The Premier League Returns!

IT’S BACK! 

They call it the best league in the world and, of course, it is hard to disagree. A plethora of talent is disbursed across the whole league, on any given day a team challenging for the title can be beaten by a side struggling in the bottom three and it all kicks off at 19:45 as Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates.

Of course, this season is not just another season, it marks 25 years since the very first Premier League season and Manchester United fans across the world will be hoping that the Red Devils can mark this season with the same title-winning performances as they did all those years ago.

It will be a tough ask for them now they are back in the Champions League but like the last few summer transfer windows, they’ve not been afraid to splash the cash. They currently stand at having spent an eye-watering £179.5m on three players.  It’s hard to see them finishing outside of the Top 4 this season, but you never know.

By far and away the biggest spenders of the window have been Manchester City and this will heap the pressure on Pep, as the board and fans alike will expect instant and long-lasting results. There can be no fade away, no bad patches, no dips in form. This will create a new pressure for the squad he is building and it will take the likes of Otamendi and Kompany in the dressing room to make sure this does not affect the team performances. It will be a tough ask but they have a very capable squad.

Turning to the reigning and defending champions, Chelsea. They have had a very mixed summer, losing Matic, trying to offload Costa and missing out on Lukaku before settling on Morata. The general thought of the football world is that they cannot defend their title and there are also reports that Antonio Conte is not a happy man and may even consider resigning. This would be a massive shock and not something I expect to happen. They should still finish Top 4, comfortably, but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Of course, they aren’t the only teams involved in the Premier League and the standout transfer window so far has been for Everton. They have bought quickly and filled in key areas of the squad. Davy Klaassen is a fantastic addition and also bringing Wayne Rooney back is a real confidence booster for the club.  There have been no other real fantastic windows for clubs, although odd signings have peaked the football fans interest. Namely Lacazette coming over to England and joining Arsenal, it is worth noting he had a decent debut in the Community Shield and will hopefully settle well in England so we get to see the best of him.

This time of year always calls for predictions. Here at Taylor’s Football Talk, we have had a few discussions and the general consensus is that nobody can agree on a title winner. There have been tips for both Manchester clubs and having looked at the signings, I feel like Manchester City ought to win the league but I believe the red side of Manchester will be the ones celebrating, as Pep needs to tweak his tactical style, which I am unsure he will want to do.

At the other end of the table, it is generally agreed that Huddersfield will feature in the bottom three come May 2018 and both Brighton and Swansea have featured on more than one prediction. My own personal predictions are as follows:

  • Manchester United
  • Manchester City
  • Chelsea
  • Arsenal

There are now two notable absences from the Top 4; Liverpool and Spurs but this is not without justification. Tottenham are playing home games at Wembley and this will affect their phenomenal home form from the last couple of seasons and Liverpool could well lose Coutinho before the end of the transfer window.

My thoughts on the bottom three are:

  • Brighton
  • Swansea
  • Huddersfield

I am a Burnley fan, and I have some serious concerns about this season but I believe the Clarets will survive by the skin of their teeth. Also Newcastle will be in the mix, as will Watford. Ultimately, I believe that if Swansea lose Gylfi they will struggle to pick up the necessary points to stay in the league. Other than that, I feel a lack of Premier League experience will hurt Brighton and Huddersfield, which will undoubtedly impact their points tally come the end of the season.

As so many others will be, I am so happy the Premier League is back. Make sure you’ve got your fantasy football teams done, crack open a cold one and enjoy the season long rollercoaster!

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Wayne Rooney – English Premier League or Chinese Super League?

There has been an intense speculation regarding the future of Wayne Rooney in the past few days, although it should be noted he has come out and said he will not be leaving Old Trafford, as it is an exciting time to be with Manchester United. The question remains, how long will this be the case?

The speculation is that Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and England captain would be leaving our shores for the Chinese Super League before the end of their transfer window on the 28th of February. Indeed, his agent has been out in China to speak with the appropriate representatives regarding this move and, as is usually the case, there is no smoke without fire.

I want to take a bit of time to discuss the career of Wayne Rooney and the way in which he is viewed by sections of the media and football fans across the country. His career has not run without its fair share of controversy, whether it be his personal antics with women of a certain age or berating the England fans that had travelled to South Africa to watch an abject draw with Algeria. That being said, he has often shown fantastic ability and has racked up some phenomenal stats!

In 50 years time, when you look back on the career of Wayne Rooney purely on paper, he will have a claim at having been the most successful career of any England player to have played the beautiful game. He currently has 119 caps to his name, which is second in the all-time list, and only six behind Peter Shilton. Further to this, he has scored more goals than anybody else for his country, having surpassed Bobby Charlton in 2015.

If you add to this the fact he is one of the most decorated club players ever, and has won every club competition possible with Manchester United, again having surpassed Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record, this time for Manchester United, in early 2017, he has had a phenomenal career and it is hard to believe that he is only 31.

However, there are some quarters that do not view Wayne Rooney’s career in the way the stats read, and rightly so. He is a professional footballer, currently earning in the region of £300,000 per week to play for arguably the biggest club in the country, but his performances for them have generally been below par. Add to that, no stand out England performances since Euro 2004, it is difficult to judge the manner in which he should be viewed.

He has never truly shown up for his country, and appears to have stumbled over the line for the records he has achieved, much like a worn out marathon runner, which he may well be, as he debuted what seems like a life time ago and has never had a long period of rest from the game.

Setting my stall out, I believe he is a phenomenal player and I would go as far as saying he is the best footballer that England has ever produced (again this is heavily influenced by his stats). I have wanted him to regain the kind of form that saw him scoring goals such as the volley against Newcastle United just seconds after arguing with the referee. The kind of form that he showed when he burst on to the scene for Everton scoring a fantastic goal against Arsenal, alas that has not yet happened. Fans of Wayne Rooney will probably have to accept this will not happen again, as he is now a different kind of player, one that has to rely on his football intelligence to produce performances but, again, this is yet to materialise fully.

Wayne Rooney is currently in transition, I do think he needs to pick his poison. In a sense that he either needs to try and morph into Zlatan, a man that will be the main striker and whilst they want to win, they also know their place is up front and battling with the centre halves. Or the other option is that he demands to drop deeper, and attempts to become a Steven Gerrard type player, but he might not have defensive mind or ability for that.

Whilst there would be a large amount of suitors for Rooney, they would have to be able to pay his hefty weekly wages and stump up a healthy fee, which Manchester United are likely to want before letting him go. Also, seeing Rooney leave would surely end his international career, as Gareth Southgate cannot continue to pick a player that is plying their trade in a league with such a poor standard.

The stats should speak for themselves, yet they do not. Rooney is full of passion and desire but is marred by poor form and the questionable tactics he used to obtain a bumper contract at Manchester United. I do not feel people will look back upon Wayne Rooney and miss him, in the same way players like Scholes, Gerrard and Beckham will be missed.

It would be the end of an era not only for Rooney himself, but also Manchester United, their fans and the entirety of English football. It could also see the beginning of a shift in world football power, with more and more British players potentially looking to leave to maximise their wealth in what can be such a short footballing career. Whatever happens, the whole of English football should salute his career but this cannot be guaranteed.

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