If you are down for the count with soccer fever, be prepared to get glazed with some new symptoms. The 2010 season is almost upon us and there are tons of things to analyze. What team will surprise us? What team will disappoint? Who will breakout and make a name for themselves and finally who will win the English Premier League? We have all that and more in the GTS Guide to the 2010 English Premier League Season.
Team on the Rise: Manchester City- There's no doubt that Manchester City has been active this offseason. City has been overshadowed by their cross town rivals Man United for the last few years, but owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (yes that's his name) is determined to make his club a dynasty. Man City has already acquired Midfielder David Silva who was part of Spain's world cup win in South Africa just a month ago. The club also picked up midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona who will join his brother Kolo at Manchester City. German defender Jerome Boateng will also be suiting up in light blue next season and will help City's weak defensive line. These three players will be key additions to a team already loaded on offense with players such as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Carlos Tevez. Manchester City has bought there way to the top of the English Premier League, and don't be surprised if they reign Manchester next season.
Team on the Downfall: Liverpool- Is the era of Liverpool dominance over? After winning the UEFA Champions League in 2005, The Reds have never been able to get back to that Premier League Title status that Liverpool fans are so used to. Liverpool finished 7th place last season in the Premier League, a dreadful result considering the incredible feats in the club's history. Last year's Liverpool team seemed to forget all about their club's history and did not care to wear the prestigious patch on their jersey. To fans, a team that doesn't bring back silverware to Liverpool is a failure, but unfortunately it seems like failing is on the agenda for The Reds this season. Liverpool lost Midfielder Yossi Benayoun this summer to Chelsea and there have been numerous talks about Fernando Torres leaving Liverpool as well. Liverpool did gain Joe Cole from Chelsea this offseason, but it is unclear what benefits he will bring to the club with his older age and declining skills (There's a reason Chelsea wanted to get rid of him so badly). All of this added with the fact that teams around the League are getting better and better (Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea), and it seems like Liverpool is headed for another failing season.
Breakout Player: Javier Hernandez, Manchester United- There was question whether Manchester United spent their money wisely when acquiring young Mexican Striker Javier Hernandez, but after a tremendous World Cup, it seems like all the doubters have been silenced. Hernandez found the back of the net twice in his four appearances in the 2010 World Cup including goals against France and Argentina. Hernandez showed excellent pace, skills, and soccer IQ as he ran around the field hungry for goals. He is coming off a terrific season at Guadalajara where he netted 21 goals in just 26 appearances. Hernandez is destined to be a top player in the English Premier League this season and will surely help Manchester United in their title campaign.
Story to Follow: Odd Man Out?
Who would've thought that six years after Arsenal's dream team, we would have a list of winners that exclude the Cannons from the top of the Premier League? Chelsea and Manchester United have dominated the English Premier League since the 2004 season each winning the title three times, leaving Mighty Arsenal empty handed. How could a club so talented and so prestigious be left out of the trophy ceremony for six straight years? Let's look back at the last half-decade of Arsenal's past.
47. That was the goal differential of Arsenal's miraculous 2003-2004 season that made the Gunners the best team in English Football. That incredible goal differential was largely due to French striker Thierry Henry. Henry dominated the pitch and netted a total of 30 goals throughout the league season, enough to make him the top goal scorer in the English Premier League. His pace and talent made him a fan favorite and a household name across the world. However, unlike most stars, Henry peaked at the late age of 26, making it hard for him to continue his success as the years went on. As Henry's stats slowly decreased, so did Arsenal's success as the Gunners dropped to fourth place by the 2005-2006 season and finished below rivals Liverpool for the first time in the 21st century. It was then that Arsenal ditched their once beloved striker and many others in an offseason where they rebuilt nearly the entire team. Arsenal dismissed thirteen players including Henry and Freddie Ljunberg on a new path that the club was a bit too optimistic about.
Arsenal signed multiple free agents in the following seasons in the hope of re-creating the Gunners once powerful offense, but it seemed like no additions could replace the presence of Thierry Henry and push Arsenal back to the top of the English Premier League. In fact, Arsenal's only striker to score more than 20 goals in a season since Henry was Emmanuel Adebayor, who was transferred out of Arsenal after an injury in 2009. Adebayor wasn't the only one who was transferred in and out of North London in a short period of time. Arsenal's front office seemed very unstable as they were far too involved in the transfer market and spent money wildly on new players without even reviewing their talents. Arsenal's abnormal amount of transfers left the team in a position where many of the players were not used to playing with each other and the team chemistry was extremely low.
As the team chemistry started to disappear inside the historic Arsenal locker room, the competition around the league began to improve dramatically. No longer were their only two or three clubs that could challenge the Gunners, but five or six. As English Football began to increase in popularity, so did the revenue intake by the smaller market clubs, meaning teams such as Tottenham and Aston Villa could now reach out and buy top players. Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool improved as well, leaving Arsenal with a much more difficult schedule than the one they dealt with during their undefeated 03-04 season. In 2003-2004, only four teams topped 60 points in the Premier League table. Last year, that number doubled with a record eight teams with 60 points or higher. There's no doubt that the Premier League's depth has improved over the last few years, thus making Arsenal's title hopes even harder to grasp.
"The Untouchables" was the name given to the miraculous 2003 Arsenal squad, but since they have been far from immortal. Thierry Henry's stats slowly digressed as the years went on forcing the club to recreate Arsenal's offense through the transfer market. However, the club seemed to buy and sell questionable players far too often leaving the team chemistry extremely low. Finally, as Arsenal began to decline in the ranks of football, smaller teams grew and rapidly improved over a five-year span, resulting in a much tougher league. Will the Gunners ever get back to the top of the EPL, or will the Untouchables turn into the unmentionables amongst fans? It all starts August 15th vs. Liverpool.
Projected Team Win: This years title race is completely up in the air in the English Premier League. Of course Manchester United and Chelsea are the early favorites for the cup, but Manchester City and Tottenham have a chance to compete for their first title in over 40 years. Tottenham finished fourth last season in the English Premier League, but are have a chance to improve on that mark with Robbie Keane back from loan. Chelsea will be looking to repeat as league champions after a terrific season where they swept up FA Cup and FA shield. However, many Chelsea players that were essential to last year's title team have now departed including German Midfielder Michael Ballack and Joe Cole. The starting lineup for Chelsea is also very much on the older side and it should be questioned whether these players can get through all 38 games. Manchester City has been the most active this off-season adding stars such as Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Jerome Boateng to an already stellar starting lineup. Manchester City said that they "Won't buy their way to the top" of the English Premier League, but it seems that's exactly what they are doing. Across town Man United will be looking to regain the crown that they held for three years straight prior to 2009. With Wayne Rooney at his peak and the team looking deeper than ever, Manchester United will rein the English Premier League once again.