In workplaces around the country, there was a single pre-season question on the lips of football fans everywhere; City or United? The fight for this season’s title is a two-horse race, with any talk of the trophy leaving Manchester laughable. Buoyed and spirited from their last ditch victory, City are enjoying their first taste of victory since the 1960s; but United will be furious and more determined than ever to snatch it back from their bankrolled neighbours.
But is it really just between Mancini and Ferguson?
Chelsea’s victory in the Champion’s League has been all but forgotten, and written off as a fluke of ‘parking the big blue bus.’ But how many teams beat both Barcelona and Bayern Munich by chance?
Do you remember the ‘Arsenal Relegation Party’ that went viral on Facebook last year? The Gunners failed to win any matches in the first month and embarrassed themselves in an 8-2 destruction by Manchester United. But Wenger’s men still ended up 3rd by the end of the season.
Couple this with the fact that Arsenal are as of yet undefeated this time around, and hammered their most recent opponents into the ground with a 6-1 deconstruction of their defence. Chelsea currently sit pretty at the top of the league, two points clear of Manchester United and they don’t look like slowing down any time soon.
So what are the chances of a London victory this season?
Chelsea have made an excellent start to the season under the permanent employment of Champions’ League winning Roberto Di Matteo. Roman Abramovich gave him a thick wallet to the weight of £80m and Di Matteo spent wisely bringing in Hazard, Oscar and Marin; all stars in their respective leagues.
Chelsea have won three out of four of their games so far and drawn one, which puts them top. Belgian troublemaker Eden Hazard (10.3m) has proved the brightest spark, winning penalties and assists left, right and centre and not to mention bagging himself a goal. The Blues are infused with their European success and with a wealth of new talent; they’re probably better value than Arsenal to challenge the top two.
Torres (10.1m) has recovered from goal shy syndrome and Didier Drogba is swiftly fading to memory. The Blues undoubtedly have a starting eleven to challenge anybody, but with their involvement in the Champions’ League; will they have the depth to spread their success around? Their biggest concern will be in attack, for although they have a lot of tricky midfielders who have an eye for goal, Torres remains their sole first team striker. Having said that, the Spaniard only needs to stay fit until January when Abramovich will undoubtedly back another spending spree to bolster the Blues’ attack.
Putting six goals past any team in the Premier League is a tricky task, but Arsenal compounded their unbeaten run on the weekend by doing just that, against new boys Southampton. Arsenal’s greatest signing this summer surely must be Malaga’s miniature maestro Santi Cazorla (9.2m), but he’s being given a run for his money by the former Cologne striker Lukas Podolski (8.5m). Both players have hit the ground running and if Olivier Giroud (8.8m) can find his feet, Arsenal will have a fearsome trident in attack.
Arsenal’s last title victory was in 2003, in their glory days of Bergkamp, Vieira, Ljungberg and Henry. Apart from finishing as runners up the following year, the Gunners have failed to challenge in any capacity since then. Their respectable finish last season was almost all down to their talismanic captain Robin Van Persie, and all but everyone feared that the Gunners would struggle without him; but Wenger has had an uncharacteristic spending spree to suppress the critics.
So what are Arsenal’s chances? Outside? Slim? Long? Perhaps not so far-fetched as Wenger would have us think. Mancini’s mind games at the end of last season helped to take the pressure of his eventual title winning team, and Arsenal will undoubtedly benefit from the weight of expectancy; not that they’ve had it for a while now. I would be very surprised if the Gunners weren’t at least scrapping over third place, some mistakes made above could see the Londoners come into contention again.
So who’s going to win the Premier League this season?
Probably City or United…
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Image Credit: Flickr – EG Focus