The Premier League Returns
The Premier League is back and kicks off today with Man Utd hosting Spurs.
Favourites for the title are last season's winners Chelsea. They have an impressive squad which has been highlighted by the fact that they have done very little transfer business this summer. Drogba has moved on and been replaced by Falcao. It will be interesting to see if Falcao can improve on a very disappointing debut season in the Premier League last year with Utd. If Diego Costa stays fit his chances maybe limited as it appears likely that Mourinho will continue with his favoured policy of a lone striker.
Chelsea won a lot of matches in the first part of last season off the back of Costa's goals, however, he is still plagued by hamstring problems and if he doesn't get properly fit for the first weeks of the season Chelsea could struggle with a tough run of fixtures. As always they will depend massively on Eden Hazard, and as he is one of the best in the league, it is not hard to understand why.
Clearly Chelsea will be right up there again this season and if they can keep their main players fit, they will be very hard to stop.
Manchester City have also been relatively quiet on the signings front, their main aquisition being Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, in a drawn out affair. He will add to their firepower and directness and could prove an excellent foil for Aguero. He is another who's injury record is poor and City will require Aguero to be fit for the majority of the season if they are going to improve on last years' second place finish.
Their central midfield is a concern as they rely heavily on Toure and he looked like age was catching up on him last season. He is still brilliant going forward but appears to have decided that the defensive aspect of his game is no longer required and this leaves City wide open at times.
Arsenal have made just one signing of note, Petr Cech from Chelsea. This is a huge signing in my opinion and sorts out what has been a troublesome area for them. They looked extremely impressive for large parts of last year and if they can prevent their almost customary dip in form at a crucial part of the season, I think they have a good chance of being champions. There are rumours about looking for another striker, if they were able to acquire a top class goal scorer then I would be even more bullish about their chances.
Utd have made a few signings of note, namely Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, but I'm not convinced that these signings will have a big effect on their finishing position this season. Depay comes with a big reputation from the Dutch league, he looks quite raw though and may need time to bed in. Schweinsteiger himself has been quite injury plagued over the past three seasons and coming to a new league at this stage in his career is not easy. Morgan Schneiderlin will add some much needed grit and steel to their midfield but a lot will depend on whether or not Rooney can score the goals required to keep them in the top four.
Liverpool have made a lot of signings for the second season running but it looks as though this time around they have addressed the weak links. A new striker was imperative given Sturridge's injury record and Benteke has proven that he can score goals in a poor Villa side. Clyne has been brought in at right back which was another problem position for them last season. The Brazilian Firmino is an interesting signing and if he can hit the ground running to link up with his fellow countryman Coutinho, they can negotiate an extremely tough start and keep themselves in the hunt for a top four finish.
At best priced 4/1 (or 20/1 with Paddy Power's brilliant offer) I think Arsenal are the value in the outright market. They have been excellent in pre season and I fully expect them to get off to a flying start. If they can maintain it this time around they will be tough to stop.
Man Utd V Spurs
The season begins at Old Trafford and it will be fascinating to see how Van Gaal sets his team out. They had a really poor opening day home defeat against Swansea last season and will be keen to avoid a repeat. Spurs are definitely capable of causing Utd problems and if Harry Kane continues his good pre season form he will be tough to stop.
I think Utd will prove too strong in the end here but not before Spurs give them a good game. One bet that stands out for me considering I think there may be a few goals here, is Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane both to score at 5/1. Van Gaal has said that Rooney will be playing as the main striker this season and has a good record against Spurs. Kane has looked good in pre season and will fancy his chances.
Arsenal to win the Premier League - 3 points @ 4/1 20/1 with Paddy Power
Man Utd v Spurs - Rooney and Kane both to score - 1 point @ 5/1