One of the most thrilling premier league seasons, the 2011-12 season provided entertainment of the highest form, with the winner being decided on the very last day. Manchester City attained league glory for the first time in 34 years by pipping their neighbours United on goal difference, when they defeated QPR 3-2 thanks to a last-minute goal from Sergio Aguero.
Last season was a roller-coaster ride for almost all the top clubs. The top spot oscillated between the Manchester clubs while London boys Tottenham followed them in third place for majority of the season, only to be overtaken by Arsenal in the end. The Magpies finished fifth and the European champions Chelsea, whose manager Villas Boas was sacked in the middle of the campaign, finished sixth.
Champions City would hope to replicate their last season performance and retain the title. Hardly anyone would expect them to disappoint this season but, given the level of competition, their title defence might not be an easy job. With the imminent Financial fair-play rules constraining their budget, they haven’t had much business in the transfer market this season. While rumors about a move for Robin van Persie have been flying around, City manager Roberto Mancini has been quick to refute them. The Italian has recently signed a five-year contract extension that would keep him at the club till 2017. With a settled team and management in place, the Etihad boys are confident of retaining the league crown and attain European glory.
City’s neighbours, the ever-present title contenders Manchester United endured a trophy-less campaign last season. A disappointing first round exit in the Champions league coupled with a heart-breaking second place finish in the premier league have seen the club search for new talent. The Red devils have been active in the transfer market and have already signed the Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund for 17 million pounds. the under-18 English international Nick Powell is also on his way to Old Trafford. Sir Alex has also stepped up his interest in Gunners striker Robin van Persie and the Sao Paulo teenager Lucas Moura. With new arrivals, the Reds have enough ammunition to go all the way this season.
Few top English clubs would have seen as much activity this summer as Arsenal football club. Arsene Wenger has seen a host of arrivals and departures this summer. While out-of-favour goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was released from the club, Mexican international Carlos Vela is on the verge of a six million pound move to Spanish club Real Sociedad. It is rumored that Wenger is also planning to clear out the under-performing jacks with Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin set for an Emirates exit. In what could be the most unkindest cut of all, Gunners’ talisman Robin van Persie has gone on record to say that he does not intend to sign a new contract. However, the arrival of Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski would help mitigate the effect of the Dutchman’s departure. Will the new arrivals end the Londoners’ seven year trophy drought? Or will they prove to be broken promises? Only time will tell.
Under their new manager Andre Villas-boas, Gunners’ arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur would look to capture the Champions league spot that they so narrowly missed out last season. Thought the team might be unsettled with the never-ending Luka Modric transfer saga, they still have talented players in Bale, Lennon and Kaboul. Their defence will undergo a transformation with Ledley King’s retirement and Jan Vertoghnen’s arrival. Adebayor, who was on loan from Man. City last season could make a permanent move to White Hart lane and add an extra dimension to the attack. Though Spurs might not be in contention for the league title, they are definitely capable of mounting a challenge for a Champions League spot.
London heavy-weights Chelsea too have bolstered their squad and look to challenge Manchester for the title this season. Ageing players like Didier Drogba, Jose Bosingwa and even Solomon Kalou were released to make way for fresh talent. In what was perhaps the most expensive transfer this summer, the Blues have signed Eden Hazard from Lille for 32 million pounds. Hazard’s younger brother Thorgan Hazard and German striker Marko Marin have also been signed by di Matteo. The Blues are still short of young and talented players in their midfield, which is on the wrong side of thirty. Will they follow-up their Champions league victory with a league title this season? They are certainly capable.
Looking at the current squad and form, either of the Manchester clubs is favourites to win the title, with Chelsea likely to mount a tough challenge. London boys Arsenal and Spurs might be the dark horses throwing a few surprises here and there. But, the season is long and tough and anything could happen. The only thing predictable about the best league in the world is that it’s unpredictable and any of these five teams could strive for success.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.