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2013-14 Listening Report: Premier League Preview

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This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. In this report Damian looks ahead to the upcoming Premier League season and offers some predictions. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above, while there is also a worksheet here. You can also listen to the full podcast here.

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2013-14 Season – Preview

Introduction

The 2013-14 Premier League season could turn out to be one of the most open in recent years with three of the top four from last season having changed their managers in the close season while many other sides have significantly strengthened their squads. In this report we take a look at the favourites, dark horses and possible relegation candidates.

Favourites

Last season Manchester United won the league at a canter thanks mainly to the goalscoring prowess of Dutchman Robin Van Persie and the managerial skills and experience of Sir Alex Ferguson. Van Persie is still there but he (and his team mates) will have a new manager in previous Everton boss David Moyes who will be under close scrutiny as he tries to win his first major trophy. United have not yet added any big-name signings but their squad is settled and knows how to win. Despite being the holders of the league title they are not most people’s favourites to retain it as many feel that the managerial changes at Manchester City and Chelsea have improved those two clubs’ chances. The Chilean, Manuel Pellegrini, has taken over at City after the departure of Roberto Mancini and the club have backed their new manager by bringing in a host of top-class players. City will be better than last season but whether that will be enough to see them winning back their title is another question as Chelsea will also be much improved. Of course, they have welcomed back successful former coach Jose Mourinho who will look forward to working with a side that appears to have the perfect blend of experience and youth. Will it be enough for the Blues to win the title? I think it will thanks mainly to Jose but also to Oscar, Mata, Hazard and the inexperience of Moyes and Pellegrini.

Dark Horses

It is perhaps a little unfair to view Arsenal as a dark horse but the Gunners have not figured in a title race for many years as the other top clubs outspend them. Despite supposedly having strong financial backing they have yet to significantly strengthen their squad and fans appear to be worried that they may not even make it into the top four. In recent years the battle for a space in the top four has intensified, especially between the two North-London rivals, Spurs and Arsenal, with Arsenal winning out more often than not. Tottenham’s close season has been dominated by the probable transfer of their best player Gareth Bale but unlike other years Spurs have not waited until the transfer window deadline to buy in replacements and instead have signed a lot of top-quality players that could see them finally make a push for the top places in the league. Last season Everton finished sixth and if they can hold on to their best players then there is no reason why new manager Martinez cannot do at least as well, in fact, I think they will be a lot closer to the top four places this season. This is something that their city rivals Liverpool also aspire to and with some canny signings this summer they seem well placed to also make a challenge. Like Spurs however they have had to endure a transfer saga of their own with controversial star Suarez wanting to move away but if he stays, which appears increasingly likely, then they will also be better than last season. Other teams that will figure in the top half of the table will be Aston Villa, Southampton, Swansea, West Ham and Norwich who all have spent big money on key players during the close season.

Relegation Battle

It is almost a footballing cliche that most pundits tip the newly-promoted sides to go straight back down to the Championship but I think that at least one of them will survive. Few teams will relish a trip to Cardiff and the Welsh side have strengthened considerably but I still think they will struggle this season, as will South-London side Crystal Palace but I feel that Hull City will escape the drop thanks mainly to some astute signings and a manager who knows how to keep a team in the top flight. Who will go down with Palace and Cardiff? Last season both North-east clubs flirted with danger and I feel that both will struggle again with Newcastle in particular having difficulties. Stoke City and Fulham have made some interesting signings and should be safe but I think West Brom may have trouble this season though they should have enough to survive. Three to go down? Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Newcastle United.

Here are some of the words and phrases used in this week’s listening report

at a canter: Very, very easily

the goalscoring prowess: Power, strong ability to score goals

be under close scrutiny: Watched very closely

have backed: Supported

a host of: A collection of, a quantity of

have not figured in a title race : Arsenal have not featured in a tile race

close season: The off season. In Europe the summer months (June-August)

aspire to: Hope to do

some canny signings: Canny means smart or cunning

will relish: Will enjoy

will escape the drop: Avoid relegation

astute signings: Clever signings

flirted with danger: Almost went down

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