Barclays Premiership: Real Football is back

The 23rd season of the Barclays Premier League resumes this weekend and already, imaginary fireworks are on the air.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

Just like the last, the new season promises to be another riveting one. Unlike in the past, where Manchester United and the other dotted winners would be runaway favourites with matches to go, current champions, Manchester City had to sweat for the league title – destined for Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal somewhere along the race.

Perennial favourites Manchester United were nowhere near the race last season, where they ended a distant seventh, but under new coach Louis van Gaal, they are back this season. So are Liverpool, by far the most improved and most lethal side last season. Count in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and Community Shield holders Arsenal and you get a recipe that will make the Premier League pot boil for months before it finally tips the lid with the fold of the season.

There are no outright favourites as the new season begins, but City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Liverpool – wrangled in a nail-biting photo finish before City’s consistency over the season wrestled the title back to the Etihad last season, are all in with a chance.

Throw in dark horses Everton and big-spending London side, Queen’s Park Rangers and you have a league that will swing among a number of clubs till the penultimate stages. Guesswork will be the order of the league again this season and fans will be in for a big, mouth-watering treat.

Favourites Liverpool

Not many people expected The Super Reds to be in with a shout last season. More than two decades after they last lifted their 18th League crown, a British record by then, Liverpool were anyone’s punching bag before last season, but Brendon Rodgers turned their fortunes around, built their strike force around Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge to build a high-scoring outfit. Suarez is gone this season, but Rogers has made sure that the forwards he kept and those he brought into the squad take from where the hot-headed Uruguayan left off.

Their biggest undoing last season was an erratic defence, but Rogers realised that and fortified with defensive midfielders and defenders.

Liverpool, among the busiest in the transfer market this summer, will definitely be the team to look out for this season.

Manchester City and Chelsea have the best all-round squads in the league and with Manuel Pellegrini reshaping City to be a powerful, attacking team and one of the world’s best tactical minds, Jose Mourinho infusing life back to Chelsea, the more consistent of the two are expected to win the title, should Liverpool falter again.

Arsenal have lacked bite in the tail end of the season in recent years, but have bolstered their team with some star-studded names in the summer transfer window. New Manchester United manager Van Gaal is sure to get the most successful Premier League side back to winning ways.

Two teams that previously ruled the league in the past – Manchester United and Arsenal both had a dismal last season, but manager Van Gaal has proved to be quite a magician, if his past record is anything to go by. Arsenal look stronger too, but only time will tell if the Gunners can avoid another collapse after getting off to a good start.

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