The 2015-16 season of the Barclays Premier League kicks off on August 8 with football fans all over the world being overwhelmed by intense fervor!
In this article we preview England’s top 5 clubs who will head into the new season ‘all guns blazing’ and fight for engraving their name on the prestigious trophy; namely, Chelsea FC, Manchester City, Arsenal FC, Manchester United and Liverpool FC.
The reigning English champions will strive every bit to defend their crown and retain their league title. In Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have an astute leader who has won major titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
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The Chelsea squad, barring a couple of changes in the fringes is majorly unchanged. Czech Republic international Petr Cech has found pastures elsewhere after completing a summer move north-west to join city rivals Arsenal.
Jose Mourinho wasted no time in replacing him with experienced custodian, Asmir Begovic. Felipe Luis has left Stamford Bridge and returned to the Vicente Calderon after he struggled to break into the playing eleven. Chelsea remain in the hunt to replace him with Abdul Baba Rahman and John Stones being the latest defensive targets linked with the Blues.
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Didier Drogba’s contract has run out with the Ivorian opting for a move to the MLS. Radamel Falcao has joined Chelsea on a season long loan deal as a natural replacement.
Chelsea had a glorious campaign last season and Jose Mourinho displayed sheer brilliance in his tactical plans. His team played blistering, attacking football in the first half, tearing teams apart week by week.
Post the January transfer window when most teams were battling fatigue and facing multiple injury problems due to the league’s physicality, he adopted a more unaesthetic style which was centered around gaining three points from every game.
Away fixtures were approached with a sense of caution and individual qualities were better tapped to obtain maximum benefit from minimum effort. There is no reason why Chelsea cannot repeat the heroics of last season, but perhaps they will invest more endeavor into the Champions League giving their league rivals an opportunity to catch up.
In any scenario Mourinho’s men will leave no stone unturned in their quest to retain the Premier League crown.
Arsenal will derive great motivation from their strong finish to their previous league campaign. A third place finish meant automatic qualification into the Champions League, something Arsenal are not used to in recent years after finishing fourth three times in the last four campaigns.
They also managed to successfully defend and retain their FA Cup title. Arsene Wenger’s men will then return to Premier League action facing cross-town rivals West Ham to launch their season.
Transfer activity has been relatively feeble at the Emirates Stadium with veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech being the only arrival so far in the current transfer window.
Wojciech Szczęsny (loaned to Roma), Carl Jenkinson (loaned to West Ham), Lukas Podolski and Abu Diaby have all left the club. However, Arsene Wenger has reiterated that he has the backing of the club and the financial power to buy any potential target.
Arsenal’s summer tour of Singapore was hugely fruitful as youth players made their mark and tried to impress the gaffer, the most promising players being Chuba Akpom Jeff Reine-Adalaide. Also returning to fitness was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, both of whom struggled through injury last season.
Mesut Ozil has been in great touch throughout pre-season while Alexis Sanchez had a fairy-tale Copa America with Chile beating World Cup runners up Argentina to lift the trophy in style. The Chilean is on an extended break and will join up with Gunners at a later date.
Arsene Wenger will look to build on the positives of last season and work on the negatives. Francis Coquelin was a revelation for Arsenal last season and provides a spine to their silky play. Wenger will be looking to emulate the efficiency of last season in which they managed to gain a decent number of points from teams above them.
Arsenal are almost certainly not done in this transfer window and will look to strengthen their squad but the existing one is more than capable of challenging for the league title. A lot will depend on the form and fitness of key players, especially towards the business end of the tournament.
Runners up from the previous campaign, Manchester City will aim for nothing short of a title winning season when their new campaign kicks off.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini faces the sack unless he delivers silverware this campaign with the club hierarchy opting to keep faith in him after a trophy-less last season.
Pellegrini has made a number of summer signings with there being departures too. James Milner left the club after City decided not to renew his contract. Scott Sinclair has joined Aston Villa and Stevan Jovetic has all but secured a move to Italian outfit Inter.
To the delight of the Citizens, Yaya Toure looks sure to remain at the Etihad after numerous reports suggested he would leave for Inter to reunite with former boss Roberto Mancini. Raheem Sterling is their biggest catch yet. He has joined the blue half of Manchester after Liverpool allegedly failed to meet his wage demands which convinced the 20-year-old to switch teams.
The lure of playing for a top club and Champions League football ultimately proved too lucrative for Fabian Delph who has also arrived at the Etihad after initially deciding to stay at Villa Park. Youngsters Enes Unal and Patrick Roberts are other new recruits.
