2018/19 Premier League Season: Top Six Prediction
As the new Premier League season kicks off, fans across the nation are hoping their ambitions for their teams are met once the campaign comes to end. Never has the top-end of the table been contested by such an elite group.
Every year, two top clubs will miss out on Champions League football which could have serious implications on their financial future and ability to attract players in the transfer market.
As Arsenal have found out, missing out can mean a sustained period outside the top four and they’ll be hoping a summer of change could revitalise them as Unai Emery takes the reins.
Below we predict how the top six will fare come the end of the season.
1. Manchester City
Only a fool would back against Pep Guardiola’s men becoming the first side to retain a Premier League title since Sir Alex’s Man Utd in 2009. Breaking all types of records last season, the Citizens have added former PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez to their squad and will also benefit from a full season of having a fit Benjamin Mendy.
Guardiola is doing in England what he’s already accomplished in Spain and Germany.
Despite finishing fourth last season, Liverpool came out of the campaign with most credit – after the champions – given their Champions League run and attacking verve.
Also, in a season in which Man City only lost two league games, Liverpool beat them three times in all competitions and this summer they’ve made some major investments.
Alisson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri have joined for a combined fee of approximately £170million.
From sixth to third is a significant jump, but Arsenal’s form last season was largely down to a malaise which crippled the club during Arsene Wenger’s final years.
Emery has come in and while his signings haven’t captured the headlines, Arsenal have addressed the defensive areas that needed some attention. Stephan Lichsteiner, Sokratis and goalkeeper Bernd Leno have arrived. Also, holding midfielders Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will bring some much-needed steel to the Gunners midfield.
4. Man Utd
While many feel Man Utd are the best place to compete with Man City given the depth in their squad and where they finished last season, one important fact must be acknowledged – it’s Jose Mourinho’s dreaded third season in charge.
The Portuguese has never lasted past the third season at his previous clubs for various reasons but in recent years, it’s been the year which often signifies his downfall. At Real Madrid and Chelsea the United boss left a hostile environment after getting the sack by Florentino Perez and Roman Abramovich, respectively.
It’s usually down to his own doing as he attacks underperforming players to mask his own problems and while that may have triggered a positive response from players a decade ago, the stars of today don’t take too kindly to public criticism.
Mourinho has already fallen out with star man Paul Pogba and rumours were rife that he wanted out in the summer, with Barcelona having a bid rejected. If this power-play between Pogba and Mourinho continues to overshadow what happens on the pitch, the Red Devils could fall behind.
The most ‘stable’ team among the top six given the lack of signings, Spurs are the first Premier League not to add a single player to their first-team squad during a summer transfer window. Mauricio Pochettino has comfortably solidified Spurs as a top-four side though this will be his most difficult season to date.
Stuttering plans to move into a new stadium coupled with a lack of investment could lead to struggles this season and I feel they’ll miss out.
It’s been a chaotic summer in west London. Manager Mauricio Sarri was installed as head coach just over three weeks ago with former boss Antonio Conte take training while awaiting the sack. Sarri will try and instil a positive philosophy, though it could take a while.
Also, Chelsea are lacking behind their rivals in that they don’t have a credible goalscorer – Alvaro Morata has never reached 20 league goals in a single season.
Man City have Aguero, Man Utd have Lukaku, Liverpool possess Firmino, Arsenal boast the likes of Aubameyang and Spurs have the reliably consistent Harry Kane.