European Football Preview (Clasico Special)

It is the biggest game in the Spanish league or perhaps the biggest fixture on calendar in European football. This weekend, newly crowned world club champions – Real Madrid host eternal rivals Barcelona in a must win game for Zinedine Zidane’s team if they still harbor any hope of retaining their La Liga crown. Elsewhere in Spain, there is a derby in Valencia, two English heavy weights will be battling for a top four spot and it is second versus fourth in the Serie A.

This is our preview of some key fixtures in the top leagues in Europe.

We kick off in Italy;

Juve v Roma

Bianconeri v Giallorossi


Italian champions Juve entertain Roma in the final league game of 2017. This fixture is one of the most keenly contested games in the Serie A, so expect fireworks from both sides at the Juventus stadium. Unfortunately, AS Roma haven’t enjoyed their trips to Turin lately, they haven’t won there since 2010. VERDICT: Juventus will shade 2-1


napoli v samp

Napoli ready to defend their top position

League leaders Napoli should consolidate on their victory away victory at Torino last week and ensure they retain top spot heading into the winter break. Sampdoria find no joy when visiting San Paolo, their last victory there was in 1998. VERDICT: Expect goals from both sides, Napoli to win 3-1 

We cross over to England,

ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL. The Gunners square off against the high scoring Liverpool. Arsenal managed to turn the corner with their narrow victory over Newcastle but Liverpool is a different proposition. The Reds current away form has been nothing short of spectacular.  VERDICT: Expect goals here. 2-2 draw 

ars v liv

Christmas party!!


city v bourn

Surely, no one will bet against Man City extending their impressive run in the Premier League. It’s difficult to seeing Bournemouth offer much resistance here. VERDICT: Man City to win at home comfortably. 3-0


burnley v tot

The Clarets are placed sixth on the log after 18 games. For a team whose initial target for the season would have been survival (40 points), they have 32 already. Spurs on the other hand have a good record against Burnely at Turf Moor winning their last three there. VERDICT: I fancy Burnley giving a better fight so I will go for a draw 1-1 


leicester v man u

Leicester host Manchester United at the King Power stadium. Both teams crashed out of the Carabao cup midweek so we should expect a reaction. Leicester have lost their last two games, their confidence could be fragile at the moment. VERDICT: Mourinho will demand an instant result after their Bristol collapse. 2-1 Manchester United 


everton v chel

Wayne Rooney…. Can he make this difference?

The Toffees form has improved drastically since Sam Allardyce took over the Goodison Park club. Club hero – Wayne Rooney has found his goal-scoring touch again and will be looking to add to his tally. VERDICT: This is a tough game for Chelsea so I will go for a draw 1-1

Moving over to Spain,


val v villarr

Mestalla is the venue for the Valencia derby..

We have a derby in Valencia. In spite of their recent poor away form, Valencia are stil unbeaten at home and would look to end 2017 on high. On the other hand, Villarreal too ended a three game losing streak last weekend with a victory over Celta Vigo. VERDICT: I am going for a close game here, 2-1 Valencia

To the biggest game of the weekend,


rma v bar

el clasico!!

Back-to-back Club World Champions and UEFA Champions League winners face their eternal rivals in the Spanish capital. The rivalry between these sides cannot be overemphasized but it is Barcelona who hold a healthy lead over their illustrious opponent going into this game. Real Madrid know it is all or nothing if they are to challenge for the league title season. Samuel Umtiti’s absence could prove pivotal for Barcelona. VERDICT: I’m backing Real Madrid to dig deep and secure a much needed win against a very strong rival. 2-1 Real Madrid




ferguson first of many

Ferguson’s first of many……

May 17, 1990 was a significant day in the illustrious career of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United as well as the club. Lee Martin’s goal in the FA Cup final replay saw The Red Devils pick up their first silverware under the Scottish manager. Since that day, it has been glory glory Man. United under Ferguson with the 2012-13 Premier League title as his swansong.

ferguson final trophy

Fergie’s final….

In his 26-and-a-half years as the Manchester United manager, SAF won 38 titles, over took the legendary Sir Matt Bubsy record as longest serving manager at the club so it was a honour bestowed on him to anoint his successor – David Moyes. The former Everton manager ill-fated tenure lasted just ten months. Manchester United finished the 2013-14 season a record seventh position in the modern day Premier League era. For supporters, board of directors and players, it was a strange place to be and the club acted swiftly by appointing an experienced head in Dutch tactician Louis Van Gaal.

