As 2015 gets well under way, the footballing world prepares for another year full of transfer deals, drama and excitement.
2014 provided us with a memorable year, one that will go down in history thanks to the records broken and memories created. But what do we have to look forward to in 2015?
A possible quadruple?
After a very successful start to their Premier League campaign, many questioned whether or not Chelsea would be able to remain unbeaten throughout the season – speculation that soon vanished after a 2-0 defeat away to Newcastle.
Since then, it has all been about winning the quadruple, as Chelsea are still competing on four fronts. With Liverpool in the Capital One Cup and a trip to Paris in the Champions League, it will have to be done the hard way, that’s for sure.
Both Mourinho and his players are quick to rubbish any talk of a quadruple and stress the importance of taking it one game at a time. However, Chelsea’s football at times has been exceptional. Should they continue the great form they have shown and continue to win games, talk of a treble, at the very least, if not a quadruple, will be harder to ignore.
A treble has not been achieved in England since the famous Manchester United side of 1999. Should Chelsea match that feat, it is surely going to be something that will never be forgotten.
Return of El Niño
Fernando Torres has returned to Atletico Madrid. A transfer merry-go-round that sees Torres move permanently to AC Milan, only to be loaned to Atletico Madrid, with Alessio Cerci going in the other direction on loan.
Torres endured a torrid time at Chelsea. He will be relieved to be back in Spain at the club where he initially made his name. When Torres left Chelsea to join Milan, many expected him to rediscover his form away from Stamford Bridge. However, the Spaniard only scored one goal in ten appearances in Italy.
Speculation over a move back to Madrid has been lingering around for the last few years, after Torres vowed to one day return. With Atletico signing Mario Manduzkic over the summer a move looked less likely, but now Torres is back and is going to have to work hard to knock the former Bayern striker off the team sheet.
Working under former team mate Diego Simeone, Torres has the chance to find his shooting boots playing for fans that adore him. Although, many have suggested that this could be one move to many for El Niño – a slightly sentimental transfer for a player that is way past his best. Will Torres rediscover his form?
Will United continue to spend?
If there’s one thing Manchester United have shown us this year it’s that money doesn’t solve everything, but it does help, a little.
Despite a bumpy start, Louis Van Gaal’s side look like they are starting to find their rhythm. United went into Christmas sitting third in the league, despite very few expecting United to achieve a top four finish. Van Gaal has certainly shown why he has been so successful over the years.
However, the problem is not yet solved. United are still looking shaky in defence and have keeper David De Gea to thank for his outstanding contribution so far. Van Gaal has not been afraid to give youth a chance this season, with the likes of James Wilson, Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair having featured frequently. Despite this, many have suggested that United are still one or two signings short of where they need to be.
Players such as Wesley Snjieder and Kevin Strootman have been heavily linked with moves to Old Trafford, but any deal that takes place in January is sure to cost them.
Will we see more of the same from United, or will they crash and burn?
Race for Europe
So far during the Premier League campaign we have seen many surprise packages. The likes of Southampton and West Ham, who have both been resurgent since the summer, have flown up the table. Both teams have been floating around the Champions League and Europa League places.
This season looks to be one of the most open seasons in recent years, making the European competition spots much more coveted. With West Ham planning their move to the Olympic stadium in the near future, European football is going to be what they are after.
In my opinion this shows just how exciting the Premier league is, with a host of different teams challenging each year. The Europa League now comes with extra value, as the winners of the competition automatically qualify for the following season’s Champions League, regardless of their league finish. This provides teams with a purpose in a competition which isn’t regarded as being on the same level as the coveted Champions League.
After such great starts, both Southampton and West Ham may have fallen off the pace come the end of the season, however I do not see that happening, particularly with Southampton. Many expected them to struggle under Ronald Koeman, however after buying well in the transfer market many have been left wondering why they doubted Southampton.
Will Balotelli come good?
Mario Balotelli’s short Liverpool career has not gone the way that both parties would have been hoping for. The move was questioned by many, with Balotelli hardly fitting into Liverpool’s style of play. Although, with the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to injury, it appeared that Balotelli could have had a big part to play for the Reds.
When things did not go to plan, both Balotelli and boss Brendan Rogers came under scrutiny. Since then Liverpool have decided to play Raheem Sterling through the middle as a make shift false nine – a move that has given Liverpool a new lease of life, now Liverpool’s play is looking much more like the Liverpool of old, while Balotelli’s place in the team looks further and further away.
Media speculation suggests Balotelli could be on his way out in January, but the club have ensured otherwise and that he still has a part to play at the club.
I can’t see Liverpool adapting their style of play to fit Balotelli, so I believe it’s case of ‘our way or no way’ for Balotelli. He must try to adapt to fit into Brendan Rogers plans soon, or I do not see much of a future for him at Anfield.