The new English Premier League (EPL) 2015/2016 season is here. Defending champions, Chelsea will be hoping to become the first team to win consecutive league titles since 2009.
The Jose Mourinho-led team were heads and shoulders above everyone last season. Chelsea have been relatively quiet in the transfer window; bringing in goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic from Stoke as a replacement for Petr Cech who joined Arsenal after 11 years at Stamford Bridge; Brazilian youngsters, Nathan and Kennedy, and Colombian forward, Radamel Falcao. Victor Moses has also returned to the club after spending the last two seasons on-loan at Liverpool and Stoke City respectively. John Mikel Obi, who was reportedly keen on a move to Qatar this summer, starts his 10th season as a Chelsea player. The other Nigerian in the club, Kenneth Omeruo has been loaned to Turkish side Kasımpaşa for the season.
Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger is about to start his 20th season as manager of the club. The club fans will be hoping this season will be the year Arsenal finally lifts the EPL title since the Invincibles back in 2004. Wenger has addressed his team’s goalkeeping issue, signing Petr Cech from Chelsea. However the team still lacks a defensive midfielder and a top forward to lead the line. The team has been linked with Real Madrid star, Karim Benzema and Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho; if Arsenal can get them in before the transfer window shuts then this might be the year for them. Nigerian-born youngster, Alex Iwobi will be hoping to play a part in Arsenal’s season. The midfielder, who is Jay-Jay Okocha’s nephew, impressed every one at this year’s Emirates Cup, scoring his team’s third goal against Lyon. His compatriot, Chuba Akpom has been sent out on loan to Championship side Hull City for the season.
Last season, Manchester City made an awful attempt to defend the title they won in 2014. Manuel Pellgerini’s side produced a number of horrendous displays in the second half of the season to finish way behind Chelsea. In a bid to reclaim the title, City have splashed £65m this summer on 20-year-old Raheem Sterling, former Aston Villa captain Fabian Delph, Patrick Roberts and Turkish wonder-kid Enes Unal. City have also named Kelechi Iheanacho in their first team squad following departures of Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic to Italian clubs AS Roma and Inter Milan respectively. The 18-year-old is likely to serve as the club’s third-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony.
Manchester United have been very active in the transfer window all summer as they try to build on their fourth place finish last season. Manager Louis van Gaal has let go of ten (10) players including record-signing Angel Di Maria after just a year, Robin van Persie, Luis Nani and fans’ favourite, Rafael da Silva. However, Germany national team captain, Bastian Schweinsteiger has joined the club from Bayern Munich to become the first German to play for the club. Other notable arrivals include Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Sergio Romero and Morgan Schneiderlin. United are not done yet; Barcelona winger Pedro is expected to join the club this week as a direct replacement for Angel di Maria. United have also been linked with the likes of Sergio Ramos, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi all summer as they try to sort out their defensive woes. The future of goalkeeper, David de Gea still remains unclear; he has been linked to a move to Spanish giants, Real Madrid all summer. If they can hold onto him, he might be their biggest signing this summer.
Last year, Liverpool failed to invest wisely the money from the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and finished in fifth position. Manager Brendan Rodgers has spent £49m from Manchester City for Raheem Sterling this time on Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Joe Gomez. Experienced midfielder, James Milner has also joined on a free transfer as Liverpool start their first season without Steven Gerrard in 17 years. Jordon Ibe will hoping to be given more game time following the departure of Sterling.
As it stands, there are a total of ten Nigerians in the EPL. They include John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses (Chelsea), Kelechi Iheanacho (Man City), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Peter Odemwingie (Stoke), Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye (West Brom).
EPL Weekend Fixtures:
Saturday, 08 August, 2015
Man Utd v Spurs (12:45pm)
Bournemouth v Aston Villa (3 pm)
Everton v Watford (3 pm)
Leicester v Sunderland (3 pm)
Norwich v Crystal Palace (3 pm)
Chelsea v Swansea (5:30 pm)
Sunday, 09 August, 2015
Arsenal v West Ham (1:30 pm)
Newcastle v Southampton (1:30 pm)
Stoke v Liverpool (4 pm)
Monday, 10 August, 2015
West Brom v Man City (8 pm)
What are your predictions for the season? Please drop them as comments below.