By Jennifer Juneau
As the 2011-12 season stands behind a curtain, glossed in its share of club rivalry, back-lit and waiting to take center stage, I’d be inclined to mention that any match against Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, for various reasons, will prove insuperable. Arguable yes, but seemingly obvious.
This past season, Liverpool have been hit with a relegation threat and two poor managers until change of ownership and the adept King Kenny came along (unfortunately a little late) and two mint strikers. Fans will be staid to their sets to witness the king bring the Reds back up to the top four.
Tottenham could not possibly be satisfied finishing on the cusp of Champions League placement after dipping a toe in top-four waters granting them rite of passage to play against Real Madrid this past season. With that in mind they’ll be certain to score a fast comeback.
Arsenal and Chelsea enter the scene with their fair share of issues. Wenger’s inability to bring silverware home has been weighed as the Gunners exponential failings sealed their fate once again. Will they continue to drop?
With a new Blues manager hanging in the balance, many wonder if Torres will explode on the scoring tear expected of him.
And then, of course, who can forget Manchester United? Any non-United fan would love to see any team knock them off their pedestal once and for all.
Here’s my pick of the top ten games you won’t want to miss:
10. Tottenham vs. Everton: Saturday, August 13, 2011
Needless to say, no team can afford a sluggish start.
The trite blurb “It’s early days” is meretricious when chasing the Premier League title, or Champions League placement.
But if any team can expiate the last six seasons of stalling only to come to speed mid-season, Everton can.
This season they are determined, according to Leighton Baines, who claimed on the Barclays Premier League website, “We must look for that all important start, which has eluded us over the last few seasons.”
The resilient team know what they need to do, but will Tottenham let them get the upper hand on opening day?
Yes, my sentiments exactly—I doubt it too. This surely will be a game we can’t wait to see.
9. Manchester City vs. Swansea: Saturday, August 13, 2011
Welcome, Swansea. As if the first Welsh club to play in the Premier League isn’t worth watching in itself, Swansea beat rivals Cardiff City to make the promotion.
Ironically, Craig Bellamy, on loan from Manchester City to Cardiff, joined his home town club to help them beat Swansea for promotion to the Premier League.
Still unclear if Bellamy will return to Man City, the prospect of this happening will undoubtedly set the pace for unfinished business on opening day.
8. QPR vs. Bolton: Saturday, August 13, 2011
For the first time in over a decade, Queens Park Rangers make their appearance in the Premier League.
Endearing. Although I am not sentimental, neither am I not a fair-weather fan.
Supporters are always on the lookout for prodigious players to make an impact on the beautiful game, so in the first minutes of the match, I’ll guess that viewers will easily measure QPR’s calibre; whether or not they are in the Premier League to stay.
7. Wigan vs. Norwich: Saturday, August 13, 2011
Before I get to the battles of the best, which we’ll more than have our share of in the coming season, one shouldn’t write off the battles of the bottom ten just yet.
6. Everton vs. Liverpool: Saturday, October 1, 2011
There’s no better match for a Liverpool and Everton fan to revel in than a Merseyside derby.
The last time Liverpool and Everton met was on January 16, 2011. Now the two sides have a score to settle: it ended in a 2-2 draw.
In the past, the inveterate competition integrated supporters from both clubs, but now is said to be the most red card-friendly derby in the Premier League.
5. Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Having finished last season in fourth and fifth spots respectively, Arsenal and Tottenham will be eager to shed themselves the inability to bring home a trophy this coming year.
As Arsenal sank through the ranks the past few months and Tottenham bobbled up and down, the two teams have yet to establish a stability their fans can rely on.
While Wenger was a target for criticism during the season, the prospect of losing players such as Fabregas and Nasri won’t likely improve his reputation.
Transfer rumors come and go, and if things don’t go Wenger’s way, the more judicious Redknapp may find his side in the winner’s position.
4. Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Although Manchester United know how to win most games, they still encounter a challenge when up against Liverpool.
This season will not prove differently. In fact, as Liverpool have been blessed with new ownership and a king at the helm, I predict they’ll be in top position by the time this game materializes.
With both sides having energetic strikers such as Suarez, Carroll and Hernandez, action on the pitch will surely promote a continuum of goals…well, at least for Liverpool maybe.
The Reds may be at slight advantage as Manchester United’s fledgling goalkeeper may still be adjusting to the Premier League.
3. Manchester United vs. Manchester City: Saturday, October 22, 2011
To a Manchester United fan or a Manchester CIty fan, anything I write will do no justice to what this match will mean.
Both teams will play with a passion more visible in this match than any other team they will play. WIth an ingenious manager on one side (I’ll leave his identity for you to decide) and a chary defense on the other, it’s difficult to say who’ll come out on top.
All I can say is this: don’t miss this match.
2. Chelsea vs. Liverpool: Saturday, November 19, 2011
As the saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this case, we want more of the same.
By the time this game happens, If Torres has found his comfort zone with Chelsea, if the new Blues manager is well-settled and formation to fit a striker is no longer a discrepancy, this game will be the gift we should have received the first time around: to watch Torres, in top form, play and possibly score, against his former teammates.
1. Manchester United vs. Chelsea: Saturday, September 17, 2011
All I can say is this: I wish this game aired now.
Abramovich’s failure to secure the Champions League win, with a 50 million pound signing or the Premier League trophy, has caused the Blues owner enough to be blue about in recent months to pull the thorn out of his side once and for all. The thorn, of course, is Manchester United.
With restorative measures in the form of a new manager on the way, this game may be the prelude of the season: if Chelsea still have the will to knock Manchester United off their pedestal.