Category Archives: Manchester City

Manchester Switch for Most Valuable Premier League Club

Pep Guardiola

As they continue on their quest to lift the title for the second year in a row, it seems that there have also been other knock-on effects thanks to the success of the once Manchester underdogs, Man City, it appears that now Manchester United has also lost their most valuable financial Premier League Club crown and it has passed to the worst team possible for them, local rivals Manchester City as reports.

A new study into football finance has made some shocking revelations that upend the perceived placement of the Premier League teams and now rank Manchester City at the top. Climbing by £385m the team is currently valued at £2.364bn which easily leaves them in the highest spot. Manchester United has taken a hit of £376m and now has a value of £2.087bn, but leaves the comfortably in second. The loss is thought to be lower profits and a higher wage bill. It is also interesting to note that the top six ranking clubs make up for nearly three-quarters of the total value of the whole league. The other four clubs in the top six are Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal which ironically are the six teams ranking first on the table, although not quite in that order.

The study used figures from 2017/2018, and while the numbers might change by the end of this season, the placings are not predicted to change all that much. Only the two Manchester clubs have a value over two billion; every other club comes below this. The next three clubs all saw a jump in value, it was just Arsenal that dropped, and this is down to the fact they were not in the Champions League that season. They have values of Spurs (£1.837bn), Liverpool (£1.615bn), Chelsea (£1.615bn) and Arsenal (£1.368bn). Which to be fair are still some pretty vast numbers. Interestingly it is Burnley that sits in seventh and have a value of £398m some considerable way behind the top six, but they were not to be the “most sensibly run club in the Premier League financially”. Overall looking at the cumulative value of all the clubs in the league there was a 1.6% fall which equates to £14.7bn.

Speaking about Manchester City the notes from the study state that the reason they are at the top is due to higher revenue and lower wages, a profit of £39m from selling players, and the fact that this then removed some of the highest earners from the wage bill. “The ownership model of Sheikh Mansour, which effectively means that the club is debt free, means that there are no loan interest costs and no dividends are paid to shareholders either,”

The study, which was carried out by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Sports Business Group also notes that calculations were based on data with the factors of “Account revenue, profits, non-recurring costs, average profits on player sales over a three-year period, net assets, wage control and proportion of seats sold.”

World Cup, VAR and more: What to expect from football in 2018?

mourinho

2018. To borrow from Star Wars, it’s a new hope. Every new season, every new year, is about hope. The hope that it will be better and never more so than in a World Cup year.

But what does the year hold in store for the English game as a whole?

  1. VARs

The FA Cup tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace is the first competitive match where the new technology will be used in an English club match. The authorities are hoping that it will reduce the number of incorrect decisions.

This past week saw officials under scrutiny with controversial penalties awarded at West Brom, Arsenal and Liverpool. Dare I mention Tottenham’s offside goals which brought them four points?

VARs come into their own this week with the Carabao Cup semi-finals using their services, but largely, everyone is waiting for the first controversy. And the reaction of the manager afterwards.

Will it make things better? We hope so. We hope that the referee on the pitch won’t be so egotistical or proud to reverse an ‘obviously wrong call’ even if he is the one who decides whether he’s been ‘obviously wrong’.

The system as proposed is flawed but only over time, when trust is imbued by a procession of correct decisions, the referees will accept the decision from the control room with its’ banks of monitors.

But every change must begin somewhere…

  1. Premier League Snobs Accept the Championship is Actually Quite Good

Any fan of a well-established top-flight club will deride the quality of football in the Championship. Yet it’s the most competitive division and probably the hardest one to get out of, in either direction.

The focus is always on the promotion race – as if there is some Promised Land in the Premier League.

The only promise is money and lots of it, which all end up in the hands of players, managers and agents anyway. And CEO’s; they do well out running a Premier League football club.

In general, the quality of football on offer is turgid. Local rivalries may see Stoke sneer at Burton or Chelsea laud it over QPR and Fulham but in all honesty, the quality of Premier League football is poor.

