Manchester Untied are the clear favorites to win their 20th English Premier League title. However, other factors might arise in which they are unable to secure the title. Manchester United must be careful to avoid these hurdles if they wish to hold on to their stranglehold of the EPL.
The Premier League is known throughout world football as the toughest league in the world. England is home to many of the world's best teams, and the season is long and competitive. No game can be taken for granted because United found out last year when they lost to Wolverhampton, who were nearly relegated, 2-1.
A championship team always finds a way to win, even in hostile surroundings. Every champion has to overcome some sort of adversity in a season. If United are to make many experts seem smart by winning the Premier League, they will have to overcome these hurdles on their way to success.
Note: I am not a Manchester United fan. I root for Tottenham, so therefore, leave your bias claims at the door because they are not true.
This hurdle is a given. Every team has injuries, and the test of a champion is how to overcome those injuries. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have already injured themselves. Ferdinand should be back in the coming weeks, and Vidic will be out longer.
United improved their depth this season by signing Phil Jones on the back-line. Chris Smalling should improve upon last year and become a reliable defender as he has already proven. In midfield, the signing of Ashley Young makes United younger but also deeper at their weakest position.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez sustained a concussion during the summer, and he is finding his way back. Even though he is not fit enough to play a full 90 minutes yet, he made an impact in the game against Tottenham as a substitute.
United are a deep team, and unless the injury bug hits them hard, they should be able to overcome injuries. The health of the starting XI is key because of the expectations to move through Champions League and the FA Cup. Keeping the starting XI healthy will make the season much easier.
Manchester United are dominant at home. Last season they took 55 of a possible 57 points at home in the Premier League (The only draw was to West Brom. After United were up 2-0, it finished at 2-2). On the road, United were not nearly as good, taking only 25 of a possible 57 points.
United lost four times, including the embarrassing loss to Wolverhampton. They also drew 10 times, which is too much for a Premier League champion, even though they did end up winning the League.
Manchester United cannot let their road woes continue. If they improve on the road this season and continue their dominance at home, they will easily win the Premier League. If they falter on the road again this season, stronger Chelsea and Manchester City sides could take advantage.
After failing to win the Premier League last season, Chelsea improved this summer and may be on the right track to take advantage of a Manchester United mistake. After Chelsea went through that miserable mid-season stretch, they could have grabbed a tie at the top of the Premier League table with a win against United in the third to last week of last season. Then Chicharito scored in the second minute to end that.
Manchester City continued to spend this summer, with the key acquisition being Sergio "Kun" Aguero. In his first game against Swansea City, he was instrumental in the win, even though he came on as a second-half substitute. If he can play like that, City are going to be in the conversation for the Premier League title.
Manchester United are still the favorites, but if they struggle at any point in the season, they will have to fend off these two squads. Last season, United were the only team to step up and control the Premier League, even after giving Arsenal, City and even Chelsea an opportunity to win it.
The Red Devils have to hold on to control of the Premier League and not let it go, unless this hurdle could be the one to trip up United.
Manchester United have a deep midfield with the likes of Michael Carrick, Nani, Park Ji-Sung, Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and the ageless Ryan Giggs. However, out of this list not many stick out as difference makers in a game. Young, Nani and Anderson on his best day can change a game.
Nani is very frustrating to watch. At times, he can look like the best player in the world. At other times, he looks like he should be playing with the reserve team. Young was a key signing by United because he provides youth and stability at the midfield position.
Giggs is too old to play every game, but his substitution could change a game. Tom Cleverley is another young player for United who could make a difference this season.
Midfield is the weakest part of Manchester United's game. They were torn apart by Barcelona last year (even though every other team was, too). The midfield could struggle at times this year to gel, but I trust United and Sir Alex Ferguson to make sure everything is working with the midfield.
After the retirement of Edwin van der Saar, United replaced him with the Spanish goalie David De Gea. At 20 years old, De Gea is expected to be the goalkeeper of the future. However, he has gotten off to a rocky start.
His miscue in the Charity Shield gave City a goal, and although United would win 3-2, the gaffe still left the United faithful uneasy about their goalkeeper. His miscue against West Brom, where he gave up a goal on a shot that should have been an easy save, almost cost United two points. Then, on Monday, he almost made a terrible mistake when he was being pressured by Rafael Van der Vaart and almost gave the ball away.
De Gea has to be steady to give United confidence from the back. He may not be called upon to make terrific saves in every game, but he must make the saves he is supposed to make. If De Gea keeps playing the way he has lately, United may be seeking another answer to the goalkeeping situation.
This hurdle may be one that United are unable to avoid if De Gea continues to struggle.
United are still the favorites to win the Premier League, even though City has looked strong through the first two weeks. United must be able to overcome adversity as every champion does. They are a vulnerable team, but they are also the best team in England.
If Manchester United can maintain their form throughout all competitions, it could be a special year for them. They have a deep enough squad where anything is possible, even a Treble.
If Sir Alex Ferguson can lead them through the hurdles and tough times of a season, United are the front-runners for being the first team in England to win 20 League titles.
Thanks for the read, and feel free to comment.
Keep the military in your thoughts and prayers.
Follow me on the twitter- http://twitter.com/#!/RobertDemmett