2013-14 Poised to Be Best Premier League Season Ever
The stage is set for another hectic and climactic Barclays Premier League season.
With kickoff already underway, the 2013-14 edition of the world's most popular football league has built up unprecedented excitement.
With all of the recent rumors regarding transfers filling the majority of the headlines, football fans are keen to put the talk to rest and focus on the game itself.
Many feel that the upcoming campaign has the potential to be the most exciting Premier League season since its inception. Still, there's some fierce competition to overcome if this season is to live up to its billing.
Who could forget Sergio Aguero's last-gasp winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season to win the title for Manchester City in stoppage time at the expense of rivals Manchester United?
Or the 2004-05 edition, when newly appointed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho proclaimed himself as the "special one" en route to a Premier League crown later that season?
Here are some reasons why 2013-14 could potentially be the greatest showcase event in Premier League history.
Reshuffling of Managers
The 2013-14 Barclays Premier League will have a fresh look from a managerial standpoint.
For the first time since its inception, the Premier League will not see Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm of Manchester United, the most successful English club of all time. Newly appointed manager David Moyes will have some massive shoes to fill after Sir Alex left behind a legacy of unparalleled success in modern football, including 13 Premier League triumphs and two Champions League titles.
United supporters have been spoiled under Ferguson and are understandably reluctant to see him retire. If you think their fans will be easy on Moyes during this transition period, think again. The former Everton boss has already stirred United fans the wrong way this summer after a string of poor results on their tour of Asia as well as their lack of intensity in the transfer market.
Moyes has made a plea with United fans to support him and the club vocally at Old Trafford this season despite the recent criticisms. Safe to say, it has not been an easy summer for Moyes after United star Wayne Rooney demanded a transfer to rivals Chelsea. Moyes claims that there has been no fallout between himself and the England international; whether the fans believe him or not is a different story.
Regardless, the popularity level of the new manager cannot be very high after missing out on signings such as Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas. If Rooney leaves the club or shows no ambition to continue with the Red Devils, Moyes could be in a heap of trouble if poor results arise.
Still, Manchester United are not the only title contenders with managerial changes this summer.
Chelsea are happy to welcome back Jose Mourinho to West London after a six-year absence from the club. Many pundits believe it will be a warm return for the Portuguese manager in his first season with the Blues since 2007. Chelsea are strong title contenders this season, especially with the state of Manchester United so unstable at the moment.
Oh, and then there's Manchester City who welcome new manager Manuel Pellegrini to the Etihad. Cash-heavy City have made the biggest splash in this summer's transfer windows with the signings of Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho. Jose Mourinho even claimed that City are the Premier League favorites this season because of these acquisitions to an already strong squad.
The managerial changes to the top three clubs in England will surely make for some interesting headlines in the weeks to come.
While the Premier League season began this Saturday, the summer transfer window remains open until Sept. 1.
In past seasons, several big-name players have participated in their club's first and second league matches before being shipped off to another club. Take Samir Nasri, for instance, who played in Arsenal's 2011 opener before signing for Manchester City.
The Daily Mail reported Manchester United's Wayne Rooney put in a transfer request in favor of a move to Chelsea. However, The Irish Times claim that Rooney will not be allowed a move to title contenders within England. Still, if Rooney is kept at Old Trafford against his own desire and displays uninspired football for the Red Devils, this saga may get uglier sooner rather than later.
Another rumor is Gareth Bale's record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid from Tottenham. Spurs fans are reluctant to see the Welshman leave after claiming PFA Player of the Year honors last season. Others doubt Real Madrid's financial stability in an era of financial fair play across Europe. Things got interesting recently when The Sun reported Bale told Welsh teammates, "I'll not play for Spurs again," before Wales' friendly with Ireland.
Spurs have built a strong squad after the acquisitions of Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho this summer, putting themselves in contention for a top-four finish in 2013-14.
Luis Suarez appears to be stuck at Liverpool, and it seems as if Arsenal will enter the Premier League season with another disappointing transfer period behind them. Pressure could fall upon manager Arsene Wenger if Arsenal do not claim silverware of some sort this season.
Finally, according to The Guardian, Samuel Eto'o may be on his way to Stamford Bridge in a reunion with former manager Jose Mourinho. The Cameroonian striker could be a massive signing for Chelsea considering their lack of talent up front. An addition of Eto'o to this current squad would make Chelsea clear title favorites.
High Number of Title Contenders
This season's version of the Barclays Premier League has a vast amount of legitimate title contenders.
Reigning champions Manchester United have not received much support by fans and journalists alike in their bid for consecutive Premier League titles. Most pundits see United as the third-best team in England behind Chelsea and in-town rivals Manchester City.
While it would be unwise to count out the Red Devils so prematurely, especially with last season's top Premier League scorer Robin van Persie leading the charge, many have questioned United's transfer-window approach and failure to obtain any big-name signings.
Manchester City, on the other hand, have been spending in order to revive their squad for another title run. Many expect City to finish runners-up to Chelsea, but Manuel Pellegrini's men believe that they can raise the silverware come May.
With Mourinho back at the helm, "the Special One" believes he can outwit his fellow colleagues David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, both of whom are in their first season with their respective clubs (with Mourinho in his second stint with Chelsea).
Finally, we cannot discount Arsenal and Tottenham as title contenders just yet. While it appears that these London rivals will probably be battling for the fourth and final Champions League spot again, both have quality and can potentially battle for the title.
Arsenal fans are probably more mute about their chances because of another poor summer transfer season. Tottenham fans will be cautiously optimistic about their chances, especially if reigning PFA Player of the Year Gareth Bale remains with the club.
Unprecedented TV Coverage
Of course I'm speaking from an American point of view right now, but American fans will be able to watch every Barclays Premier League match on NBC after the television giants purchased the rights about a year ago.
NBC has made great strides in their attempt to captivate the American audience with international football (or soccer as we call it). NBC will air one prime-time match per week on national television, with NBC Sports Network airing the other matches throughout the weekend.
American soccer fans will also have the opportunity to stream any match online or via an NBC Sports app with valid access of their television provider information.
NBC hopes extreme coverage of this sport will increase the average American's perception of the Premier League and international football altogether. Oh, and a little comedy doesn't hurt either; meet Ted Lasso, "coach of the Tottenham Hotspurs."
Fox Sports 1 was also introduced on Aug. 17, and it will provide in-depth coverage of the UEFA Champions League, which is sure to include many Premier League sides.
Hopefully, this exposure to the international game will render the use of illegal, pirated websites useless when it comes to watching football.
World Cup Year
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup is still 10 months away, we will see a direct correlation between players' attitudes on and off the pitch and their desire to be selected for a World Cup spot for their respective countries.
Though most players have a small chance at being selected for a World Cup position, we may see top footballers switching to other clubs come January in hopes to increase playing time and exposure to their national team coach.
Take former England left-back Wayne Bridge as an example. In 2006, facing doubts regarding playing time with former club Chelsea, Bridge joined Fulham on loan in January for a better chance of obtaining a spot on the English World Cup squad, and he succeeded.
Scandal aside, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming World Cup will affect Premier League football, or vice versa. Players often complain about exhaustion entering the World Cup post-league season. While the quality of football is expected to rise among individuals attempting to win World Cup call-ups, some may not compete as hard in fear of injury before the World Cup.
As fans of the beautiful game, we are spoiled to be able to sit on our sofas and watch the magic unfold for the next nine to 10 months. Here's to another great year of football!