TSN TV Schedule TSN2 TV Schedule
Soccer

2013-14 BPL Season Preview: Five Burning Questions

{eot}
Ken Rodney, TSN.ca
8/16/2013 3:26:43 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

The English Premier League kicks-off a new season on Saturday.  Manchester United begins defence of their 20th League title, while teams such as Chelsea and Manchester City attempt to get back on top of the league.  Before the action begins, TSN.ca takes a look at five burning questions heading into the 2013-14 season.

Can David Moyes and Manchester United keep their place at the top of the table as champions?

Sir Alex Ferguson is gone.

Allow that to sink in for a second, because while it's been reality for an entire off-season and even during United's victory in the Community Shield, the familiar figure will not be stalking the touchline at Old Trafford this season.

Instead, former Everton manager David Moyes will take charge of a team that won the League by 11 points last season behind the power and poise of top scorer Robin van Persie and the most decorated squad when it comes to trophy-winning success.

Moyes' first transfer window in charge of the team has been marked by big money misses rather than captures, as United failed to pick up either Thiago Alcantara or Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, two players they were rumoured to have chased.

They have also been linked to two Everton players that Moyes commanded during his time with that team in Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini; both players would bolster the United ranks if either/or were bought before the closing of the transfer window.

There is also the saga regarding forward Wayne Rooney, who is believed to want a transfer from the club.  He has been a major part of United's success since making his own move from Everton in 2004. 

He's even had past problems with Moyes, who sued the England international for libel in 2006 over the contents of his autobiography.

Chelsea is Rooney's top suitor but United have rejected all offers and repeatedly said the player is not for sale.

While turmoil has made the headlines for United this off-season, it shouldn't be forgotten that not only are they the defending champions, but they have talent and experience in their squad from top to bottom.

Do not underestimate both the skill and impact of names like Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Shinji Kagawa.

Moyes has a very strong squad, transfers or not, to start building his Manchester United legacy.

Who are the biggest threats to the defending champions?

Much like United, the other top contenders will be headed by first year managers.  However, in the case of Chelsea, there is nothing "first year" about Jose Mourinho, who has returned for his second stint with the club after high profile work with both Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Mourinho in his first stint with Chelsea captured the Premier League, League Cup (twice) and the FA Cup.  He is also a two-time Champions League winner during stints with FC Porto and at Inter Milan.

He will, however, not be kicking a ball for Chelsea, but the men that will are both highly skilled and dangerous.

To bolster its already-impressive attacking ranks, Chelsea have already brought in both Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen and Marco van Ginkel from Vitesse Arnhem.  They are added to an offensive group that boasts Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and others that have proven they can score goals at the Premier League level.

Romelu Lukaku will not be going out on loan this season after he spent last year with West Bromwich Albion.  For Chelsea this is probably a good choice as his 17 goals would have led the team had he remained part of the squad.

They also still have Fernando Torres and Demba Ba in the squad and - though the former has struggled and the latter is rumoured to be on the move - both have shown in the past an ability to be game breakers.

Chelsea will be incredibly hard to mark this season and if they are able to add Rooney to that mix they could be upgraded to near-impossible.

Another team under new management is Manchester City, who enter the season under first year man Manuel Pellegrini taking over from title winning boss Roberto Mancini.

City has not been afraid to splash the cash and though last season's crop of big money buys did not work out in defence of the title, the players they bought in this window appear more capable of fitting into the team dynamic.

Fernandinho was purchased from Shakhtar Donetsk. He is a player with Champions League experience, who will be joining a team that failed to win one game in the competition last season. 

Midfielder Jesus Navas and striker Alvaro Negredo were brought in from Sevilla and forward Steven Jovetic from Fiorentina.

These players will play alongside current City talent like Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure, considered to already be among the best offensive threats in the Premier League.

With Mario Balotelli already moved on, City erased another problem from their ranks when they sold Carlos Tevez to Juventus, ending a four year relationship that saw the former team captain win both the FA Cup and League title but also make headlines for row after row with team management.

September 22nd is already circled on all City calendars as they will get their shot at United and a chance to prove early in the season that they are once again the team to beat.

Who is North London's best team?

Arsenal is said to have lots of money to spend and during the summer claimed to be willing to move it for big money targets. 

However, on the eve of the season, the only addition to Arsene Wenger's squad has been the free transfer of Yaya Sanogo.

Meanwhile the list of departures is long and includes the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Francis Coquelin, Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho… just to name a few.

They have played the big money transfer-request game, trying to lure the talented Luis Suarez away from Liverpool but so far have been unsuccessful in that endeavor.

