CAN'T believe it's that time of the year already? Don't worry you're not the only one. It was a bit of a bolt from the blue a few weeks back when the Scots Premier League started, but even that didn't prepare us for the onset of the English season last weekend with the Community Shield clash of the two Manchesters.
Those of a GAA presuasion – those who aren't hostile to the foreign code at any rate (let's not even talk about those who claim to despise the garrison game, yet seem to know of every transfer and match result) – tend to put their interest in the Premier League on the backburner until Sam and Liam have found somewhere to spent the winter months in peace (okay probably not in peace, but you get the gist).
Given that it's now upon us we might as well have a quick look at what awaits us over the next nine months. All eyes will be on how the two big spending clubs fare this season – Manchester City and Liverpool.
There's talk that City are could actually take the title this season. Given their outlay there's pressure on Roberto Mancini to deliver a title (or at the least a serious title push), yet on Saturday the concession of a two goal lead in the second half raises justifiable doubts about their prospects. The indefatigability United displayed in Wembley shows just why they're champs and why, despite not bolstering their squad to the degree many expected them to, they remain the side to beat.
That Sir Alex Ferguson is talking up Liverpool's prospects is down to two things – the brilliance of Kenny Dalglish and the buckets of cash John W Henry has been willing to splash out. Some of the players signed might underwhelm – Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing – but don't for a second doubt that the Reds will make a real charge this year (unlike last).
The title is beyond them, but they should steal a place in the last four from Arsenal (still obsessed with youth). Low spending Chelsea might slip a little, but stay in the top four.