Highlight packages make it look glamorous but condensing 95 minutes of action into seven can make anything exciting. If we crammed everything good out of Eastenders into a seven-minute slot…no, that’s a step too far.

However, supporters need to look at the Premier League table. None of the bottom seven were promoted last year. None of last season’s relegated teams were promoted the season before.

At the other end of the table, any of the teams up to Nottingham Forest in 14th are looking nervously over their shoulders at the bottom three. Currently occupied by teams who weren’t promoted the season before.

The Championship is a division where the quality of football is a lot better than its’ given credit for. Little wonder those who come down find it hard to go straight back up.

  1. Manchester City Don’t Go the Whole Season Unbeaten

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It may seem harsh but in many ways, Manchester City remaining unbeaten in the Premier League would be a bad thing.

Not because they play awful football; far from it, City are probably the best footballing side the top flight has ever seen. Not the best side though; defensively, they don’t hold up to Manchester United in 1998/99 or Arsenal in 2003/04.

However, if they go unbeaten, they will never be given the credit they deserve. Pep Guardiola is already derided as a ‘chequebook manager’ and reference to the amount of money spent overshadows how well he is coaching the expensively assembled players.

Maybe, just maybe, the best thing to happen is they win whatever honours they win but don’t go undefeated in the Premier League. Then they might be given the credit they deserve.

  1. The FA Cup Finds Its’ Bristol City

Let’s be honest, even Bristol Rovers fans probably enjoyed the Robins giving Manchester United a bloody nose. Maybe not, but everyone else did.

The FA Cup has become the personal property of Arsenal in recent years but its always good for the game when the exploits of Lincoln, Reading and Wigan occur.

Nobody remembers how Liverpool fared in last season’s FA Cup but the name of Sutton United is not forgotten.

With the moneyed sides fielding youth and reserve teams, the Football League clubs have the chance of claiming a scalp or two. Record books don’t say anything other than the result and scorers on the day. No judgement is brokered on the standard of the side fielded.

Grab the opportunity with both hands and don’t let the big clubs diminish the early rounds of the competition.

  1. England Win the World Cup

OK, that’s a hope. In fact, it’s a dream; the hope is that for once England don’t embarrass English football.

Is that too much to ask for?

Top 50 Young Footballers Final Part – (10-1)

kylian-mbappe

Top 50 Young Footballers Final Part – (10-1)

To round off our countdown of the Top 50 young stars in the world of football at present, we now have our ultimate top ten list which includes some of the brightest and sharpest talents across leagues. It is definitely not easy to be a rising starlet at a time when football teams are chasing after superstars but now and then we see a truly exceptional player break through.

With that in mind, here is our list of the top ten.

10. Harry Winks – Tottenham Hotspur

At 22 years of age, Winks is rightfully regarded as one of the most promising young talents in the Premier League. He usually plays as a midfielder alongside Moussa Dembele or Eric Dier but he has been missing from action lately after picking up an injury. However, for a good majority of the current season and the previous one, Winks has impressed quite a lot of people and for all the right reasons. Blessed with a mature understanding of the game, Winks can contribute equally to the attack and defence and often acts as a glue to hold the two aspects of the team together.

9. Renato Sanches – Swansea- on loan from Bayern Munich

Currently serving a loan spell with Swansea City, the 20-year-old sensation is earmarked for a bright future and after taking a look at his performances, it does not come as a surprise. Known for his energetic performances, Sanches is quite a top-quality box-to-box midfielder and he does have an eye for scoring goals as well. He rose to prominence playing an important role for Portugal in their journey to securing the Euro 2016 title, which eventually earned him the Young Player of the Tournament award.

8. Dele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur

Alli is often at the receiving end of criticism for being too aggressive at times but the fact is that he is one of the brightest English talents at present. Having struck up quite a solid understanding with Harry Kane, Alli is a creative hub for goals and boasts of excellent attacking intent. Blessed with quick feet and efficient ball control, the young star has only gone from strength-to-strength for Spurs. In fact, he put in a particularly sublime performance when they played Real Madrid in a Champions League encounter this season and there seems to be no end to his potential.

