Manchester United had a memorable season last year in the English Premier League. With a number of smart moves the signs are there for the club to repeat as English football champions.
The next edition of the Premiership launches this weekend across England. Seven matches start things off this Saturday 13 August, with all of the games except one taking place at 9am Cayman time.
Man U do not play until Sunday but should be brimming with confidence. Aside from a thrilling Community Shield victory, they did well to address their departures. Arguably the biggest Red Devils acquisition was the signing of goal-keeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid. De Gea, 20, is young but has the makings of being an apt replacement for the retired Edwin van der Sar. He should have some wiggle room if attacking stars Nani and Wayne Rooney continue to score goals.
The reigning champs may have lost Gary Neville and Paul Scholes. But they still have the ageless Ryan Giggs steadying the mid-field along with Nemanja Vidic in defence (assuming the rumours about a Juventus move are false). All of those factors point to Sir Alex Ferguson making history and raising a 20th Premier League title.
However it will not be an easy run to the championship. Five other teams pose serious threats for Man U and can make things tense. Topping that group is Manchester City, who have all the money and talent to be a title contender. Even though he does not want to be wearing sky blue, Carlos Tevez is a big factor. Providing reinforcement for the Argentine is countryman Sergio Aguero along with Edin Dzeko and Gnegneri Toure Yaya. Considering their immense depth, City look like a real force all season under Roberto Mancini.
The surprise of the year might just be Liverpool. Chemistry is a hard thing to define but new manager Kenny Daglish (no stranger to Reds fans) might create something special. Owner John Henry has done his part to foster the process spending a staggering $100 million this summer, which included adding Uruguayan sensation Luis Suarez. Granted Steven Gerrard does not look as brilliant as he once was and there are questions on defence, but the roster of attacking players is impressive.
Of all the traditional big four clubs, Chelsea are the most perplexing. The coaching carousel Roman Abramovich has created is both brazen and maddening. However the talent on the field remains in place with the likes of Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda. The absence of Michael Essien, the doubts over Fernando Torres’ worth and place on the team and an over-reliance on aging veterans John Terry and Frank Lampard might doom the Blues.
Arsenal are a decent team in its current incarnation. Theo Walcott is a good play-maker and has teamed well with Robin van Persie. However time will tell how different the team looks once captain Cesc Fabregas moves to Barcelona (which appears to be within a few days). Also Samir Nasri is an unlikely long-term contributor as he looks intent to go to Man City. The injury of Vassiriki Diaby might also prove to be a stumbling block (especially early on).
Tottenham are similar to the Gunners in that their season can change drastically with the departure of a star player. Luka Modric continues to be in high demand, especially by Chelsea. The Croatian is a big part of the squad and without him the pressure on Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale may be too much. If Modric stays Harry Redknapp and company have a good chance of cracking the top five and getting the added benefit of ousting rivals Arsenal in the process.
Outside of the title chase and run for the top four positions, there is some interest on clubs that face relegation. For starters it is unlikely all of the recently promoted sides (Queen’s Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City) will stay in the top flight. With Rangers having questions in defence and Swansea not having much star talent, the odds are they will fall back to first division football. Joining them might just be Wigan, who are unpredictable to a fault under manager Roberto Martinez.