With the Premier League season starting on Saturday, it’s more difficult that usual to predict the outcome of the impending title race.
Along with the doubt surrounding so many big players — Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez — the League seems so much more open than it has been previously. The quality of the teams has become increasingly dense in the past few seasons, and it doesn’t look like it’s following any other pattern this season.
Of course, there’s the usual suspects. Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea will start the season as favorites, and I’m pretty sure at this point no expert would tip a team to win outside this elite bracket. What’s amazingly unusual is these three teams all have new managers. David Moyes has replaced the longtime Premier League figure Sir Alex Ferguson, and has yet to make any significant additions to his squad.
Manuel Pellegrini has replaced Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, and the latter was a very popular manager at the Etihad Stadium. Chelsea have re-appointed one of the most successful Premier League managers ever, and one of the greatest in the world, Jose Mourinho.
It’s hard to say who’s favorite out of the three. City have strongly invested, Chelsea have also made valuable additions, and United seem to be seeking that marquee signing.
If United are to win it, you feel they’re going to be heavily reliant once again on the indefatigable Robin van Persie, who is one of the best strikers in the world. He almost won the title on his own, and you wouldn’t rule him out of having another massive season.
United’s poster boy Wayne Rooney is the subject of much scrutiny at the moment and is a target for title rivals Chelsea. But like the stance taken by Tottenham and Liverpool regarding their prized assets, the player is not for sale.
City were one of the Premier League’s big disappointments last term. Their star men didn’t seem to be at the level they were in the previous campaign, in which they won the title. But they’ve added quality, and if those star players, namely Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, can rediscover their form, they’re major contenders.
The Mourinho factor must be a spark for Chelsea. They have redefined their playing style in the last year or so to accommodate their world-class creative players. Mourinho took the title in his first season last time in the Premier League, and they start as many people’s favorites.
For me, the other two sides with a shot are Arsenal and Tottenham. How realistic their changes are will become much clearer once the transfer window ends. Can Arsenal get Suarez? Can Spurs retain Bale? If both sides can do this, they can challenge.
There will be reinforcements arriving at the Emirates regardless of Luis Suarez’s future. Their neighbors Tottenham have already heavily invested, as they seek to claim a spot in the top four. It’s an ongoing battle between the two clubs for superiority, and Arsenal are consistently finishing higher.
It promises to be a wonderful season, with so much talent from all 20 teams on display week in and week out. What makes the Premier League the most popular is its competition and atmosphere. There will be twists and turns along the way, but right now, my pick is Chelsea.