7. Matthijs De Ligt – Ajax

Ajax are renowned for producing some of the best talents in the world of football currently and De Ligt is no different. He is quite the epitome of a true-blue ball-playing central defender and at 18 years of age, he has attracted quite a lot of attention from some of the biggest clubs across the world. He can make some important interceptions while also displaying some gutsy blocks and tackles and he is quite a key part of the Ajax team. The player also boasts of a penchant for finding the back of the net and he is quite a package.

6. Marcus Rashford – Manchester United

Rashford burst onto the scene with the Red Devils at a time when they were terribly struggling for pace and attacking intent. He got the goals and assists and immediately became a fan favourite at Old Trafford. Since then, he has managed to establish himself in the first-team and has retained his spot even though the club boasts of having some excellent attackers in the team. At just 20 years of age, he can truly reach great heights if he continues this way.

5. Leroy Sane – Manchester City

Anybody who has followed the Premier League season will be aware of the kind of brilliance Manchester City have displayed to rise to the top. And the 22-year-old attacker has played quite a hand at helping them reach where they are. Pep Guardiola’s men have been renowned for their blistering attack and Sane has simply been sensational for the club. He has already smashed 11 goals and provided 12 assists for the club and he looks set to finish the season on a strong note.

4. Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City

Jesus came into the team as a young, raw talent but currently, he plays like a top-class striker. One of Guardiola’s most trusted players, the 20-year-old has been in impeccable form for the Sky Blues and his performances were strong enough to keep City veteran Sergio Aguero out of regular action. Even now, the player continues to maintain his stronghold on his spot and he has even worked well with Aguero whenever Guardiola employed a two-striker formation. He has a long way ahead of him and he truly has the potential to become a lethal force to be reckoned with.

3. Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona

The 20-year-old is yet to make a name for himself at Barcelona due to injury troubles and all that but anybody who has seen him play for Borussia Dortmund will know that he is a dangerous player – for all the right reasons. He has quick feet and is very fast but boasts of excellent ball control at the same time. His crossing skills are absolutely top-notch and from what we have seen, he never backs down from a challenge. His passion and skill will take him far and it will be interesting to see how he fares for the Catalan giants.

2. Justin Kluivert – Ajax

Son of Patrick Kluivert, the 18-year-old has been a true revelation for the Dutch giants. He is a winger by trade and can play on either flank and is quite a threat despite being so young. Kluivert can capitalize even on the tiniest of gaps provided by the opposition and exploit the same relentlessly. The Dutchman can prove to be a nightmare for even the best defenders and he continues to get linked to a host of top-level clubs across Europe. Whether he chooses to move or not remains to be seen but there is no doubt that he is earmarked for a dazzling future.

1. Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain

Mbappe rose to fame after AS Monaco’s spectacular Ligue 1 victory last season and his shine has not dulled even after completing a sensational, big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the season. He is composed in front of the goal and is tactically intelligent as well, which is quite commendable since he is so young. At just 19 years of age, he can dribble and boss his way through the toughest of defences and he is already a force to be reckoned with. The young Frenchman has already scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists for PSG this season and he looks unstoppable.

English Premier League – An Era Of Underrated Players

Shaka Hislop
Shaka Hislop

English Premier League – Rating The Underrated Players

Ever since the Premier League began, we have had the good fortune of watching some of the best footballers play against each other. These players were famous for their many talents on the field and even today, there are so many players in the league that are worshipped and idolised by their fans across the world. Love and support for them only seem to be increasing as commercial factors like merchandising and advertising have come into play. They are endorsing some of the biggest companies while also proving to be marvellous on the field.

