The return of the Premier League action this Saturday will be quite telling. At precisely 2:15pm ET (7:15pm GMT), we’ll know whether the EPL is one of the most entertaining leagues in the world or whether it’s still a predictable and oftentimes boring four horse race.
After the full-time whistle blows, we’ll be able to reflect on a day of action where stronger teams from “The Other 16″ battle against the top four (Everton against Man United, Spurs versus Arsenal, Portsmouth against Liverpool and, last but not least, Chelsea v Blackburn Rovers).
We’ll immediately see whether the likes of Everton, Spurs, Pompey and Blackburn are pretenders or contenders. If one or two of those teams can cause an upset this weekend, the argument could be made that we’re experiencing a new chapter in the history of the Premiership with the four-horse race being broken by teams who have benefited from the injection of new cash from the lucrative global TV deals.
These teams (Spurs, Everton, Blackburn and Portsmouth) are our best hope to break down the four horse race monopoly. Managers such as David Moyes, Mark Hughes, Harry Redknapp and, to a lesser extent Martin Jol, have the experience and tactical know-how to outwit Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez. We saw that two weeks ago when Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa was able to outwit Mourinho’s Chelsea. Was that a fluke? We shall see.
Of course, it’s ridiculous to judge an entire season by four matches in one weekend. But this Saturday does give us a rare opportunity to compare and contrast first hand the top four versus the “best of the rest.”
My hope, for the betterment of the league around the world and the entertainment value, is that shock results do happen this weekend. We need to see a higher level of play from all sides. We need to be convinced that this is a competitive league. We need to see the fear in the faces of the superstars. Lastly, we need to see how great they really are.
The more this can happen, the more it’ll benefit the English game in general and, in my belief, better prepare English teams to do battle in the Champions League where they’ll be facing much stiffer opposition.