10 Big Changes to Expect in the Premier League Next Season
The 2012-13 season has been a big one in the English Premier League, but the 2013-14 season will be bigger, better and just as dramatic as the year that unfolded before it.
Every year the Premier League landscape changes on a player, managerial and official level. Sometimes those changes are easy to see; other times they're smaller and aren't as apparent until halfway through the season, or even until the end of the year and the reflection process begins.
Next season in the Premier League will be no different, and there's bound to be a number of changes in the league to what we witnessed take place this year.
Read on to see 10 big changes you can expect in the EPL next year.
We might as well start off with one we know is coming, with goal-line technology set to be in place for the 2013-14 season (per The Guardian). And what a welcome change it will be, with the thought of "ghost" goals not being awarded and shots that have crossed the line properly being rewarded as such!
Of course, as with anything, there will be hitches, and it will have some errors. Fans (and writers!) must be patient with the technology as officials and players become accustomed to using it most effectively and eliminating those wrong decisions from the game.
But it certainly is a great starting point, and a chance we can't wait for in 2013.
Arsenal Competitive for Title Once Again
Arsenal fans will be able to tell you quite quickly how long it's been since they're beloved Gunners have won a title. Tottenham Hotspur fans could probably tell you as well.
And whilst the 2012-13 season might not have seemed like it, the Gunners took a big step back towards a title in the near future. So much so that come the start of the 2013 season, they may well be ready to challenge the best in the world for titles once more.
Another year of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla working together will be brilliant. Another year where Jack Wilshere stays healthy and a year that will surely be better defensively than this season should have the North London club poised to strike once again—and that's without considering whatever moves they make over the summer transfer window.
Can they beat United or City to the Premier League title? Maybe not just yet, but they are more than capable of picking up the FA Cup or the League Cup in 2013.
Crackdown on Fan Behaviour
2012 was not the best year for fan behavior, and you can guarantee that the Premier League knows it.
From Rio Ferdinand being hit with a coin and then rushed at on the field to Newcastle fans causing a riot at the Tyne and Wear derby, it simply wasn't a good year for Premier League fans, and I'd expect the league to crack down on the actions of supporters in 2013.
This will probably have to come through the clubs themselves, and I've no idea in the slightest how it will be enforced, but it's a change that simply must happen.
2012 didn't paint Premier League fans in a good light at all.
What about seeing Jose Mourinho back in the Premier League next season for a change? After all, there's at least a couple of clubs that could be interested in his services—particularly if his current situation with Real Madrid continues to spiral out of control like it is at the moment.
Chelsea seemed like the front-runners, but don't rule out Manchester United making a big move as well given that they are now sans Sir Alex Ferguson (via BBC).
Both clubs have a fond relationship with the "Special One," and would gladly welcome him aboard for 2013. And given how memorable his time in the Premier League was the first time around, his arrival would certainly make for a big change in 2013.
You'd have to think that one of those clubs will get Mourinho next season.
Shift Away from 4-2-3-1 Formation
Bleacher Report's tactical analyst, Sam Tighe, wrote a great piece last month on the strengths of the 4-2-3-1 in world football. I've linked it above, for he does a truly excellent job breaking down why it is so versatile and successful for clubs right around the world.
It was a huge hit in the Premier League, as I've quickly noted in the table below how many times the "big" teams of the English competition used the 4-2-3-1. Yet as crazy as it seems, I think we could just see a shift away from it next season—particularly if the big clubs pull off a big signing.
|Team||4-2-3-1||Percentage of formations used|
|Manchester United||26 times||72 percent|
|Manchester City||15 times||42 percent|
|Chelsea||34 times||97 percent|
|Arsenal||36 times||100 percent|
|Tottenham Hotspur||22 times||63 percent|
If United go through with a deal for another striker like Robert Lewandowski, then you'd have to think that the 4-2-3-1 will go. The same goes for Chelsea and Radamel Falcao, who would likely partner Demba Ba or Fernando Torres at the top of the attack in more of a 4-3-1-2 formation or even a 4-3-3.
Arsenal (tracking Stevan Jovetic according to Goal.com) and Tottenham Hotspur (always rumored to be signing a new striker) would also experience a similar shift, with two marquee strikers making it very difficult to play a regulation 4-2-3-1 and get the best out of both players.
