Premier League: What to Look Out For
1. Are Man Utd Back?
Louis Van Gaal has now had enough time to really stamp his mark on the team. The midfield has been completely overhauled and the introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger should give United some much-needed impetus in the middle. Fellow new signing Morgan Schneiderlin has completed his apprenticeship with Sunderland and, with the backing of Schweinsteiger should be able to let his creativity show.
Can United regain the successes of a life under Alex Ferguson, though? A lack of striking options might be a hindrance, but with Memphis Depay able to fill in up front they might have a chance at some good results. Any injuries to the attacking line might cause some problems in a very long season though. Still, it will be interesting to see if Man U can finally get back some of the success they are famous for.
2. Sterling Effort
Raheem Sterling’s move to Manchester City hasn’t been out of the headlines, and with the Liverpool fans berating him for his lack of loyalty, life can’t be easy for the winger. Man City have spent a lot of cash on Sterling and that has heightened the interest of fans from all quarters who will be eager to see if Sterling can match City’s expectations.
For Sterling, the next year is going to be about dealing with the pressure – he set himself up, very publicly, for a move away from Anfield, he now has to put his money where his mouth is. Has he also set himself up for failure? Only time will tell. Keep an eye on the England international; he’s going to have a very interesting season.
3. Big Bad Benteke
Liverpool have landed Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke for a cool £32.5 million. Benteke is a quality striker, but questions must be raised as to his suitability at Anfield. Liverpool have spent large amounts of cash on big powerful strikers in the past – Andy Carrol immediately comes to mind – only for them to move on a short while later. The jury will also be out on whether Benteke’s fiery temperament will cause trouble in a dressing room that also contains the likes of Mario Balotelli.
Goals are a must for Christian Benteke. If Rodgers doesn’t get a good return for his outlay on the target man, then the big fella might well be very soon on his way back out of Anfield again. As a step forward in the career of a footballer, Liverpool is a great opportunity. It will be very interesting to see if Benteke can get the Cop jumping.
4. Wylie Watford?
As with most newly promoted sides in the Premier League, it’s probably expected that Watford will be in a basement battle against relegation. They had an impressive season in the Championship last year, and on their day could have been a match for many Premier League clubs. Since then they have been flashing the cash. Vicarage Road has welcomed the likes of Allan Nyom from Udinese, Valon Behrami from Humburg, and record signing Etienne Capoue from Spurs, amongst others. Can head coach Quique Florez get all these new signings playing well together fast? He’s going to need to.
He does have some dependable players that he can rely on to help them settle in. For instance Ikechi Anya has proven on the biggest stage that can hold his own. His superb goal for Scotland against world champions Germany is a case in point. With all this at the club’s disposal everyone will be keen to see if Watford can avoid the drop and establish themselves as a Premier League team.
Anya Goal Against Germany
5. Flat-Lining Falcao?
Radamel Falcao did not have an easy time of it in the red of Man Utd, and he was probably glad when his loan deal at Old Trafford came to an end. But now Chelsea have repeated the feat of signing him on a season-long deal.
If anyone can restore a player’s confidence – something that Falcao badly needs – it’s Jose Mourinho, with his psychological magic tricks. Perhaps him joining up with his former team mates from Athletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa, might have a calming effect on the troubled striker, but whether or not this will be enough to restore the highly-rated player’s goal-scoring instinct, only time will tell.
A question has to be asked, however, as to why Falcao’s own club, Monaco, are so willing to let him go out on loan when they’re not exactly at a world beating side themselves. Keep an eye on the Colombian international to see if he can show us why he comes to England with the reputation that he has.
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© 2015 Jonathan M J Henderson