In this guest column, Matthew Glazier of Bettingpro.com looks ahead to next season and predicts a wide-open title race thanks to the changing of the guard in Manchester.
Manchester United claimed the 2012/13 Premier League title at a canter, although there are several reasons to suggest it won’t be so easy for the Red Devils next term.
This includes the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson is stepping down from the Old Trafford hot seat to be replaced by the untested David Moyes. While the departing Everton manager performed minor miracles in establishing the Toffees as a top-half team, he has never been armed with a substantial transfer budget, nor has he had to deal with the expectation levels at this unique club.
Perhaps Moyes will prove to be the perfect successor to Ferguson, although odds of 15/8 about Manchester United claiming a 21st league title look a little skinny when you consider as many as six teams could be challenging at the top next season.
Many football fans wouldn’t include Liverpool as potential title contenders although the 25/1 that the Reds win their first league title since 1990 is an attractive price considering that Brendan Rodgers finally appears to be making the Merseyside outfit tough to beat.
Pool are ending the season with a flourish despite the absence of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez from the team, while there are sure to be new faces this summer and less of the board indecision which saw Clint Dempsey somehow go to White Hart Lane instead of Anfield last summer.
Similarly, Arsenal supporters will be hopeful that their team can take advantage of a potential power vacuum at the top of the Premier League next term, with the Gunners having displayed title-winning form in recent weeks to haul themselves back into contention as far as top four spot is concerned.
An Arsene Wenger team has never defended so well and perhaps Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny will establish themselves as the first-choice central defence partnership despite the presence of Thomas Vermaelen in the squad.
Arsenal are the 16/1 fourth favourites to win next season’s Premier League title and you might think they’re a better each-way shout than the Manchester clubs or Chelsea, all of whom will have a new manager in charge looking to impose fresh ideas on their respective squads.
Manchester City’s title triumph during the 2011/12 season was supposed to herald a potential dynasty, although it’s been more of a soap opera in the ensuring twelve months with another calamitous Champions League campaign resulting in Roberto Mancini losing his job.
Chelsea will also start the season with a new manager and Jose Mourinho’s touted return to Stamford Bridge might not be the garden of roses that quarters of the media will be predicting. Let’s not forget the Blues were well off the title pace last season and the influence of John Terry and Frank Lampard continue to wane.
Former Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas will declare himself satisfied with the work done at Tottenham in the past twelve months and Gareth Bale’s likely stay at the club is a huge bonus for Spurs. The attacking options at White Hart Lane are arguably stronger than any other Premier League side and the north London side are 20/1 to bag the title.
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