If last season was anything to go by then the 2012-13 Premier League promises to be a cracker. Manchester City were crowned Premier League Champions on the final day of the season following a roller-coaster ride campaign. The Sky Blues beat off neighbours Manchester United to clinch their first ever Premier League title, becoming only the fifth team to do so since the League’s creation in 1992.
City will go into the new campaign hoping to replicate last season’s success but will be under no illusions as they face a tough season attempting to retain their title. Mancini has been uncharacteristically quiet so far in this summer’s transfer window. Speculation has been rife concerning Robin Van Persie’s future with the Dutch forward most likely to swap London for Manchester, but it remains to be seen which club will land the striker’s signature. With recent changes to the Financial Fair-play scheme in Europe Mancini must cut the City wage bill; Nigel De Jong, Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor are all expected to leave the Sky Blues before the new season begins.
Mancini will be hoping to build on last season’s success by winning back to back titles, but the Italian will face a stern test as the competition looks set to be tougher than ever. Standing in their way will be arch rivals Manchester United, eager to put the record straight following a trophy-less season, Alex Ferguson has strengthened in midfield with Japanese sensation Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund and England under 18 star Nick Powell from Crewe Alexandra. The Red Devils have also been heavily linked with Robin Van Persie and Brazilian youngster Lucas Moura as Ferguson looks to freshen up his ageing squad which still contains the presence of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes (38 and 37). The two transfer targets would give United the fire power needed to overhaul their “noisy neighbours” at the top of the league. Nemanja Vidic’s return will be a huge boost for the Reds following his long term injury which resulted in him missing the majority of last season. His experience could prove vital as United aim to win their 20th league title. If key players such as Ferdinand, Vidic, Rooney and Kagawa can stay clear of the treatment table then United will be hot on the heels of their City rivals.
Yet again Arsenal went a season without winning any silverware and talisman Robin Van Persie has expressed his desire to leave the club despite Wenger making several big signings. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have been shipped into the Emirates as the long serving Arsenal manager hopes to end the seven year wait for a trophy. Wenger looks to cull a number of fringe players in an attempt to reduce the Gunners wage bill. Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, Sébastien Squillaci and Nicklas Bendtner are all expected to leave as they find themselves surplus to requirements. Whatever happens around Arsenal in the coming weeks the major talking point will revolve around Van Persie’s future but irrespective of whether the Dutchman stays or goes, Wenger’s men will be expected to land a top-four finish.
This time last year Chelsea had high expectations of their newly appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas. But following six disappointing months in charge the Portuguese manager was handed his P45 and sacked by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Six months later and the former Porto manager is back in a job with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Despite finishing fourth last season, Harry Redknapp was harshly sacked gifting AVB a second chance in English football. Spurs are resigned to losing Luka Modric as the midfielder’s transfer saga continues with Real Madrid the likely buyers. The retirement of Ledley King is a costly blow for a side which lacks experience, however the signing of Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen from Ajax will stand AVB in good stead as he looks to reshape the Tottenham defence. Gylfi Sigurdsson chose London over Liverpool as he joins a host of midfield talent at White Hart Lane. Adebayor is rumoured to be making a permanent move to Spurs following a loan spell last season. It would be a fantastic capture for AVB as the London side lack fire power with just two recognised strikers in their first team squad. Challenging for the title will be too much of an ask for Spurs, but they are more than capable of a top-four finish as long as AVB can control the dressing room.
The surprise team of last season was Newcastle. The Toon Army surpassed all expectations and finished fifth, four points shy of the top-four. Papiss Cissé was arguably the signing of the season as the Senegal international netted 13 goals in 14 appearances. Despite missing out on a top-four finish Newcastle will participate in the Europa League this season. A fantastic achievement, but the Thursday night games could hinder their season as they lack the squad needed to be able to compete in both competitions. Stoke are a prime example, last season they competed in the same competition following a successful 2010-12 campaign, but failed to perform in the Premier League finishing in a disappointing 14th position. Therefore if Newcastle are to compete in both competitions then Mike Ashley has to splash the cash or focus on just one competition.
By Chelsea’s own standards their league performance last season was dreadful, but following their surprise success in the Champions League Roman Abramovich has again splashed the cash. The signing of Eden Hazard for £32 million is a sign of real intent from the Russian as Chelsea aim to set the Premier League alight. Marko Marin and Brazilian youngster Oscar have also joined Hazard at Stamford Bridge as the blues aim to compete with United and City at the top of the table. Following Di Matteo’s success as interim manager, the Champions League and FA Cup winner was handed a 2 year contract but he knows as well as anybody failure is not an option under Roman.
A new look Liverpool will take to the field on the opening day of the season. On and off the field changes have been made as Liverpool aim to put a run of bad seasons behind them. Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to bring the Swansea style of football to Liverpool as American owners Fenway Sports Group look to bring back the glory days to Anfield. A number of first team players have already departed from Anfield. Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriquez and Fabio Aurelio have all left with Andy Carroll expected to leave after just one season at Anfield. Fabio Borini is Liverpool’s only summer signing so far, but if Brendan Rodgers wants to get back amongst the top teams in English football then he has to make more, quality signings.
Despite last season’s excitement I thoroughly believe this year’s Premier League will be the best yet. Reigning Champions Manchester City seem content with the squad they have whereas their rivals have all made drastic moves in the transfer window as they aim to challenge Mancini’s men. Chelsea and United look the most likely to topple the Sky Blues leaving Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool battling it out for fourth spot. Despite a brilliant campaign last season I doubt Newcastle will have what it takes to compete in both the Premier League and the Europa League. But with the Premier League being so unpredictable there is only one thing that I can be certain of, it will be as exciting as ever!