The English Premier League kicks off its 2009-2010 season this weekend and it promises to be an enthralling season again in Europe’s top league. So far we have looked at the likely relegation battle candidates and those teams who are destined to be middle of the table and the Europa League contenders.
Today we will look at the big four who will be competing for Premier and European glory this season.
Champions League Contenders
The big four, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will see a new member this year as Manchester City will replace Arsenal in the battle for Premier League supremacy. I expect an extremely tight battle this year between the big four and for a new champion to be crowned at the end of the season.
It has been a tough off-season at Old Trafford as Carlos Tevez and the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo have both left Manchester United for greener pastures elsewhere. In their place comes Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen.
United won the Premier League by 4 points last season over Liverpool and 7 points over Chelsea. Even the most ardent Man Utd fan will admit that the United team this season will not be as good as the 08-09 team, as it is currently composed. Ronaldo was worth at least 7-9 points to United last season, and without him United move closer to Liverpool and Chelsea and there three year title reign will come to an end.
It has been another interesting off-season at Stamford Bridge with the arrival of another big-name manager in Carlo Ancelotti.
However, the biggest move Chelsea did this summer was to persuade John Terry to turn down Man City’s millions and stay at Stamford Bridge. In a summer where all of Chelsea’s big rivals lost key players, Chelsea win because they were able to retain their players.
Like Luiz Felipe Scolari last year, Ancelotti will try to both entertain and win at Chelsea. It is too easy to tell whether he can deliver the attacking style of football that Roman Abromovich is demanding, but he will once again make Chelsea difficult to beat.
It is hard to poke holes in what is basically an all-star team, but with stability at the helm this season I expect Chelsea to win at least the Premier League or Champions League.
It was a pretty quiet summer at Anfield until Xabi Alonso said he wanted to go to Real Madrid. Aquilani is a nice replacement, but he is no Alonso, and there is a big hole in the middle of that Liverpool midfield.
Liverpool’s success in 2009-2010 will depend on the health and fitness of Torres and Gerrard. If they are fit for the whole season, then Liverpool’s odds on winning the Premier League for the first time really shorten. But Torres has had injuries in his previous two seasons at Anfield and I don’t expect that to change.
Another reason why I think that Liverpool will finish close to the title, but not win it is Benitez. If Liverpool had Ancelotti, Fergie or Mourinho leading them then I would pick them as favorites to win the league. Benitez is not in that class and I see Liverpool coming in second this year.
I like what Manchester City have done in the last two transfer windows, They have added class as well as players who have been successful already in the Premier League. Yes City need another central defender but I think that will happen before the transfer window closes. As for attacking options, City’s group of Wright-Phillips, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Tevez and Adebayor is as good as any team in the Premier League. City also have the advantage that if they need a signing in the January transfer window, transfer funds is not an issue.
As mentioned above I expect that Chelsea will win the Premier League this year with Liverpool 2nd, Man United 3rd and Manchester City 4th. This could change depending on who comes and goes in the next three weeks and I will update my predictions after the transfer window closes