2012-2013 Barclays Premier League Preview & Predictions
What a season it was! From the very first game to one of the most dramatic finishes ever, surely this past year had to be one of the best seasons ever for soccer fans everywhere. Do you remember where you were when the final whistle blew on one of the greatest finales of all time? I do. Who can forget Manchester City’s gut-wrenching fantastic comeback from a 2-1 deficit in stoppage time to defeat QPR 3-2. Edin Dzeko’s 92nd minute and Sergio Aguero’s 94th minute goals gave Man City their first league title since 1968, made Man City the first club to win the league title not on points, but on a goal differential tiebreaker, and made Man City the first club, which had previously been relegated, to win the title.
We can’t let the “Hollywood Storybook ” finish take away from the rest of the incredible, fun-filled, action-packed 2011-2012 campaign. On December 21st, Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton netted the 20,000th goal in the history of the Barclays Premiership. Clips of an unbelievable wonder strike from Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse went viral all over the world, and eventually won the Senegalese striker the Premier League Goal of the Season award. Clint Dempsey put on a campaign for the record books, becoming the first American born footballer to score a hat trick in an EPL match and ultimately finished in the league’s top 5 in goals scored. An American being in the top 5 goal scorer in the Premier League – no-one would have guessed that could happen in our lifetimes.
However, as in life itself, alongside the heroics and positives of the ’11-’12 season, the year featured headlines that Owners, Players and Fans would have liked to do without. For example, racism reared its ugly head throughout the league, leading to the suspensions of superstars John Terry and Luis Suarez. The sudden collapsing and near death heart failure of Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba in the middle of a match caused major uproar in the tabloids over the health and safety of professional players. And, at the end of it all, despite best effort and intentions and the loyalty of their fans, Wolverhampton, Bolton, and Blackburn were relegated to the Coca Cola Championship, while Reading, West Ham and Southampton rewarded their fans and were promoted to the EPL.
In the end, Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea, sitting at the top of the Table, received births in this year’s European Champions League, while Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool will compete in this year’s UEFA Europa League competition.
Many people think it will be very hard to repeat the exciting and dramatic ’11-’12 campaign. I beg to disagree as the way that the ’12-’13 season is already shaping up during the preseason, we might all be in store for a fabulous sequel. Predictions time!
League Title: Chelsea
After a very disappointing league campaign last year, Chelsea snuck their way into another Champions League birth by defeating Bayern Munich in penalties in last year’s final. This bittersweet season led to management making many changes in hopes of a more productive domestic 2012-2013. Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, George Brandy, and Thorgan Hazard were all brought in during the offseason. Fernando Torres woke up from his two-year long nap during the Euro Cup earlier in the summer, which will hopefully transfer over into the regular season. Returning veterans such as Ashley Cole, Terry, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech will give Chelsea one of the strongest cores in the entire league and will prove beneficial throughout the year, as there is no short supply of leadership. Although Chelsea’s most popular star, Didier Drogba, departed to China after spending nearly a decade with the club, the offseason acquisitions, the youth movement mixture with the skilled veterans, and Superstar center mid Juan Mata will put the Blues on top again.
Team You Shouldn’t Sleep On: Swansea City
After some quiet success in their first year in the EPL since being promoted two seasons ago, Swansea finished 11th overall in the table, missing the top 10 by a 3rd round tiebreaker. Although they lost their manager Brendan Rogers to Liverpool, Michael Laudrup, a former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder, was named Swansea’s new manager. Spaniards Chico Flores and Michu were brought in during the offseason at bargained prices to fill the gaps left by loanee Steven Caulker. Midfielder Leon Britton will look to build on his World Leading (yes, I mean best in the world) 93% passing completion rate (still better than Messi, Xavi, or Ronaldo), while Scott Sinclair aims to captain the Swans and their Welshmen to another successful season, but this time while making more noise in the process.
Big Name Club Who Won’t Finish in the Top 6 Again: Tottenham Hotspur
It pains me to write negatively about my most beloved Spurs, but I cannot deny that my Yid Army ain’t what it used to be. After being atop the table two-thirds into the season, Tottenham totally fell apart down the stretch. Overshadowed by rumors of the National Team coaching vacancy, former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp completely lost site of the team’s will to win. Spurs dropped from 1st to 4th in the league over the season’s final two months, which ultimately cost them a heartbreaking dismissal from this year’s Champions League Tournament. On top of the collapse, Tottenham loses their star goal scorer Emmanuel Adebayor, as he returns from loan to Man City, and will also be without their top playmaker Luka Modric one way or another, as the Croatian sensation has demanded a transfer to Real Madrid (a Dwight Howard-like saga abroad).
- Chelsea (Champions League)
- Manchester City (Champions League)
- Arsenal (Champions League)
- Manchester United (Champions League Playoff)
- Newcastle (Europa League)
- Liverpool (Europa League)
- Fulham (Europa League)
- Swansea City
11. Stoke City
12. West Ham
13. Aston Villa
15. West Brom Albion
16. Norwich City
18. QPR (Relegated)
19. Southampton (Relegated)
20. Wigan (Relegated)
Player of the Year: Juan Mata, Chelsea
Golden Boot (Top Goal Scorer): Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Golden Glove (Most Shutouts): Petr Cech, Chelsea
Manager of the Year: Roberto Di Mateo, Chelsea
Breakout Superstars: Raheem Sterling, Liverpool & Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, Arsenal
Most Disciplined Players (Most Cards): Mario Balotelli, Manchester City & Scott Parker, Tottenham
Biggest Busts: Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Manchester United & Stephane Sessegnon, Sunderland
WAGs of the Year: Peter Crouch, Stoke City & Rafael van der Vaart, Tottenham
Team of the Year: GK- Petr Cech (Chelsea), DEF- Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Ashley Williams (Swansea), MID- Juan Mata (Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea), Gareth Bale (Tottenham), David Silva (Man City), FWD- Wayne Rooney (Man U), Sergio Aguero (Man City)