ALEX CONTE, BUSINESS MANAGER
For many people in the United States, soccer fever ended when the USA was eliminated by Belgium in the World Cup’s Round of 16. However, for the majority of the world, the football season was just beginning, as all the major leagues around the world began to play only a month or so after the tournament. The most popular and competitive league is the Barclays Premier League in the United Kingdom. This year promises to be spectacular, as there are numerous teams all competing for the title.
For those unaware of how the league works, here are the basics: The league is made up of twenty teams and each team plays 38 games. A team receives three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. At the end of all 38 games, the team with most points claims the title. The top four teams are then put into a league known as the Champions League, which is comprised of the best teams in Europe. The fifth place team is placed in the, less prestigious, Europa League. The bottom three teams are then relegated to the second division of English soccer known as the Championship.
As of current, the premier league has been underway for 5 weeks and the top four, in order are Chelsea, Aston Villa, Swansea City, and Southampton. The bottom three are Burnley, West Bromwich Albion, and Newcastle United. These standings without question will be different at the end of the campaign and here are my predictions:
Title Winners: Chelsea
Simply put, Chelsea has the best team in the BPL. New arrivals including Cesc Fabregas, Felipe Luis, Thibaut Courtois, and, most importantly, Diego Costa have transformed this team into the perfect squad for their manager Jose Mourinho. Add to that the continued development of players like Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar, and Nemanja Matic and there is a strong possibility this team will also challenge for the Champions League title. The only question is the defense lead by an aging John Terry, but through the first four games this has not proved to be a massive issue. Chelsea has won all four games rather comfortably and Diego Costa has scored seven goals. That is a feat, which is truly out of this world. Look for Chelsea to continue their dominance and win the league fairly easily.
Second place: Manchester City
A team that contains the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, and David Silva can never be counted out, but so far they have not looked like the same title winners they were last year. A loss to Stoke City two weeks ago highlighted weaknesses in defense as well as an inability to break down a well organized team. I also question the tactical strength of their manager, Manuel Pelligrini, who I believe is made to look much better than he is because of the impressive squad depth and talent his oil-rich owners have been able to buy. While I don’t see City fading from the race anytime soon, I believe by the later stages of the year the distinction between managers Jose Mourinho and Pelligrini will be highlighted and Chelsea will pull away.
Third Place: Manchester United
Following what can only be described as the worst year in recent footballing history, I expect United to bounce back only because of the insane amount of money spent during the transfer window. United signed the likes of Angel Di Maria, Rademal Falcao, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind. Add Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, and Juan Mata and you have a team with too much quality to fail. While, there are still serious problems that must be solved in defense I believe that the attacking force will score enough goals to push them into the third spot
Fourth Place: Arsenal
Arsenal has finished within the top four for the past 17 seasons of the BPL and I don’t see it changing this year. Arsenal would have had a chance to win the league this year if manager Arsene Wenger had bought the players needed in the summer transfer window. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, and Danney Welbeck will certainly help but without a defensive midfielder and a true world-class striker (like Falcao), Arsenal will not have the firepower or grit to win the league.
Normally the relegation battle is a complete toss up. However, the teams I believe will be relegated are as follows:
The main problem is the lack of quality and goals in the squad. While other newly promoted clubs like Leicester City have signed quality players like Leonardo Ulloa Burnley is relying on their strikers from last year in the Championship and as a result I don’t believe they will have the ability to score enough goals to keep them in the BPL.
West Bromwich Albion:
I see the same problem with West Brom that I see in Burnley. There is nobody in the squad that can score enough goals to keep them up. Unless they buy in the January transfer market, I see a long and brutal campaign ahead for the Baggies.
They barely escaped relegation last year and I don’t expect them to do it again. There only hope is that Connor Wickham can regain the goal scoring form he found at the end of last year. However, he seems to be frustrated that he was not to be transferred so I doubt that will happen. I do have one piece of advice for the club and that is pursue Fabio Borini during the January window. He will get little playing time for Liverpool and he already proved he can score for Sunderland last year while he was on loan.