Louis Van Gaal entrance was likened to Jesus Christ arrival at Lazarus tomb to raise him from the dead. United had become the laughing stock of the city at the end of the season with their noisy neighbours winning the league title compared to theirs which ended with no European competition the following season.

Attracting preferred top players became a challenge; several high profile transfer targets opted for other destinations than Old Trafford. The Dutchman’s first priority was to restore the club’s pride and get them back to the Europe premier competition while challenging for the title and winning silverwares.

In his first year, Louis Van Gaal was still able to bring in a few quality players – Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, etc to the theatre of dreams but the initial buzz about them and the team fizzled out as the season went on. Manchester United managed to finish in the top four bracket comfortably,  nevertheless they will have to make it into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League via play offs. While Van Gaal has been trying to steady the ship on the pitch, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has mesmerized in the board room like Cristiano Ronaldo with lucrative commercial deals for the club.

man united new faces

The New Red Devils

With both ends achieving their set objectives at the end of last season, Manchester United preparation for the new season has been swift with their statement of intent in the transfer market. Quality reinforcements in midfield and attack has seen German captain Bastian Schweinsteiger join from Bayern Munich, Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton, Memphis Depay from PSV, amongst others. Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos was the top defensive target until he made a u-turn about staying put at the Santiago Bernabeu. This situation has forced the Old Trafford club to put spanner in the works of the Spanish giants who have been courting goalkeeper David De Gea. Rumors making the news confirmed United’s war chest for summer transfers to be in the region of £150 million, which is more than the annual budget of at least half of the football clubs in the top five European leagues.

With the new bumper TV deal for the EPL around the corner and commercial revenues from major sponsors, United are in a strong financial position to challenge in the market. LVG activities in the market must be cheering news for supporters and associates of the club but they have to evaluate their expectations with some caution.

Huge investments come with bigger expectation, risk and the pressure to deliver. Some of the new players arriving especially those from foreign leagues will require adaptability period which varies according to individual players. The manager will need his wealth of experience and overall managerial skills to get the best out of his squad tactically and technically. Last season, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, both high profile acquisitions failed to light up Old Trafford with their wizardry and goals. They were either square pegs in round holes or the manager couldn’t be patient enough with them, either ways, it turned out to be a fruitless season for all parties concerned. Both players have left Old Trafford.


Louis Van Gaal…. The man with the weight of the world on his shoulders

In addition to the expectation, title rivals, Chelsea and Arsenal have started heaping additional pressure on Manchester United. Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has bashed his title rivals claiming they want to purchase the Premier League crown, an unbelievable statement from a Chelsea manager. Arsene Wenger has added his voice by stating his surprise at Manchester United ditching their previous tradition for a new approach of buying stars rather than make them.

In the last two decades, Manchester United have not suffered trophy drought beyond two seasons, the burden of expectation for the former Ajax and Barcelona coach will be enormous. With these summer investment, Van Gaal has no excuse in the coming season for United not prospering since the club has been plugged into the Dutchman’s way.

As a note of warning, his last club engagement (Bayern) did not end on a pleasant note.


pep guardiola presentation

Pep’s presentation. Welcome to Bayern Munchen, Guardiola!

In January 2013,  Bayern München announced Pep Guardiola as the new manager to take over Bavarian club at the end of the 2012-13 season, a season that ended with a treble. Juup Heynckes, who was indirectly forced out against his wish couldn’t have left on a note higher as his third spell produced a glorious exit when compared to the others.

heynckes, guardiola

Former (Heynckes), Present (Guardiola)

Since the arrival of the former Barcelona coach at Saberner Strasse, the German champions have the acquired the services of several Spanish-speaking players. Though Javi Martinez arrived before Guardiola era, Thiago Alcantara, Juan Bernat, Xabi Alonso and Pepe Reina are all Spain internationals who have moved to Bayern. Reina left this summer for regularly playing time in Italy, Arturo Vidal who is about to sign will join the growing list of Spanish-speaking tongues.

Pep’s arrival at Die Roten turned global spotlight more on the Bavarian club as well as the Bundesliga with greater attention from the Spanish media. This globalization effect or new commercial strategy could be what Bayern directors are trying to cash in on.

spanish contigent

The Spanish Contingent

Whilst these additions should not raise eyebrows at a big club like Bayern whose ambition is to be the best not only in Germany but in Europe hence the need for a large squad, it is the rate at which German internationals and club symbols are leaving the club that is worrying. Last summer after Germany conquered the world in Brazil, Toni Kroos moved to Real Madrid. His arrival signaled the end of Xabi Alonso at the Spanish club but it is quite unbelievable that Bayern lost Kroos to the club’s refusal to offer him a worthy contract. The club decided to replace him with a player who is nine years older.

