We are on the cusp of yet another Premier League season, with only days left to countdown until the start of the 2015/16 season.
It does not seem that long ago that we were watching the action but even so, us football fans are itching to get going.
The summer, as always, has been one fueled with transfer rumour after transfer rumour. If like me you are active on social media, it does make you wonder why you bother during the off-season. It only often takes a 12-year-old with a Twitter account to suggest that Crystal Palace are to sign Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint Germain and it grows like wildfire. I mean, how ridiculous an idea is that?!
I am as passionate about the sport as the next person but this time of year simply drives me crazy. There was a time when you would not know that your team had signed a new player until you heard it announced on the radio, if you followed a fashionable team, if not then you would read it in the newspaper the next day. I mean, who remembers having to scroll through x-amount of pages on Ceefax and Teletext to get news?!
Long gone are those days as everything now is so immediate. Fans expect news every second of the day but that simply is not possible. Fair play to Sky Sports though, their sports news channel try their hardest to report the latest news and rumours. Often they are just recapping the big story of the day every fifteen minutes. Unless it is transfer deadline day, but that is an article for another day.
There has been no lack of big signings in the Premier League this summer, most of them have been at Old Trafford where a team that have failed to challenge for a few seasons are simply desperate to get back to what they have been so used to. Maybe it has a lot to do with their blue neighbours who have enjoyed more success in recent seasons but whenever a team changes so many personnel, there is always a question of how they will all fit. City have not been quiet in the transfer market either but not quite as active. May the battle of Manchester begin again.
As for the Premier League title, the team to beat is undeniably still Chelsea. They are in a good position to retain it, they have stability and you could argue that they really have not had the need to do a lot of business in the transfer market. A returning Victor Moses from several loan spells along with the addition of Radamel Falcao who was a flop at Manchester United, both have a lot to prove.
While both Manchester clubs feel like they are playing catch up, Arsenal for me are the team that look to be in an excellent position to challenge. They have narrowly seen off Chelsea for the Community Shield. While it is only the curtain raiser to the season, it is still a big result for the Gunners and boss Arsene Wenger especially, and, goes some way to proving that Arsenal may well have that mental capacity to give the Premier League a ‘proper’ go this year.
The North London side were only a couple of results from putting real pressure on Chelsea last season and their squad continues to be strong going into the season. The sly addition of Petr Cech in goal will secure them points that they likely missed out on last season and I am expecting them to make more additions before the window closes. The addition of a reliable goalscorer could be the difference between them taking the Premier League title and losing it.
That is the top four this season but I cannot decide in which order. If I was pushed I would say the title will end up being between the two London sides but it could be a titanic battle between the top four.
The trailing herd are likely to be fronted by Liverpool once again, but like United, a lot will depend on how their new signings gel as the season gets underway. So, it could go either way for them. They have spent big in the transfer market again and if it fails once again expect to see a change in manager by Christmas.
The positions from fifth down to mid-table really are up for grabs. Tottenham have appeared to have forgotten there is a transfer window which has left the likes of Stoke City, Swansea City, West Ham and Crystal Palace to all improve on what they already had. It makes me wonder whether there is a similar view at Spurs as there was at Arsenal during the build and funding of their new stadium. They could well have a few seasons of nothingness, which, is not new for them.
Three new teams join the top table this season. The most incredible of the three is Bournemouth who have had a quite terrific few years to reach the holy grail in English football. They have a squad that has been built up over a few years and know each other. They have made a few additions at some expense and are likely to do more but they are looking the best out of the three to survive that first season.
The other two teams are odd ones to call. Watford have owners that have sacked the manager that got the club promoted to the Premier League. That decision was quite incredible but I do not have access to what has perhaps gone on behind the scenes. Their approach in the transfer market has been one of foreign acquisitions and with a manager that is new to English football, let alone the Premier League, they will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. They could end up being the soap opera of the division which was held so well by Cardiff City a couple of seasons back.
The Canaries return after one season of absence and they have done well to bounce back at the first attempt. They did manage to retain a few players that experienced relegation which may keep them in good stead as they will know that feeling and will do everything to avoid experiencing it again. A young impressive manager that turned their fortunes around in the Championship will be looking forward to the task at hand.
As for my team, the last two Premier League seasons have been quite amazing for Crystal Palace considering the turmoil that the club has experienced along the way. Finishing eleventh and tenth in the Premier League in consecutive seasons has surprised a lot of people and we now find ourselves at a crossroads. In retaining the services of players such as Scott Dann and James McArthur while adding the quality of Yohan Cabaye and Patrick Bamford, we are heading straight through those crossroads at full speed.
All in all, the 2015/16 Premier League season promises to be as exciting as ever at both ends of the table. There will be hopes and dreams up and down the country, some will be realised while others dashed.