Premier League preview
Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are all favourites – but there can only be one crowned champion.
Defending champions Manchester City will look to retain their title. However, the season ahead looks to be more competitive than the previous campaign.
The pressure is on for new managers Unai Emery of Arsenal and Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri. Both managers are new and will have to adapt to the Premier League
No manager has retained the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2009.
Pep Guardiola was the first to lead a team to 100 points in an English top-flight season, but retaining the trophy would arguably be every bit as special. “I am read,y” said the Spaniard ahead of the new campaign.
“The fear of losing the games makes me starving and hungry again. I don’t like the feeling of losing games. When you lose, you feel guilty, you feel bad. Your private life is not good. Your relationship with the players is not good. So that is why to avoid that. Just that simple fear of losing a game makes you hungry.”
Guardiola’s desire to continue winning was showcased in City’s win over Chelsea in the Community Shield. City will want to retain the title, but their supporters – and owners – also crave Champions League success.
“It’s important to be in it every season,” said Guardiola of club football’s biggest prize. “And we are going to try with all our effort to win it. But if you ask me what the most important competition is, it is the Premier League.”
A comfortable win at Arsenal in their first fixture was an excellent start is a great start, but not th one Emery was hoping for at the Emirates.
Manchester United were not able to challenge City in the title race last season despite spending £400m since Jose Mourinho took over. His side were 19 points behind their city rivals and even failed to play entertaining football for the Old Trafford faithful.
Mourinho had said his side face a “difficult season” unless they sign a new defender, but the Red Devils failed to add anyone new to their backline.
Despite their runners-up spot in the league and reaching the FA Cup final, which they lost to Chelsea, United still seem a work in progress and Mourinho appears to have a frosty relationship with some of his players.
Many pundits believe his pre-season negativity can only have a detrimental impact on his squad’s morale, and a failure to make a good start to the season could see the Portuguese considering exit strategies.
Spurs had a positive 17-18 season, finishing third in the league, but have failed to add any new players to the current squad.
Tottenham are the only side in the Premier League history to have not added anyone during the summer window.
However, manager Mauricio Pochettino feels they have, “achieved their objective” and did a “great job” by keeping their best players in the transfer window.
They did attempt to sign Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, but were unable to come up with a deal in time.
Spurs have had top-four finishes for the past three seasons, but delays in the completion of their new stadium could have a negative effect both on and off the pitch.
North London rivals Arsenal were restricted in the transfer market by the cost of their move to the Emirates for several seasons, and some Spurs fans fear the same happening.
Their team got off to a good start with an opening victory 2-1 at Newcastle, but bigger tests await them.
Jurgen Klopp spent over £100m in the transfer window with Alisson, Fabinho, Keita and Shaqiri all added to the Liverpool squad.
Klopp knows the pressure is on to deliver trophies, but said: “We are Liverpool; there is no-one on this planet that expects more of us than we expect of ourselves. I really love how the players have reacted this summer and I cannot praise them enough for the way they have stayed hungry.”
Liverpool had an outstanding run in the Champions League and losing 3-1 in the final to Real Madrid was devastating, however, the football played was certainly memorable.
Klopp added: “The attitude in training and in practice, matches have been outstandingly good, the highest level. And when you consider, as it has been for other clubs also, the build-up has been disrupted by players coming back at different times [after the World Cup], it is even more impressive.”
Liverpool hit four past West Ham in style in their opener and are favourites to win the Premier League according to a Sky Sports online poll.
Alisson is seen as player to end their goalkeeping woes and should create more confidence at the back where Klopp’s teams have been lacking in previous seasons.
New boss Sarri is looking to make his mark in the Premier League by getting Chelsea back into the top four after Antonio Conte’s reign ended in acrimony last season despite the FA Cup win.
Having spent £71.6m on 23-year old goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao, Sarri has been given the funds to get Chelsea back in the title race.
Their opening win against Huddersfield will build confidence, but they looked well short of Man City’s standards in their Community Shield defeat at Wembley.
Sarri has said simply “My job is to win matches”. But having kept hold of key players such as Eden Hazard and Willian, the Italian will be expected to deliver by Chelsea’s ever-impatient hierarchy.
New manager Emery began his Arsenal venture with a comprehensive home defeat against defending champions Man City.
He has made it clear what he expects from his current squad: “I want ambition from this team, I want them to be ambitious in every match. I want for 90 minutes in every match for them to be in the game and to be working hard. I want this every day, this is my ambition”.
The Spaniard is under a lot of pressure from fans to perform well following the departure of Arsene Wenger, although the Arsenal board have made it clear, he will be given time.
Arsenal have failed to reach the top-four in the league for the last four seasons. New defensive midfielder Lucas and centre back Sokratis were among the players signed this summer on a fairly conservative budget, with fan favourite Jack Wilshere released and signed by West Ham.
To conclude, the Premier League title race this season could potentially be more competitive and exciting than ever before. Expect Manchester City to become the first team to defend the title since 2009, but also expect their rivals to push them harder, with Liverpool hot on their heels.