With less than a month until the 2018/19 Premier League campaign gets underway, the race to sign players is well and truly on. The transfer window will shut early this summer on August 9th—ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League season. Defending champions Manchester City will be quietly confident of retaining their crown and plenty of punters will be siding with Pep Guardiola’s men after their exploits in 2017/18.
City broke numerous long-standing Premier League records, including most points acquired (100), most goals scored (106) and the largest gap to second place (19 points). The chasing pack, led by Jurgen Klopp’s heavy-spending Liverpool, will need considerable improvement to challenge the Blues at the top of the table. Klopp’s men are arguably better equipped than most to lay down the gauntlet but a first Premier League title may elude their grasp.
Meanwhile, there are major question marks surrounding Manchester United and Chelsea ahead of the upcoming campaign. United manager Jose Mourinho was critical of his younger players while on their pre-season tour, whilst Chelsea may need time to adjust to Maurizio Sarri’s methods. Both clubs will be confident of finishing in the top four but the Premier League title may be a stretch too far at this moment in time.
And then we have the two north London clubs; Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. It has been all change at the Emirates Stadium in recent months, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery replacing the great Arsene Wenger. Meanwhile, Spurs are set to move to their new permanent home after playing at Wembley Stadium in 2017/18. With Harry Kane tied down to an extended deal, Tottenham will be right in the mix once again.
One of these teams will win the English title this season—barring a shock of Leicester City proportions of course. At least five of England’s elite clubs will be hunting down Manchester City in the coming months and Pep’s men will have to try and cope with the added demands of defending the title. We took a look at all six clubs and consider whether they have enough to win the top flight crown in 2018/19.
Manchester City destined to defend crown?
Guardiola’s side were on another level in 2017/18. Arguably the greatest top flight side of all-time, City will take some stopping this campaign. Pep’s men will head into the season full of confidence after a solid pre-season and City’s returning World Cup stars will help to bolster the squad ahead of a tricky September schedule.
With the obvious exception of a trip to Arsenal, City have a relatively straightforward start to the 2018/19 campaign and that bodes well for their title aspirations. There has been no real need for Guardiola to change too much of his squad and the Blues look well placed to retain the Premier League crown this season. It would be foolish to back against City after their efforts in 2017/18.
Can anyone stop Manchester City? It is going to take a monumental effort from one of their rivals AND City will need to fall considerably short. It is their title to lose without a shadow of a doubt.
Mourinho-Pogba relationship vital for Manchester United
World Cup 2018 winner Paul Pogba will be key to United’s title hopes this term. The France star hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with Mourinho since re-joining United in 2016 but it is time for both men to put their differences aside. We all saw just how influential Pogba can be for France this summer—he played a pivotal role in their success in Russia.
— UnitedReds.com (@UnitedReds_com) July 31, 2018
Tipped by Oddschecker to lead France to victory, plenty of tipsters will be backing Pogba to do the same with United this season. Unfortunately, the Red Devils may struggle to keep up with the likes of City and Liverpool. Mourinho has admitted his frustration at the lack of transfer activity at Old Trafford this summer and the Portuguese wants at least two more players through the door before the window slams shut.
At this moment in time, United should be strong enough to finish in the Champions League places but Mourinho’s men may fall some way short of competing for the top flight title.
2017/18: 2nd place
2018/19: 4th place
Liverpool on the verge of something special
Most neutrals are expecting Liverpool to finish as the ‘next best’ behind Manchester City this season and you can understand why. Klopp has been busy in the transfer window this summer, signing the likes of Naby Keita, Fabinho, Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri. All four men will play key roles for Liverpool throughout the campaign as the Reds look to challenge for major honours.
Liverpool finished 30 points behind City last season and reversing that kind of gap is almost impossible. The Reds have the blueprint for success though and the Anfield faithful are now very excited at what the future holds for Klopp’s side. A second place finish will suffice with most Liverpool supporters this season—but don’t dismiss a title triumph just yet.
Klopp’s men are heading in the right direction and the Reds are primed to climb above arch-rivals Manchester United. On paper, Liverpool have the tools to push City close and it could be a very interesting 2018/19 campaign for Reds supporters if everything goes to plan.
2017/18: 3rd place
2018/19: 2nd place
Tottenham to struggle if key men go down injured
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have failed to inspire confidence so far this summer. Spurs are yet to make any sort of move in the transfer window and the north London outfit are in real danger of being left behind in the Champions League race. Tottenham have an excellent first team but strength in depth is a real worry ahead of the opening weekend of the campaign.
#thfc Poch says he doesn’t know how many signings Spurs will make – if any.
“I don’t know if we are going to sign or not. I cannot tell you if we’re going to sign one, zero, two, three or four. It’s true the window is so close [to closing] but the club’s doing everything.”
— Dan Kilpatrick (@Dan_KP) July 30, 2018
Harry Kane returns to Spurs as a World Cup Golden Boot winner but his record in August is shoddy at best. The Tottenham man will be looking to get off the mark early on as he looks to pip 2017/18 Premier League Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah to the award. Kane will be determined to get his hands back on the domestic accolade at the first time of asking.
At this moment in time, Spurs look destined to slip out of the top four. Chelsea will be much stronger under Sarri and Tottenham may be the team to miss out on a place in Europe’s elite club competition.
2017/18: 4th place
2018/19: 5th place
Chelsea: Premier League’s most improved side?
Premier League champions a couple of years ago, Chelsea look well placed to climb into the top four this campaign. Bringing Champions League football back to Stamford Bridge should be Sarri’s main priority ahead of the 2018/19 campaign and most fans would settle for fourth spot. It may take some time for Chelsea to fully profit from Sarri’s free-flowing style of football.
All signs point towards a successful tenure for the former Napoli man though and Chelsea are well suited to his philosophy. Keeping the likes of Willian and Eden Hazard will be tough but the Blues could even challenge Liverpool for second spot with both wingers plying their trade for another year. Chelsea rely heavily on their exploits in wide areas and Hazard, in particular, is a world class talent.
The Blues should pip Tottenham to fourth spot but third place is not beyond the realms of possibility either. If United’s transfer frustrations continue, Chelsea could be the biggest beneficiaries in the race for Champions League football.
2017/18: 5th place
2018/19: 3rd place
Arsenal fans would take fourth these days
Last but not least, we have Arsenal. This is going to be a transitional year for the Gunners and expecting a Premier League title charge would be very foolish indeed. Instead, Arsenal should aim to snag one of the four Champions League spots although even that may be out of reach. Arsenal are arguably the weakest of England’s top six clubs.
Emery has acted quickly and effectively in the transfer window though, moving to put his own stamp on proceedings immediately at the Emirates Stadium. This is still Wenger’s team but the former Sevilla boss has enough time to turn things around—the Arsenal faithful will need to be patient for the first season though.
Arsenal finished sixth last season and another Europa League berth looks likely in 2018/19. It would take a brave man to back the Gunners to pip two of their closest rivals in the race for supremacy in England’s top flight and it could be another hit-and-miss year for the fans.
2017/18: 6th place
2018/19: 6th place