Get Ready for the “Big 5” Era of the English Premier League
For most of the last decade of soccer in the EPL, there was a “Big 4” unit that was separate from all the rest. The famous teams of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal all dominated the league and routinely earned all those vital UEFA Champions League spots in the table and won the most trophies. But all that changed as Manchester City came under rich ownership and have recently bucked the trend. However, with Liverpool in the dumps for several years, a typical big 4 pattern had emerged, just with a new club. However, with Liverpool’s resurgence and my full belief that Man U will come back strong next year, I suspect that the EPL is in for a new era of the “Big 5” and that it will provide some of the most exciting and high-drama soccer!
What made the big 4 of previous years so predictable and boring was that each team would be given a slot in next season’s Champions League, enabling them to earn millions of dollars and retain their position at the top with lush transfers and great players. But with 5 clubs fully capable of lifting the Premiership crown this year, there will certainly be an odd man out situation as one of either Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, or Chelsea will be held out of the competition.
Last season it was Manchester United failing to crack into the top 4 in for the first time in what feels like forever. Moving on from Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership was always going to be a challenge, but with the caliber of players on hand, they should likely return to top form this season, especially without the extra focus required in the Champions League.
We saw such a domestic-heavy schedule benefit Liverpool last season, and they almost won the title. They will have a hard time replacing the goal-scoring exploits of Luis Suarez, but the money they earned has been well spent. A frontline of holdover Daniel Sturridge and newcomer Rickie Lambert should be quite menacing.
The other major clubs also flexed their financial might with Chelsea (Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa), Arsenal (Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy), and Manchester City (Bacary Sagna, Fernando, and Frank Lampard) having all purchased exciting new players.
Other clubs like Everton and Tottenham have shown a dedication and desire to compete with this new big 5, and could potentially sneak their way into a Champions League spot, but I simply cannot fathom one of them actually breaking in and taking a place by the league’s end, though a hot start to the season could certainly start to ask the question.
Nevertheless, With the 2013-2014 season just ahead on the horizon, I think we will be in for one of the finest EPL seasons around. One of these 5 major clubs will end up disappointed and wondering what they could have possibly done better, but along the way we are sure to see many wonderful games as these and all the other Premiership teams compete in the world’s greatest soccer league!