Manchester City will undoubtedly be serious tittle contenders this season. Pellegrini’s side were unconvincing in defence last campaign; something they will look to improve come August 9 when they begin their new season away at The Hawthorns.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva will be the at the centre of all the action, looking to score plenty of goals and strike fear into the minds of defenders. Manchester City will look to strengthen in defence with the rumors of Nicolas Otamendi being a transfer target.
Manchester City will look to better their previous campaign in balancing their league and cup endeavors. They bowed out of the Champions League to eventual winners Barcelona in the round of 16.
The FA Cup exit against Middlesbrough sparked debates regarding fatigue endured over a set of friendlies played in Abu Dhabi and Pellegrini will look to settle a few scores this season.
Manchester City definitely have one of the best squads in the Premier League and an experienced manager in Pellegrini who knows how to win the Premier League.
Manchester United are still in transition according to most pundits after Sir Alex’s retirement and the subsequent sacking of David Moyes, but they have an outside chance of producing a surprise and winning the league.
Louis van Gaal has splashed the cash again this transfer window as United have signed a bunch of quality players.
The summer shopping began with the signing of Memphis Depay from PSV. The young winger is an exciting prospect for united and gives them creativity in the final third along with specialised free kicks.
German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger has decided to take on a ‘new challenge’ and left Munich for Manchester. Morgan Schneiderlin has also arrived at Old Trafford after seven years at St.Mary’s.
United appear to have the best centre midfield in the league with star names such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata. Matteo Darmian slots in at right back arriving from Torino to solve some of their defensive issues.
Sergio Romero has joined the red devils as a free agent and a potential replacement for want-away goalkeeper David de Gea. Javier Hernandez has returned to United after his loan spell at Real Madrid who decided to not sign him on a permanent deal.
Radamel Falcao has left the club and subsequently joined Chelsea after failing to impress Louis van Gaal. Robin van Persie has been sold to Turkish side Fenerbahce in a surprise transfer. Tom Cleverly has joined Everton on a permanent transfer after spending a season on loan at Aston Villa.
Nani’s loan move to Lisbon was also followed by being sold to Fenerbahce. Angel di Maria failed to board a flight to the United States to join the Manchester United pre-season tour for unknown reasons as a move to PSG looms large. The Argentine expressed his desire to continue at Old Trafford during the Copa America but comments from Laurent Blanc suggest a move could happen at any time.
Manchester United paid the price for a poor start to last season’s campaign and will look to learn from those errors. Louis van Gaal has requested for a shorter pre-season tour and more time to train and rest before welcoming Tottenham in their first encounter of the 2015-16 season.
United sustained the most number of injuries last season and used 26 different defensive combinations. Louis van Gaal will aim for higher consistency and an injury free season. A large squad means United can cope better with injuries; also competence within the squad will ensure the manager can pick the best 11 for every game.
Manchester United look shallow in attack after the departure of their strike duo. Also, central defence remains an area of weakness for the Red Devils. In any case, winning the league is slightly over-ambitious for them at this stage but anybody who knows anything about their history will never write them off!
Liverpool will be hugely dissatisfied with their 2014-15 campaign and there is a lot for Brendan Rodgers to sort out before the new campaign begins. After an impressive 2013-14 campaign in which they almost won the league, the side failed to reach the same levels and finished sixth.
They failed to qualify from their group in the Champions League and consequently were knocked out of the Europa League in the round of 32. In the FA Cup, Liverpool lost to Aston Villa in the semi-finals.
Brendan Rodgers has conducted early business in the transfer window with a number of big name arrivals. Danny Ings has joined the club from Burnley after an impressive campaign in which he scored 11 goals in all competitions.
Roberto Firmino will add a Brazilian flare to their midfield and join Philippe Coutinho in carving out defences. Nathaniel Clyne has completed a move from Southampton following in the likes of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Ricky Lambert.
Christian Benteke is their latest signing. The Belgian joined the merseyside club from Aston Villa. James Milner has also signed a contract with Liverpool after his contract at the Etihad expired.
Brendan Rodgers has his work cut out ahead of the start of their new campaign on August 9, away to Stoke City. Misfiring signings has been the bane for Liverpool last season with Balotelli, Lovren, Markovic and Lambert all failing to live up to their price tags.
The manager must also make up for the departure of their inspirational captain Steven Gerrard who left the club in the summer and joined MLS side LA Galaxy. Jordan Henderson and Felipe Coutinho must step up and lead from the front if Liverpool are to have a succesful campaign this season.
Finishing in the top four and competing in next season’s Champions League will be a minimum requirement for Liverpool this season. In all probability, they will not win the league this season but not for a lack of trying!
A brand new season of the Barclays Premier League begins in just over a week’s time. The excitement and the aura surrounding this magnificent competition is well and truly back!