If the big clubs make moves for strikers this summer, which the rumor mill would indicate, then I think we'll see a shift away from the use of the 4-2-3-1 in 2013.
Further Focus on Champions League Success
Not to say that Premier League clubs don't focus on the Champions League (and they don't rest players for Champions League games), but I think we'll see an even stronger focus on performing well in the European competition next season—even at the expense of possible Premier League victories.
This season marked the first time that the quarterfinals of the Champions League didn't have an English team since the 1995-96 season. And with both Spanish football and German football continuing to grow, look for English teams to make sure they re-focus on the European competition even further next season and ensure that they keep pace with their non-domestic competitors.
Crackdown on Racism
It's one thing that the Premier League hasn't been able to shake yet—racism.
It dominated the 2012-13 season early on, and whilst we weren't subject to it as much over the back half of the year, it was still a hallmark of the season that was.
You'd have to think that the Premier League will crack down on it even further in 2013, with the clubs themselves likely to be subject to personally punishing their players for inappropriate behavior and ensuring that their club name isn't subject to such controversy.
Chelsea handled racism poorly in 2012. Would it have been different if there were punishments on both an individual and club-level by the FA for their actions?
Who knows. But before it happens with another club and leads to another controversy we don't need, I think the Premier League will do their best to stamp it out for good, and it should be their big focus of the offseason marketing campaigns and planning process.
A Very Different Manchester United
At the point of writing this (with this slide already drastically altered thanks to Ferguson's bomb-shell) the reality is that we will see a very different Manchester United in 2013.
Maybe it won't be necessarily in formations, in tactics or in playing personnel like we would expect. But without Ferguson at the helm of the Red Devils and without his presence on the sidelines, there's is no doubting that United will have a different feel to them in 2013.
Perhaps it might be a demise of the fear that teams have going to Old Trafford? Maybe it will give Roberto Mancini and Arsene Wenger more reason to smirk on the sidelines at the Theatre of Dreams? Maybe referees will simply be relieved they won't get the dreaded finger-point from the Scotsman?
We don't yet know what changes there'll be, but there has to be some change.
A great of the game will be with us no more.
Impacts of Financial Fair Play
This piece by Bleacher Report's Karl Matchett might have been written almost 12 months ago, but it is an exceptional breakdown of the Financial Fair Play regulations that are bound to start having an impact on the Premier League soon—something we all know is coming but don't really know what it will entail.
And whilst we can't yet know the full consequences, I think we'll definitely start to see the impact of the new regulations next season more than we have done so far.
Will English players be targeted over the summer transfer window by big clubs to satisfy their transfer demands? Will the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea still throw millions of dollars around like they are pennies? Time will soon tell, but you can guarantee that the regulations will start to leave their mark on the league (and its clubs) throughout the 2013 season.
Less Interest in Players' Twitter Accounts
Maybe it's time for a personal rant here to finish with two things I'd like to see happen next season, and the first of those has to do with players' Twitter accounts.
Note here when I say that I want less interest in what they say, I don't want this to be a free-for-all again. That is, if Rio Ferdinand retweets a racist tweet at Ashley Cole then he should be punished—just like Luis Suarez was punished for making racist remarks to Patrice Evra face-to-face.
However, when it gets to the point about Michael Owen innocently tweeting something about Bradford City and being "on fire"—a link that he didn't even understand at the time—surely it's gotten a bit far? After all, it doesn't have anything to do with what he's paid to do.
If the club deems it as inappropriate, let them deal with it. After all, they are his employer, and his contract is with them. But as far as the league itself goes, they should stay out of it. They've got enough problems to worry about without hitting refresh on Michael Owen's timeline.
Pulling Up Illegal Throw-Ins
Annnnnddddd one last rant—throw ins.
Can we please start throwing the ball from where it went out? It's getting ridiculous watching players walk five, 10, even 15 yards from where the ball went out before throwing it in—and that's even with a ref warning the player to stop walking that far down the pitch.
If they're walking too far, tell them to stop. Tell them to take the throw-in where it went out, and if they can't, give the throw-in to the other team as a punishment.
Just like you would a normal foul throw.
It drives me insane watching them creep down the sidelines, and maybe's it's just my personal vendetta, but I wish the Premier League would do something about it in 2013.
Because you know, it's such big issue and all.
What changes do you think will happen in the Premier League next season?
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