Arsenal and Liverpool, the third- and fourth-place teams in last season's Premiership, have shown themselves to be vastly improved in cruising past their Champions League qualifiers.
In the second leg, Arsenal brushed away Sparta Prague 3-0, and Liverpool dominated Toulouse 4-0.
Both clubs have the ability to win the Premiership this season. After three years of dominance by Chelsea and Manchester United, the "Big Four" may well be upstaged by the "Weaker Two."
After a number of valuable additions, Liverpool's strike force can be called the strongest in England. Torres, Babel, and Voronin should combine with Kuyt and Crouch to make the club a strong contender for this year's Champions League—and I would expect Rafa Benitez's team to threaten Chelsea for the Premiership crown.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will rely on youth to win games.
With the losses of Henry to Barca and Ljungberg to the Hammers, the club seems destined to lose much of its attacking flair. The good news is that young players like Walcott and Fabregas look ready to pick up the scoring slack.
What's more, Cesc Fabregas has the potential to become one of the world's greatest midfielders under the guidance of Arsene Wenger. Fabregas' slick passing and savvy intelligence make him a treasure for Arsenal—and Barcelona must be kicking themselves for letting Wenger pluck the youngster from their B team.
Expect Fabregas to get the skipper's armband in the years to come...and in the meantime, keep your eye on today's exciting Champions League draw.