The Big Five Big Five Reasons To Be Excited

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 12:10

The Big Five Big Five Reasons To Be Excited

CHELSEA
* Eden Hazard. Not better than Ronaldo, not better than Luis Suarez, not even better than Sergio Aguero. But he was genuinely brilliant last season. Hands up anybody who believes he can be that good again. Now hands up anybody who will find it rather amusing if he is not. Ah, now there’s a lot of hands.
* Radamel Falcao. We all watched him last season and were happy to declare game over. Now we’re all shifting uncomfortably in our seats. This is Jose. He failed with Fernando Torres and Andriy Shevchenko but in the face of all available evidence, everybody is still saying ‘if anybody can make him good again…’. Fascinating.
* Oscar. It’s tempting to say that Mourinho has dwindling faith in a player whose physicality does not fit his credo (especially after he didn’t start in the Community Shield), but Chelsea-watchers tell us that this is Oscar’s year after a very rare summer off. Will he finally not be knackered by February?
* Victor Moses, Ramires, John Obi Mikel. The bench of a team who are favourites to win the Premier League? The outrageous fortune Chelsea enjoyed with injuries last season will surely run out and test that unlikely triumvirate. Jose has been trying to convince us that Moses has improved dramatically. No Jose, your options have decreased dramatically.
* Juan Cuadrado. Alive?
MANCHESTER CITY
* Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, David Silva. Or SAS as the tabloids will inevitably insist upon using as a moniker. Sod it, we might use it too. If that triumvirate stays fit, it’s the most scintillating front three in the Premier League. Note that there’s no ‘arguably’ in that sentence.
* Yaya Toure. One more season of excellence please. No international tournament, no death in the family, no big birthdays ignored. At 32, he might have just one more season with that breathtaking burst of pace from midfield.
* Eliaquim Mangala. “Now I know my teammates, the system and how we play. It’s easier for me to play like that. I’m used to it now. I know the Premier League. I know a bit about what will happen during the game and during the season,” he said last month. You might need to know more than ‘a bit’, Mr £32m.
* Vincent Kompany. Last season must have really, really hurt. Daniel Storey has just said that he thinks Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel are a better defensive combination than him and Mangala. That must hurt even more.
* Fabian Delph. Happy to argue all day that Sterling should not be mentioned in the same breath as Scott Sinclair, Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell when it comes to City signing English players. It’s incredibly difficult to be so strident about Delph. Here’s the dreamy stuff: If he’s prepared to work hard, he could be the new James Milner.
ARSENAL
* Alexis Sanchez. See the stuff about Eden Hazard. But then picture fewer people with their hands up when it comes the schadenfreude question. Infectious enthusiasm, incredible hard work, just plain sodding sexy.
* Francis Coquelin. Will it last? Will he vindicate Arsene Wenger’s decision not to strengthen in central midfield or make everybody sigh and say ‘you wouldn’t bloody learn, would you?’ This is genuinely intriguing.
* Mesut Ozil. Again. Of course. We regularly bang a drum marked ‘nowhere near as bad as some would make out’, but we would prefer to bang one labelled ‘genuinely excellent regardless of the price tag’. There will always be those who distrust his laconic style but, frankly, f*** them.
* Jack Wilshere. Injured for the first few weeks of the season. Plus ca change. I was slightly playing devil’s advocate when I suggested that Jose Mourinho would have sold Wilshere (and Theo Walcott) this summer, but even those of us who are Jackvocates are fast running out of patience. The boy wonder ain’t a boy anymore.
* Theo Walcott. Arsene Wenger’s flat-track bully striker? Does that justify £140,000 a week? Like the manboy above, it really is – and we are happy to ding the cliche dong here – time to deliver. How bizarre is it that we’re not really asking questions about Arsenal’s defence anymore? We miss that.
MANCHESTER UNITED
* Those centre-backs. Yes, the new signings are exciting, but let’s take a look at those centre-backs again: Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett. Oh my. It’s basically what makes them fourth-favourites for the title.
* Bastian Schweinsteiger. Forget about Pep Guardiola’s ‘he’s not been fit for three years’ schtick, we are genuinely in the presence of greatness. We will be putting aside the cynicism, crossing our arms, sitting back and waiting to be wowed. For Premier League neutrals, this is a bloody dream signing.
* Luke Shaw. After all, “this shall be Luke Shaw’s season”. All indications are that Shaw has returned fitter, stronger and, crucially, not a bit fat. It was easy to forget last season that Shaw is a potentially world-class full-back. Is he about to remind us?
* Wayne Rooney. He’s been a jack of all trades for so long, we’re all a bit suspicious that maybe he is no longer the master of one. We’re definitely a bit suspicious that he can do it all on his own; it’s quite the show of faith from Louis van Gaal. Justified? Not just an underrated crime drama but a question we are looking forward to posing every week if United start to falter.
* Memphis Depay. The boss keeps talking about ‘pace’. And if there’s one thing that Depay possesses in big orange buckets, it is pace. Should he be playing as a No. 10 when he could be skinning full-backs like Ronaldo in his pre-pomp? We assume that double Champions League winner Van Gaal knows rather better than us.
LIVERPOOL
* Those centre-backs. Yes, the new signings are exciting, but let’s take a look at those centre-backs again: Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure, Joe Gomez. Oh my. It’s basically what makes them fifth-favourites for the title.
* Roberto Firmino. I will leave it to Daniel Storey to nurse his erection about the Brazilian, but this is the ‘could be absolutely stonking, could be utterly disastrous’ signing of the summer. And who doesn’t want to watch that story unfurl?
* Christian Benteke. Will Liverpool change their style? Will he change his style? Will everything be just ‘outstanding’? If Benteke is a success, Brendan Rodgers will keep his job; for this is the defining decision of his tenure. Will we be saying ‘you know when it all went wrong – signing a massive striker when his side don’t cross the ball’? Or will we be saying ‘you know when it all went right – signing a really, really good striker’? We await the answer.
* Philippe Coutinho. That Coutinho was ever mentioned as a possible Player of the Season was ridiculous. But he was – in patches, when there was movement amongst the other Liverpool forwards – excellent. Manchester City’s SAS combination might be the Premier League pinnacle, but BFC (catchy) could be the difference between a distant fifth and a cosy fourth.
* Daniel Sturridge. Remember him?
Sarah Winterburn

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