August 14th 2010 marks the start of the English Premier League 2010/2011 season. Time to dig out your football team kit's from the cupboard or open the new ones that you've just ordered. Its the time where South Africans build up fake ancestries to county's in England & friends that support rival teams become foes. The battle lines drawn & no matter how shit your team is you're convinced that this "is their season".
This is the passion shown by the true football supporters of the great game, to those that claim we're unloyal to our local PSL... Please shut the f*ck up. Its not the WORLDS greatest league for nothing. We, like many others world wide support our teams through thick & thin... & sometimes hide at home for a few weekends after an embarrassing defeat. Excuses will be made & the refs will be blamed, no doubt, this is what we live for! Build up to big clashes, emails, taunts, & bets, its all part & parcel of supporting a team. Normally we're deprived for football for 3 months but this year we were lucky enough to be spared a month by the World Cup, but for us South Africans it just left us craving for more, hence tomorrow couldnt come any quicker!
The summer's transfer window has been a relatively quiet one with regards to big name signings. With most big clubs suffering huge debt's it was obvious in some cases not to see money flying around, though that hasnt stopped the prices for players sky rocketing. Some of the prices for ordinary players have been insane! But the sneakiest deals for the this season have already been done I feel. Joe Coles free transfer to Liverpool being one of them. We lost Yossi just after that horrific season we had (never speak of it again), but in Cole we have the perfect replacement & the bonus, he is English! You see the Premier League is enforcing a new rules:
"As of next season clubs will be required to have a squad named of up to 25 players, of which no more than 17 can be over the age of 21 and not home grown.
The definition of home grown is trained for three years under the age of 21 by somebody in the English and Welsh professional system.
Clubs will have to declare their 25 at the end of August when the window shuts and then again at the end of January."
So this makes things tricky for clubs that dont have enough English OR home grown players, not only that but also clubs that have so much money that they buy players like buying toys. Man City for eg. have 33 players, which 8 off wont make the cut, hence leaving them in the cold. It will be an interesting few weeks in August before the window closes to see who comes in & who go's. Another sneaky buy was Manchester United's acquisition of Mexican youngster Javier Hernández, many would recognise him from the world cup, but if not he is a brilliant young striker making his way up & with mad skills like he displayed on Sunday at the community shield, you know he will be an instant hit with the Manc's.
Also to the new teams that came up from the Championship, its good to have the Toon army back & I must admit them bounce straight back up is welcomed. St James Park was missed last season as it was almost a guaranteed 3 points for us in the Red of Liverpool :)
The usual "Big four" were proved to be no more last season, with teams like Aston Villa, Tottenham & Manchester City breaking the mold. Liverpool being the only casualty managed to finish behind the mentioned 3. Thus resulting in an awkward preseason for the club which saw the manager Rafa Benitez part ways, but with the appointment of new Manager Roy Hodgson & new signings such as Cole, Jovanovic, Wilson & most recently Poulsen Liverpool supporters are optimistic about this season. We may not be in the Champions League but that often proves to be vital in teams that require a season for rebuilding.We're fortunate that most of our big stars have committed, namely Gerrard, Torres, Carra & Kuyt. Mascherano how ever is looking to leave & we can only wish him all the best. He has been a loyal servant & helped us in many games.
This season Liverpool have the good fortune of kicking off their season at home, something that didnt happen very often in the past seasons, but its not the best of fixtures we could hope for. Arsenal enjoyed many games at Anfield & one player that must be licking his lips (if he has a tongue) is the Russian international Andrei Arshavin scoring in all league games for Arsenal against Liverpool at Anfield the past 2 seasons, which include the 4 goals he scored against us in the 08/09 season. The man likes Anfield, maybe we should have bought him! BUT we still have hope! Its a new season, a new manager, new spirit in the camp & anything is possible. Personally I hope for a top 4 finish, winning any trophy would just be an added bonus. As I said, this season is about rebuilding, the manager & players learning to work with one another & experimenting.
Now for my pick's, Liverpool for the title... haha I wish... but more realistically Chelsea will retain the title with the Red Shite in 2nd. 3rd & 4th is where it gets tricky. Im certain (or would like to hope) Liverpool will finish in the top 4 but whether it be 3rd or 4th is the question. Villa will fall away this season after the departure of O Neill & James Milner wanting a move I dont see them making the same progress as they did last season. Spur's still look strong & one cannot look too much into Man City's preseason even though they lost all or most of their games. You may have noticed I left out Arsenal... the typical prediction for them is to hit the ground running, stay in the top 3 until Dec/ Jan then the gradual fall begins & the next thing you know its a fight for 3rd/4th place. The new rules with the player cap will prove pivotal this season so it will be interesting to see who gets the cut in the big teams.
Anyway, time to grab the remote, hog the TV, start the chants & make sure your fantasy dream teams are ready. Let the season begin!
You'll Never Walk Alone