The English Premier League season kicks off tomorrow. My team, Everton, seems to have solid mid-table talent. We’ve acquired three good players and, for once, have not had to sell. Our best new player is Andrew Johnson, a pacy forward with a great goal-scoring record (although he failed to find the back of the net during the pre-season). Assuming that Johnson comes through and that talented American goal-keeper Tim Howard (on loan from Manchester United) shows more consistency than he did at Man U, we should have no weaknesses. Unfortunately, though, we lack the star power generally required to win big in the EPL these days. Thus, as I say, we have that mid-table look.
The rub is that the same thing can be said about up to a dozen EPL sides. They can’t all finish mid-table. So unless the newly-promoted teams all fall flat, we may have to beat out one or two teams with talent comparable to ours in order to avoid relegation. By the same token, though, we won’t have to beat out many demonstrably superior teams in order to make the top six (and thus qualify for European play).
At the top of the table, defending champs Chelsea (bankrolled by a Russian gazillionaire) has added several more superstars to the lineup. Yet “Chelski” looked a bit vulnerable during the pre-season, leaving some hope for Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, and perhaps Tottenham. Once an underdog team, Chesea has become the New York Yankees of English soccer, and my attitude this year is, anyone by Chelsea as long as it isn’t Liverpool.