The summer is officially over. The English Premier League is back and the nine-month long season appears to be better than ever. Six teams have a chance to win the league. There will also be a competitive relegation battle as eight or nine teams could be fighting to stay in the top flight of English soccer. Here are my predictions on the table and a short preview of the top six teams.
1. Chelsea- I think this is the season Chelsea wins the Premier League. It looked like the Blues were in control at the top of the EPL late last season until shocking defeats at Crystal Palace and at home to Sunderland. Chelsea finished four points behind champions Manchester City so those losses even more painful for Jose Mourinho’s men. I think Mourinho will make sure Chelsea won’t lose matches against lesser opponents and that they will have a focus on wining the EPL as oppose to the Champions League. Chelsea signed a pair of Spanish internationals in striker Diego Costa and midfielder Cesc Fabregas to sure up their side. Costa could solve Chelsea’s striker problem and Fabregas is familiar with the EPL after spending most of his career at Arsenal. The duo joins plenty of other attacking talent including Eden Hazard, Oscar and World Cup super-sub Andre Schurrle. Mourinho won La Liga with Real Madrid in his second season as coach. I think he will do the same at Chelsea in the second season of his second stint in West London.
2. Manchester City- The defending champions had a quiet summer for their standards after facing sanctions for breaking financial fair play rules. Most summer transfer windows at Manchester City have included bringing in high-prized attacking talent to bolster their squad. They did bring in center back Eliaquim Mangala and Arsenal right back Bacary Sagna to strengthen the back line. Manchester City is led by captain Vincent Kompany and he will likely have a new center back partner in Mangala. They employ four strikers in Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic. The midfield is also stacked with Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jesus Naves and Samir Nasri. I think the priority at Manchester City will be the Champions League. They will have a strong season but won’t repeat as champions.
3. Machester United- This is one of the most fascinating teams in the EPL this season. They have a new coach in Louis Van Gaal who is coming off a third place finish as the Netherlands manager at the World Cup. Predicting Manchester United to finish third might be ambitious especially with questions marks on what formation Van Gaal will play. There is also uncertainty on the players Manchester United will buy and sell before the transfer window closes on September 1. Van Gaal might install a 3-5-2 formation at Old Trafford. This would put a lot of pressure on center backs Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling to play well. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra all left the club this summer so Manchester United is in the market for another defender. The Red Devils are lacking a strong central midfielder so that might be a position that Van Gaal addresses by the end of the month. New captain Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Juan Mata, Danny Welbeck and new signing Ander Herrera all will have big roles this season. Manchester United might struggle early but I think they will be strong after Boxing Day and return to the top four. Continue reading