Without much ado, we shall examine the chances of Arsenal and Manchester United, respectively, in the concluding part of this preview.
The feeling abounds that this may be Arsenal's season. Arsene Wenger's hoodoo-ending victory in the Community Shield is testament to the idea that it will not be the same old (disappointing) story for the Gunners in 2015/16.
With two consecutive FA Cup triumphs, it appears Wenger's blend of youngsters and a few galacticos is about to pay off with his first Premier League title as Arsenal boss since the 'invincibles' season.
Arsenal's newest galactico- Petr Cech - is a pair of safe hands (this, though, doesn't aim to detract from David Ospina's proficiency). Like David de Gea was to Manchester United last season, the former Chelsea goalie could be worth double points to the Gunners this term. The 33-year-old Czech international's stay at the Emirates could be as successful as Edwin van der Sar's period at Old Trafford after the Dutch joined from Fulham at age 35.
Another comforting boost is that Arsenal have a settled squad and Wenger's quest for cohesion in his team couldn't be closer than it presently is to fruition. If Karim Benzema eventually joins, that would be a jackpot. More so, apart from (injury prone) Jack Wilshere, there are no lenghty injury concerns.
Furthermore, if pre-season matches are anything to go by, then the general fitness level and form of Arsenal's squad suggests they can begin the season as they ended the last- losing only once in their 14 concluding league games.
The concern, though, will be if collectively, Wenger's men have fully developed the winning mentality and character, both of which are requisite in order to avoid wilting off later in the season.
However, expectations are still high and optimism among the Arsenal faithful is ubiquitous.
But isn't there a theory that the Gunners usually disappoint when there is wide-spread confidence they will deliver?
Louis van Gaal's first season in charge of Man. United was fraught with drama. His second season, in which he's confident of silverware, may be more dramatic.
The 64-year-old bemoaned United's lack of creativity in their 1-0 defeat by Chelsea last April. Unsurprisingly, United have been very active in the transfer window so far.
Following United's robust transfer activities, van Gaal's squad seems to be stuffed with players having speed and creativity.
|Google Image: Man Utd|
I'll be looking forward to the Memphis-Rooney partnership. But more intriguing is the patty-and-condiments-in-a-hamburger-bun midfield that van Gaal's got.
On the one hand, one could immediately wonder if such overcrowded option of players in the middle helps his course towards alleviating the squad imbalance he suffered last season.
However, with United's imminent berth in the group stages of the Champions League- barring a defeat in the hands of Club Brugge - such abundance of versatile talent in midfield may ultimately foster the freshness of the squad for majority of the season.
In addition, avoiding the poor start experienced in the previous campaign will be one of Louis van Gaal's priorities. Anything short of a win in today's lunch time kick-off may lead to some head-scratching and definitely nothing to celebrate on Louis van Gaal's 64th birthday.
In all, Man. United have a title-winning squad, at least, on paper. But has Louis van Gaal discovered his most effective Man. United XI yet?
The Wait is Over!
Yes, the wait is over- the season is all ready here. Ironically, though, it implies we only just started waiting- for who will emerge as champion in May 2016.
While we have our fingers crossed, it's certain we'll be thrilled by the nail-biting moments, blunders, sensational strikes, saves, flicks & tricks, as well as upsets.
On the Spot.
I have a feeling the Premier League trophy is heading for Manchester. Blue or Red? It may be hard to tell.
The caveat, though, is that football is a funny old game. Even the best of pundits can be reduced to amateurs by the bravado of football's unpredictability.
So, do not deride me if by May ending of 2016, the top four places in the Premier League table have no vestige of resemblance to my conjecture below.
1. Manchester City
4. Manchester United