English Premiership

And the winner of the EPL will be...?

2014-08-14 14:27
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Cape Town - Sport24's soccer brains fail to reach agreement on who will be champions of England this season...

FIXTURES: All the 2014/15 EPL fixtures

Garrin Lambley
is backing Manchester City to retain their crown this season...

Not only are Manchester City the reigning champions of England, they’ve lifted the title in two of the past three seasons. They are now the benchmark against which other title contenders will be measured.

Money remains no issues on the blue side of Manchester, this despite The Citizens being punished for failing UEFA Financial Fair Play rules. They have recruited wisely in the transfer market, landing the players they required in the off-season to further bolster a team that finished last season with a league-leading 102 goals, while only conceding 37 in 38 matches.

Perceived areas of concern for Manuel Pellegrini’s team  - a defensive midfielder, a back-up goalkeeper, an extra right-back and a left-sided centre-back – have all been solved with the acquisition of Fernando, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala, while the six-month loan deal for former Chelsea great, Frank Lampard, could well prove to be a masterstroke by the Sky Blues.

In addition, Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic struggled with injuries last season, so English fans have not seen him at his best. They’re in for a treat this season!

With Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany having committed their long-term futures to the club, and key man Yaya Toure seemingly happy to stay at the club, the name carved into the Barclays Premier League trophy come May next year will, once again, be that of Manchester City.

Katelyn Owen thinks Liverpool fans will see their dreams come true...

Some people believe Liverpool don't stand a chance at the title this season. Some people believe Liverpool over-achieved last time around, and the fact that they came so close to getting their hands on that elusive trophy was by sheer miracle. Some people can believe whatever they like, we're Liverpool Football Club and we know all about miracles (just ask us about Istanbul). Our title dreams are far from over...

Yes, we may have lost one of the best strikers in the world in the form of Luis Suarez, and yes, we haven't managed to sign another world-class striker to replace him but the assets the club possess are still enough to win bragging rights to the one and only prize us Reds fans have been so desperately waiting for for the past 24 years.

Our problem last season wasn't down to our inability to score goals or create chances up front, our problem last season was down to our failure to defend our own goal adequately. 

Defensive mishaps and frailties were where we fell short. With the signings of Dejan Lovren and Albero Moreno, Brenden Rodgers has strengthened our back four tremendously, a step that already puts us one up over last season's team. Other new signings Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic will bring exciting quality across the midfield and wings.

Despite the loss of Suarez, I still believe Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling have what it takes to be a driving force going forward. Their partnership up front is solid and their ability to create and finish goals is as good as it comes.

In one of the richest leagues in the world with the best players in the world, it's difficult to stand out as a quality side when you're surrounded by other quality sides. So what is it that's going to set us aside from the rest of teams this season? 

What is it that makes us favourites to win the league above the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea for example? My opinion? It comes down to motivation and whoever wants to win it the most, and nobody wants to win that title more than Liverpool.

Last season's agony of coming so close to seeing Liverpool's name carved on that trophy will surely spur the players on that much further. They've had a taste of what it feels like to be right up there in the title race and this time around there's added motivation to go all the way.

Some may say I'm a dreamer, but according to The Beatles and the rest of Liverpool, I'm not the only one... Bring on the EPL, we're ready!

Herman Mostert reckons Chelsea are in tip-top shape and will be crowned EPL champions...

Jose Mourinho’s first season back in charge will go down as somewhat of a disappointment after the Portuguese failed in his quest for silverware last season.

A Champions League semi-final spot and third place in the English Premiership will be welcomed at most clubs but not where trophy hunting boss Roman Abramovich is at the helm.

Mourinho on numerous occasions in the last campaign stated his team was not yet ready for top honours, despite leading the league for some parts and getting the better of their main title rivals in head-to-head duels.

However, it was away clashes against lower-ranked teams which cost the Blues dearly.

Mourinho promised they would be better in 2014/15 and in my book the “Special One” has made the right moves in the off season to suggest he’ll deliver on his promise.

Major signings like Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Diego Costa and Filipe Luis (both Atletico Madrid) will make Chelsea a very tough team to beat.

Drogba returns to Stamford Bridge as a legend for scoring arguably the most important goal in the club’s history - to win the 2012 Champions League final, while Fabregas’ credentials need no introduction to English football fans.

