Football Sport

New season: more competitive Premier League

Written by Leanne Lu

This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

With the 2011/12 EPL season concluding with the most exciting Premiership title race in decades, it’s a fair bet to say the new season looks set to be a competitive one.

Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich

Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich

With Manchester City being crowned champions of the Premier League and Chelsea winning their first Champions’ League trophy, the two richest clubs in the Premiership became the biggest winners. Is money somehow ruining the Premier League? Will football fans decide to tune in to Serie A or La Liga instead of English football, because of the lack of competition? The answer is no. The past season concluded with the closest and most exciting finale in the Premier League’s history with the title being decided in the last two minutes of extra time of the very last game. Due to the huge financial incentives that come with success, the big clubs will be induced to invest heavily both on and off the pitch.

It is inevitable that this summer’s European Cup will affect the transfer market. Based on past experience, there are rarely big deals done during the tournament with player performance and injuries being taken into account as the tournament progresses. However, this summer looks to be an exception. Since the final whistle of last season, there have been some transfers involving big money even before the kick-off of Euro 2012!

Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa

Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa

The 21-year-old Belgium International Eden Hazard and the mononymously-nicknamed Brazilian forward Hulk, two players boasting price tags over £30 million, have already finalized deals to move to Chelsea. Several big EPL clubs, including Manchester City and Manchester United, expressed interest in young Belgium talent Hazard, and after a battle to win his signature, newly crowned European Champions Chelsea won the race. The highly rated striker Hulk handed in a transfer request to the Porto board after four years at the club. It is reported that Chelsea’s wealthy owner Roman Abramovich was heavily involved in these two deals. Although the new manager of Stamford Bridge is yet to be decided, Abramovich is determined to infuse the squad with some new blood.

They may have lost the title race, but Manchester United has been quick to act in the transfer market. Long-time bench warmer Michael Owen did not get a contract extension and the prestigious yet vacant number 7 spot was handed to winger Antonio Valencia. The Red Devils have also acquired Japanese attacking midelder Shinji Kagawa. The Asian, who excelled at Dortmund in the last two seasons, will add some creativity to the Red Devil’s mideld. In the meantime, Manchester City is currently planning another change in direction. Manager Roberto Mancini emphasized the club is still looking for another two or three world class players in order to compete in both the national league and Champions League. With both the money and the glory, Etihad Stadium will be the main port of call for football superstars in the coming year.

German attacking talent Lukas Podolski

German attacking talent Lukas Podolski

The relatively “weak” teams in the super club ranks are also acting swiftly. Arsenal has learnt from their huge frustrations of last summer’s transfer window and finalized a deal with German attacking talent Lukas Podolski as early as April. After a season full of turbulent performance, Liverpool sacked Kenny Dalglish and the American owners brought in former Swansea manager Brendan Rogers. The club has also shown some older players the door with Fábio Aurélio and Dirk Kuyt both sold off. It is reported that new manager Rogers will have £30 million in transfer money plus any sales proceeds to put towards rebuilding a winning team.

With the dominance of Barcelona in the last couple of seasons, some people have expressed worries that the competitiveness of the Premier League is somehow declining. However, the financial advantage of the EPL ensures the quality of the game. Expect challenges to the dominance of both Manchester clubs in the coming season, as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal will all have more balanced squads compared with last time around. If last season’s epic conclusion is anything to go by fans are in for a treat with all five top clubs promising football acionados an even more eye-catching and attractive season.