The new Premier League season is just a fortnight away, as we get ready for another 10 months of footballing extravaganza unparalleled around the globe. There is no doubt, that as defending champions, Chelsea are very much the team to beat.
We had it easy last season, leading from the front all the way through and winning by a comfortable margin of 8 points in the end. But, all our major rivals have gone about strengthening their squads for next season and will come out all guns blazing.
So, which team possesses the most potent threat to us defending the title next season? Here, we take a look at all the signings and potential signings that our rivals could make, and analyse its potential impact on the upcoming campaign.
1) Manchester City
Transfers in: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa)
Our closest title challengers last season were Manchester City. The 2013/14 champions ran us really close in the earlier half of the season but made it easy as they fell away after January. Manuel Pellegrini has an ageing squad, and the team hasn’t really done anything different or novel in the last 3-4 seasons. The likes of Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, so influential for the Citizens over the years, looked ragged last season. Their two major threats came from David Silva and Sergio Aguero, with the latter taking home the Premier League Golden Boot Award thanks to his tally of 26 goals.
City have done some good business thus far, bringing in two fantastic young English talents in Sterling and Delph. The £49 million spent on the former will be debated for a long time, but at 20, there is no doubting that the winger has tremendous potential.
They may be short on strikers, though, with Alvaro Negredo sold to Valencia and both Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic linked with moves away from the Etihad Stadium. The club, of course, aren’t foolish enough to sell both!
Man City have quality throughout the pitch and despite some of their stars fading last season, they will be in the thick of things this season. Keeping Aguero fit will be a priority for Pellegrini, as the little Argentine has won games single-handedly time and time again for his side.
The additions of Sterling and Delph will add more balance to the squad, but one would think that they still need a powerhouse in midfield to replace Toure. The Ivorian’s presence in their two league triumphs in 2012 and 2014 cannot be understated, and unless that position is covered, they will fall slightly short in the end. Add to that, Frank Lampard won’t be denying us any points this season either.
Transfers in: Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Traditionally, over the last decade, we would never worry about Arsenal when talking about the title race. There are indications that things could be slightly different this time.
The Gunners were in fantastic form in the latter half of last campaign after the addition of Francis Coquelin. They will start the 2015/16 campaign in the same vein, and with our very Petr Cech guarding their goalposts, will pose a genuine threat.
They are, though, still a world-class striker short of being genuine contenders. Arsene Wenger reportedly has the backing and the intent to sign a superstar, with names like Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani being mentioned among others by a reliable source such as SkySports. If they can get one of these world-beaters in the next month, we can surely be talking about them as legitimate threats, even with Wenger at the helm.
3) Manchester United
Transfers in: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven)
United are arguably the team who have had the best transfer window among our rivals. Taking a leaf out of Jose Mourinho’s book, Louis van Gaal addressed his needs early and with authority. Schneiderlin from Southampton is a brilliant signing, and the Frenchman will add the bite in midfield United lacked last year. Schweinsteiger’s quality has been on show at the top level for all to see in the past decade. Even at 30, the experience and winning mentality he will add to this squad may prove to be invaluable (remember Michael Ballack?).
Another important thing to be considered is that they seem to have managed to keep their best player from last season – David De Gea. The goalkeeper has been targeted by Real Madrid all summer and holding on to him is a huge signal of intent.
Like Arsenal, United also need a world-class centre-forward to have a fully complete squad. With Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao leaving, all the responsibility has shifted to Wayne Rooney and even though the Englishman is capable enough, he will need support. Also, the Red Devils need to sign a leader in defence. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are not going to win them the Premier League, and Van Gaal has been desperate to bring in a big name, like the seemingly never-ending saga involving Sergio Ramos indicates.
Transfers in: Danny Ings (Burnley), James Milner (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Joe Gomez (Charlton Athletic), Adam Bogdan (Bolton Wanderers)
I feel guilty including Liverpool in an article covering rivals, but with the number of players they brought in, I thought they deserve a mention. Brendan Rodgers has gone absolutely kamikaze, and if it were anybody other than the Northern Irishman at the helm at Anfield, I would consider the Reds sure-shot contenders.
Despite losing Sterling to City, Liverpool have brought in some quality players in every area of the pitch. If the right balance can be struck, they could be a very difficult side to beat this season! With all the money that has been spent, the board will want Rodgers to at least claim a Champions League spot, which would make things very interesting, as one of City, Arsenal or United (not us, surely) would have to drop out.
Despite the signings, I only have one word for Liverpool’s title challenge: Naaah.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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