Costa, whose 27 goals helped Atletico win La Liga last season,  will provide some much needed spark up front, while left-back Filipe Luis will help fill the void left by Ashley Cole.

Mourinho also did well to bring goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois back from the Spanish champions - where he was on loan last season. He also impressed this writer with some stellar performances for Belgium at the past World Cup in Brazil. The 22-year-old will be a welcome addition as the ageing Petr Cech cannot be expected to play every game.

Last, but not least, letting Brazil defender David Luiz go was surely a masterstroke by Mourinho, who has no plans to concede 7 goals in any game, let alone a big semi-final…

Wade Pretorius is warning fans that Manchester United will be back to their best this season...

Moyes is gone but his reign (of terror) is not forgotten by United fans or those of rival teams. By introducing Louis van Gaal to steady the ship, the Red Devils have a manager of proven quality and a manager who knows how to win league titles. Van Gaal will quickly weed out the (many) weak links in the squad while adding his win-at-all-costs approach to the team.

United are still primarily the same side that won the 2012/13 title but with Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw added to the mix from that side.  With Wayne Rooney taking over the captain’s armband, fans and rivals alike can be sure that United will be going out all for the win and won’t be accepting the kind of performances that the team delivered last term.

Here are another three reasons why United will win the 2014/15 title:

1. The fixture list is in their favour with their first “big” clash coming against Chelsea on October 26. The Red Devils could be unbeaten by that stage and momentum will be on their side going into that clash.

2. Van Gaal can match any manager in the league for tactics (and mind games) and will inspire the side much like Sir Alex did. Could we see the addition of "van Gaal time" to this season's league?

3. Beware of the wounded animal. Everybody connected with the club are more determined than ever to completely erase last season’s woes. They will do that by winning the league this season.

So take this as advanced warning that you will be hearing this come May 24, 2015.

Tashreeq Vardien is placing his faith in Arsenal to push on to title glory...

There is something brewing at Arsenal. A possible resurgence of the Gunners' glory years when Henry and Co. formed the "Invincibles" and won the 2003/4 season without losing a single game.  

Gone are the days of a lack of funds needed to compete in the transfer market. Yes the odd player still joins Manchester City but this year Arsene Wenger has brought in top quality players to the Emirates with the EPL title firmly in his sight.

Before their FA Cup triumph last season, Arsenal last won a trophy in 2005.

Nine years on and £470m later, the price of Emirates Stadium to date, the French boss has been worked tirelessly to build a side capable of winning the league title. 

Last season Arsenal fans could not believe their eyes when Wenger secured the services of the now World Cup winner Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. A deal that no one could see coming and made Gooners believe their trophy drought would soon come to an end.  

The Ozil signing brought about a new lease of life for many of the Arsenal players. Some scintillating performances followed with Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all benefiting from playing alongside Ozil.

Ramsey the most stand-out of all before a thigh problem derailed his fine season.

Koscielny also looks like a different kind of defender alongside another German World Cup winner Per Mertesacker, they complement each other so well at the back. Wojciech Szczesny came to Arsenal’s rescue a number of times last season and the 24-year-old looks to be improving all the time.

Giroud scored 22 goals last season in all competitions compared to his 17 in his debut season.

Arsene Wenger's activity in the transfer window has signaled his side's intentions that this could be the London club's turn to win the EPL title. The transfer of the season so far, despite Barcelona’s big bite of securing Luis Suarez, is Arsenal's capture of Chilean attacker Alexis Sanchez, his arrival has Gunners' fans confident that they are going to win the EPL with ease.

Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina had a fantastic World Cup and helped his home nation go as far as the quarter-finals. He and Szczesny will push for first choice goalkeeper, which creates fresh competition and hopefully many clean sheets to come. 19-year-old Calum Chambers brought in from Southampton looks to be mature beyond his years while Mathieu Debuchy will fill the void left by Bacary Sagna, who joined City with former teammates Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri.

Arsenal still need to buy more players as their squad depth will likely get tested through the usual variety of injuries they inevitably suffer.

The transfer window is still open for two more weeks and who knows what Wenger has up that long terrible looking jacket.

In the meantime, Arsenal as continue to push themselves towards more silverware and the Twitter hashtag, “Wenger Out” remains something of the past (for now).


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