Friday, August 12, 2011

2011-2012 Premier League Season Preview

The streets of English cities are being set ablaze in anticipation of the upcoming Premier League season. A mass panic hit the masses and they realized that their 36" televisions were simply too small to hold in the glory that is the Greatest League in the World™. They needed that 42" and it just so happened that the store around the corner had plenty in supply.

At least, this story makes just as much sense as the other ones I've heard to describe the motives of the mobs.

But this is no sociological study, this is a look-ahead to the much-loved/hated English/Barclay's Premier League. So, let's get to it!

At the top of the table, competition for the top spot and the Champions League qualifications is going to be rough. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur look to be the ones duking it out to be able to finish in the top 4, but then, if they miss that to adeptly dodge that dreaded 5th place spot and qualification to the annoingly much-maligned Europa League.

Right now, Manchester United looks set to defend their league title and to put even more space between them and Liverpool. At the refreshingly exciting Community Shield, in which United created one of their trademark comebacks, it seemed that United was stepping right back into stride. They have been wise with their purchases, bringing in Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea, and have kept all the pieces of their title-winning team. Their noisy neighbors, Manchester City, looked decidely disjointed during the Manchester Derby. It's sounds clichéd, but there is an important nugget of truth in the fact that United play as a team, whereas City seem to be a collection of individuals thrown out onto the field. Beyond that, the harder part for City is going to be dealing with their foray into the world of Champions League football. United, Arsenal and Chelsea have played this balancing act between domestic and European play for years; City have not. For City to pose a legitimate challenge, Mancini will need to keep this Frankenstein squad happy and playing together. The addition of Sergio Aguero will be a big boost to the team's hopes, as the young Argentine looks like he could be even better than Tevez.

Arsenal will be putting their best foot forward to tackle the might of United, but the hardest part is that even with the season a matter of hours away, no one knows whose foot that will be. The transfer sagas surrounding Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have become as laughable as they are tiresome. At this point it seems that it might be coming to an end with Wenger finally capitulating to their departure. The loss will be a tough one for the Gunners. Juan Mata looks to be coming in to try and fill that gap, but Arsenal's play is based on the whole team playing as one. When I run this way, you run that way. It takes time to build that sort of connection. Nasri and Fabregas had put that time in; the newcomers will not have. After an embarrasing couple of days at the Emirates Cup, it seems that Arsenal might be just starting with their end-of-the-season collapse rather than building up the hopes of all their fans. How benevolent.

Amongst the overwhelming sea of player transfers, the biggest move of the season might be the acquisition of Andre Villas-Boas from Porto by Chelsea. Roman Abramovich seems to believe that this is the man that will take their storied team to the Champions League glory that they rightly deserve simply because they are Chelsea. That is: he'll believe up until Chelsea don't win the Champions League. Next! The Blues might find that the Essien's absence due to injury could hurt them, but new singings Romelu Lukaku and Oriel Romeu look highly promising. Combined with the return of Daniel Sturridge from a loan spell at Bolton, Villas-Boas will not be lacking in attacking options. They should still finish firmly in the top 4, but United will be just out of their reach. Don't count them out, though. Even after a poor run of form in mid-season, they managed to make up a 18-point gap pull within a single win over United of taking the title.

Read the rest of the article on The Pursuit of Victory here.

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