It's been a long summer without a World cup or a European championship. While there were UEFA Champion's League and UEFA cup qualifiers in July it is not until the most competitive national championships begin that I consider the football season to have started. The first one to kick-off is the English premiership tommorow and here are my take and predicitons.
The league is steadily becoming more and more competitive and entertaining. With Manchester City and Aston Villa having new owners and Portsmouth and Newcastle also on a spending spree the hopes for more exciting games are high. Everton and Spurs kept their teams intact mostly and made several signings so they can be expected to carry on their good form of late.
Thierry Henry has left the dreary London skies for the sunnier ones in Barcellona. Heinze still hasn't got the hang on the English life, only an idiot would demand to sign for Liverpool from Manchester United. He is now about as popular at Old Trafford as David Duke would be at a rap concert. Liverpool has the biggest signings of the summer especially Torres, United have decided to invest in youth and bring Tevez, Chelsea fans are cursing Abramovich's ex(they should look at the club's books instead for a reason of the lack of spending this summer) and Arsenal have replaced Henry with...er nobody actually.
On the wrong side of the table, look for Wigan, Reading and the newly promoted clubs to be favourites to go down although knowing Roy Keane at least one of those won't going without a fight, literally.
To cut a long story short, here are my predicitons.
Champions: Liverpool. It is now or never again for the Red half of Merseyside! 18 long years have they waited and at last they have a complete team. The strikeforce which was a major weak-point is finally at the top level with Babel and Torres. speaking of the latter I was a bit perplexed that they traded Luis Garcia for him, leaving Liverpool with only Stevie G as someone who can score from the midfield. But days later Rafa Benitez brought in Berkowitz from West Ham. What was that about two great minds? Anyway, they are my tip.
Runners-up: Manchester United. Still without a proper target man and that hurts in the long run whichever way you put it. It is doubtful that C.Ronaldo will score 20 again no matter what outrageous bets he proposes. Their signings, Anderson and Nani, are for the future and Tevez is not a prolific scorer either. Still, they are better then the rest.
Third and fourth: Chelsea and Arsenal, in that order. Abramovich has tightened the purse so no big names were brought to Stamfor bridge this summer. The biggest signing is Florent Malouda, a good player, but hardly someone to take you to the top. Strikeforce is still Drogba and nobody else and Lampard is still stalling with his contract. Doesn't look good for the Blues. Plus, they claim their main ambition is in Europe. Still, if anyone could pull the unexpected it is The Special One. As for Arsenal, loosing Henry is a blow, but they have a distinct style of play that is still, IMO, too much for others.
UEFA Cup spots: ever depending on the cup finals. But the smart money should be on Spurs and Everton.
This season the Premiership promises to be a cracker, stay tuned, I'm sure you won't regret it.