By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
Somehow after enduring a frenetic finish by Manchester City triumphing in the literal final seconds of the last match of the season, Didier Drogba and Chelsea’s dramatic victory in the Champions League final and the bombast of Olympic soccer, I am not worn out at all from the greatest game in the world. The amount of chicanery and tomfoolery that has taken place before the 2012-13 Premier League has had a chance to even start yet is dumbfounding, and as the season prepares to kickoff on Saturday, I’ve got five things on my mind.
1. Does Champions League success transfer to Premier League destiny? Somehow, a club that always makes headline-worthy signings, (which they did) won Europe’s biggest competition (Champions League trophy) and come into a new season with lofty expectations (title or bust) have flown under the radar in stellar fashion. Such is life for Roberto di Matteo and Chelsea.
The Champions League trophy hoisters have retooled their roster after a lackluster 6th place finish in the Premier League table last season. They’ve added potential major contributors in Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic have been cleared to play in by the league disciplinarians, .they’ve got the confidence of knowing that they can beat any team in the world, and they’ve got a young manager in di Matteo that all the players believe in.
So what’s di Matteo’s goal for The Blues? Nothing major, just win seven trophies this season. That’s it.
2. Let the Clint Dempsey transfer shenanigans begin: Some interesting words from Soccer by Ives on the pending madness that could continue during the season from the American striker known as Clint Dempsey.
Fulham manager Martin Jol’s comments that have made the rounds Friday make it a certainty that Dempsey, who scored a career-high 23 goals in all competitions last season, won’t be featuring for Fulham this season. Liverpool has seemed like the most likely destination for Dempsey during this offseason, with Rodgers publicly saying that the club inquired about his services. With the summer transfer window two weeks from closing, a move for Dempsey needs to materialize soon, or else the U.S. star will be in club purgatory ahead of an important year of World Cup qualifying.
I think Liverpool would be an excellent fit for Dempsey, but being the selfish (and now bitter) Arsenal fan that I am, I’d much rather see Arsene Wenger take a flyer on one of the most prolific scorers in the world right now. Of course, Arsenal wouldn’t have this problem if their best players wouldn’t keep flying the coop…
3. Robin van Persie, you’re dead to me: Okay, maybe you aren’t dead to me, but the little boy that’s inside of you? He’s definitely dead to me.
Here’s a snippet of RvP’s first statement as a member of the Red Devils.
It’s always difficult to find a perfect match but I do feel this is the perfect match for me. Man Utd breathe football. If you look at all players at the club, the stadium and the manager, my choice was made based on those things. When I have to make hard decisions, I always listen to little boy inside me and what he wants. That little boy was screaming for Manchester United.
It’s tough to debate Arsenal’s commitment to football, and to hear RvP say it was those reasons that helped him lean towards ManU feels like a low blow. Lets be real here, the little boy inside RvP likes gobs and gobs of money, he could’ve just said as much and we’d all understand.
4. Manchester United, do you have enough strikers? So, since ManU decided to give RvP gobs and gobs of money, what are they going to do with the gobs and gobs of strikers that they have on the roster? The cul-de-sac king of hair Wayne Rooney’s clearly not going anywhere, and the young guns of Chicharito and Danny Welbeck could be the best striker duo in the world on any other team. Oh, and there’s Dimitar Berbatov. Yep, that didn’t work out for him over the last four years, did it?
Now you throw RvP in the mix, the league’s leading goal scorer last year, and the obvious question is where does he fit? Does ManU expect Rooney to fall off at some point? When does Welbeck and Chicharito start demanding more clock? Such is life at Old Trafford, where the cupboard is never bare and having surplus is a great problem to have.
5. Manchester City is the clear favorite to win it all, again: ManU might have all the world class strikers in the world, but when it comes to defense there are still more questions than answers for the Red Devils. Yes, I know that Nemanja Vidic believes he and Rio Ferdinand are the best defensive duo of centerbacks in the Premier League, their bouts with injuries and being unfit for play won’t allow me to sign off of them yet. The Belgian centerback Vincent Kompany is the world’s best and in watching City play last year, they clearly thrive off of his leadership on the back line. it doesn’t hurt that their roster gets better without experiencing any real turnover or by the importing of new players. David Silva returns from injury and will help The Sky Blues keep their attacking ways on the up and up. Oh, and they have that Balotelli kid too.