When healthy, Jack Wilshere can be one of the most dynamic players in the game but even at full strength a title chase will be tough to mount on his back alone.

Wenger's side is consistently counted out of Champions League contention but year after year he pulls the right strings to get his team into the top four and back into Europe's top club competition.

Without any major purchases before the closing of the transfer window in September he could face his biggest challenge to date.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are dealing with their own transfer rumours but theirs are surrounding losing their best player.

Last year Gareth Bale almost single-handedly pulled Spurs into a Champions League position, finishing one point behind North London rivals Arsenal.

The entire summer was then dominated by rumours of a possible big money transfer to one of Europe's biggest clubs, a move that has yet to materialize.

With that still up in the air, it's hard to know exactly how good Tottenham can be, or what type of squad is going to take the field at White Hart Lane this season.

To their credit, they haven't just sat idly by failing to strengthen the squad, Paulinho from Corinthians, striker Roberto Soldado from Valencia, winger Nacer Chadli from FC Twente and defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue are all now members of the team.

Still the rumour of a 100 million-plus euro move to Real Madrid for Bale will continue to be the biggest story at the club until it is either completed or squashed.  The immediate and long term futures of the club both hang in the balance one way or the other.

Who is better poised to emerge from the mid-table Liverpool or Everton?

Continuing the cross-city rival theme, Liverpool has finished below their neighbours two years in a row and must climb over them and others to regain a place in the Champions League.

The saga of Luis Suarez dominated the summer for Liverpool, from the player asking to be moved on due both to unhappiness and a promise he claims was made regarding the team's failure to qualify for Champions League.

That news was then followed by a strategic transfer offer made by Arsenal that was thought to activate a release clause in Suarez' contract allowing him to leave the club.

Finally Suarez reportedly told a paper in his native Uruguay, that he would prefer to remain at Liverpool because of the passion and support of the fan base.

There is no doubt that Liverpool is better with the explosive Suarez than without him but the distractions he can cause throughout a season (or off-season) are immense.

He will also be forced to sit out the first six games of the campaign to finish serving a suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic last season.

Liverpool did conduct business outside of dealing with Suarez and his associated rumours: Kolo Toure has joined from Manchester City, Luis Alberto signed from Sevilla, Iago Aspas has been added from Celta Vigo and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland.

Everton will be under first year manager Roberto Martinez, who moved over from FA Cup-winning/relegated side Wigan Athletic.

Striker Arouna Kone, defender Antolin Alcaraz and goalkeeper Joel Robles also made the move from Wigan to Everton rather than remain with the now Championship side.

The aforementioned Baines and Fellaini will be massive in the success of Everton. If they stay they will be major impact players, if they leave it will be near impossible for Everton to continue their success as the best team that spends the least amount of money.

Will any of the promoted sides keep their place in the Premier League?

Since the 1995-96 season when the English Premier League moved from 22 to 20 teams, only once have all three promoted teams been instantly relegated back to the Championship.

In 1997-98 Bolton, Barnsley and Crystal Palace were all returned from where they came at the conclusion of the season.

So history says at least one of Cardiff City, Hull City, and Crystal Palace will keep their place among the top teams in England, parsing which one might be a little more difficult.

Cardiff came up as the top team from the Championship and seem the best positioned to defend their place in the League.

They made three significant additions to their team in Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and Chilean international midfielder Gary Medel, all three signings breaking the clubs previous transfer total record.

Crystal Palace sold their best player in Wilfried Zaha and are dealing with an injury to Glenn Murray. They also carry the distinction of having the worst defensive record for a promoted team since Sunderland in 1990.

Hull meanwhile have their troubles at the offensive end of the field and if they fail to score in the Premier League the way they failed to score in the Championship, it is going to be a short stay in the top flight.

Manchester United celebrates (Photo: The Canadian Press)

zoom

(Photo: The Canadian Press)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story


Premier League Shows on TSN.ca

TSN.ca is Canada's exclusive home to highlight and feature programs from the Barclay's Premier League. Check out the latest programs on VOD below.


Net Busters

BPL Match Pack

Podcasts

TSN 1050: Game Night: Gareth Wheeler - July 30

Gareth Wheeler joined Jim Tatti & Andy McNamara on Game Night to recap Toronto FC's 3-0 loss to DC United and more news on TFC.

TSN 690: Montreal Impact Jopey Saputo Presser July 30th

Joey Saputo press conference annoucing Nick DeSantis is relieved of his duties as Sporting Director

TSN 690 oranges @ halftime July 29: Pat Leduc

Impact season of woes as the club get set for a major announcement from Joey Saputo tomorrow morning


More Podcasts

TSN TweetBox
© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television