THE Premier League is thankfully back and appears to be one of the most difficult to predict for many years.
The big six of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have all made additions to their squad.
Only two of those clubs though, City and Liverpool, have a legitimate claim that they can win the title. The Reds overcame the reigning champions in the Community Shield but that will have little significance for the upcoming season other than it might give the City players a reminder that Liverpool aren’t going away.
Pep Guardiola’s side wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing some Liverpool players overcelebrate a glorified friendly. I would have imagined that they spoke in the dressing room about how it is okay that Jurgen Klopp’s men lifted a ‘meaningless trophy’ as long as they were the players lifting the league title.
Traditionally, United would have been seen as both the main rivals but the demise of the Red Devils in recent times means they’re not a concern for either. There seems to be a genuine dislike between the teams. Despite Guardiola and Klopp always speaking of their admiration for what the other has achieved, deep down they will enjoy seeing each other fail.
Klopp will take pleasure in seeing his counterpart fall short again in his quest to capture the Champions League with City.
The fact he has won it with Liverpool is his strongest argument when it comes to who is the better manager. For Guardiola, he can counter that argument by stating that he has won four Premier League titles compared to Klopp’s one.
For me, Guardiola will be adding to his league trophy haul come the end of the season where Klopp will probably be using the excuse again of tiredness when it comes to his side falling short again.
Outside of City and Liverpool, it is difficult to predict what other two sides are going to fill the top four.
Arsenal and Tottenham have been praised for their dealings in the transfer market over the summer but I’m not convinced that their signings will have as much an impact as many predict.
The Gunners have been the team that has impressed the most over pre-season and Gabriel Jesus has been prolific. It all looks set up for Arsenal to succeed this campaign but I still get that sense of softness about Mikel Arteta’s side. Like they did in the latter stages of last season, when the times get tough, they will crumble and I don’t believe they are a top-four bet.
Spurs are another team being talked up. I haven’t been as impressed as others by Tottenham’s summer recruitment. They have added six players, but apart from the capture of Yves Bissouma from Brighton, those players don’t make me believe that Spurs are ready to be a side that is constantly competing at the top. They finished in the top four by default last season.
Spurs weren’t brilliant. Antonio Conte’s side were fortunate to qualify for the Champions League.
That was more down to the failings of Arsenal and United rather than Tottenham being excellent. Like their north London rivals, I don’t envision Spurs finishing there again.
Chelsea and United are teams I feel will capitalise on Arsenal and Tottenham’s weaknesses and will be the sides to complete the top-four alongside City and Liverpool. What’s exciting about Chelsea and United is that they will add more players to their squads. They will bring a freshness to the team that others will respond to after what sometimes can be a draining pre-season.
The current Chelsea and United players know that their managers want to bring in new faces to the side but for now, they have the opportunity to impress their managers. By new signings arriving late, they have had a chance to display their claim for a place in the team they might not have had the new signings arrived sooner.
There is a right sense of optimism about United with the arrival of Erik ten Hag whereas the same cannot be said about Chelsea at this time, although I believe the Blues will along with United finish in the top-four.