Be it a Beckham or a Ronaldo, there appears to be no end to the list of companies wanting them to endorse their products. However, amidst all the glitz and glam, there are some players who get lost. In every field, there are a number of people who do a fair share of the work and walk away with accolades while there are also others who do the real work but get lost somewhere in the middle. Football is no different and even more so in Premier League. Calling them the underdogs seems rather unfair given their contribution, so let’s stick with calling them underrated.

Underrated. That is the favourite word of many pundits to describe a player who does his work on the field but seemingly ends up receiving less credit for it. So, what really makes a player underrated? Is it the lack of endorsement deals or the lack of recognition for their hard work? To understand the answer to that question, one must keep in mind that players have been dubbed ‘underrated’ from a time when the commercial aspect of football hardly mattered.

To take you back in time, Shaka Hislop was one such player. Newcastle United were expected to win the 1995/96 Premier League season but an injury to their goalkeeper Hislop changed the course of their fortune and they failed to make it. Hislop may have won two runners-up medals but he was of pivotal importance for the Magpies as well as his country Trinidad and is arguably one of their best goalkeepers till date. Hislop was not a celebrated player but he was crucial for his teams in an unparalleled sense.

Ray Parlour of Arsenal
Ray Parlour of Arsenal

When it comes to defenders, Bobby Moore is undoubtedly touted as one of England’s best defenders. However, Nottingham Forest fans may disagree. A central defender by trade, Des Walker was famous for making his well-timed surges to manoeuvre the ball away from even the toughest of opponents. In fact, very few central defenders have been able to match his level of craftiness and speed, which further establishes his credentials. And yet, he is not one of the more popular names in football.

Cut to not-so-long ago and you have Emile Heskey. Now, a lot of Liverpool, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Leicester City fans might get put off by the mere mention of his name but the fact remains that his contribution was necessary to every club he played for. He lacked self-belief to a large extent and one cannot really blame him for that. Playing in the Premier League is a tough job as it is and to have scores of fans hating you makes it all the more difficult. However, very few players lacked his creative vision up front and for all that he did, Heskey truly deserves more appreciation.

As long as we are talking about Liverpool forwards, names like Dalglish, Rush and Aldridge come to our mind. And yet one of their most prolific strikers till date continues to be Peter Beardsley. To be honest, he was the one who kept creating scoring outlets for Rush and Aldridge. Without him, could the duo have proven to be as effective? Most likely not.

Speaking of making contributions, we all know of players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Pires and Bergkamp. After all, they were all crucial parts of Arsene Wenger’s stunning ‘Invincibles’ side. But how many of us rate Ray Parlour? The midfielder often filled in for either Vieira or Gilberto Silva and often lit up the stadium with his unlimited energy. He always boasted of an important eye for the goal and was truly one of Arsenal’s finest.

Fernandinho
Fernandinho

This trend of overlooking players making important contributions seems to have continued until today. Unless a player is snazzy enough with blue hair like Tiemoue Bakayoko or possesses the goal-scoring skills like Harry Kane, it seems quite tough for them to shine through and make a name for themselves. One such player in our present crop of the Premier League’s unsung heroes is Harry Arter. He is one of Bournemouth’s most influential players and his energy has been key to a lot of their good fortune this season. He may not score flashy goals but he is the glue that holds the Cherries together.

Even Manchester City’s Fernandinho is underrated in a similar fashion. He does play for an attack-oriented team with some of the best players like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling, which often sees his fame get lost amidst all the power up front. But his influence in terms of holding the defence and the attack together has been spectacular to watch this season. Adept at making a mean, tenacious tackle and boasting of smoothness while in possession, Fernandinho can even be regarded as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League right now.

It seems unfair for them to not receive their share of credits but it is what it is. Perhaps even a decade or two down the line, we will have these underrated players who work tirelessly for their team and yet their contributions would not be celebrated as such. Regardless, what makes these players all the more remarkable is the fact that they continue to do their job despite this sense of unfairness.

