How are the top four shaping up ahead of the upcoming Premier League season?
Once the dust settles on what has been a wonderful World Cup tournament, all eyes will be on the upcoming Premier League season which promises to be equally intriguing and exciting as events in Brazil. The impending Financial Fair Play rules have not prevented the major contenders from being active in the early stages of the transfer window, with numerous deals catching the eye and potentially lighting the blue touch paper for the rest of the summer. It has created a fascinating battle between the top four who are conducting their business early with the aim to further strengthen their squads and set a challenge for their rivals to improve in equal, or greater, measure. There is also the awareness that Manchester United are unlikely to face a repeat of the disappointment endured throughout 2013/2014, and could well return to the summit as a force to be reckoned with. Both components have already led to fascinating changes in the betting odds to win the Premier League, with the arrival of top quality players tipping the balance in one of the contenders’ favour.
The arrival of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas instantly led to Chelsea being installed as title favourites ahead of previous frontrunner Manchester City at 2.85. Jose Mourinho promised big changes at Chelsea after falling short in the Premier League and Champions League, with a crying need for a goal-scoring target man and dynamic midfielder to replace the outgoing Frank Lampard addressed in some fashion. Costa brings a sheer physical presence that Chelsea have been lacking since Didier Drogba left two years ago, with a superb goal-scoring season with Atletico Madrid boding well as a potential tonic for Chelsea’s lack of goals in their previous campaign. More arrivals may be imminent at Stamford Bridge as Mourinho continues to shake up his squad and make them major contenders to win the 2014/2015 Premier League title.
Filtering in behind Chelsea at 3.00 symbolises the considerable strength that Manchester City have developed over the years to become strong title contenders. The reigning champions knew that their closest rivals would be active in the transfer market in an effect to dethrone Manuel Pellegrini’s side, but the Chilean has also been busy looking for new players. Defensive midfielder Fernando will add more strength and tenacity in the middle of the park that may allow Yaya Toure to play further upfield, while Pellegrini has secured a familiar face from his Malaga days with the signing of Willy Caballero. Manchester City appear all set to launch a strong title defence, although rumours of Toure being unsettled at the Etihad refuse to go away – losing their powerhouse midfielder would be a major blow that would hand the initiative to their nearest challengers.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez may signal a new dawn for Arsenal who appears poised to be extremely active this summer in the hope of building on their FA Cup success – the club’s first trophy in 9 years. Arsene Wenger has often been criticised for being considerably stubborn in realising Arsenal’s crying need for new players, but signing one of Chile’s World Cup stars may be the first of many top quality players that arrive at the Emirates. It may alter their current odds of 9.50, which reflect that Arsenal do have quality amongst their ranks, but perhaps not enough to make the decisive difference during the business end of the season.
Finishing second in the 2013/2014 season could provide the platform for Liverpool to establish themselves amongst the top four and give themselves a real chance of challenging for the Premier League title on a regular basis. The imminent departure of Luis Suarez will be a major blow as Liverpool may never be able to replace their star striker – a fact which could be reflected by their outright odds of 11.00. Signing Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Emre Can represents good business for Brendan Rodgers, with many more set to arrive if rumours are to be believed. Liverpool’s rise to prominence following their wonderful performance last season has allowed the club to target a plethora of top quality players, although they may rue missing out on Alexis Sanchez who joined Arsenal instead.
Image – Premier League