Last season, everyone thought premier league was to become all the more competitive with the arrival of top-notch managers in the top-most clubs. Pep Guardiola was to manage Manchester City, and Mourinho took charge of Manchester United, taking the Manchester rivalry to a whole new level. Then there were Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp, two equally passionate and able managers, who were given the task of spearheading former UCL champions Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively. Thus, the cat was set among the pigeons from an Arsene Wenger’s perspective. Already grumpy, the veteran manager had to now grapple with a group of four hostile managers. However, the outcome of super-five being managed by five super managers wasn’t as expected: Conte-led Chelsea set out to win the title in a one-sided show. Only Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs managed to close the gap at one point, though.
This season, strikers, and not managers, are spreading the ripples of excitement in the transfer market. The unprecedented 198 million pounds transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain has summed up the madness that is engulfing football now a days, especially when it comes to securing a proven goal-scorer. The Premier league is no different. Yet again, the top-five clubs have displayed a great pre-season show of competition, now in the domain of goal-scorers. With Manchester City having already secured their striking options in Gabriel Jesus last season, Liverpool has further adorned its explosive forward line with the addition of sprinter-cum-striker Mohamed Salah. Arsenal, albeit being in search for a credible defense and a potent mid-field, have also clinched a class signing, Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, who is known as a shrewd penetrator with a perfect physique. The real battle ensued between United and Chelsea, over their quest for pulling Morata in from Madrid. Although the champions won this battle, United still managed to grab the proven premier league scorer, Romelu Lukaku.
While we talk about strikers, leaving out Spurs’ Kane and West Ham new signing Chicarito would be very unfair, not to mention Wayne Rooney’s emotional return to his boy-hood club, Everton. City legend Aguero will as usual kick the season out being favorite for Golden Boot award. United’s Rashford will surely continue to haunt defenders with his powerful yet agile moves. While you never rule out an unexpected resurrection of Leicester’s fox-in-the-box Jamie Vardy, Arsenal’s Sanchez too is likely to carry on his perennial form and ever increasing goal tally. Thus there will be more than ten world class strikers in premier league this season brawling for the golden boot race.
Since the 75 million pounds Lukaku has been the most expensive EPL signing in this transfer window, it is meritorious to assess how the much trumpeted signing would contribute to change the contours of a constipated Mourinho side vis-à-vis putting the ball into the net. United only scored 54 goals in their last campaign, with most of the matches ending in a draw. This trend has to change this time around, for their squad makes much more sense now after the departure of Ibra and Rooney and with the arrival of warm blood in Matic, Lukaku, Lindelof, and possibly, Bale. Yes, Gareth Bale. As I write this, Mourinho is desperately waiting for the UEFA Super Cup encounter against the mighty Madrid, not really to win the match, but to find out whether Bale has made it into the Galácticos’ squad or not. “If he is not in the squad, it would mean he is not in Madrid’s plans for next season. In that case, I would fight with other clubs to get him (Bale)”, said Mourinho at a recent press conference.
However, Giggs believes the Irish man would not want a sudden move, but would surely consider United at some point in future. Keeping Giggs pragmatic assessment aside, I personally think Bale should move to where he actually belongs: England. Since joining Real Madrid, he has become a beast physically, but somehow lost his erstwhile powers of being able to change the course of a game single-handedly. The reason of this downfall is obvious: the Ronaldo factor, who regularly snatches goals, and the limelight, from his potential competitor. Moreover, young Madrid lads like Asensio and Vasquez seem to have cemented their places in Zidane’s side. Thus, the Irish must stop the goose chase and become once again the Batman, now for the city of Manchester, the red one. Now, in the case of Bale’s arrival, the goal-lacking predicament of United will all but over. Even with Mou’s mind boggling defensive tactics, it would be hard for the likes of Lukaku, Bale, Rashford, Mikhitariyan and Martial to control their talented and quick selves. The stubborn defensive midfield comprising Harrera, Matic and Pogba, backed by a defense line of Bailly, Lindelof, Valencia and Jones, will provide ample room to forwards to just score goals, without worrying about their defensive duties. Having said that, this season’s United squad looks all set to lift their first premier league trophy after Sir Ferguson’s retirement. Happy league!