Inagural EPL Weekend 2015-2016 – Five Talking Points

swansea

  1. Emergence of Swansea City

Swansea City was backed by manager Garry Monk to improve further, after giving a fight to Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Swansea came from behind twice to secure a point against the champions at West London thanks to an Andre Ayew strike on his debut and a Bafetimbi Gomis penalty. Earlier Oscar’s free-kick and a Federico Fernandez own goal had put Chelsea in front on two occasions. Swansea had a plethora of chances to secure a first Premier League win over Chelsea after Thibaut Courtois’s red card for fouling Gomis. This could’ve been another 1st day victory over the top 4 after a win over Manchester United 12 months ago. However, he can be content with the performance of the team as a whole.

ranieri

  1. Leicester New Life under Ranieri

Leicester City’s teamwork and offensive playing qualities were lauded by Claudio Ranieri after their 4-2 opening-day victory over Sunderland. The Leicester manager made his Premier League return at King Power Stadium and witnessed a clinical first-half display by his team en-route to beating Sunderland. A Riyad Mahrez brace and a Jamie Vardy goal put Leicester 3-0 up at half time. Jermain Defoe pulled one back in the second half only for Marc Albrighton to kill the with Leicester’s fourth. Steven Fletcher got a goal for Sunderland later but it was no more than a consolation one. Ranieri, a former Chelsea manager who took over Leicester from Nigel Pearson was pleased with the start.

cech

  1. Cech’s Home Debut

It was supposed to be a dream start for Arsenal’s new signing Petr Cech after joining from Chelsea for 11 million dollars this summer. He was touted to be their knight in shining armor who would lead the team to their first premier league title in 10 years. However, the dream was shattered with Cech conceding two easy attempts on goal, which otherwise should have been saved. Adding to the misery of the Arsenal fans, it was the first victory of West Ham over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium since 2007.

kane

  1. Harry Kane Misfiring

Harry Kane came into this season with a burden of expectations to his name. Kane had to a tough beginning for this season as he faced a new look Manchester United. And it was to be proven right with the United rear-guard keeping Kane away from the ball and not giving him space to make his runs nor the time to position himself. It is to be seen if he was a one season wonder or not. However the Spurs faithful can take solace in the fact that it was one of those days where he was carefully isolated by Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick and successfully followed up by Schneiderlin.  With him being a prime transfer subject for many clubs, such performances may not find him any suitors come the end of August.

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  1. The Goalkeepers – Second Choice Talent

This season is widely looked upon to be the season of Goalkeepers. Vorm, Ospina, Begovic, Romero, Jääskeläinen; these are the second choice goalkeepers for some of teams in the EPL. A plethora of talent is there on show this season, hence making it very difficult for strikers to score. Whether or not we will get to see these players on the pitch regularly is impossible to tell, but with such talent on the bench, a sense of security will always be present with the defenders come a moment of madness by their 1st choice keeper. E.g. we witnessed such an incident when Chelsea played Swansea in the opening day fixture of the Premier League, where Courtois was sent off, but was ably replaced by Begovic.

The EPL Returns: What to watch out for this season

Last season saw very little excitement with Chelsea sealing the title way before the season ended, the European places being sorted out before the last weekend, moreover even the relegation battle wasn’t much ado, apart from Newcastle skimming past at the last. The final whistle of the Community Shield Match on Sunday, 2nd August 2015 not only signaled the end of the match, but also the start of the English Premier League – 2015-16. This season promises a lot, with new managers, new teams, new philosophies, new signings, new tantrums and old as well. Lets Kick-off by looking at 7 of the most captivating headlines that could determine the campaign ahead.

  1. Who Will Be The Signing Of The Summer

sterling This is what all fans will be yearning to know, some may rule off the transfer fees if they get to see the results. Will it be Petr Cech saving 12-15 points for Arsenal? Raheem Sterling scoring 15+ goals for Machester City? Yohan Cabaye inspiring Crystal Palace to a European Place Finish? Schweinsteiger and Schniederlin cementing the hole in the United midfield? It’ll be an answer we’ll only get when the season sees its end.

