Three long months ago the curtain was drawn on a record breaking Premier League campaign, and while our hunger for top level football was quashed by the World Cup the world now awaits the return of top flight competition.
It was a record breaking season in many ways last year, and the majority of those broken records landed at the feet of the dominant Manchester City. But can Pep Guardiola’s men continue their dominance, or will the likes of Harry Kane or Mohamed Salah lead their respective clubs to glory? Here are our predictions for the upcoming Premier League campaign:
Premier League Winners: Manchester City
Top Scorer: Sergio Aguero (21)
Key Signing: Riyad Mahrez
Pep Guardiola had one simple task for this summer – Make the best even better. Obviously that’s a lot easier said than done, but Guardiola is as critical and pedantic as they come and won’t accept anything less from his players. In all honesty, The Citizens are simply too far ahead of the rest of the pack coming into the new season.
They wiped out a number of Premier League records last season, picking up the most wins (32), most points (100), and the most goals scored (106). Add to that the fact that they had the best defensive record in the league and what you end up with is a 19 point gap between them and their closest rivals, Manchester United. Liverpool were the closest to them in attacking terms, but still lagged behind by 22 goals and also conceded 11 more times than them.
Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield outfit have been busy this summer though, bringing in Naby Keita and Fabinho to bolster the midfield and breaking the goalkeeping transfer record by shelling out £56 million for Alisson. They’ve also added a bit of depth to their attack with Xherdan Shaqiri, and more importantly managed to keep hold of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane. Will this be enough to bridge the 25 point gap between them and Manchester City? We don’t think so.
Liverpool aren’t the only ones to have strengthened either. Manchester City may not have flaunted their usual cash in the transfer market, but Riyad Mahrez is a huge player to come into an already world class side. Benjamin Mendy spent the entire season out injured last year too, so having him back in action will be like a £50 million signing it itself.
The good news doesn’t end there for the defending champions though. Perhaps one of the most terrifying prospects is that many of their places are still on the upward trajectory of the footballer’s bell curve. Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, and Ederson are all under the age of 25, and they have exciting prospects such as Phil Foden, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Brahim Diaz itching to break into the first team.
It was Pep Guardiola’s first silverware with Manchester City too, and at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich he successfully defended his first league title with them. It really is the perfect storm for the blue side of Manchester right now, and even though they’re odds on favourites we still see a lot of value in backing them to lift the trophy again in 2019.
To Finish in the Top 4: Tottenham Hotspur
2017/18: 3rd Place
Top Scorer: Harry Kane (30)
Key Signing: N/A
The bookmakers seem to have lost favour in Tottenham Hotspur this summer, and their reasoning behind it seems rather baffling. Obviously they’re expecting big things from Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery at Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, whilst Manchester United are priced a ludicrously short 2/7 to maintain their top four holdings.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are loitering around the even money mark to make it into those all important Champions League qualification positions. It looks a fantastic value offering given all the things that Spurs bring to the table. Admittedly they have been very quiet in the transfer market, but from Spurs’ point of view that’s exactly what they wanted. They may not have signed any players, but the most important thing for them is always warding off interest for their star men. They have seemingly managed to do just that, and that bodes well for Mauricio Pocchettino.
It’s important to remember that Dele Alli is just 22 years old and will improve with age, whilst Christian Eriksen is approaching the zenith of his career at 26 years old. Son Heung-Min is the same age, whilst the likes of Ben Davies, Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez, and Eric Dier are all either in their primes or still improving.
Of course, Harry Kane will take all the attention. The England captain won the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Russia, and he has the promising record of improving on his tally in the previous season in every year of Premier League football. He netted 30 league goals in 2017/18, one more than his 29 the season before. Prior to that it was 25 goals, and 21 in his first full season in the top flight.
Then there’s the aspect of stability at Tottenham. Arsenal and Chelsea are both in a transitional periods under new management, and the situation at Manchester United is becoming increasingly tumultuous. The chances are that at least one of these three teams will fall apart, and with an unchanged Spurs side looking for a fourth consecutive top four finish they will be the ones to take advantage.
Not to Finish in the Top 4: Manchester United
2017/18: 2nd Place
Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku (16)
Key Signing: Fred
We touched on the situation earlier, but the situation at Old Trafford is becoming increasingly tense. Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward aren’t seeing eye to eye on transfer policy, whilst the fans are voicing loud opinions about Manchester United’s playing style under the Portuguese manager. Not only that, but he seems to be becoming ever more paranoid and downtrodden in the media, probably a forewarning to a typical third season collapse from Mourinho.
Mourinho’s first stint at Chelsea saw him win back to back Premier League titles, but friction grew in the third year and saw him relinquish the Premier League trophy to Manchester United. The following September he left Stamford Bridge, taking almost a year out before being appointed at Inter Milan. He had two successful seasons in Italy before heading to Real Madrid. In his second season at the Bernabeu he ended Barcelona’s dominance of La Liga, but the season after he lost the dressing room and eventually parted ways with the club, citing it as the worst season of his career. A return to Chelsea beckoned, where he finished 3rd in his first season before lifting the title in the 2014/15 campaign. He didn’t even make it to Christmas in the following season though, getting sacked after losing nine of their 16 league matches.
To cut a long story short, Mourinho has never had a successful third season with a club, and the signs all suggest that this trend won’t be bucked at Old Trafford. The unproven Fred has been brought in to hopefully strengthen the midfield and teenage full back Diogo Dalot is one for the future, but there are still problem areas that need addressing. All of their centre backs looked shaky at times last season, and they still have only one out and out striker in Romelu Lukaku. A dip in form for the Belgian could prove catastrophic for a team who already struggle for goals.
At such long odds to finish outside a very competitive top four, we think this is fantastic value for money.
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