The 2010-11 Premier League has been typically enthralling, full of drama and surprises and compulsory viewing for football fans all over the world. The only problem is that it has ended in an all too familiar way. Manchester United are champions, Chelsea are second and Arsenal are third. No one other than those three have won the title in 18 out of 19 seasons and although they have been deserved champions on most of the occasions, you have to feel that there needs to be a more open title race for the Premier League to regain a little bit of spark that the tedious cycle of United-Chelsea-Arsenal dominance is slowly killing. If you are a fan of Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea then you will most probably disagree but I feel for the good of the Premier League, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool need to become title challengers and this is why I think they will.
Manchester City have become a real force this season. They have the most realistic chance of challenging for the title next season as they have an abundant amount of transfer funds at their disposal to strengthen their squad in the summer and FA Cup success alongside Champions League qualification can only increase the size of names that City look for in the transfer market. Yes, they may lose their talisman, Carlos Tevez, but he is replaceable. The only problem they’ve had in the past is attracting the real superstars to the club. Ronaldinho, Kaka and Fernando Torres have all reportedly rejected moves to Eastlands before. However, I feel that now as they are competing in the Champions League it will attract players that may not have been keen on City previously. The rumour mill is already in full swing and names linked with City include Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez. Anybody who does arrive at the club will face stiff competition from an already strong team with the likes of Mario Balotelli who has shown flashes of brilliance, David Silva whose skill and craft are unquestionable and Yaya Toure who has been one of City’s best players this season, scoring crucial goals in the FA Cup semi final and final at Wembley. Carlos Tevez’s departure is not confirmed and if he does stay and City strengthen, I think they may well be in with a chance of real glory next year under Roberto Mancini.
Tottenham Hotspur have only improved under Harry Redknapp and he has assembled arguably the most attractive squad in the Premier League. Gareth Bale, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric are part of one of Europe’s strongest midfields and when they are on form, Spurs can beat anyone. They are lacking a striker and Redknapp is keen to address this in the summer where it is expected he will turn to Spain and try to sign at least one out of Sergio Aguero, Giuseppe Rossi and Fernando Llorente and if he can bolster his attacking options with any of these, Spurs could become a real force capable of winning trophies. I think Redknapp will also want to strengthen in defence with William Gallas ageing, Younes Kaboul being inconsistent and Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate extremely injury prone. A central defensive partner for Michael Dawson could well be one of Spurs’ priorities in the transfer market. Spurs may well bring in Charlie Adam or Scott Parker to give themselves even more options in midfield as both of those players are set to leave their clubs this summer. Finally, they may well need to look into replacing Heurelho Gomes after high profile errors against Chelsea, Real Madrid and Blackpool. Spurs don’t seem to be in any real danger of losing any of their key players and so with a few additions, they can become really tough opponents for the big three.
Liverpool have a new manager, a rejuvenated squad and an owner who, on january’s evidence, doesn’t mind splashing out on areas where Liverpool need to strengthen. Liverpool will be looking to add players in a few areas. Left Back, Centre Back, Right Midfield, Left Midfield and Centre Forward are the areas where the club needs to strengthen and Jose Enrique of Newcastle, Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, Charlie Adam and Connor Wickham have all been talked about as possible summer signings for the Reds. Kenny Dalglish’s appointment has added a large amount of optimism around Anfield and it is widely believed that Liverpool could be back next season after a two year drop in form and on the evidence of the past few months, it can’t really be disputed as Liverpool are playing with confidence and have arguably been the Premier League’s form team since January. Liverpool’s future definitely looks bright and next season could be their chance to reintroduce themselves into the top four and with a few shrewd signings and a bit of luck, Liverpool could well be amongst the title challengers again.
With Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool all keen to strengthen this summer then surely Arsenal and Manchester United will have to buy big. Arsenal have been lacking in a number of areas this season. A Goalkeeper, a Centre Back and a Striker are needed but you have to feel that Arsene Wenger may well be too stubborn to spend. Arsenal definitely have a strong squad but it doesn’t have the experience or the character that is needed to win big games on a weekly basis, you always feel that Arsenal will slip up whereas you don’t with Manchester United. United will themselves perhaps need to buy one or two players as they will lose Paul Scholes and possibly Edwin Van Der Sar as they hang up their boots. Gary Neville also retired midway through this season. Ryan Giggs is ageing all the time, despite his excellent performances and Rio Ferdinand is becoming increasingly vulnerable to injury so Sir Alex Ferguson must be looking to improve his title winning squad in some areas. Chelsea may well have a new manager before the start of next season as a fruitless season for the Blues may could lead to the volatile Roman Abramovich pulling the trigger on another manager. Chelsea also have an ageing squad with Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Cole, Anelka and Malouda all the wrong side of thirty. It has been rumoured that Chelsea will spend in the summer with Kaka as their number one target but as has been proven by Andriy Shevchenko, Deco and Fernando Torres, Big names don’t always fit in to the team. For these reasons, I think that the current top three are going to be weaker next season than they have been this season.
I feel that if Spurs, City and Liverpool spend in the summer and start well next season, there may well be a new name etched into the Premier League trophy next May. For the good of the league and for the extra excitement and interest it would create, I would love one of those three to crack into the top two or even win the league. Whatever happens next season, I think the Premier League is on the brink of a revolution that will end the English game as we have known it over the past two decades and new teams will end the era of dominance from one or two teams and make the title race a six horse race for years to come and that, in my opinion, will justify completely why the Barclays Premier League has earned the reputation of ‘Best League in the World’.
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