  1. Brendan Rodgers On The Tight Rope.

Since the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Liverpool has struggled to compete for a top four finish. With Balotelli not filling the void as seen last season, Rodgers is left with more questions than answers coming into this season. Raheem Sterling’s departure to Manchester City saw him take the villains’ spotlight away from Rodgers. But with the release of his two assistants, Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh, It can be tipped that Rodgers was next in the line. Rodgers started with a bang at Liverpool, followed by the season that saw Suarez-Sturridge almost bring home the title, and last season saw the struggle to cope up. This is probably Rodgers’ last chance. Emre Càn, Divock Origi, Lazar Markovic were overseas talents brought in last season, but were either loaned out or played out of position. This season, Rogers has brought in proven Premier League talents, James Milner, Christian Benteke and Danny Ings. Let’s see if they are the answer to Liverpool fans’ cries or just the boot to Rodgers Days at Liverpool.

  1. Van Gaal And His Decisions.

louis-van-gaal-man-united Despite splashing the cash, the last season didn’t belong to the Dutchman. He was saved, thanks to De Gea’s Heroics and the late season collapse by Tottenham and Liverpool which sealed the top 4 finish for his team. The spending continued this season with Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Schweinsteiger-Schniederlin coming in for an estimate of $75 million, but Van Gaal still seeks more creativity. With the loss of Van Persie and Falcao, United might be lacking cover in attack, but his other positions are well filled. Carrick – Herrera was the combination used last season, but with Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin in the equation, it is to be seen what Van Gaal will opt for. In defense, with Blind being suggested as one Center Back, it leaves Evans, Smalling, Jones and Rojo to fight for the other spot. This ought to put Van Gaal in a spot.

  1. Falcao To Chelsea?

flcao The arrival of Falcao on loan to Chelsea was a very intriguing one. Falcao, a superstar flying high in his career, notching up goals regularly, contributing to the teams’ victories (FC Porto and Atletico Madrid) brought down by an injury and is still trying to regain his form. Will he suffer the same fate as Eduardo at Arsenal, or Hagreaves at United? It’s too early to tell, at least for Jose Mourinho that is. Mourinho has got his man on loan, meaning there is no financial outlay like that of his previous strikers(Torres and Shevchenko). Mourinho will look to get more out from the Colombian than his mentor Van Gaal, based on the fact that the game play of the teams differs. United played to build and keep the ball whereas Chelsea take on the pressure and hit on the counter, with Willian and Hazard speeding down the flanks to assist. Will this be what Falcao needs to rejuvenate his career and find his lost form. With the absence of Diego Costa at the start of the season, we may get the answer soon.

  1. Will There Be A New Entrant In The Top Four Places?

The English League has always been dominated by the top 4. Earlier, it was Arsenal, United, Chelsea and Liverpool, but the emergence of Manchester City last decade saw it dethrone Liverpool and take over. However, the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson saw new life being breathed in the race for Champions League Qualification spots. Liverpool were the winners in this race in 2013-14, but last season, everyone missed out to pip United for the last spot with Tottenham, Liverpool and Southampton running out of steam at the business end of the season. It definitely would have been a different story for United had they failed to secure that last Champions League Spot. The transfers of Schniederlin and Schweinsteiger would be put to question, so would the imminent departure of De Gea. The summer transfer window has seen all the top seven sides strengthen their squads, but the gap between top four and the chasing teams looks even bigger than before. We are destined to have an exciting battle for the coveted domestic trophy. It would be a huge surprise if there was a new name in the top four this season joining Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.  

  1. Can Arsenal Win The Title With Olivier Giroud Upfront?

arsenal Wenger, on his latest meeting with the media cleared the air about the transfer of Karim Benzema, that they aren’t in the market for him. This led us back to what Thierry Henry said last season, “Arsenal needed a top, top striker to win the league.” With that remark, he reopened the longest-running debate in north London: Can you win the title with a good striker and not a great one? Giroud has been a good signing for Arsenal for the past three seasons, that too for a bargain price of 10million pounds. But his big-game record suggests that he will never be on the level of strikers who win you titles. Arsenal is an efficient, experienced unit. It remains to be seen if their spearhead is sharp enough.  

  1. The Coaches On The Sidelines

Klopp Last Season saw Sunderland bring in Dick Advocaat with 10 games of the season left to play. His calling came when the team was in deep trouble, unable to pick up points and destined to go down. What happened after that was a miracle called Advocaat. It is always a 50-50 chance that bringing in a new coach in the middle of the season will yield you the results. But desperate times will call for desperate measures. This season bring us two outstanding coaches on the sidelines; Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti. If Liverpool, Manchester City or even Everton suffer nightmare starts to the season, they could receive a call, with City keeping an eye on Guardiola’s contract situation over in Munich. This should leave Pellegrini with a clear run for the title, however Rogers and Martinez need to be on their toes, at all times.