The Premier League is Back!
Summer is coming to an end, and that only means one thing to soccer fans: the return of Premier League action. Now, as a Newcastle fan it’s been a long year without seeing my team in the top tier, but along with the new season comes a new feeling of excitement (although it’s likely to be short-lived). With some familiar faces in new places, let’s take a look at what to expect this season before kick off with Arsenal taking on Leicester Friday afternoon.
I feel like I say this every year, but this might finally be the year that Manchester United sees themselves as Premier League Champions for the first time since the 2012-13 season. What makes me believe that this is their year? Their latest big signing, Romelu Lukaku.
After scoring 25 goals in Premier League action with Everton last season, Lukaku decided it was time to move on to bigger and better things and took the chance to join one of the biggest clubs in the world in Man United. A problem that stood out for this team last year was the limited playing time for the forwards, as time was split between Rashford, Martial, Rooney (who is now at Everton), and Ibrahimovic (who was released by the club after a knee injury, but apparently is interested in returning to the club). Lukaku will be expected to take the lead among the forwards and maintain the scoring touch that was good enough for 2nd place behind only Harry Kane last season.
However, the race at the top of the table is not the only one that matters. Towards the end of the season, the race to avoid relegation is usually where I focus most of my attention (which should tell you all you need to know about the state of Newcastle over the last few years). But this season feels different, and there are some good reasons to feel optimistic.
- Rafael Benitez is ready to take on his first full season in the Premier League as Newcastle’s manager. He joined the team late in their 2015-16 season but was too late to be able to save the team from relegation. Last season however, he was able to lift the team to a 1st place finish in the English League Championship. While it’s clear that the team isn’t close to competing with some of the giants in the Premier League, they shouldn’t be in a fight for their lives at the bottom either.
- The younger players are ready to take the next step and become an important part of the team. 23 year old Jamaal Lascelles was named captain prior to the start of last season and has become the most important player on the back end. Ayoze Perez (24) and Aleksander Mitrovic (22) will be expected to provide the scoring.
- After the last time they were relegated, they won their league the next year, came back to the Premier League and finished middle of the table. Hopefully, the experience that many of these players gained from playing and winning the English League Championship this past season will translate to success in the Premier League this year.
So while I’m hoping for the best with Newcastle, anything can happen. Of course on paper Manchester United looks like they should be the favourite to win, but we’ve seen recently how that doesn’t always play out as it should. Just two years ago, Leicester was coming off a season where they finished 14th. Yet, they managed to win the League, while one of the favourites in Chelsea finished 10th. Nothing is certain, but that’s what makes every match in the Premier League worth watching, and as we’ve seen in the past, can lead to some fairytale stories that become a part of Premier League history.