Pep Guardiola: A Tactical Genius Premier League Deserves

Pep Guardiola: A Genius Premier League Deserves

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In the world of football, a good manager can either make or break the club and in Manchester City’s case, Pep Guardiola is on the verge of leading them to unprecedented greatness. Anytime a club starts the season on a spectacular note and goes unbeaten for quite some time, they are compared to Arsene Wenger’s legendary ‘Invincibles’. Most of the time, we all brush them off as silly predictions and more often than not, those clubs fail to live up to that benchmark. And yet, this time, even the critics are rooting for the Sky Blues to finish the season unbeaten and lift the Premier League trophy – and this is all because of Guardiola.

A man renowned for bringing about the famous tiki-taka style of play at Barcelona, Guardiola has always been respected as one of the greatest coaches of modern times. However, what he has done for Manchester City is above and beyond anything he has done at his previous clubs so far. Yes, he did influence the Catalan giants and he made a strong impact at Bayern Munich as well. But at the Etihad stadium, Guardiola seems to have found his true calling.

In fact, one might even call his success at the club multi-faceted. He has united the team, extracted the best out of under-performing players and has brought about a new sense of dynamism as far as the club’s tactics are concerned. Most managers either end up spending too much time on conceptualizing or they spend too much time on the execution. The ultimate delivery gets lost somewhere in between but Guardiola seems to be excelling on all three levels with City.

When he first took charge of the club, Guardiola made quite a few harsh decisions which did not bode well for the fans. For example, he sidelined the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart even though they were one of the senior-most voices in the dressing room. Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero were all stripped of their individual star status which often prevented City from coming together as a club. These decisions may have seemed tough at that point but now, it is evident that they were necessary.

Once he managed to unite the team to an extent, Guardiola started focusing on his tactics. The manager has always been a good reader of the game and displayed intelligence in terms of making up plays, which is exactly what he did at City as well. The way Guardiola deployed his wing-backs in his first match as manager for the Citizens itself was quite unexpected. Instead of using them as inverted full-backs, the Catalan manager fielded them closer to the centre circle. This move completely threw Sunderland off their game since David Moyes did not expect this and looked baffled, like most of the City fans.

When Guardiola splashed out astronomical amounts to land full-backs this summer, several eyebrows were raised. Whether or not they are living up to their billing is another topic but the reason why he did that was because full-backs have always been essential to his tactics. For example, he relied heavily on Philip Lahm at Bayern and at Barcelona, he had the services of Dani Alves. Hence, he needed similar personnel at City and nobody at the club was capable of patrolling that area like Guardiola wanted.

What makes them stand out from their competition is their ability at adapting their tactics depending on their opponents. In fact, in their game against Chelsea last month, City looked like they had assembled in a 4-3-3 formation but – like always – they shifted the lineup as and when the play the demanded. At times it felt like City were defending with 9 men behind the ball whereas while attacking, they looked like every player was contributing to the force. This effortless switching of tactics to suit the play truly got the best of Chelsea and a frustrated Antonio Conte was left scratching his head.

City’s general philosophy is more or less the same but those little tweaks here and there are truly helping Guardiola’s men to overcome even the most challenging teams. The essence of his tactics at City is to maintain the ball while dominating spaces. A key aspect of making this happen is an efficient full-back and when one considers it this way, Guardiola’s summer spending spree does not seem all that exorbitant.

That said, he is not a manager who ships out under-performing players to make room for new faces. He invested a lot of time and effort in the likes of John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane and now all three of them have established themselves as key members of the squad. This might seem like the basic job of a manager but very few of them are actually able to push their players just the right amount to bring out the best in them. It is a very delicate balance and Guardiola seems to know just where to draw the line. And the players love him and respect him for the same.

During the initial stages of the new season, a lot of people undermined Guardiola’s work at the club. It is a fairly popular notion that if one has money in the world of football, they can win trophies. If that were true, Roberto Mancini would have perhaps still been in charge of Manchester City. It is very easy to just assume that City are achieving what they are because of money but the truth is they are at this stage simply because of one invaluable investment made by the club last year – the appointment of Pep Guardiola.

