The stakes too high in EPL

As the world’s most popular football league, the English Premier League, gets under way this afternoon, fans are curious to know which team has potential to become champions.

But after Leicester City’s feat last season, every pundit will be very careful and circumspect before they make their prediction. Leicester, complete outsiders at the start of the 2015/16 season, won the league.

The question is, are we in for another Leicester in the new season. I doubt Leicester can defend the title this time around. The reason is beyond losing a key player in midfield, Ng’olo Kante, to Chelsea. Rather, they are now in the Champions League and have a thin squad to manage to juggle in two big tournaments simultaneously.

Man City paid a big price for trying to prioritise one over another. They ended up with two empty hands and almost failed to qualify for a Champions League spot. Claudio Ranieri’s team does not have experience in Champions League. It will be a tough season for Leicester City. But they can prove us all wrong if they get it right like last season. Let us see how they start their game today against Hull City.

This season the competition will be tough. We have a league that boasts the world’s most expensive player in Paul Pogba on one hand, and on the other, we have an A-list of football managers in-charge of a dozen teams ready to do battle with each other. The stakes have never been too high.

Imagine a competition that has Jose Mourinho’s arrogance and temperament, Jurgen Klopps unbridled passion for the game that borders on the childish, Pep Guardiola’s fetish dedication to tiki taka football, Arsene Wenger’s stoicism at enduring seasons of broken dreams with hope, Antonio Conte’s hidden mafioso demeanour.

The mixture you get is a combustible cocktail that will produce a double dosage of drama and football intrigue hitherto unwitnessed.

The BBC published its own predictions for the season and it is amazing. Out of 34 pundits (former EPL players) 18 predicted Man City would win, 12 predicted Man United, three chose Chelsea and one chose Tottenham. No Arsenal and Liverpool.

Although this is the case, I think Pep’s Man City are being given too much credit than they deserve. They have the best squad but they have to gel first and I think Pep will find it difficult to play against awkward teams like Stoke City, Leicester City who can put up brilliant performances against big sides.

I am happy with United squad have going into the new season. Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovich are the big figure spine of United in defence, midfield and attack. Mourinho has experience in the Premier League. United fans have enough reason to be optimistic this season. And Bournemouth, our season opener, will be statement of intent. I expected United to win the match if Mourinho has what it takes to win the league. Everton against Spurs and Man City against Sunderland are other good games to watch today.

Everyone can understand why Arsenal have not been picked as favourites. It must be very hard for their supporters. And their season opener against Liverpool on Sunday is a difficult one because Klopp has transformed the Reds and, sorry Atate they could be favourites on Sunday.

Chelsea could also be contenders under Conte because of his disciplinarian attitude. He can bring the best out of the good players at Chelsea. Their capture of Kante is a big plus. However the players have to adapt to Conte. They play on Monday against last season’s most improved team West Ham. I predict a draw in this match.

MultiChoice Malawi has already assured fans they will broadcast 300 live matches this season alone. I hear the official launch is at Umodzi Park in Lilongwe from 2pm on Sunday. Most men are excited because it means 300 visas to get away from home. Our joy is our wive’s predicament. Let the games begin. n

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