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EPL 2009/10 season kicks-off today
LONDON, AUG 14 (Agencies):
Published on 14 Aug. 2009 11:17 PM IST
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It promises to be another season of high drama in England’s top-flight when the real action of the 2009/10 English Premier League season, begins Saturday. Aiming to become the first team in English football history to win the league title four times in a row, Manchester United has potentially an easy start on Sunday when it hosts one of the promoted clubs, success-starved Birmingham. On the opening day for the season 2009/10, Chelsea will take on Hull City while Arsenal will face Everton. While United hopes to end the season with a record 19th league title to go with all the other trophies it has brought home to Old Trafford, Birmingham has just one League Cup on its honors’ list and that was back in 1963. Some 76,000 fans are set to cram into the ground expecting to see a routine United victory, especially as Birmingham has not beaten the Red Devils in 21 meetings since a 5-1 victory in November 1978. But United manager Alex Ferguson, who faces one of his former Aberdeen defenders Alex McLeish on the opposite bench, knows it is not as simple as that. He will order his players not to take the promoted Blues lightly- especially with defenders Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown and Gary Neville all out or doubtful with injuries. Ferguson has led United to 25 titles in 23 years at Old Trafford and is now chasing something no one else has done. He has twice led United to three league titles in a row while Huddersfield, Arsenal and Liverpool all did it once. Now he wants four. “Winning four titles is something we’d like to do and it would be a great achievement,” he said. “It is a great challenge for us.” Ferguson expects another strong challenge from the three traditional rivals but is unsure which one of Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal will be the toughest to beat. He also believes big-spending neighbor Manchester City could be a threat. “They’re on the back pages every week now and there’s a lot of interest in their situation, particularly as none of us have really gone into the market in a big way. We’ve sold players in fact- Liverpool sold (Xabi) Alonso, we’ve sold (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Arsenal sold (Emmanuel) Adebayor. The big four have actually been really quiet (in terms of buying). So we’re all interested in how it’s going to pan out at City.” With Carlos Tevez, Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry joining the Man City squad alongside the likes of Robinho, City has the talent to mount a major challenge and kicks off its campaign at Blackburn on Saturday. City manager Mark Hughes, whose club has is backed by the financial wealth of owners from Abu Dhabi, has until the end of the month to continue strengthening his squad. But he is under pressure to turn around the fortunes of a club which last won the league title in 1968 and to break into the top four. Of the other two promoted teams, Wolves hosts West Ham while Burnley, back in the top flight for the first time since 1976, hopes to start with a victory at Stoke.

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