BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
The 2013/14 Premier League campaign gets underway on Saturday and the betting market is already heating up for this one of the best leagues of the football world. This should be a really interesting season as already several issues ensure that bookmakers are struggling to choose between the leading contenders in the title race as the top-three teams from last season start the new campaign with different managers. The fact that the transfer window remains open has added a touch of extra spice to the start of the season as the futures of Suarez, Bale and Rooney are still to be decided.
The biggest favourite this season is priced around 3.50 and it is Manchester City, who are one of the few top clubs to have put their big shopping basket in order during the early part of the summer. The runners up from last season quickly hired Manuel Pellegrini as the replacement for Roberto Mancini and he arrives with a big reputation after improving every club he managed in Spain – his spell at Real Madrid was a relative success but for Barcelona’s excellence and the Madrid board’s impatience. Pellegrini has the advantage of a much improved City attack to compliment a solid defence in the top flight from last season, with the club spending the best part of 90 million GBP on Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic. But that’s not all. Pellegrini reportedly wants to add another top quality centre half to his squad but he already looks to have the ingredients for a very successful maiden season in England. Much will depend on how the new arrivals settle in the Premiership and how Sergio Aguero will be expected to improve his disappointing last season campaign.
Also listed on the favourites list is Chelsea and all eyes will be on the return of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese boss will have the instant respect of his squad and he has the benefit of John Terry and Frank Lampard as allies – which is not something every Blues manager could claim in recent years. Same as the Citizens, the Blues made some early moves in the transfer window as they brought in Marco Van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle, although a top class striker remains a priority (Rooney?). Also Romelu Lukaku may be given a free pass to show he is capable of leading the attack after his excellent season on loan at West Brom last term. Lukaku will look to be first choice to begin with as Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are out of favour, although the potential arrival of Wayne Rooney from Manchester United could be the signing that pushes Mourinho’s men on to a Premier League title.
Finally on 3rd position for the title race are the Red Devils. New United manager David Moyes has spent the opening part of his reign playing down rumours of a fall-out with Rooney and it seems inevitable that the England striker will depart Old Trafford. It has been a tricky start for Moyes as his attempts to sign Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas have failed miserably and he has been forced to lower his sights by making bids for his former Everton stars Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines. It is a really scary view to see how the defending Premier League champions have fallen in the transfer market and their reliance on Robin van Persie will be a concern. The Dutchman will have to carry the goalscoring duty once more and if he were to suffer an injury then English youngsters Wilfried Zaha and Danny Welbeck will have to step up to the plate quickly.
This season would appear to be the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to bridge the gap between themselves and the ‘top three’ as City, United and Chelsea begin life under new managers. Arsene Wenger would have hoped to take advantage of the uncertainly at the clubs around Arsenal by making a big statement in the transfer market but it has been another frustrating summer for Gunners fans. The only signing so far has been French youngster Yaya Sanogo and the club are yet again moaning when it comes to their transfer movements. Their attempts to sign Gonzalo Higuain were denied by Napoli, Bernard chose Shakhtar, but Wenger remains confident of signing Luis Suarez and there is a feeling that Arsenal’s season will depend entirely on the potential arrival of the Uruguayan. But still I reckon they can have a big season.
Liverpool’s season may well be defined by the movements of Luis Suarez as their goal scoring threat would then be reliant upon Daniel Sturridge. I think they have slept through the transfer window so far totally after missing out on a number of targets, signing only Aspas and Kolo Touré so far, and they are again destined (in my opinion) to end the season below the Top 4 spots. Tottenham are in the same situation as the Reds, but they at least have added Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado to their squad, although the constant rumors of Gareth Bale’s proposed 100 million GBP move to Real Madrid have cast dark clouds over White Hart Lane.
in terms of the newcomers to the league, we have Championship league winners Cardiff, who can actually make some noise in this league, acting lively in the transfer market so far but it is still too early to predict their berth this season. What is sure worth a note is that we will have Welsh derby matches this term and this matters! Hull and Crystal Palace are unpredictable teams and surely will struggle to find the correct beat in the table – that’s my prediction.
Apart from which team will get the trophy this season, the question is also – which 3 teams will be relegated? I will leave that to you and I offer you a cool competition worth a monthly subscription to any BetAdvisor tipster of your choice as a prize. To enter, just type your predictions for bottom four teams in correct order in the comments section, so from 17th to 20th spot, which teams will be placed on those spots after 10 rounds of this season.
Good Luck and let the EPL 2013/14 kicks off finally!