Following a frenzied summer in the transfer market, Premier League champions Manchester United have boosted its squad with the arrival of talented Ecuadorian winger Luis Antonio Valencia and veteran, well travelled 29 year old striker Michael Owen along with French youngster Obertan.
But it was a frenzied transfer summer and Real Madrid parted with a world record £80m for Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo, before city rivals Manchester City paid £25m for the services of Argentine striker Carlos Tevez.
The major depletion of the United squad as well as the injury setback suffered by midfielder Owen Hargreaves has however left some doubt to the ability of the Red Devils to win a record fourth consecutive league title in 2010.
In come Chelsea that has brought in experienced Italian tactician Carlo Ancelotti and the arrival of Russian Yuri Zhirkov to boost an already strong squad that has the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, the three midfield Michaels and Ivorian forward Didier Drogba with his strike partner Nicholas Anelka who believes title rivals United are a tad bit weaker than last season now that CR7 (now CR9 by the way) and Carlito have left.
Which brings Manchester City into the picture. The richest club in the world (hate it or love it, that’s the fact) have mentioned themselves as serious contenders for the title and why not, Elano may have left for Galatasaray but Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland have been joined at the Eastlands by Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers, Tevez from city rivals United and former Emirate Stadium duo Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.
Of course, these players arrived with the cliche of “it wasn’t for the money” but that is discussion for another time. However, City does look like they could challenge for the league title, on paper. In reality though, City could just end up finishing in a Europa League spot.
This is so because of the obvious imbalance in the team evident in the forward line; an attractive line but one that would be very difficult to manage, or more aptly satisfy with Santa Cruz and Adebayor not likely partners while Tevez has joined due to the promise of regular starts when Craig Bellamy and Robinho are around (?).
So maybe Tottenham Hotspur could be the club that would break the hold of the fabled ‘Big Four’ and last season’s form at the end after Harry “Houdini” Redknapp took over the reigns at White Hart Lane shows much promise for fans of the lilywhites that this season may just be it.
It would be even sweeter of it was arch-rivals Arsenal that was displaced from the Four at the end and just as it was at the start of the previous three seasons, Arsenal looks the weakest of the Four and most likely not to finish in the top four.
But just as in the three seasons before, Arsenal could yet go for the title and implode at the crucial stage, or simply meddle with 5th and 6th spot before a late surge sees the Gunners into fourth.
Unfortunately, Gooners may have to wait yet a further season before winning the league title last won in 2004 with manager Arsene Wenger again likely to not spend money in the market; not even half as much as gained in the same market.
The only arrival of reasonable mention at the Emirates is centre back Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax and the French tactician would rather rely on returning players Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky along with the core of the team ala Cesc Fabregas, Russian maestro Andrey Arshavin and (an injury unresistant) Robin van Persie to carry a young side through a gruelling season that once again will involve Champions League qualifying matches.
Arsenal, despite the ever present cloud of doubt, could fare better than Liverpool who have seen Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso join Real Madrid while long time target David Villa has become rather too pricey.
Star striker Fernando Torres got a good dose of tackles last season thus reducing his goal return (which however remained impressive to note) but more of those tackles and the work would be left to captain fantastic Steven Gerrard…not the ideal scenario when you’re desperately after a first league triumph in 20 years…and counting.