This summer, club legend, Bastian Schweinsteiger has been allowed to move on to Manchester United with relative ease. The Die Mannschaft captain who spent 17 years at the club and still in his prime has been shipped out with further stars like Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze being linked with Manchester United and Juventus respectively.

Traditionally, Bayern München has always been a second home for the Germany national team where German stars are made or bought but in this era, the focus has been on importing foreign stars. In a relative quite summer, Brazilian forward Douglas Costa has arrived to provide competition for Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in a league where Julian Draxler or Marco Reus,  both German internationals ply their trade for other German teams and are being courted by foreign clubs.

Former Bayern München coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has added his voice by advising the Bundesliga champions not to lose their German identity.

kroos, schweini

Basti and Toni…. No more Bavarians

“Bayern should be wary and make sure German remains the No.1 language in the team – and not Spanish,” Hitzfeld was quoted as saying by Kicker.
“This appears to be a new trend at Bayern. FCB previously always had the goal of signing the best German players. “Mario Gotze is the perfect example of a German player who was made for Bayern. This fantastic player should challenge himself and convince Guardiola that he should be an undisputed starter.”

With Guardiola current deal at Allianz Arena expiring at the end the new season and an extension not firmly in sight, Bayern will have to reconsider its new policy in the eventuality of both parties walking away.

gotze and muller

Gotze and Muller…. The next set to leave?

If Guardiola stays on, will the club’s board continue to back him to bring in foreign stars at the expense of German players (home grown or bought). If he leaves, what does the future hold for Bayern when a new man walks into the cosy office at Sabener Strasse  training ground?



iker 1

Emotional Iker


After 25 years at the club of his heart, Iker Casillas, directly forced out or otherwise has left Real Madrid to join FC Porto. It wasn’t the kind of ending many Madridistas expected but it is an ending. A situation initiated by then coach Jose Mourinho when he dropped Iker in a league game in December 2012.

It’s difficult to overstate the magnitude of Casillas at Real Madrid. The local boy from Mostoles, a working class suburb from Madrid, he came through the club’s youth ranks and broke into the first team as a starter in 1999 at 18. In November 1997 then he was 16, Iker Casillas cannot remember what he was drawing at the exact moment he was called up to Real Madrid’s Champions League squad for the very first time. It was a technical design class. One winter afternoon south of Madrid, a messenger came into his classroom to tell the teacher the headmaster wanted a word. Iker dashed to the head’s office where he was told he had to get home quick. Madrid were going to Norway and Casillas was going with them.

Young Casillas

“Bodo Illgner was injured and Santiago Cañizares had a knock, so Real needed a third keeper. Iker was literally pulled out of a technical design class. His teacher queried: ‘Well he’s supposed to be working in my class.’ The headmaster, who was a big Madrid fan, called. He knew Iker was in the youth system and every time they saw he’d talk about Madrid. He told young Casillas that he had to get to the team hotel near Barajas, ready to fly to Norway.

“They took me home in the school minibus. My mum was frantically packing my bag for me. I got changed, picked up a suit and a jacket which I had from playing for Spain’s Under-16s and off we went. The other kids had no idea why I’d left class; no one had mobiles back then. Now everywhere you go everyone is waiting with a camera phone.”

Casillas knew he wouldn’t play but Jupp Heynckes made him change and sit on the bench for the experience. And something had been started. Two and a half years later, he was the youngest goalkeeper to play in a European Cup final as Madrid became champions against Valencia.

He ended up starting in and winning the Champions League final against Valencia. He would win two more Champions Leagues, including an absolutely epic performance coming on as a substitute in the 2002 final against Bayer Leverkusen.

He won five leagues and was named the world’s best goalkeeper a record five times in a row. Perhaps most importantly, he captained Spain to two European Championships and one World Cup title, in 2010, with a vintage “San Iker” performance in the final against Holland.

He is, without a doubt, the greatest goalkeeper to ever play for Real Madrid.

Despite all of his greatness and all-around class attitude, Iker Casillas has been booed by a sector of the Bernabéu fans at nearly every single home game for the past two seasons.

