Premier League Preview 2012/2013

Posted on August 15, 2012

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As the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season is literally just around the corner, I offer my thoughts and predictions on the upcoming campaign…

So, obviously after the unpredictability and sheer excitement of the previous season, the first question to answer is “Can football fans expect something similar this year?” For me, the answer is a resounding yes!

Manchester City have retained the majority of their title winning squad during the summer and also added a fresh young face in Everton’s Jack Rodwell. This squad lit up the Premier League last year with flare, goals and some solid defensive displays and for me this was refreshing to see instead of the usual United/Chelsea domination which has been prevalent over the past few years. Quality players such as David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany really came into their own for City and I can see much of the same consistency repeating itself for the season to come. Therefore, Manchester City are starting as clear favourites to win the league.

However, looking at some of the transfer activities of some of the other top teams over the summer, City will be pressured right up until the last second once again. Chelsea have snapped up arguably the hottest property in European football in Eden Hazard from Lille. Although, his display in the community shield did leave something to be desired (especially with that awful back heel), there is no doubt that his quality will shine through given time. Being only 21 years of age he has a lot of football ahead of him and plenty of time to develop into the world class player every seems to think he will become. Other new midfield signings include the young Brazilian midfielder Oscar who performed well in the Olympics and German wide man Marco Marin. Both players are young and offer a lot of potential for Di Matteo to develop. This mix of young talent and experience such as Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard could benefit the Chelsea team for the coming season and they will no doubt be up there come May next year. Another point to mention would be Fernando Torres. Although he had his critics last season, the Spaniard started to hit form at the back end of the campaign for Chelsea and then Spain in the Euro’s. So who knows, Torres may be the man to watch for Chelsea this time round.

Not much needs to be said regarding Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson has lead United to greatness over the past 20 years and built strong squads for every season. This is also true for this year. Ferguson has spotted the talents of the young, Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa playing in the Bundesliga and snapped him for the relatively cheap figure of £12 million. Looking at this in context with the spending of other teams in recent times, it could be considered a shrewd piece of business by Sir Alex. If Kagawa settles quickly he will no doubt add a much needed dynamism and mobility to United’s midfield which was lacking last season. As good as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have been, it’s obvious that they cannot be relied on for much longer and with Darren Fletcher not having played since November 2011, players like Kagawa and Tom Cleverley can add the much needed dynamic element for United. On the other hand, United’s aging defence could possibly be a problem for the forthcoming season, with Rio Ferdinand’s injury concerns in recent years and Nemanja Vidic just returning from a serious knee injury, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling may be called on to hold the back line. There is also the issue of the shaky David De Gea, who will definitely have to be more consistent than last season if United are to regain the championship.

One of the dark horses amongst the top sides for this year is Arsenal. Wenger is arguably the second best manager in the Premier League behind Sir Alex but has received a lot of criticism for his seemingly unbending philosophy in recent times. However, it seems that he has taken on board the demands of the majority of fans and decided to sign some quality players. Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Carzorla look as if they can add the much needed creativity and cutting edge in front of goal that has been lacking since the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left the club. These new, key signings along with the stars of last year Mikel Arteta, Alex Song and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could help Arsenal to do even better than last season and maybe push for 2nd place although I cannot see them finishing above Manchester City. However, there is the Robin Van Persie saga which is ongoing; personally I would rather see him stay at Arsenal this season, especially considering the loyalty the club have showed to him over the years with all his injury troubles early on in his career in England. As we have seen before Arsenal have sometimes struggled defensively and been unable to kill games off and I have a feeling that this long standing issue may rear its head again this coming season.

There is also Arsenals North London Rivals in Tottenham who enjoyed a very good campaign last time out until results began to tail off at the end of the season. Tottenham seem set to lose their star midfield man in Luka Modric before the beginning of the season and I believe this will have a profound effect on the team overall. Modric really has pulled all the strings for Spurs and as good as the incoming replacement Gylfi Sigurðsson from Hoffenheim was for Swansea last year I’m not 100% sure he can craft the same mastery as the little Croatian. However, time will tell. The pressure will be transferred onto players like Gareth Bale to perform again. I was happy to see Villas-Bas sign a much needed centre back to replace Ledley King, Jan Vertonghen, although unproven in the Premier league could prove to be a slid acquisition for Tottenham.

A host of other clubs will be vying for the middle ground in the league table. The two major contenders for the ‘best of the rest’ accolade being Newcastle; who have managed to hold onto Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye and Liverpool who have held onto Luis Suarez and signed young, Welsh prospect Joe Allen and Italian striker Fabio Borini. Alan Pardew enjoyed a fantastic season with Newcastle last year and proved that he is a top manager. I am personally looking forward to seeing him try and repeat that achievement this year. I am also very much looking foward to seeing Brendan Rogers try and impose his style of play on his new squad of players, I hope he can re-invent Liverpool with his philosophy and bring them back into the top four battle.

The peoples club Everton will definitely be up there competing for the Europa League places as well; although Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell have parted company with the club David Moyes always finds the right players to fill the gaps in his close knit squad. The quality of players and the work ethic has always been there, but the sheer numbers of playing staff has been lacking in the past. Hopefully, Moyes can reinvest the £15 million fee from the sale of Rodwell into the squad for this campaign.

A few other teams to look out for this season I believe will be Fulham who performed well last year and may be able to kick on for this season also. Sunderland may also be one team to look out for with Martin O’Neill’s sides usually doing well under his management and with players such Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean leading the way in terms of excitement and flair. I also feel that Southampton may do well this season with the style of football they play, a similar season to Swansea last year may be on the cards.

Overall, I think we are in for another cracking season this year. The top clubs have once again strengthened their line ups with world class talent and the ‘best of the rest’ are looking stronger than ever. Manchester City Vs QPR on the final day of the 2011/12 campaign showed us just how exciting the English Premier League is for us as spectators and why it offers more entertainment than any other league in the world. I am looking forward to the return of Jeff Stelling and the Soccer Saturday boys and the beginning of the most anticipated season in the short history of the Premier League.

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Posted in: Football