Liverpool will play this season without last year’s player of the season Luis Suárez, who will be playing for Spanish giants Barcelona after a deal reportedly worth £75m was agreed on by the clubs. Suárez’s departure has not been well received by the majority of Liverpool fans, especially now that the team is back in Champions League contention and will need the services of a prolific striker like Suárez.
Coach Brendan Rodgers has been swift to add reinforcements to the squad from all over Europe as seven new players have joined the Merseyside club making Liverpool one of the busiest teams during this transfer window. Some of the new acquisitions include Southampton trio Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and defender Dejan Lovren, as well as young Belgian striker Divock Origi who will join the squad in 2015 after completing his loan spell at French side LOIC Lille.
Manchester United, who finished in seventh position last season, will be aiming to get back into the top four with the help of former Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who led Netherlands to a third place finish at the World Cup. Manchester United have brought in some new players such as Spaniard Ander Herrera and England right back Luke Shaw. If the pre-season friendlies are anything to go by, Van Gaal’s side looks rejuvenated and will be a team to watch.
Arsenal’s FA Cup success last year saw the club end a nine-year trophy drought and their dominant performance in this year’s Community Shield indicated that Arsène Wenger’s men will be looking for more silverware. Wenger has spent a lot this transfer period, buying Barcelona forward Alexis Sánchez, defenders Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy and Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina. Wenger’s first objective will be to lead his side past the Champions League playoff round against Turkish-side Besiktas at the end of August, after his opening domestic league campaign match against Crystal Palace.
Former Arsenal player Cesc Fàbregas is back in the Premier League but will be playing at the other end of London for Chelsea. Joining him at Stamford Bridge is fellow Spaniard Diego Costa and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, among others. Costa joins José Mourinho’s troops in good form after leading Atlético Madrid to the league title and Champions League final, and will be hoping to replicate the same with his new club.
Mourinho has said that Chelsea are in a better form to win this season’s Premier League than they were last season, adding that his current team can dominate for ten years. It remains to be seen whether the Blues will miss the services of Romelu Lukaku, who has signed a contract with Everton. While on loan to Everton last season, he helped the Merseyside club finish fifth with their highest point tally in a Premier League season of 72 points, in manager Roberto Martínez’s debut season as Everton coach.
Joining Everton in the Europa League campaign will be Tottenham Hotspur and Hull City. Tottenham’s new coach and former Southampton coach Mauricio Pochettino has bought Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm and midfielder Ben Davies, while Hull City has bought Jake Livermore on a permanent basis and Robert Snodgrass from relegated Norwich City.
Newly promoted teams Leicester, Burnley and QPR will be hoping to avoid relegation come May 2015. Leicester, who earned automatic qualification, will be relying on their Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United legend goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, to continue his amazing saves and performances to help with their goal difference aggregate, given the competitive nature of the league where avoiding relegation at times boils down to goal difference. QPR has signed former Manchester United captain and defender Rio Ferdinand as well as Juventus forward Mauricio Isla on a season-long loan. Loïc Rémy also returns from a season-long loan at Newcastle United.
Arguably the underdogs of last season, Crystal Palace and Sunderland will build on their incredible performances in the second half of last season to avoid any last minute relegation scares. Sunderland required a string of good results toward the end of last season against Chelsea and both Manchester clubs while Crystal Palace was inspired by new coach Tony Pulis to finish 11th on the log. Southampton have sold a majority of their starting 11 from last season, but rebuilding has started through the acquisition of coach Ronald Koeman who has already lined up Celtic FC number one Fraser Forster, as well as seeing defender José Fonte commit to the club for another three years. Whether the coach will be able to steer his team to an eighth place finish as Pochettino did last season will be seen through his “new” squad as the season begins.
Top referee Howard Webb retired after officiating over 500 Premier League games in his 11-year stint as a Premier League referee, as well as officiating the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and Netherlands. Webb was the first referee to officiate a World Cup final and a Uefa Champions League final in the same year. He has been promoted to technical director of the Professional Game Match Officials Board. His retirement coincides with the introduction of the vanishing spray that was introduced during the World Cup and will be used during the 2014/15 season.
The 2014/15 season promises to be a hotly contested season due to the marquee signings for most teams, the intense rivalry between teams and the derbies, such as the Manchester, the Merseyside and the Tyne-Wear derbies.
A lot is at stake not only in revenue, such as broadcasting rights, but also pride as fan loyalty and patience will be pushed to the limit and teams’ tenacity stretched to the maximum.