Tuesday, August 12, 2014

EPL 2014/2015 Preview - Chelsea In Pole Position

The new EPL season gets underway this coming week-end. If last year's is anything to go by, this new season promises to be as intriguing and exciting as ever. Here are my thoughts on the main contenders for the title and an early prediction of the overall winner.

Man City will be the defending champions after stealing the title away from Liverpool. They are clearly the best team on paper again, and probably for years to come. There are 2 ways to look at this City side; they should be better than last year given that it will be Pellegrini's second year in charge. That means that they should improve on last year's points tally when they lost silly points at places like Cardiff and Aston Villa. On the other side, there is the danger that the same hunger or motivation might not be there; or to put it on a different spin, the other contenders might be hungrier to win the title. Still, the squad has been reinforced in major areas with the likes of Fernando, Malanga and Caballero. I think they should be contenders again but I am not so sure they will prevail in the end.

Chelsea. Mourinho was empty-handed again last year and there is definite pressure on him to deliver silverware this year. I think deep down Chelsea will look at last year as a huge lost opportunity, as had they shown better finishing in places like Aston Villa, Everton and Crystal Palace, they would have won the title. Being inept in offence really hurt them and that is why they were busy in the off-season to get Fabregas and Costa. I think both are fantastic signings and rightly put them as early market favourites. Getting rid of David Luiz for 50-million pounds was a fabulous business as well as on-field win. Chelsea are my early favourites to win the title, at this point.

Liverpool. The Kops won't get a better chance of winning the league like last season. The loss of Suarez immediately makes them an inferior team but they've been shrewd in recruiting with the incoming of Lovren, Origi and Lallana among the notables. Even so, I think they've let their chance go by and I believe that they will have an inferior points tally this season. They will struggle to get to 4th place.

Arsenal. Winning the FA Cup will have done the world of good for Arsenal and its fans. Arsense Wenger can finally start a season without cries of no-silverware flying in his direction. The fact that they also won the Community Shield by thrashing Man City last week will have boosted the players' confidence. All is good in Gunners land at the moment and the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona brings major depth to their potent offence. The Chilean can turn a game when on song and is a wonderful acquisition. If Ramsey can stay injury-free and sparkle again, Arsenal will make themselves heard but I think they probably need one or two more star signings before being called genuine contenders.

Man Utd. The only guarantee at this point is that Man Utd will have more points than last year! Truly, the David Moyes appointment was a disaster and whether it was his or the players' fault will be a topic of discussion for the ages. But the players clearly did not play for him. The appointment of Van Gaal has given a tonic to the club and they are since unbeaten with him in the pre-season. This augurs well for the Red Devils and their fans. The Spanish midfielder Herrera looks like a good signing but I think that it's his compatriot Mata on which lies the hopes of the Red Devils. The diminutive play-maker seems to be relishing his central role under Van Gaal's system and will be influential at the forefront of their attacks. I also expect Van Persie to have a big season if he stays healthy. Still, it would be stretching to think that Man Utd will win the Premier League after last year's disaster and I think they can aspire to the 3rd or 4th spot. Good enough to get back to Champions League football.

Tottenham should be good for 6th or worse. I don't think Everton will repeat last year's heroics and I see them at 7th at best.

So, still to early to formulate a definite winner but Chelsea are really looking strong and are my picks for a nibble at this point.

Win Title: Chelsea

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