The white nights in Russia have finally turned into dusk as the curtains came down on an exhilarating World Cup. But the end of football’s biggest spectacle means the sun is now ready to shine on the most popular tournament of club football – the Premier League. Never before has the break between the world cup and Premier League been so short – a mere 26 days. What’s more, the shortening of the transfer period means there was little time for teams to prepare for the upcoming season. So without wasting much time, let’s decipher how the upcoming season will take course.
As Arsenal begin life without Arsene Wenger for the first time in 22 years, there’s a renewed sense of positivity surrounding the club. While the Gooners have a knack of falling for the yearly false dawns every season, this time around it seems different.
Unai Emery’s teams are known to play high pressing football and the shrewd additions done by the new manager means that the Emirates is finally addressing the issues faced by the club in the past seasons. While Petr Cech is no longer the player he used to be at Chelsea, Bernd Leno seems a worthy no.1. Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner will surely plug the holes in a leaky defence. Meanwhile Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi will give Emery plenty of options in midfield. Combine them with the attacking prowess of Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette and Arsenal seem to be in a very decent shape.
While a title challenge will be a little too optimistic, Arsenal will surely aim for a top four spot and the lack of transfer business by Tottenham means the Gunners will look to pip their North London rivals for Champions League places after a gap of two years.
Predicted place: 4th
Another season at Stamford Bridge and another Italian manager in the dugout; this time it’s former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri. Despite winning the title in his debut season, Antonio Conte was shown the exit door at Chelsea after the Blues failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.
Sarri will aim to take the West London club straight back into the title race, although it won’t be an easy job. The departure of Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid means Chelsea had to pursue Kepa Arrizabalaga from Bilbao and that too for a much higher fee. While the Spaniard may not be at the same level of Courtois just yet, he does have plenty of potential to be one of the best keepers of the game.
In midfield the addition of Jorginho, who dumped the blue half of Manchester in favour of his former Napoli coach, seems to be an excellent transfer deal. Partnering him with the three-lunged N’Golo Kante and Chelsea have one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
Sarri has always been a master tactician as can be seen with his record at Naples. The only thing he needs to do is get Alvaro Morata firing in the goals and Roman Abramovich would be happy with his manager.
Predicted place: 3rd
The most exciting team to watch in the Premier League last season! Or wait, was it Manchester City? Depending on allegiances, Liverpool have played the most pleasing football in Premier League since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp.
It was a pity that they lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last season, thanks to two errors by Loris Karius. Goalkeeping has always been the reds weakest link ever since the departure of Pepe Reina. Klopp seems to have finally addressed that with the purchase of Alisson for £67 million, making him the costliest keeper in the world before Chelsea broke the record again with Kepa. As Lovern proved at the World Cup in Russia, he is certainly one of the best defenders in the league and with Van Dijk pairing up with him, Liverpool certainly will be confident about their defence now. Further, the additions of Fabinho and Naby Keita have provided much steel to their midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri will add much needed options up front.
As the trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino look to carry on their form from last season, Liverpool will be one of the two only contenders for the title. And who knows, this might finally be their year!
Predicted place: 2nd
The manner in which Manchester City romped to the title by breaking all sort of records along with the 100 point mark last season, means few would bet against them retaining the Premier League trophy this time. With one of the best coaches in the world in their dugout and also the most complete squad in Premier League, the Sky Blues are firm favourites for the upcoming season.
Despite winning almost everything domestically, there’s only one thorn in Pep Guardiola’s Man City reign – Jurgen Klopp. Last season, Guardiola’s men posted a convincing 5-0 victory over Liverpool in the first Premier League fixture at Etihad. However, Salah & co. turned out victors in the returning leg at Anfield and also defeated the sky blues in both the legs of Champions League quarter finals. A head to head record between Klopp and Pep has seen the German coming out on the top 8 times out of 14 and drawing once.
For the coming season, Liverpool seem to be the only worthy challengers for Guardiola’s side to the title. Also, the Catalan has won the Champions League twice with Barcelona. After failing to make a mark in Europe with Bayern Munich and also failing miserably last season, Pep will be setting his sights on the deep end of the competition this time around.
Predicted place: 1st
Even before the start of the new season, things seem to be in a downward spiral for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. The failure of Ed Woodward to land the signings asked by Mourinho means the Portuguese is already unhappy with his squad and has resigned the fate of the club as also rans to eternal rivals Man City. Despite chasing the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Yerry Mina and Diego Godin, United have failed to land either of the defenders. While Mourinho’s disappointment with the lack of transfer business is not misplaced, it must also be noted that he has spent over £350m since he arrived and yet is unable to mould the squad as per his wish.
With relations breaking down with Woodward and chief players like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, it seems Mourinho is already under the spell of his infamous third season curse. And, unless he mends his way, there are high chances of him departing Old Trafford and leaving the club in further turmoil.
Predicted place: 6th
After failing to build on the success of last season by adding new faces to the squad, here’s a short summary of Tottenham’s upcoming season: Harry Kane or Bust!
We know that Daniel Levy is saving his money for the new stadium but failing to add a single player to the squad seems mind boggling. The fact that Arsenal have patched up their deficiencies by buying five new players means Pochettino has quite a task at his hands. The added distraction of Champions League is bound to take a toll on the players in the long haul.
Like the past three seasons, a lot will depend on the form of Harry Kane. If the Englishman continues to bang in goals, which he certainly will, Spurs do have a chance to get into the top four again.
Predicted Place: 5th