We’re just literally hours away from the start of the 2013/14 Premier League season and the anticipation has reached its pinnacle. But before everything kicks off, before our weekends become significantly busier, let’s pause for a moment and revel in what we’re about to experience.
The 2013 summer hasn’t been without its share of entertaining football. The Confederations Cup and World Cup qualifying matches were decent substitutes even for those who don’t care for the international game. Seeing certain players take the field, even outside the context of their club, was a treat especially in a time when they couldn’t be seen on a weekly basis. Club football wasn’t completely absent either. Pre-season friendlies were littered across the summer months and proved to be a good fix. There was even some pre-season silverware on the line. The Audi Cup let us see Manchester City take on AC Milan and Bayern Munich while the inaugural year of the International Champions Cup threw Everton and Chelsea against some of the top teams in the world. Having a final between Real Madrid and Chelsea before the season even starts was a wonderful preview for the caliber of matches we’ll see in the UEFA Champions League.
But the Premier League is almost back, and we no longer have to rely on inconsistent pre-season matches and transfer rumors to keep us occupied. It’s getting to be about that time of year when the more practical moves have already happened and the only rumors left are outlandish and attention-seeking. Excitement over transfers will get one last boost on deadline day, but until then it’ll be a steady decline into frustration and apathy. We can be certain there’s not much more to see when some of the biggest transfer news is whether or not a player will apologize to his teammates.
That’s all changing though. The time has come. Instead of breaking down each club and previewing all 20 contenders, let’s take a more general look at what we can anticipate in the coming months. If you’re craving individual club previews, check out the latest EPL Talk podcasts that cover just that.
Let’s begin by focusing on shakeups. The top four teams last season were Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, respectively. Three of those clubs — United, City, and Chelsea — have all gotten new managers. For Chelsea this is nothing new, but Roberto Mancini has been at Manchester City since 2009 and Sir Alex Ferguson had been at Manchester United for almost 27 years. A reorganization of managers at the top, especially at the same time, hasn’t happened in quite some time. There will be growing pangs, doubts, influences being overhyped, and fingers being pointed, all depending on how well their clubs perform. David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini will constantly be compared to their club’s former managers, while Jose Mourinho will spend some time living in his own shadow from his last stint at Chelsea.
Arsenal are the only top four side to hold onto their manager, but that may not be a good thing depending on who you ask. Over the past few seasons the Gunners have garnered a reputation of being frugal in the transfer market. This season hasn’t been any different. They were able to end their last campaign on a ten-match unbeaten run which saw them into an UEFA Champions League spot, but their direct competition has been strengthening this summer without them. It will be interesting to see how they compete, especially if they fail to sign the likes of Luis Suarez. Such a renowned signing would help to break the stereotype that the club never brings in big players. They’ll have to drop some serious cash in order to snare the Uruguayan, however, and that seems to contradict Wenger’s mantra. In a recent article, The Swiss Ramble reported that Arsenal have spent just 1% of their available cash flow in the transfer market since 2007.