It has been an excitingly wide-open season so far for the English Premier League. Some predicted as much due to so many changes to squads and the addition (or loss) of top players. Also noted was how many clubs have had new coaches over the past couple of seasons.
With all these changes, some teams have surprised with their tenacity. Others are seemingly down, but it’s far too early in the season to count them out. There’s no telling how things will progress from here, but there are several teams that everyone should be keeping an eye on.
Out of all the big names and familiar faces that usually occupy a top spot on the EPL table, Southampton stands out. A virtual stranger to many, Southampton was actually a founding member of the Premier League when it first began in 1992.
Since then, there has been much turbulence, leading to dropping out of the EPL and down to lower leagues. Their return to the Premier League in the 2012-2013 season seemed like it would end in a disappointing return to the Championship. But after making a decisive change to their coaching staff, Southampton FC has visibly improved.
The season so far sees them sitting comfortably in third position after upsetting Liverpool in a tense away match and forcing a draw with Manchester United. The Saints seem to be marching on to a season more successful than anything in their club’s history. Some might call it a fluke or a “false dawn”.
One thing’s for certain, Southampton is the dark horse to end all dark horses, and it would be wise for others to take this team seriously.
Manchester United is proving a team to watch for all the wrong reasons. Namely, trying to figure out how a consistently lethal squad could have gotten off to such a shaky start. Sir Alex Ferguson departed after a long and historic period at the club’s helm, and skeptics do not believe that David Moyes was the right choice for the job in Ferguson’s absence.
In addition, Manchester United has a talented, but aging squad. A number of fans and pundits were critical of the new boss’s failure to do much with the summer transfer window, aside from bringing MarouaneFellainiwith him from Everton.
Many did not peg Manchester United as an underdog team going into the season. But after a surprising start left them in the second half of the table for a good portion of the games so far, it’s been up to the Red Devils to climb back into the mix.
As it stands, they are just outside the top four. Any other season and their return to the top would be a sure thing. However, this year there are too many variables; too many other teams that made smart decisions and have just as much to prove.
In the end, the Red Devils will be a team to watch because everyone will be wondering “will they or won’t they?” Will Manchester United overcome a disappointing start and have an amazing season? Will they become a ship made of strong, marine fabric? Or crumble like the sail of a beat up old pirate ship? Nothing is certain. And perhaps that makes them more exciting to watch and more dangerous than ever.
Fans booed Arsene Wenger after an opening day loss to Aston Villa. The club also failed to do any business in the summer transfer window until almost the last minute. But it seems that Wenger may be the one to have the last laugh after he managed a startlingly brilliant move: securing a world-class midfielder in Mesut Özil.
Real Madrid let the talent go for reasons that remain a mystery, and he has flourished at his new club. Despite being beset with injuries and illnesses, Arsenal continues to be a team that does far better than anyone expects, even big name fans such as Piers Morgan.
The question this year doesn’t seem to be whether or not Arsenal can get a top spot in the league and have Championship League football next season. There are those who are already whispering about the possibility of a league title. This feels like a year where anything can happen and it just might be the Gunners’ year.
Whether or not Arsenal comes out on top at the end, it can give insight into how the picture will look in May, and tell us if the side can indeed rise to this unique occasion.
The two words for anyone looking for a reason to keep a close eye on the Blues this season is actually a name: José Mourinho.
The “Special One” left his former club Real Madrid among a great deal of controversy. In fact, controversy seems to follow Mourinho everywhere. It was definitely a major issue the first time Mourinho left Chelsea back in 2008.
Having won league titles several times in different countries, and couched Champions’s League winning sides, no one doubts his talent. But in his absence, Chelsea has become a club with little patience. The year they stunned the world by beating Barcelona for the Champion’s league title, and the side saw the departure of both Roberto Di Matteo and his replacement, Rafa Benitez. Perhaps Chelsea FC could not be satisfied with anyone but Mourinho.
Chelsea did manage to spirit highly praised player Willian Borges Da Silva away from the Spurs, and have put serious time and energy into creating a competitive squad, but the team is only part of the picture.
Everyone is waiting to see what Mourinho will do or say and how the Football Association is likely to respond. A volatile figure could inspire Chelsea to a fiery finish, or the team may crash and burn. Whatever the end result, one thing is certain: There will be fireworks.
The spark that lit Liverpool FC’s unexpected successful start is said to have begun with an epic double-save by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during the very first game of the Premier League season. The act denied the visiting Stoke City an opportunity for a draw. It also signaled a shift in the ability of the team, away from regularly dropping senseless points. The previous league season saw the team spend much time in the relegation zone.
Though the Reds would eventually finish in seventh place, it wasn’t until late in the second half of the season that there was any sign of life. Much of this was due to the financially shrewd acquisition of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan.
This season the squad has been strengthened defensively and currently boasts two of the league’s top scorers in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The former had actually missed the first five games of the season due to misconduct. The troubled genius that is Suarez is already promising to be a nightmare to rival teams. With an array of options up front, and a figurative brick wall at the back, he has been at the forefront of nipping at Arsenal’s heels.
This is shaping up to be a season of promise for the Liverpool side. It’s been a few years since the side fell from major international contention. This squad could quite possibly amend disappointment and go far this season. The potential is there, it’s just a matter of belief and the willingness to seize opportunity.
The same goes for all the teams listed. It could be that fortune favors or rejects the sides mentioned here within the coming weeks.
Whatever happens, don’t blink. You may miss something amazing.
Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.
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