Betting on the 2014/15 Premier league season?

There’s a little under two weeks to go until the start of the Premiere League, and it is looking to be a promising season.  Much has been made of Liverpool’s loss of Suarez, and the Premiere League’s inability to attract the ‘best players in the world’, however, this could prove to be a blessing in disguise.  With the acquisition of Rodriguez, Kroos, Suarez and (possibly) Falcao*, Barça and Real have spent a fortune to maintain a double-barrelled hegemony.  Meanwhile back in the prem, the top four teams each have a chance at ending their campaign champions, while the difference between the top four and the – lets say – middle four, is slowly chipping away.  Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

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 Chelsea

Chelsea fans may still be reeling from news that Lampard will be joining Manchester City on loan, but Mourinho has done a pretty solid job of fixing up some of the inconsistencies that cost them the league last year.  The outgoing David Luiz will leave a much more stable defence while Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas will give them the firepower upfront they so sorely missed. However, aside from those two, Chelsea still lacks depth up front (Drogba is 36, while Torres is, well, Torres).  Additionally, a fantastic pre-season display from Courtois may force Mourinho into the same difficult position he had at Real, this time with two very dominant personalities, as neither Cech nor Courtois will want to play second fiddle.  The wrong choice could potentially destabilize his team.

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Manchester United

The arrival of van Gaal has heralded a new era at United, one of ultimate confidence, classical tactics and ironclad management.  Will this be enough to get them the title?  Although van Gaal has shown he is a fantastic manager (and a masterful tactician to boot), this does not change the fact that there are some glaring gaps in the team.  Surprisingly, van Gaal has played the pre-season with three defenders in his line-up (non of them Luke Shaw, who has already run afoul of van Gaal for being out of shape), choosing, instead, to begin introducing some young talent into the team.  Whether he continues with this formation remains to be seen, in any case it is clear that LVG is still testing out his players before he makes a choice – although cut-off time is just around the corner.  United need to divest themselves of a few players (Hernandez, Nani, Kagawa to name a few) to bring in more funds and create more space for a few more buys (a fast paced winger or a box-to-box midfielder).  Yours truly still believes that van Gaal will need at least one season to adapt to the Premiere League before he manages to win it. 

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Arsenal

Arsenal suffers from a syndrome most commonly known as “choking”.  They may start the league well, may even spend more than half of it in the top position but eventually, they end up in fourth position.  This may, in part, be due to the lack of depth in their squad, particularly when it came to attacking options (along with injuries to Ramsey and Walcott).  Alexis Sanchez is the proposed remedy for this malady.   He’s never been a top scorer in La Liga (stiff competition) but he’s a strong attacker with a good instinct, who also provides assists.  He is, however, not especially tall and it remains to be seen whether he has the pace to play in the Premiere League – although with the likes of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain this may not be too much of a problem.  Arsenal are still missing a solid defensive midfielder, although Khedira’s name has been touted, I question whether he has the defensive discipline to play alongside Ramsey (who already has a tendency to attack).  With Real’s stacked midfield, Modric would be a dream signing, but if not, they could settle for Xavi Alonso (an oldie but a goodie).  If Ramsey stays fit and Ozil can be coaxed back into his best form, Arsenal may stand a chance of finishing.. second.

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Manchester City

The defending champions have flown relatively under the radar during this transfer window, although the shock short-term loan of Lampard will have stirred the waters a bit.  I enjoy a twitter frenzy as much as the next person, that aside, the addition of Lampard to an already stacked midfield seems redundant.  A signing that may have a greater impact on the City line up is Fernando; a classic holding midfielder who’s defensive discipline have earned him the nickname ‘The Octopus” (cause it seems like he plays with eight legs..?), he will be deployed to disrupt the best attacking lines on offer.  Objectively City have the best team, but this was also true last year, so much depends on Pellegrini’s ability to maintain unity and morale (and keep Toure away from the eager ears of reporters) for the full length of the season.

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Outsiders Chance: Liverpool

The result of Liverpool’s campaign will depend on how they rebound from the loss of Suarez.  Yes, he was a prolific striker, a goal poacher of magnitude.  He was also an insufferable, scene-stealing, arrogant, unapologetic, biting racist – and now that he is gone, Liverpool can go about their business focusing on football.  They’ve already done some padding out of their defence (Javier Manquillo), however the real coup will be if they manage to snatch *Falcao from the gold plated jaws of Real Madrid.  Otherwise, Sturridge has already shown he has the ability and the willingness to take on the mantel and Henderson looks ready to be anointed successor to an ageing Gerrard.

08/11/2014