Where did it all go wrong between Casillas and Real Madrid?

The beginning of the end?

It all started with a phone call in the fall of 2011 between Casillas, then the captain of both Real Madrid and Spain, and Xavi and Carles Puyol, captains of FC Barcelona. Tensions were at an all-time high between Real Madrid and Barcelona, mostly due to the unprecedented provocative sword wielding on Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. Mourinho fomented an “us against them” mentality, preferring to treat the relationship with Barça as an openly hostile one rather than one based on mutual respect. He even stuck his fucking finger in the late Tito Vilanova’s eye at the end of a particularly heated Clasico.

Casillas, who at first was in tune with Mourinho’s brinksmanship, realized that things had gotten way out of hand, and if that he didn’t act as the captain of Spain, he would put that summer’s 2012 European championship campaign in jeopardy. He decided to reach out to Puyol and Xavi to try to calm the waters and build unity ahead of the tournament. By Iker’s account, the call was tense, but ultimately a key factor in Spain’s ultimate victory at Euro 2012.

Mourinho saw this as outright treason and never forgave Casillas. Mourinho is a man who sees two kinds of people in the world: those who are with him, and those who are against him. He started to suspect that Casillas was against him.

The lines were clearly drawn and the consequences were lasting. Casillas has not been the same since, but nor has he been anywhere near as bad as his fiercest critics claim. The coach had diagnosed the decline, it was about personalities and politics and Casillas’s reputation became increasingly damaged – the goalkeeper was accused of leaking dressing room secrets and of lacking professionalism. He was protected by the media, his detractors complained, but protection was certainly not offered from the club. In one interview he admitted to feeling “alone”.

The Real Madrid legendary goalkeeper situation created a divide amongst fans. This situation led Iker to Oporto where he can resurrect the latter days of his career with tranquil and a breath of new life.

So who will replace Casillas at Real Madrid?

Can De Gea step in Casillas….

David de Gea. The Manchester United keeper has been tipped as his natural successor both at club and national team. De Gea has been reported to be so homesick that he is willing to forget the fact that he is a lifelong Atléti fan in order to be closer to his girlfriend and family. He only has one year left on his deal, so it looked like United would eventually be forced to make a deal.

Another option is Kiko Casilla. The Espanyol goalkeeper whose name is same minus an ‘s’ is a product of Real Madrid’s youth system and was always considered one of the best goalkeeping prospects of his generation. He’s a totally different style of keeper than de Gea — more of a commanding presence in the area due to his enormous size rather than a quick shot stopper. His strong performances for Espanyol have put him on the Spanish national team’s radar, with his international debut coming last season in a friendly against Germany.

Will it be Kiko?

Whoever comes to replace Iker Casillas will be stepping into a penalty box owned by a club legend for the last 16 years. It won’t be an easy task for whomever is chosen. It takes a special kind of mental strength to withstand the pressure of being Real Madrid’s No. 1.

In the end, after 725 games for Los Blancos, what has made Iker Casillas special? His ability to make the extraordinary ordinary, no matter how adverse the situation.

Iker and his trophies!




The South Coast Club

After their sensational finish to the 2013/14 season, Southampton was one of the few overachieving clubs of the season where they finished eighth in the league. Tottenham wasted no time in persuading their manager, Mauricio Pochettino who agreed to join the White Hart Lane outfit. Similarly, several key first team players departed to bigger teams. Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool, Calum Chambers was sold to Arsenal as well as Luke Shaw to Manchester United were the high profile departures.

Seeing their coach and players being snapped up by bigger clubs was a reminder of Southampton’s rightful place in the food chain of the game. They are a feeder’s club to the big teams.

New head coach, Ronald Koeman claimed they were not a selling club during his introduction at the club but he was helpless during the transfer window with the departure of star players. However, the Dutch tactician cleverly brought in players like Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand etc to fill the void created and ease tension amongst supporters.

At the start of the season, expectation of smashing the glass ceiling like the previous year had flown out of the window and whispers of a long season with a possibility of relegation whispered around Saint Mary’s.

Koeman had taken a job which required rebuilding. With the positive mindset of a strong academy and plenty of money in the bank from players’ sale, he needed to implement his ideas to his team real quick.

koeman saint

The Rebuilder….Koeman


The Saints opened their campaign away to previous season’s runners up Liverpool losing 2-1; this was followed by scoreless draw against West Brom at home. With one point out of a possible six, no one except Portsmouth fans  would begrudge their supporters to think they were heading into an unknown territory with a manager who has a divided opinion on his managerial career. Even as a multiple title winner with PSV and Ajax, Copa del Rey winner with Valencia, he almost got Los Ches relegated. Koeman also had a rough spell with AZ Alkmaar and his time at Benfica was not very successful either.

