The Contenders - Premier League 2010/2011
The battle for Premier League supremacy has gone down to the wire in the past two seasons and expect it to be no different this time around. Super Sunday sees the Kop up against the Gunners with both teams looking to seize the early initiative in the title chase . Manchester United welcome Newcastle United back to the league with title rivals Chelsea doing likewise against West Bromwich Albion. Here’s an in-depth look at the title contenders.
The champions still remain the team to beat despite their sluggish showing in the Community Shield .Goalkeeping problems aplenty with Hilario and Turnbull looking far from convincing in the absence of Cech . Ashley Cole is one of the best left backs in the world and Branislav Ivanovic can effectively put in a good shift at right back till Bosingwa is back . Central defense is a grey area with John Terry struggling on and off the pitch and Ricardo Carvalho set to join Mourinho at Real Madrid, leaving Alex with a big job ahead of him. Michael Essien is a fantastic box to box midfielder and his fitness will be vital to Chelsea’s chances. Flourent Malouda was a revelation on the left wing last season and more of the same can be expected from him this time around . Frank Lampard should be back to his best in Chelsea colours and the signings of Ramires and Benayoun should provide metal and flair respectively to a well oiled midfield engine . The strong, powerful and clinical Didier Drogba will lead the line ably supported by Le Sulk Anelka and Solomon Kalou when needed.
Their major weakness will be their predictability and aging legs. They should be able pip their opponents who have far greater worries.
Good start to the season but progress could be hampered with a few blips that could throw them off track. At 40, Edwin Van der Saar continues to impress with his agility and urge to get a move on with the game . In Patrice Evra , they have a good defender who is speedy on the overlap on the left hand side . The same cannot be said of the right side of defense with Gary Neville off the pace, Rafael way too inexperienced and O’Shea more of a makeshift in that position. Central defense seems okay with the uncompromising Vidic and composed Evans covering for the injury hit Rio Ferdinand. Darren Fletcher is a bundle of energy in the middle of the park and Nani and Valencia provide good width down the flanks . Scholesy and Giggsy have slotted in from a more central role making good runs and spraying killer passes but one wonders if they will be able go a full season between them . The biggest worry is the attacking midfield position where Carrick and Anderson have left a lot to be desired. Attack looks good with Wayne Rooney expected to get strong support from wonder kid Chicharito and Berba who looked sharp in the Shield .
Their major weakness is the right back and attacking midfield positions which is going to hit them hard just like it did last season . Scholes and Giggs are one match per week players (even less) and its high time Sir Alex recognizes this and brings in reinforcements to have a real go at the title.
Prediction: Runners Up
The Gunners go into the season with a lot of promise coupled with the customary question marks hanging over their temperament to deliver the goods. As things stand, goalkeeping continues to be a major headache for Wenger and a new signing could be drafted in between posts before the transfer deadline. Leaking in 5 goals against minnows Legia Warsaw does not augur well for a side who fielded their strongest back four. Sagna and Clichy are quite effective defending as well as going forward. Verminator was the pick of the transfers last season defending with a lot of heart and powering in the headers at the other end of the pitch . Koscielny has been brought in to replace Gallas and how he adapts to the physical prowesses of the Rooney’s and Drogba’s remains to be seen. Alex Song put in some gritty and determined performances last season wherever he was asked to play and he’s one to hold onto that defensive midfield slot for many years to come. Captain Fabregas got going in attack with his fellow gunners like a house on fire till injury blew away the flames and the season . He will be determined to give something back to the fans before he bids adieu and has strong support from the technically gifted Nasri and dynamic Andre Arshavin . Robin Van Persie and Chamakh should form a good partnership upfront when fit.
Their major weakness is their lackluster defense who struggle to play as a unit and throw away good positions. Another problem area is their inconsistent form and inability to break down the more physical teams. Most of their key players are injury prone and the back ups fail to step it up more often that not.
Prediction : 3rd
The eternally optimistic Reds will be hoping to turn the tide under the able guidance of Roy Hodgson after a dismal campaign last year. Four times Barclays Golden Glove winner, Pepe Reina will look to add to an impressive tally of clean sheets. The left back slot is futile with the adventurous Fabio Aurelio having many shortcomings a defender and so is the case with Insua. Central defense will see one amongst Agger, Skrtel or Kyrgiakos partnering the senescent Jamie Carragher. Glen Johnson will man the right side of defense and occasionally foray into the opponent’s box. Want away Javier Mascherano’s departure could spell doomsday for a team over reliant on a combative midfield destroyer and one wonders if the inbound Christian Poulsen or an average Lucas Leiva can prove a fistful. The higher end of the pitch is well marshaled by Steven Gerrard who has Maxi and Kuyt for company on either side along with the perpetually injured Aquilani and new boy Milan Jovanovic to make an impact when called upon. Joe Cole’s contribution could make or break Liverpool’s season as he prepares to forge a role behind the deadly Fernando Torres who will look to get his shooting boots back on in time for the season opener.
Their major weakness is their lack of strength in depth in the striking department as well as concern over the defensive midfield and left back slots.
The heart says Manchester United but the head is paralyzed by Blue fever! …