It is finally time! The English Premier League starts up again this weekend for the first contests of the 2013-14 season. Though some may debate that either Italian Serie A, Spain’s La Liga or even Germany’s Bundesliga is the strongest club soccer league in the world I think that top to bottom the Barclay’s Premier League is the best. This is based on quality of players, fan support, stadiums, and ownership. The 2013-14 season is one to look forward to with league’s top four teams of last season, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea, and Manchester City, looking to stay on top while they will face challenges from clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, and even a surprise team like Aston Villa.
As with each season there has been changes made on most clubs whether within their roster or even coaches. The biggest coaching change was the stepping down of Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson after more than two decades as coach of the team. Everton’s David Moyes was handpicked as his successor by Ferguson. Jose Mourinho has returned as coach of Chelsea. The “Special One” will be trying to win another league title with the Blues. Roberto Mancini is out at the helm of Manchester City being replaced by Manuel Pellegrini.
It is expected that the pursuit of the title should take place between Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea with these three being almost locks to secure 3 of the 4 Champion’s League spots. Three clubs should compete for the last spot and they are Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Manchester United has the new coach to break in and the whole Wayne Rooney disaster/not wanting to be there hanging over them. Something has to be done about the disgruntled striker or he could disrupt the whole team. The top scorer in the league last year was the club’s striker Robin Van Persie with 26. Besides Van Persie Manchester United has a quality line up which includes Javier Hernandez, Nemanja Vidic, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, and Shinji Kagawa. United has struggled to add some quality players on the transfer market in the off season.
On paper Manchester City has the look of a very strong team. Pellegrini will install the familiar and popular Spanish style of play with short passes followed by penetration. Over the summer the team did well on the transfer market signing over £90 million on four players. Though amazingly Pellegrini has kept things largely under the radar. He has a good arsenal of weapons at his disposition with Joe Hart as keeper and the likes of Gareth Barry, Sergio Aguero, David Silva, James Milner, and Pablo Zabaleta out in front of him.
Chelsea fans are celebrating the return of the beloved Jose Morinho as coach. They have a lineup filled with veteran players like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, keeper Petr Cech, and Fernando Torres. Mourinho will have to keep the veterans happy while integrating younger talented players like Juan Mata and Ramires. Chelsea is the defending Europe Cup champions.
Arsenal has won nary a trophy over the last 8 years with their last being the FA Cup in 2005. It is an important year for coach Arsène Wenger, who has been there since 1996, and he is in a tough spot. The team has money to spend, but were not able to sign any significant players. That leaves the team weak down the middle and with a lack of character. They need to spend that money in order to move up to the next level. They are interested in prying Luis Suarez away from rival Liverpool. If not they will have to make do with Per Mertesacker, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, and Mikel Arteta.
Tottenham Hotspurs grabbed a Champions League spot at the very end of last season. They did so mostly courtesy of their cracker of a striker Gareth Bale. He is still a Spur for the moment, but Spanish side Real Madrid has been making aggressive bids for him and it should be only a matter of time before the transfer is completed. The effect of him probably leaving the team will be offset by the summer signing of striker Roberto Soldado. Spurs features a strong and athletic midfield. Their roster includes Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe, and keeper Hugo Lloris.
Liverpool has Brendan Rogers returning for his second season as head coach. The once mighty side has not finished in the top 4 teams since 2008-09. Rogers is trying to build stability, but might have to a cup of some sorts to keep confidence in what he’s doing. There has been a shadow cast over the team due to the standoff between the club and striker Luis Suarez, who has stated he wants to leave. Even if they lose Suarez the team still has Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, keeper Simon Mignolet, and Kolo Touré.
Everton boasts a lineup of players like keeper Tim Howard, Darron Gibson, keeper Joel Robles, and Johnny Heitinga. While these are not exactly household names they are part of a solid team. Roberto Martinez is the first new coach in 11 years taking over from David Moyes. Martinez has moved over from Wigan and the team is looking to progress under his coaching.
The three teams that have been moved up to the Premier League are Cardiff City, Hull City and Crystal Palace. They will be in tough to stay up in the Premier League. Other teams that might be on the bubble of being relegated at the end of the season are Fulham
On the technical side the EPL will be the first domestic league to use goal line technology. It is called Hawkeye (like in tennis). Those worried about it causing delays don’t have to be as the referees will know within a couple of seconds, so no big delay. Twenty stadiums will be using it.
-Dates: August 17, 2013 – May 11, 2014
-Television Stations Carrying EPL Games: TSN, TSN2, Sportsnet