for Liverpool as Gerrard can slot in with a more box-to-box role while Aquilani or Joe Cole can push higher up the pitch with Lucas sitting ! at the top of the back four. It's a big year for Dirk Kuyt, David Ngog and Ryan Babel as they will be required to perform when El Nino is not available.
Prediction - They will require an injury free year to Gerrard and Torres to break in to the top four again. It looks highly likely that they'll be battling with Manchester City for the fourth spot. Roy Hodgson will do well and with the Chinese proposition coming along, he'll get money to add to the squad either before Sept 1st or in January transfer market. It' s either Fourth or Fifth for the Reds this season.
Article submitted by Sriram Iyer