2014/2015 English Premier League Preview

The highly-anticipated 2014-2015 English Premier League lies just upon the horizon, and deathly-loyal club supporters are unpacking their superstitious belongings from the closet, brandishing their finest jerseys, scarves, and hats, and fine-tuning their vocal cords for the long season ahead. While players fight for that edge over their teammates in training, managers analyze sun up to sun down their squad and their opponent's squad, intently poring over the slightest of details. Tension and excitement mix together in an ever-flowing dance before each matchweek, soon to be replaced by joy and sorrow, ecstasy and doom. And those experienced with the English Premier League know that each minute could alter their entire season, that a single misstep could mean the despair of thousands upon thousands of fans across the globe. Here is a preview of the madness to come...

We will begin with the top four favorites to win the English Premier League.

Chelsea: The West London club enter the new season as the odds-on favorites of the English Premier League, despite seeing their last league triumph back in the 2009-2010 season. The Blues saw their heroic manager Jose Mourinho return last term, and his match-to-match tactical approach is perhaps unrivaled in not only England but also the entire world. But his return didn’t go as expected, as Chelsea went through the season trophy-less, finishing in 3rd place of the league, mostly finding it difficult to get much out of their striker corp of Eto’o, Torres, and Demba Ba. But reinforcements have arrived from the deep pockets of owner Roman Abramovich. Club legend Didier Drogba has returned for locker room influence, but it’s unsure whether he can make a legitimate impact on the field. Instead, goal-machine Diego Costa will immediately step into the striker role, and he will be joined by ex-Arsenal captain and Spanish counterpart Cesc Fabregas. Coupled with the top-ranked defence in the Premier League last season, led by captain John Terry and do-everything right-back Ivanovic, it’s no wonder Chelsea are the favorites to claim their 4th Premier League title. Best odds for them to claim the crown can be found at 2.90 odds at Bwin.

Manchester City: The reigning champions of the league return with perhaps an even stronger squad this season. Considering they won their second title in the last three years, this is unwelcome news for Premier League opponents. The Citizens smashed their way through opposition last season with over 100 goals in league action, nearly topping Chelsea’s record of 103. But the main concern that nearly cost Yaya Toure and Company the title was a too-often complacent side away from home and an at-times suspect defence. The introduction of FC Porto star Eliaquim Mangala, Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna, and center-defensive midfielder Fernando should help in the defensive department. However, an average pre-season that witnessed a defeat to Liverpool and a 3:0 demolishing at the hands of Arsenal last weekend in the Community Shield is currently waving the red flag of caution. While we expect the Citizens to finish in the top 4, it’ll be a tall order for them to repeat as Premier League champions in a vastly-strengthened top 4 this season. Top odds for the title holders to repeat as champions can be found at 3.50 odds at Betway.

Manchester United: Man United needed a major makeover after a disappointing 7th place finish last season that saw them fail to claim a trophy. The post-Alex Ferguson era is upon us, and it was no surprise to see the Red Devils struggle in his absence. But David Moyes has since been fired and in comes former Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, who has seemingly changed the entire atmosphere of the club in a simple matter of weeks. He has installed a 3-5-2 formation that highlights their strengths: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney up top with Juan Mata in behind. While we still aren’t completely sold on the defence, there are still three weeks or so remaining in the transfer market, and van Gaal is expected to make a few big-money moves to help improve that area. Furthermore, Man United will not have to face the clustered schedule that their fellow title challengers will, having failed to qualify for any European competition this season. This must be playing in the bookies’ minds, as the Red Devils are the third-highest favorites to take the league trophy. Best odds for this bet can be found at 6.00 odds at Betfair.

Arsenal: The North London club went through an up and down season last term, finishing in a disappointing 4th place after leading the league on points headed into January. While that downturn was largely blamed upon the injury crisis at the club, with the likes of Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey going down for large spells through injury, it’s become an all-too familiar downward trend for the Gunners in the months of February and March. Arsene Wenger has apparently agreed with this synopsis, as he and the board have pushed aside their unwillingness to spend big money in the market. They have brought in star forward Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, starting French full-back Mathieu Debuchy, and highly-rated defender Callum Chambers. However, the Gunners have failed to address their apparent too-heavy reliance on a too-often incapable Olivier Giroud last term, as well as failing to bring in a proper defensive midfield enforcer. New captain Mikel Arteta will continue to play in that role, and it’s unclear whether he will be able to fulfill it in what very well could be his last season in North London. If there is no further transfer market activity for Arsenal, it may yet be another 4th place finish, but with the return of Theo Walcott imminent, their nine-year trophy drought off their backs (2014 F.A. Cup winners), and judging by their 3:0 thrashing of Manchester City last weekend in the Community Shield, manager Arsene Wenger may be conjuring up yet another run at Premier League glory. Top odds for the Gunners to win the PL can be found at 7.00 odds at William Hill.

While Liverpool managed a 2nd place finish last season, nearly pipping Man City for the pinnacle of English football, at Livetipsportal.com, we don’t expect the Reds to be challenging for the trophy come May or even earlier. The loss of Luis Suarez could prove catastrophic to their ambitions, despite the growing respect for manager Brendan Rodgers. Therefore, the rest of the pack who will compete for 4th place and down to the Europa League places (5th and 6th) will likely be Liverpool, inner-city rivals Everton, and Tottenham Hotspur. Everton have one of the deepest rosters in the entire league along with one of the best managers in Roberto Martinez. They very well could be a surprise top 4 finisher. Meanwhile, North London club Tottenham have brought in former manager Manuel Pochettino, who was brilliant at Southampton last season. While the Hotspurs have loads of talent, they must figure out their striker situation after Roberto Soldado flopped big-time in his first season in England.

The relegation battle is often-times more exciting than the title-fight itself, as teams scrape and claw their way to financial security and to maintain their EPL presence. Newcomers Leicester City, Burnley, and QPR are automatically thrown into the equation in their returns to the top-flight, but Leicester seems to have plenty of staying power in them after comfortably winning the Championship last term. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them maintain their Premier League status through 2015, but at whose expense? West Brom came dangerously close to the drop last season, as did Hull City and Aston Villa. These things are typically never straightforward, and we don’t expect them to be once again in yet another topsy-turvy, blink-if-you-dare English Premier League season. Let the madness begin!

Here is a little preview of the finest Premier League goals from the 2013-2014 EPL season: