It was exciting and open at both ends of the table – but particularly at the top. It was also refreshing to see new boys Liverpool going so close to shaking things up. But here’s the really interesting thing; the season in prospect could be better still.
Let’s have a look at the big picture skimming over a few of the details…
In order of favouritism with the bookies, we have Chelsea as the current top dogs. This will be the Special One’s second season in charge after his return. He worked his magic last year despite not having had the time to really re-shape the team. And despite the fact that Chelsea “only” managed third place – they took six points off both Man City and Liverpool and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Now there have been wholesale changes at Stamford Bridge – most notably with David Luis leaving, Fabregas and Costa coming in, and Lampard, Cole and others’ contracts coming to a close. We can expect them to be even stronger in the 2014-15 season.
Next up are holders Man City. They’ve let Gareth Barry go to Everton on a free transfer (where he played last season on loan) along with Joleon Lescott who goes to West Brom. They’ve brought in Willy Caballero from Malaga for £6 million and Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna on a free transfer. Their biggest signing so far is Brazilian midfielder Fernando from Porto for around £12 million.
These are small moves by City’s usual standards so perhaps there are more to come or maybe boss Manuel Pellegrini feels his squad is strong enough already?
Quite what will happen on the other side of Manchester is anyone’s guess. New boss Louis van Gaal will be keen to stamp his mark on the team and there has been a lot of speculation about different players – but not much action as yet. The only really big deal has been the signing of Luke Shaw from Southampton for £27 million – which could rise to £31 million depending on the 18 year-old England defender‘s success. It will be fascinating to see how United fare under van Gaal – and what his next moves will be.
Arsenal are currently the bookies’ fourth favourites. They moved in in the market following Arsene Wenger’s purchase of Chile’s World Cup star Alexis Sanchez from Barca in a deal worth around £35 million; fascinating to watch again.
And then we come to Liverpool who have made some big changes. The obvious one is the selling of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. One the other side of the account, they’ve purchased Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana from Southampton, along with Bayer Leverkusen’s Emre Can and Benfica’s 20 year-old winger Lazar Markovic on a long-term deal.
Seeing how Brendan Rodgers’ new line-up copes without Suarez will be interesting. They’ll miss him – but will his absence really make the huge difference the market seems to suggest.
And then there’s sixth favourites Spurs under the watchful eye of new boss Mauricio Pochettino who transformed Southampton in a remarkably short space of time. Will he be able to do the same at White Hart Lane?
All these factors make the challenge at the top end of the table look potentially even better than last year – and we haven’t even begun to consider what happens at the other end. The Premier League is the best soap opera on the planet and the new season could be the best ever. But where will your money be?
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In other words – if you get lucky enough in the casino and slots games etc., you may have enough left for an in interesting season-long bet on the Premier League winners.
So where will that be? Well on a straightforward value basis – the pick of the bunch is surely Liverpool – fifth favourites at a generous 10-1. Surely they won’t miss Suarez as much as the market is suggesting they will?
Eyes down for the 2014-15 season…