Title Contenders for the 2015-2016 Premier league Season

It’s that time of the year again when we predict the premier league title contenders for the upcoming season. Last year I predicted the title race to be a straight fight between the two richest clubs of the league i.e. Manchester city and Chelsea. However, it didn’t really turn out to be a fight as Chelsea pretty much ran the show for a large part of the season. Manchester city drew level for a short time but that was the only occasion during the whole of last Season that any team can close to toppling Chelsea. However, this time around I expect it to be different.

I expect Chelsea to be involved again in the title race but only a few teams in premier league’s history have managed to retain their crown so I expect the upcoming season to be a bit of challenge for Chelsea. Also, Chelsea works with a small pool of players which can be a cause of concern for Jose Mourinho. Only a few injuries could hinder the quality of football Chelsea play as they will be reliant on academy players to fill the gap left by the “World class” injured players.

Manchester City has addressed the area that made their offence predictable and easy to defend. That area was the lack of pace in the team. The left side of defensive midfield is what City has added pace to with the recruitment of Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling. However, Manchester City still hasn’t addressed its Achilles heel which is the left back position. Teams will exploit Manchester City’s defense time and time again if the club not address this key issue.

Manchester United was clearly lacking depth in midfield last season whenever Carrick wasn’t playing. However, the club has addressed this key issue with activity in the transfer market. Van Gaal has done well to add experience and quality to the squad with the recruitment of two world-class players like Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. Also, United will not miss Di Maria too much as Dupay looks real quality .However, United’s two key issues from last season remain unaddressed i.e. the forward and back line. I don’t see United being much of a threat unless and until they buy a top quality center back and a pure finisher.

Arsenal have recruited well this season but until and unless Arsene Wenger changes or compromises a bit on his football philosophy, I cannot see Arsenal winning the league or even genuinely challenging for the title. Liverpool hasn’t really challenged for the title in the past two decades and I expect the upcoming season to be no different for them.If you want to see all the title contenders and pretenders in action then there are several websites where you can buy football tickets. You can check out the club website or visit a ticketing website like  livefootballtickets.com and get your tickets for the upcoming season.

Lampard V Gerrard in the MLS

Gerrard v Lampard

What an interesting league the MLS is becoming. More and more legendary players are jetting off to the US for their career swansong. The league now boast an array of stars who, although past their best would collectively form an awesome team. Clearly the likes of Kaka, Pirlo, David Villa, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard believe that the lifestyle (plus the money) on offer in the United States compensates adequately for the lowering of footballing standard.

It is also fascinating that the curious tale of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will continue in the MLS. Two iconic players for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively who went head to head through their careers will continue to do so across the Atlantic. Who will fare the best in MLS? Will Lampard continue to beat Gerrard in the scoring stake? At 4/6 the odds via BetSportsway the bookies are betting on Lamps.

Gerrard v Lampard

As you can see from the above stats Lampard has scored more goals throughout his career than Gerrard, albeit having played more games (so I guess you would expect that). What is interesting is if you divide goals by games Lampard gets a score of 0.29 compared to Gerrard’s 0.26. Quite simply there is nothing in it.

Personally my money will be on Lampard (provided he can wrestle pens from Villa at NYCFC) to outscore Gerrard. Although Gerrard will benefit from a standard of football below that of the Premier League and the pace and the intensity will be below that experienced in England. The reality of Gerrard’s aging years has seen him move further back into a more defensive midfield holding role. This is how Brendan Rodgers deployed him in the last couple of years anyway. Years of ‘swashbuckling’ around the pitch have clearly taken its toll of the former Liverpool skipper.

Playing in the same position as Gerrard (with the exception of the aforementioned latter years) in the centre of midfield, Lampard while a superb footballer in his own right has been and is a different type of player. While not scared of a tackle, he was not renound for getting ‘stuck in’. His game and his extraordinary goals record (he scored 211 time in 648 games for Chelsea) resolves around being in the right place at the right time. For this his natural game should allow him to continue to do so with a general lowering of standard.

There is one final consideration – the quality of the team and their teammates. It is all well and good Lampard being in the right place at the right time if the ball is there! New York City FC are newbies to the MLS and no one knows how they will fare. Yes they have some big names in Villa, Pirlo and Lampard but what of the other 8 players on the pitch?

LA Galaxy on the other hand are an established franchise and current MLS Champions – therefore on the face of it a better team that NYCFC.

Clearly there are a lot of ‘ifs, buts and maybe’. But if I was a betting man I would still go for Lampard over Gerrard on this one.

Could all three promoted teams survive in the 2015/2016 Premier League?

Although most of the focus will be on who will be crowned Premier League champions at the end of season, it is always fascinating to watch how the three promoted teams fare in their attempts to establish themselves as a top flight club. Fans of Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich will hope that they will not go straight back down to the Championship, and will be backed by neutrals who root for the underdogs. Strong performances throughout 2014/2015 has already led to suggestions that all three could make headlines and survive in the Premier League for the first time since 2002, but although they may have to continue strengthening their squad during the summer transfer window, there is a case to be made for each of the promoted sides to have an impact.

Bournemouth

It has been a remarkable few years on the South coast at Bournemouth who have gone from being on the brink of exiting the Football League to reaching the Premier League in the space of five years. Eddie Howe has done a wonderful job on a fairly limited budget to create a dangerous side that score plenty of goals from all areas of the pitch, and although many expect them to find the leap from the Championship to the top flight too much to handle, Bournemouth have more than enough about them to surprise everyone and give the big guns a real run for their money. The £8 million acquisition of highly-rated defender Tyrone Mings is a real statement of intent from Bournemouth who smashed their transfer record in the process, while fellow new arrivals Sylvain Distin, Josh King and Adam Federici represent strong signings that have added experience and quality to the team. With confidence sky-high at the Goldsands Stadium and the quality of free-flowing football they play, Howe has the ability to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Watford

Many were left surprised by the breakdown between Watford and Slaviska Jokanovic who was instrumental in guiding the club to the Premier League, but the appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores could prove to be a masterstroke. The Spaniard has already set his stall out by not only signing Sebastian Prodl and turning Matej Vydra’s loan from Udinese into a permanent deal, but also shelling out for Tottenham’s Ettiene Capoue who will add more steel and quality to the midfield department. Lithuania number one Giedrius Arlauskis has also arrived to provide competition for Heurelho Gomes, and with more arrivals at Vicarage Road expected, they could have the quality to avoid going straight back down. It remains to be seen what style of football Watford will play under their new manager, but if Quique Sanchez Flores has the same effect with the Hornets that he did with Valencia between 2005 and 2007, then they could survive comfortably.

Norwich

Norwich, like Watford, may be able to call upon previous Premier League experience in an effort to become accustomed to life as a top flight club again. Their promotion via the play-offs is largely thanks to the wonderful job that Alex Neil has done since replacing Neil Adams as manager at the start of 2015; the Canaries surged up the Championship table as they lost just three of their twenty-two league fixtures, before getting past Ipswich and Middlesbrough to seal their return to the Premier League. Norwich have added midfield powerhouse Youssouf Mulumbu to their squad, but although they have the quietest of the three promoted teams in the transfer market so far, they already have a squad that is more than capable of competing at the highest level.

 

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Football Stadium Quiz

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