Their visit to Boleyn Ground late August was the start of their rise; they defeated West Ham 3-1 and followed it with a convincing home win against Newcastle. The Saints enjoyed a good run from September till late November where they lost once to their former manager’s new team Tottenham. Koeman’s side was truly punching above their weight as they sat comfortably in second place till the visit of Manchester City. The Champions brought the South coast club back to earth with a crushing 3-0 defeat at home. Southampton lost their next three league fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester United and Burnley but like the phoenix which they have proven to be this season, they returned to winning ways in December against Everton and have not looked back since. Since the turn of the year, they have beaten Arsenal at home and inflicted home defeats on Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Their league cup run was ended by Sheffield United during their poor run of form early December while they have progressed into the fourth round of the FA Cup.


Can they march on into UCL?

The Saints sit pretty comfortable in third position after 22 league games. European places do not look beyond their reach at this pace except for a catastrophic decline.

If last season’s success instigated the decision of bigger clubs to dismantle them before metamorphosing into a genuine force, their determination has inspired them to march on.


fifpro 2014

For clarity sake, The FIFA/FIFPro World XI is chosen by over 50000 professional football players from all over the world, who vote for the best player in each position. This process means FIFA has delegated the responsibility of voting to professional footballers. During last night’s gala, I was surprised at some of the winners of 2014 FIFPRO XI award.

Here are the 11 stars that earned a place in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2014 are:
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer
Defenders: Philipp Lahm, Sergio Ramos, David Luiz, Thiago Silva
Midfielders: Angel Di Maria, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben
Eight of these eleven winners deserve to be in the team in my opinion. That number represents 73% which is a very good grade; the criticism would not be over the top this time. However, I shall proceed to discuss the three winners whom I do not think deserve a place here.


david luizDAVID LUIZ – The Brazilian international whose transfer from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain may have been his only reason for making it into this team based of the transfer fee of £50 million (€62 million), that’s a world record for a defender. David Luiz spent the first half of 2014 as a Chelsea player under Jose Mourinho but couldn’t break the Terry-Cahill partnership. He was a back-up for the centre-half position and subsequently used as a defensive midfield enforcer. Clearly, Mourinho could not trust Luiz enough at the back and was moved on to Paris. During the FIFA World Cup held in his native country, he alongside most of his teammates rode on home support to get going until their shocking 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals. Whilst it is difficult to blame Luiz alone, he was guilty of several poor defensive displays which were evident once more during the third/fourth place play-offs where Netherlands compounded their woes. Since his move to PSG, he has not particularly lit up Parc des Princes with spectacular performances aside from scoring against Barcelona in a UEFA Champions’ League group game. In a world where there is no shortage of top quality centre halves; David Luiz should not be making FIFA/FIFPro World XI.

thiago silvajpgTHIAGO SILVA – Another surprising inclusion in the defense is Paris Saint-Germain skipper Thiago Silva. According to the formation, Silva will be playing at Left Back position which isn’t an ideal one for him. The former Brazilian captain led the Brazilian team at the World Cup but was absent during their disastrous 7-1 loss to Germany thanks to suspension. The South American nation defense was never secured throughout the entire Mundial and one wonders how he managed to make this team. He played a significant role in PSG’s league and cup triumph of 2013/14 season but we would not have expected anything less in a league supremely ruled by the Qatari’s oil money in the capital. Furthermore, there are better full backs – David Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Felipe Luiz, etc who can fill that role ahead of Thiago Silva.

andres iniestaANDRES INIESTA – The diminutive ball wizard is one of my most admired player because of his elegance when he caresses the ball. He brings wonderful memories of my football idol- Zinedine Zidane with his football skills but he doesn’t score as many goals. However, 2014 wasn’t his year. Iniesta struggled to dominate games, the important ones for both Barcelona and Spain. As much as I believe, Iniesta is a man of his own, the Albacete born midfielder has been struggling to exert the same kind of authority he used to since the gradual decline of his midfield partner – Xavi. I believe Iniesta still has a lot to offer the game but he doesn’t deserve a place in the 2014 FIFPRO XI team. Players like Luka Modric, Koke, Paul Pogba deserved to be nominated ahead of him.
I congratulate the winners who have excelled in their chosen sphere but I believe you have your opinion or reservation on some of the listed winners.

