CHELSEA KICK OFF AGAINST ARSENAL
There are always high expectations and excitement at the start of a new English Premier League (EPL) season which kicks off today at London’s Wembley Stadium with the traditional ‘Charity Shield’ match between the winners of last season’s EPL and FA Cup, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively. For the EPL’s big boys there is the desire to win the league, a coveted trophy and a lucrative place in one of the European competitions. For the middle table teams their expectations are to move higher up if not join the big boys in top four. For the teams below the top 10 it is to make sure they remain in the league and these expectations are shared with the teams that get promoted from the championship. All-in-all these makes the English Premier League the most competitive in Europe if not the whole world.
BUSY TRANSFER WINDOW
As expected, the transfer window has been very busy as teams prepare for the league which commences for real on the 8th of August. Teams outside the top four have been the busiest in general, opting to do transfer business early with notable acquisitions such as former PSG player Yohan Cabaye moving to Crystal Palace and Andre Ayew, the Ghanaian star moving to Swansea.
As was expected, Manchester United responded to finishing 4th in the league by acquiring proven stars early bringing in Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Matteo Darmian (Torino), World Cup winner, Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) and World Cup finalist, Argentinian Romero (Sampdoria).
Chelsea brought in Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao, on loan from Monaco, Nathan (Atletico Paranaense), and Asmir Begovic from Stoke City to replace goalkeeper Petr Cech who moved to rival club Arsenal.
Arsenal have been quiet in the transfer market with the exception of Petr Cech’s move and it appears manager Arsene Wenger is full of confidence in his team as they have been doing very well in the pre-seasons winning big in matches.
Manchester City have been focusing on bringing in more homegrown players as it has been a challenge for them especially the first team.
Some of their notable signings have been former Liverpool player Raheem Sterling and former Aston Villa captain, Fabian Delph.
Liverpool have tried to move quickly to try and counter their disappointing season where they finished outside the top four. Just as they did last season, Liverpool have been very busy in the transfer market acquiring quality players including: James Milner (Manchester City), Danny Ings (Burnley), Adam Bogdan (Bolton Wanderers), Joe Gomez (Charlton Athletic), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa).
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are names that many football fans across the world will be familiar with but fans outside of the UK probably have never heard of AFC Bournemouth, the Premier League’s newest addition. AFC Bournemouth have come a long way in getting to the top of English football league after a 125 years wait. They are joined by Watford and Norwich.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS
Last season’s EPL winners Chelsea under their flamboyant manager Jose Morinho are expected to challenge strongly for the top slot again in 2015-16.
Manchester United are also expected to pose a real challenge in the league compared to last season where they finished fourth though unconvincingly. The grace period for United’s manager Van Gaal is over and being a big club, United are expected to challenge strongly for the EPL title.
Arsenal were really good last season and they have extended their good form in the pre-season with the likes of Ozil looking alive again.
Liverpool’s new signings are seen as quality acquisitions and many believe they will pose real challenge in their effort to get back in the Champions League, with manager Brendan Rodgers acquiring as many as seven players with few weeks still remaining until the end of the transfer window.