With the Premier League taking a break for a fortnight, we have a great chance to dwell upon the season so far. There have been plenty of twists and turns so far, and as the table starts to take shape, we can see that this season has every chance of being one of the most intriguing yet. Let’s take a look at five reasons why this year’s Premier League could be the very best:
1. Manchester United are no longer impervious
We’ve talked a lot about Manchester United on Commentary Box Sports, so we’ll save the Moyes bashing for another time, but what is great about this season is that United are no longer the force they once were.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United were dominant, and teams were actually afraid of playing the Red Devils. This meant that more often than not, teams would set up not to concede against Fergie’s men, and this quite often meant a rather turgid and lifeless spectacle, as United spent all game trying to break down a team with 11 men behind the ball. Not anymore. United are vulnerable, and teams feel they can beat the champions. Not good for United fans, but certainly good for the neutral.
2. Mesut Ozil is a Premier League player
I’m sure we were all very excited when Ozil signed for Arsenal, and Ozil’s showing so far indicates that we have a lot to be excited about.
In the past, plenty of the world’s best have graced the Premier League, but in the last few years, fewer and fewer truly world-class players have made the move to England. Ozil’s move signals a possible shift, and with the Premier League being probably the most competitive in Europe, we could see a few more superstars head to England in the near future.
For now, we get to watch a truly world-class player strut his stuff. When Ozil is on the ball, he looks a class above every player on the pitch, and even die-hard Spurs fans must get a certain amount of pleasure from seeing the German do his thing.
3. Last year’s top 4 have already lost 7 matches between them
If one was looking to criticise the Premier League over the last few years, it would be easy to point to the fact that since Arsenal’s title win ten years ago, only three different teams have won the league. Of course this sort of duopoly or triopoly is common in football, but to put it bluntly: the less potential winners, the less exciting.
This year, there are potentially seven candidates for the title: Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton, and consequently the league is far harder to predict than usual. With last year’s top four showing themselves to eminently fallible, the title really could go to any of those teams, and this is the first time for many years that this is the case.
4. Most teams are playing good football
Although football is about winning, it’s also about entertainment, and in the last few years, there have been plenty of Premier League teams who didn’t seem to give two hoots about entertaining their fans.
However, this year it seems that route one football is out of vogue. Even the traditionally ‘boring’ teams are making an effort to play attractive football, and the net result is a much better end product for the fans.
A couple of examples that spring to mind are Stoke and West Ham. Stoke’s appointment of Mark Hughes following the sacking of Tony Pulis intimated that the Midlands club fancied a chance in direction, and slowly the Welshman is beginning to transform the way the Potters play. Similarly, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce – often dismissed as a long ball merchant – turned up to White Hart Lane last weekend and played a great brand of skilful counter attacking football that garnered three points for his side.
With more teams trying to create a better product for their fans, the league becomes a far more attractive prospect for overseas players; and also enhances its reputation all over the world, which in turn helps increase its visibility and revenue.
5. The league has a potential new star
There’s nothing quite like a wonderkid, and in Adnan Janujaz, Manchester United have a player who has the potential to be very special indeed. The excitement when Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene was pretty special, and there are similar waves of excitement reverberating around England following Janujaz’s stunning debut for United against Sunderland.
Part of the fun of the Premier League is watching as players mature, and in Janujaz, Premier League fans have a new player who they can enjoy watching as he develops. Well, they can as long as United get him to sign on the dotted line sooner rather than later.