 

 

 

Pep Talk – The Easiest Job In The World Suddenly Becomes Harder

Pep Guardiola

The knives were out for Pep Guardiola well before the announcement that he was swapping Bavaria for Manchester. Bayern Munich’s failure to land the Champions League during his three years in charge was a regular stick with which his reputation was beaten; FC Hollywood wasn’t amused by three semi-final exits.

This, after all, his detractors contended was a squad which your grandmother could manage to the Bundesliga. He was expected to sprinkle magic dust to bring bigger prizes to the Allianz Arena. It didn’t happen and not even a domestic treble appeased them.

And in fairness, it disappointed Guardiola; “I’m sorry for the fans and especially for the players.” His exacting standards demand every trophy but pragmatically accepts there can be only one winner. While it may not have kept fans happy, the players appreciated him.

The erudite Thomas Mueller defended the Spaniard, observing that it was “crude and inconsiderate” to lay the blame solely at the former coach’s door. The team had developed during his reign and were better footballers for it which is a coded way of saying that Guardiola was a player’s coach, popular with those who delivered for him.

Carlo Ancelotti was swiftly signed as Guardiola’s replacement with a simple brief: conquer Europe. The Bavarians dominance at home continued during the early days of the Italian’s reign. Four matches without conceding across three competitions before Rostov were crushed 5 – 0 in the Allianz Arena.

Indeed, Ingolstadt were the only German team to score against Bayern before the end of September but Atletico Madrid were the first European team to do so. Crucially, it was the only goal of the game in the Vincent Calderon when the two sides met in the Champions League.

The first cracks appearing in the sheen of invincibility built up in this decade? Certainly their legs were wobbling as Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne held them but, it seemed, business as usual with five consecutive wins across all competitions.

It proved to be a false dawn. Dortmund beat them and so did Rostov in a seismic win in the Champions League. The 2 – 3 defeat condemned Bayern to second in the group but it proved a blessing in disguise as they were drawn against Arsenal, a team they have knocked out of the competition twice in the past three years.

The final match before the winter break saw them beat RB Leipzig 3 – 0 and Bayern were crowned winter champions, three points ahead of their upstart rivals. It’s hard to know which is least popular: Bayern’s continual first-place finish or Leipzig’s rise.

The Red Bull financed club are by far and away, Germany’s most hated club. Envy and the manufactured nature of their existence unites supporters of other clubs in detesting them. However, outsiders view this change in the footballing landscape as welcome.

Anything which challenges Bayern’s hegemony is deemed positive for the domestic football scene. Hoffenheim remain the only unbeaten side in the Bundesliga but 10 draws have undermined their attempts to rise into the Champions League places.

There is still a long way to go in the season but with sixth-placed Dortmund the highest ranked of all the ‘traditional’ powerhouses, is the Bundesliga landscape changing?

And what does that say of Ancelotti’s Bayern?

The victory over Leipzig was forged on the pressing game Ancelotti learned under Arrigo Sacchi at Milan. It’s nothing unusual in Germany to see success born from the basics of the wonderful team which dominated Europe. Jurgen Klopp remains a keen advocate of the style and does Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick.

But Ancelotti took his experience at most of Europe’s leading clubs and convinced the players to execute the plan perfectly. Even before Forsberg’s red card, Bayern had 63% possession and were overwhelming their opponents.

It typified the calm Italian’s approach. Methodical, well-organised and hidden beneath a veneer of laissez-faire management. His is a style which treats the players as adults and expects them to behave as such. But he is in command, make no mistake about that.

And he hones them to perform. Bayern don’t use the tactic week in, week out; it’s inconceivable anyone can use pressing for 90 minutes every game and not expect horrendous injury problems. His is a fluid approach based around a core philosophy and tweaked to ensure that the need to win is countered against the needs of the player over the course of the season.

It’s why he engenders loyalty from squads, even in the most vituperative and shallow of football clubs.

