Is 2013-14 Premier League Season Time for Chelsea's Riches to Dominate?
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Talk of pendulums swinging and English football's balance of power shifting has often been premature where the Premier League is concerned.
The slightest hint of a chink in Manchester United's armor down the years has led to claims the Red Devils are set for an almighty fall from grace. It's proved quite the opposite, though, with Sir Alex Ferguson's men often providing the perfect riposte in going on to be crowned champions.
The narrative is a little different this year, however.
The Premier League landscape is like never before. Sir Alex has departed, replaced by David Moyes in the Old Trafford hotseat and for the first time in a generation, there is an air of vulnerability surrounding the champions.
We're witnessing a shift in traditions. Whereas there has been a prolonged dominance by some familiar names—United and Arsenal particularly, with Liverpool to a lesser extent of late—the nouveau riche are here to shake things up. And they mean business.
When Roman Abramovich first took over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, Chelsea's rapid rise from Premier League also-rans to champions shook up the status quo. But without another club ready to step in and join them, the Blues were alone in their attempts to rewrite the history books.
Now they're joined by Manchester City, who themselves boast a bottomless pit of financial backing, and similar to Chelsea, have been equally astute in their appointment of a new manager and their summer transfers this year.
Both clubs are looking stronger than ever, and while their new-found wealth has helped propel them into the consciousness of the elite over the past decade or so, the signs are there that this season will witness them taking giant strides in their quest for supremacy.
Manchester United are suddenly faced with having a manager who cannot match his peers—in reputation, success and where Mourinho is concerned, guile.
Moyes has cut his teeth at Everton and earned his place at Old Trafford's top table, but coming face-to-face with Mourinho and City's Manuel Pellegrini brings with it a whole new challenge.
Indeed, before the season has even started Moyes seems to be feeling the pressure of life at the top.
"I find it hard to believe that's the way the balls came out of the bag, that's for sure," the Scot complained to BBC Sport when referring to United's opening league fixtures that see them face Chelsea, Liverpool and City in their first five matches.
"I think it's the hardest start for 20 years that Manchester United have had."
Such complaints before the season has even started does not bode well for Moyes' state of mind. It's hardly an endorsement for the Scot's confidence, either.
In contrast, it's a different atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium.
Pellegrini is talking of City having the "Premier League's strongest squad" (via Sky Sports), while Mourinho is, well, Mourinho.
The Portuguese's success during his first spell at Chelsea brought with it unprecedented levels of success. Had he not departed in 2007, perhaps the Blues could be boasting even more silverware.
Nevertheless, he is back. His swagger remains, but above all else, his timing has been perfect.
Who will win the Premier League in 2013-14?
The man Mourinho calls "Boss" is nothing but a Premier League memory, while Arsenal's failure to significantly strengthen in the transfer market means they look set to struggle when it comes to mounting a serious title challenge.
With so much uncertainty surrounding their rivals, Chelsea and Manchester City look ready to capitalize. They're in the driving seat, threatening to dominate 2013-14. If they succeed, it could be the beginning of the end for the rest of the Premier League.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent, and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @garryhayes
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