Monday, August 24, 2009

The race for the 19th EPL title - Manchester United

It's nice to have ESPN show English Premier League games in the US these days. Just saw Aston Villa pull off an industrious away win and break Liverpool's impenetrable fortress with a 3-1 win. They aren't the only Big 4 team to lose; my own Manchester United lost by a lone goal to the promoted Burnley. It's not going to same MAN U without CR7 and Tevez but there's no reason why we can't be successful. A lot has happened since we lifted our 18th league title to knock Liverpool off their perch, and we can get that 19th to do them one better. Chelsea may prevent that from happening because to me, they are favorites. It's gonna be one long and exciting EPL season.

I was resigned to seeing Cristiano Ronaldo leave. He was our matchwinner but his heart was somewhere else. I was obviously delighted to see him go for 80 million pounds. When Beckham and Van Nistelrooy left, it was because Sir Alex Ferguson wanted them to go. I believe he wanted to hold on to CR7 but that kind of money and the player's attitude was too good to pass up. I wanted Tevez to stay because he was useful and was dedicated to the MAN U cause. We treated him badly with not giving him enough playing time though. Gerard Pique came back to bite us in the Champions League' final and I hope the same doesn't happen with Tevez. Given his recent pronouncements, he'll love to do so. Losing to Burnley hurt and it looks like we may need a creative midfielder, but I think we should stick with this squad. They are capable of winning trophies though we have very few matchwinners.

Ronaldo's absence meant we needed a winger and we made a good buy with Antonio Valencia. He's not going to score as many goals but he'll create chances. So far, so good. I didn't want any expensive buys because I believed the youngsters should be given some more run. Let's 'sacrifice' this year, play the youth (Arsenal style) and grow their confidence for future seasons. Getting Michael Owen was a shrewd buy and I believe he will contribute to the cause. 10 goals is a good target. Rooney has started well and he should definitely get more than 25 goals this year. I don't like Berbatov at all but we are stuck with him so I wish him all the success. Fergie has to be tactical in how he uses him to get the best out of him. Kiko Macheda will get his playing time and along with Welbeck, should prove that they cut it at the highest levels.

We have many good midfielders but we don't have any standouts. We don't have any creative midfielders or guys who can shoot the heck out of the ball. Gibson can, but he won't get the playing time. Why do we have a Brazilian who can't score goals in our team? Anderson frustrates me. I hope this is the last season for Giggs and Scholes, they should give it their best and get into coaching. I love the industry of Fletcher and I pray Hargreaves gets healed, he's our best midfielder on many counts. Carrick should also develop a shot and Fergie must use Park's energy well. If he does a whole lot of useless running with little results, he must be benched. We are all hoping Nani comes good this season and yes, he does have some good shooting prowess. I'd like to see him take on defenders more, shoot if he has space or win freekicks. Seems he can convert them too, so that's good. I'll like to see Gibson play some more. When will Tosic be ready? That kid could be really good.

Our defence is the number one reason we'll challenge for trophies and it's what carried us last season. We may have lost to Burnley but check the pre-season and other stats and see the number of goals we've conceded. Few. We need a full-time right back though the Neville-O'Shea-Silva nucleus is good. It's great to have Vidic and Wes Brown back. They can hold the fort with Evans while Ferdinand is out. Patrice Evra is a great player and I'll like to see him get awarded with some goals this year on his forward runs. As always, we have to defend by committee. It sucks to have Van Der Sar out for so long, but so far, Foster has looked good.

Chelsea didn't lose any major players and to me, are the favorites. They have so many matchwinners. Sometimes, I wonder how they lose games. Arsenal will be in it right to the end if Fabregas and Van Persie stay healthy all year. Liverpool will suffer from Xabi Alonso's loss but they'll also do well. We shouldn't write off Man City. Their coach may be Mark Hughes but their squad is experienced, determined and deep. I can liken them to Chelsea, if Avram Grant could lead them to the Champs League final, Mark Hughes can win a lot of games with this squad. And they just got Lescott too. Citeh is for real. Tottenham always look promising and so far, are top of the league with some impressive results. Aston Villa's form tapered off after mid-season and that may be the same fate that Tottenham has, or maybe not. This season will be tough, the big 4 could drop points against more teams.

I was worried about Manchester United's start but everyone knows our best form is in the second part of the season. It was great to score 5 against Wigan, we must find our scoring boots. As Fergie works out the kinks in the squad, finds the right formations and tactics, VDS and Hargeaves join the fold, we'll be much better come January. There's a lot of load on Rooney's shoulders though because with the parity that exists in today's game, we need stars to win matches. That's where Rooney comes in. We'll see how it goes.
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