- By Ben Johnson – TFN Columnist
The 2015-2016 Premier League campaign is edging closer and closer. I think it will go down to the wire, with five teams in a race for glory.
Five teams this year will be in the limelight once again as they battle for the Premier League title, to become Champions of England. They are Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. This could be the season where every team has a VERY good chance of winning it because all of these sides have very good squads again. There has always been a season where one or two of these five didn’t have a squad that could win the Premier League. I now think that they all now have the group of players required to challenge for the title.
Not a great deal you can say about Chelsea, apart the fact that they have a near perfect spine in Courtois, Terry, Matic and Costa. These four are a sublime mix of technical ability, leadership, brute force and a bit of nastiness also. They don’t need to add much to the first team in my opinion. All over the pitch, you have born winners and fighters. You and I both know that the boys from West London will be right up there from the start of the season to the end.
Last season, inconsistency was Pellegrini’s biggest problem. They could show lovely form in a few games, then out of nowhere it all went away and they looked easily breakable. It was extremely surprising as they were champions the year before, and they had been very impressive. What City were lacking last season was the demanding stature of Vincent Kompany. He was near enough invisible in 2013/14, which saddened me in a way because he is a truly remarkable leader and a sublime player on his day and everyone knows that. I also feel that City were missing a spark in the midfield last season. It seemed like a very average midfield, Toure wasn’t running the show like he was the season before. But I think they’ve resolved that very well. I’m sure everyone is aware of the fact that City have signed up both Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph from Liverpool and Aston Villa respectively. Two very good additions, both can provide that spark City were missing in the middle of the pitch last season. Around the rest of the squad, they’re very reasonable, especially when you have a maestro that goes by the name of Sergio Aguero. He is a genius when he’s on top form, running past players like he’s a ghost, BUT… He must stay fit. If Aguero stays fit, then City will be as hot as fire. City are pretty much there now squad wise. All they have to work on is consistency and sort their injury problems.
If a Premier League season was played from January to April then Arsenal would be the winners. But as always, they can’t seem to find a way to have two good halves to a season. It’s a very common problem and one that always catches up on Arsene. I guess you can blame injuries as they do seem to wreck things when all is going swimmingly for Arsenal, but a manager has to deal with it. Last season saw many things for Arsenal, one of them being a new hero. He goes by the name of Alexis Sanchez. Not many players come to the Premier League from abroad and have the season of their career straight away but Alexis seemed to settle in with the toughness and speed of the league almost instantly. Arsenal are another team who are very nearly there in the way of a real challenging squad. Arsene seems to now have real squad depth all over the pitch. Another thing that has seemingly changed for the Gunners is that they can now turn up for the big games and not go missing. Big performances were put in against City (at the Etihad), Liverpool (at The Emirates) and many more. But let’s get onto next season… This summer, we’ve already seen the arrival of Petr Cech from Chelsea (I know, wow!) and this was BIG news. A quality goalkeeper is something Arsenal haven’t had since Jens Lehmann and Cech is a keeper that can save you 9+ points are season easily. Honestly, it is wonderful business from Arsene. As always, Arsenal will surely be in the top four, it’s a bit of a gimmick now but it always happens. If they add a striker then the other teams should be very weary of Arsenal. They could just be the surprise package.
LVG’s debut season wasn’t what he would’ve wanted, well maybe Champions League football was an aim but it wasn’t that glamorous. A very high majority of the season, we were treated to the ever so tasty “lump ball”, where we would see a 6 ft+ player have the ball hit up to him and then things would go from then on. In this case. It was Marouane Fellaini who was the frizzy haired target for the Red Devils. Much like City, they were missing a real leader in the team, Rooney is a very good player but he isn’t a leader. This summers business has changed that situation as they’ve nabbed a real German general in Bastian Schweinsteiger from German champions Bayern Munich. He is a voice you want to hear in a midfield when you’re 1-0 up in the 90th minute holding on to 3 points. A real, top quality leader. Memphis Depay has also been added to the squad, a real talent but that talent is being questioned due to the fact he was playing in the Dutch Eredivisie, where a certain Jozy Altidore was the top scorer of the league in the 2012/2013 season… Time will tell however if he is the real deal. United have a very good squad at the moment and a manger that needs to still get to grips with just how competitive the Premier league. I don’t think they’ll win the league as their inconsistency against the smaller teams really done them no favours. They’ll cause trouble for the big boys though…
Here we go again, “this is our year” is ringing around my head but I think it’s actually a very good time to be a Liverpool fan. They currently have a very good looking team with brilliant quality up and down it. The defence might need one more addition (centrally) as Lovren and Skrtel isn’t a pairing most strikers would be afraid of. Liverpool fans across the country are however in full force after the signing of Christian Benteke from Aston Villa for a fee of around £32.5 million and I think that’s very good business for a striker who is a monster on his day. If Brendan Rodgers can give his team a kind of ‘biting’ attitude towards the big games then he could have a successful season on his hands.
This Premier League season is set up to be an absolute scorcher. As a fan I am tremendously excited for it all to be back as a part of my weekend routine.
Now, who do I think will win the Premier League? As much as I don’t want to say it, I think Chelsea will. They’re just the perfect footballing side, everything is finely tuned to every performance. With Mourinho up top and Eden Hazard causing absolute havoc down the wings, I can’t see a team that can just push teams aside like Chelsea can (and done last season). Right now I can’t put an order or even the teams in who I think will make top four. I think it’ll be very close. Maybe even too close. We’ll find out very soon, I hope you’re all as excited as I am!