Ancelotti’s biggest test this season was to transform the style of play from Guardiola’s way to his own. Many mimic the Spaniard but few are anywhere near as successful. The Italian’s CV is as, if not more, impressive than Guardiola’s but in keeping with his character, is unassuming and mostly under-appreciated. But it underlines that he doesn’t need to copy his predecessor.

At a club used to success, this campaign has the qualities of a duck. On the surface, it is serene, calm and business as usual. The hard work is away from the public eye, beneath the surface, paddling hard to maintain direction.

The winter break may prove to be Ancelotti’s biggest ally. Bayern don’t play again until 20th January with time to work on the wrinkles which surfaced in the first four months of the season. Time spent on the training ground will prove beneficial on the pitch.

It will come as no surprise to see Bayern stretch their lead at the top of the Bundesliga as the winter snows thaw while Arsenal are expected to be beaten with little problem. Carletto, as Ancelotti was known as a player, has his way and the squad he inherited are learning that. Bayern will find it business as usual when they do.

(2015-16) Predictions For The Top 5 Leagues

With the footballing season just around the blocks, and transfers raining all over the clubs here are my predictions for the major leagues in the upcoming season.

  • Barclays English Premier League

barclays

Arguably the best league in the world had an uncharacteristic tittle saga last season with Chelsea showing great defensive resolve in the second half, and with the start they had it was always their tittle to lose. This season promises to be different. Not many teams have been able to retain the Premier League in the past years (even the Invincibles failed to achieve it). So, It is going to be a mammoth task for Chelsea, but they surely have the team and the Manager for that.

Last year’s runner up City have got some additions in the attack, but until their defensive situation is managed it doesn’t look like they will be able to mount a title challenge. Manchester United and Liverpool have bought many players and only time will tell how they settle in the premier league. The team, which really looks like giving Chelsea the run for their money is Arsenal F.C. They had a very solid ending to the last season, having settled their goalkeeping woes with the signing of Petr Cech and they had a brilliant pre- season setting momentum for the season ahead.

So, In the premier league it looks like a close battle between Chelsea and Arsenal for the title, (could go up-till the last match week). I know I’d put my money on Arsenal. The remaining top 4 should also be a good battle between the Manchester Clubs and Liverpool.

  • Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (La Liga)

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Historically being a two horse race, La Liga has found their third “dark” horse in Atletico Madrid. This summer Atletico Madrid has done some serious business with players like Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto added to their ranks. The loss of Adra Turan with surely haunt him and other midfielders will have to step up to make up for his absence.

Last season’s winners Barcelona have made a couple of signings who will only be able to play the second half of the season. Though the strength of the team still lies in the front 3 south American superstars. They would expect to start off the new season where they ended the last, scoring goals at will. Barca’s newly appointed captain Andres Iniesta will have to take up the mentor role which Xavi and Puyol had tremendously done before him.

The third horse of this race has a newly appointed manager in the dressing room and the kind of season Los Bloncos have will very much depend on Rafa Benitez. He needs to settle up the playing roles and positions of his superstar players Ronaldo and Bale. The onus will be on Sergio Ramos to take up Casillas’s leader role to post some serious threat to Barcelona’s tittle.

La Liga promises to be a great neck to neck battle between the three giants of Spanish and European football. At this moment Barcelona tips away with the title for me due to the stability they have in their team. (Expect some big upsets form Sevilla FC after their spree of intelligent buys).

  •  The Bundesliga

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For the past three years Bayern Munich have been running away with the Bundesliga title, and it wouldn’t be too early to say that they are surely on track to make it four in a row. They have made some good transfers by replacing Bastian Schweinsteiger with the fiery Chilean Arturo Vidal, who’s widely regarded as one the best midfielders in the world over the last few years. They also added Brazilian Douglas Costa to provide more cover on the wings after both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben suffered injury-riddled campaigns. Basically, health is the only thing that can stop the Bayern machine from rolling onto yet another title. If they can finally get the likes of Robben, Ribery, David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara to play the full season, they should be virtually unstoppable.