Please use the comment column beneath to express yourself.

Who will win the Premier League in 2014/15 Season?

The 2014/15 English Premier League season kicks off in a few days.

We all are excited. Nine months of football drama and exhibition is upon us again. The FIFA World Cup in Brazil was concluded only last month so why are we this excited? Well, the Barclays English Premier League is the most watched football league in the world with an estimated 4.7 billion TV audience. This league is worth £1 billion a year domestically and generates about €2.2 billion per year in domestic and international television rights. We’re talking big money here!

Last season, Manchester City won the title ahead of surprise package Liverpool and perhaps the biggest underachiever was Manchester United finishing seventh. A tale of two clubs in the same city (Manchester).

This preview is on the teams who have the capacity to win the title. I have shortlisted five teams under this category.

man city

The Noisy Neighbours

Manchester City.  The noisy neighbours reclaimed their lost title in a title race that went down to the wire last season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have what it takes to retain their title. They have kept the core of influential players from last season while adding quality in areas of need. Bacary Sagna arrived on a free transfer from Arsenal while Eliaquim Mangala from Porto comes at a huge price. City have plugged the holes at the back with these French players and increased competition. Willy Cabalero will keep Joe Hart on his toes while Fernando’s acquisition is a solid bargain in central midfield. Fitness permitting, Stefan Jovetic and Kun Aguero will provide required goals and assist for Dzeko and recuperating Negredo. The Citizens have quality all over, a top-4 finish is certain, could be champions too!


The Kopites

Liverpool.  The Merseyside club were the most impressive team during the second half of last season. Perhaps the pressure caught up the Reds as they succumb in the penultimate weeks and fell short. Liverpool impressed with their attacking style but same could not be said of their defensive abilities. The acquisition of Dejan Lovren and Javier Manquillo will increase competition at the back. With Luis Suarez exit, Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho will be expected to carry the team on their slender shoulders with Daniel Sturridge providing the goals. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic have arrived to provide squad depth and quality too. The Reds supporters have to temper their expectation for the season with the return of European football at Anfield. European distraction as well as the short period to build a strong team with several new additions makes the push for the title more difficult but not impossible. This campaign is one for Rodgers to earn his stripes as a top manager if they can perform well once again. Liverpool may be the team to drop out of the top four this season.


True Blue

Chelsea.  The Londoners finished third last season. The inconsistent performance from Chelsea as well as the absence of a potent striker cost them the title. Jose Mourinho has addressed swiftly with the arrival of Diego Costa and return of Stamford Bridge legend – Didier Drogba. Arsenal fan’s favourite, Cesc Fabregas returned to London but this time, he will be plying his trade with the West Londoners. Thibaut Courtois returns to his parent club after his three years loan spell with Atletico Madrid. Chelsea probably has the biggest and strongest squad in the Premier League. The Portuguese manager and his loyalist will be aware that anything short of the league title will be seen as a failure. They are favourites to win it.



Arsenal.  The Gunners ended their barren run last May with the FA Cup triumph. They appear to have kicked off with huge confidence with their performance during the Community Shield where Man City were brushed aside. Arsenal have been very active in the transfer market, Alexis Sanchez is the big money move from Barcelona. Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina have arrived in North London too. Defeats to title rivals and injuries cost Arsenal dearly last term, Wenger has brought in a new fitness coach – Shad Forsythe  to improve physical conditions and recovery.

Arsenal may be one or two signings short but they must learn fast from last season by improving in the BIG games to stand a chance of winning the title. A top four finish is guaranteed.


man utd

Red Devils

Manchester United.  David Moyes reign as United boss saw the Old Trafford outfit regressed more than imagined. No one expected the former Everton boss to fill Ferguson void completely but his Manchester United team struggled all season and ended up in seventh position! The club did not waste time in changing route, new manager Louis Van Gaal is saddled with the responsibility of returning the Red Devils back to the summit of English football. With no European competition, the Dutch master tactician has enough time to bed in his philosophy and tactics. There is a sense of optimism around the club considering how their preseason preparation has panned out. Swansea is the first opponent for the new campaign, same as last year but LVG will definitely no struggle like his predecessor did.

Manchester United have to fight back to earn their place in the top four this season. A title chase will not be too ambitious as well. I do not see them winning it this season.