The 2014/15 English Premier League season kicks off Aug 16!
By William Lewis
The 23rd edition of the English Premier League will kick off on Saturday, August 16 and will wrap up several months later on Sunday, May 24, 2015. In the previous 22 years just five different clubs have managed to win the league title. Manchester City will be attempting to retain the championship they won just three months ago, with their main competition coming from the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United. Teams with an outside chance of doing some damage in the 20-team league in 2014/15 include Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Newcastle United.
There are three newcomers to the league this season as Leicester City, Burnley, and Queens Park Rangers were all promoted from the second-tier English Championship League at the end of last season. These three clubs will be just trying to survive in the league this year with their main goal being to avoid relegation back to the Championship League next May. The bottom three clubs in the Premier League suffer this fate each campaign.
Manchester City has won the Premier League crown twice in the last three years and will be gunning for their third overall title this year. They didn’t clinch the championship until the final week last season and there’s a good chance the race will be just as close again this year. There have been numerous changes since last season’s final day as several teams have changed managers and dozens of players from all over the world have been transferred in and out of the league.
Manchester United hired Dutchman Louis Van Gaal to take over as manager this summer. Van Gaal stepped down from his international job with Holland at the end of this year’s World Cup. He replaces former United winger Ryan Giggs, who will serve as his assistant. Giggs was handed the job near the end of the 2013/14 season when David Moyes was fired. West Bromwich Albion hired Alan Irvine of Scotland to take over the team after Pepe Mel of Spain was let go in June. Tottenham Hotspur fired former boss Tim Sherwood of England in May and replaced him with Mauricio Pochettino of Argentina. Pochettino managed Southampton last season so his departure meant the south coast club also needed a new manager. They signed one in June when former Dutch international player Ronald Koeman was hired to replace Pochettino in June.
Man City edged past Liverpool to take the title in 2013/14 as they got 20 goals from Ivory Coast international midfielder Yaya Toure as well as 17 from Argentine striker Sergio Aguero when he was healthy. Several other players chipped in and City became just the second squad to score at least 100 goals during a Premier League season. The club released several players during the offseason, such as former England internationals Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell and Joleon Lescott. However, they brought in some fresh blood by signing defender Bacary Sagna from Arsenal, midfielder Fernando from Porto, and goaltender Wilfredo Caballero from Malaga. They also signed England international midfielder Frank Lampard to a six-month contract. If everybody manages to stay healthy Man City should take another run at the title.
Chelsea is ranked as the favorite to take the league at some sportsbooks. They finished in third place last year, just four points behind Man City, and have made some changes to their attack force in the offseason. Strikers Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, and Samuel Eto’o were all released and replaced by Diego Costa from Spanish la Liga champions Atletico Madrid and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. In addition, manager Jose Mourinho also acquired Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona and defender Filipe from Atletico Madrid. Other players who left over the summer include defenders Ashley Cole and David Luiz as well as midfielder Lampard.
Manchester United finished a disappointing seventh place in the league last season and are hoping new manager Louis van Gaal can get the team back on the right track. United has won the English league crown 20 times with 13 of them coming in the Premier League. They seemed to be lost last year without Alex Ferguson in charge. David Moyes took over the reins from Ferguson, but he didn’t last the season as United struggled through their worst season in 25 years. Former Holland international manager Van Gaal was hired at the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His major transfer signings in the offseason have been left-back Luke Shaw from Southampton and midfielder Ander Herrera. Players who were released include defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Arsenal finally ended their trophy drought at nine years last season when they won the English FA Cup. However, they led the Premier League for much of the season and then faded down the stretch. It didn’t help matters that midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere missed numerous games with injuries and forward Theo Walcott missed most of the campaign with a torn ACL. They haven’t won the Premier League for 11 years now and have brought in Colombian international goaltender David Ospina to help break the jinx. Manager Arsene Wenger has also acquired French midfielder Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United along with Chilean international striker Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. However, they did lose free agents Bacary Sagna and Nicklas Bendtner.
Liverpool came close to winning their first-ever Premier League title last season, but faltered in the last couple of weeks to finish as runners-up. They haven’t won a league crown since the Premier League was launched back in 1992/93. They’ve won 18 league titles, but their last one came back in 1989/90. Liverpool lost their top scorer Luis Suarez in the offseason as last year’s Premier League player of the year was sold to Spanish giants Barcelona. Suarez’s 31 league goals will be tough to replace, but Liverpool brought in forwards Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana from Southampton in the summer transfer window.
The Mediocre Majority
While Tottenham, Newcastle, and Everton should all have decent seasons, they can’t be considered as serious contenders for the league title this season. However, they should all finish in the top 10.The rest of the 20 clubs; Aston Villa, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Leicester, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Queens Park Rangers, West Ham, and West Brom, may provide some upsets this season, but don’t have the talent to produce on a consistent basis. They’re basically all mediocre clubs with mainly mediocre players and any one of them could find themselves relegated at the end of the season. If these teams do manage to stay afloat they’ll all likely finish in the bottom 10.