The only other thing that can remotely come close to hindering Bayern in their aspirations is the surprise package of the last season Wolfsburg. They had a tremendous season scoring 72 goals only behind the champions Bayern who scored 80. The main goal of Wolfsburg now is to make sure the their instrumental playmaker Kevin De Bruyne stays in the squad.

Now coming from last year’s surprise to last year’s disappointment. Under their new coach Thomas Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund will be looking to dust off last season’s blues with a solid performance. The German core of Rues, Hummels and Gundogan have remained intact and will have to step up to their reputations.

Event though Bayern Munich looks very likely to retain their title, you never know with the game of football. A couple of injuries, a bad start and inspired performances from Wolfsburg could cause a big upset. May be Lord Bendtner could conjure up a miracle. It still is Bayern’s tittle to lose.

  • Serie A

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Going into the new Serie A season, it’s very easy to wonder if the Italian league is on the up. A Champions League final appearance of Juventus back in May showed that there’s still talent in the league, and this summer has seen the other sides strengthening significantly too. They’re closing in on the Premier League in the co-efficient table, looking to overtake them and regain their fourth Champions League spot.

Last season’s Champions Juventus have undergone a big change this summer. The side that guided them to the Champions League final has been torn apart, with some big stars moving on. They allowed Carlos Tevez to move back to Boca Juniors, while Arturo Vidal left for Bayern to fill the void left by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Andrea Pirlo also departed, heading for New York and MLS. They did respond in a pretty impressive way, signing the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Sami Khedira and Simone Zaza. Keeping hold of Paul Pogba will be key and they seem in no mood to let go of their star man, despite rumours of huge bids from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Man City.

That said, there’s little to inspire you to back anyone else. The transfer window may have hit Juve hard, but they’ve bounced back. Roma lost Andrea Bertolacci to AC Milan, and no other side have had a major addition since then.

Juventus have no serious competition when it comes to the Serie A title, although you can always expect a miracle.

  • Ligue 1

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The league where rich gets richer. Paris Saint-Germain after clinching their third title in a row have added more firepower in their team with the scoops of Benjamin Stambouli and Di Maria. The rest of the championship-winning team is relatively unchanged – Yohan Cabaye and Thiago Motta are the only notable departures.

Lyon caught almost everyone by surprise as they finished runners-up to PSG last season. They did so in large part because of the incredible goal-scoring exploits of striker Alexandre Lacazette. The 24-year old Frenchman had a breakout season with 27 goals to lead all of Ligue 1. Keeping him on board will be their priority

Monaco has been a hotbed of transfer activity this season. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, two key contributors last season, were both sold off for eight-figure sums, and the funds from their sales were then re-invested in a host of young, up-and-coming talent. Veteran midfielders Joao Moutinho and Jeremy Toulalan are still around, though, and will provide a solid foundation to help the growing youth movement in the club.

PSG is very much on course to make it four seasons in a row and it would have to take something special to overthrow the Parisians from power. The onus is on the likes of Lyon, Monaco, St. Etienne to take PSG’s throne.

A guest blog by  Pratik Jha, read his articles at Derailed douchebaggery

PFA Player of the Year – Top 6 Nominees

PFA Player of the Year – Top 6 Nominees

With the PFA awards fast approaching, FootballFriendsOnline.com decided to make a mention of the names who are in the running for the award for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year. The players will be casting their votes in some time for the awards which are to be held on 26th April. Some of the players who are in the forefront to receive the award are:

Harry Kane29 goals, 44 appearances

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Tottenham have flattered to deceive us, season after season, threatening to reach the aura of the higher throes of European competition – the UEFA Champions League, but languishing in the Europa League. Harry Kane, a north Londoner, has looked to break the ceiling – of Tottenham’s performances and expectations, as well as his own – going on to show that English players can surge upwards in the best football league. Harry Kane was not a first-team regular, but with Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado on the wane, he has grasped his chance with both feet and his head, running with the ball past oppositions and scoring goals at will.