English Premier League preview

Columnist Tom Bushell looks ahead to the EPL season

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What a summer it’s been for football fans. Normally, we prepare ourselves for weeks spent constantly searching for a game of football being screened on a TV channel somewhere. Just a game, any game, anywhere!

Not this summer, though. Moments after Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City won the English title with seconds to spare, our attention turned to Euro 2012.

Dubai celebrated that tournament more than most European cities, with big screens seemingly available everywhere. Then, as we watched Spain dismantle Italy in the final, we had the Olympics to get straight into. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments have seen hundreds of thousands of fans securing seats in the stadiums, with and even more watching on TV. The UAE will be delighted that their performances attracted praise from Premier League stars.

So now our attention turns back to the global stage and the biggest league in the world: the English Premier League, which starts on Saturday August 18. Can UAE-owned Manchester City retain their title? They’ve been slow in the transfer market so far. Roberto Mancini has openly admitted he’s frustrated at the lack of player recruitment. One man who could be bound for the Etihad Stadium is Robin Van Persie, Arsenal’s player of last season who wants a move.

We should also look out for Nottingham Forest next season. Their new Kuwaiti owners are promising the Premiership within three years, and have been nudging Middle East-based players in Forest’s direction throughout the trials. Leeds United are another club linked with Middle Eastern investment, and with the UAE’s strong Olympic performance, we could see some of our Pro-League stars move abroad.

Screens across Dubai will soon be packed with non-stop football from home and abroad. Whoever ends up where, passions will run high once again across the city.

Tom Bushell guests on The Grill (Sat 5pm, Dubai Eye) and hosts Dubai 92’s Tom & Dan Show (Sun-Thu 4pm).

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