A plethora of drama unfolded during this summer transfer, which closed its doors on August 9. Gains for a few teams and losses for others, we take a look at what we can expect from the top elite teams during this season’s Premier League football.
The defending champions Manchester City have a lot more work to do this year to retain their title. They have signed four players with Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City being the most prized asset. Spilling out $80million for the Algerian national, he is the most expensive signing in ManCity’s history and has bolstered the attacking cauldron of the team. Despite record signings and the comfortable 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield last week, they have voids to fill if they want to feast their hands on a Cup Double. Defence seems to a serious concern for The Sky Blues with the ageing Vincent Kompany losing his shades of good football and they don’t have bankable defenders who can fill his role.
Liverpool’s No.1 Goalkeeper, Lorius Karius’ devastating performance in the 2018 UCL Final could be due to the concussion, however, sympathy of any kind has not been displayed by the management. Instead, they spearheaded to sign Allison Becker from AS Roma for a price tag of $85million, making him the second most expensive goalkeeper in history. Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri are the other three signings that Liverpool has penned through. Liverpool might emerge as a powerful prowess in Europe if things fall their way this time. Though their squad looks solid on paper, it might seem interesting to see, how Jurgen Klopp carries the same on the pitch. Real Madrid’s wooing of Salah has vanished with the Egyptian signing a new contract with Liverpool. The attacking trident of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino may expect more fluidity from the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri on the right flank and a strong midfield setup. Humiliating Mancity in the UCL Quarterfinal and the only team to beat Mancity last season in PL, the Reds are the hot contenders for the Premier League title. Having the most settled team, since winning the title in 1992, which is a rare feature, they need to embark on winning early games to set their eyes on the crown.
The Blues faltered heavily under Antonio Conte last season, finishing fifth and failing to qualify for the Champions League. With Conte fired and the arrival of another Italian Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea’s footballing philosophy seems to change. Plenty of action happened during the wee hours of the transfer deadline with Thibaut Courtois forcing his way to Real Madrid and Mateo Kovacic swapped for a season-long loan deal to Chelsea. Replacing the Belgian Goalkeeper is Kepa Arrizabalaga from Atheletic Bilbao, earning the fame of being the most expensive goalkeeper at the age of 23 with a record transfer fee of $92million. Sarri, an astute tactician, made the most of his summer transfer through signing Jorginho, a coveted midfielder from Napoli and blooding his team with young players like Tammy Abraham. In a press conference recently, Sarri had quoted that,” Chelsea may need three months to reach potential”. Conte’s style was counter-punching football, while Sarri controls the ball and dominates possession. His style is similar to the likes of Pep Guardiola, playing short passes but with a constant intent. The answer to the West London Side’s title hopes lies in how quickly the players adapt to the manager’s style.
It’s been a decade and a half since the Gunners have fired in the Premier League or to say in any other elite competition. The legacy of Arsene Wenger has come to an end and Unai Emery has a lot to sweat in order to fill his shoes. The Spaniard comes in at the brink of time where Arsenal needs a total revamp of football. Desperation seethes for Arsenal to come to the limelight this season, but it seems so near and yet so far. Though a semi-pro in a managerial career when compared to names like Pep, Klopp and Mourinho, the former PSG boss plays intense and is energetic. Sevilla won the UEFA Europa League three consecutive times under him, yet it is augmentative when it comes to Arsenal. He did well at PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) but failed to go past the quarters of UCL, which is the only reason why they hired him. The Gunners might aim for a top-four finish, which is what they have been doing post-2012, but there is a tinge of hope among Arsenal fans to win the title. They have roped in five transfers with Stephen Lichsteiner(Juventus), Bernd Leno(Bayer Leverkusen), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund) being the stand-outs. Having had an average preseason, it might not raise eyebrows if the attacking quotient of the team increases steadily as the season progresses.
Draw-Chester was 2016-17, Defence-Chester was 2017-18, while 2018-2019 seems to be a question mark. The Red Devils were the most pathetic team in line with the transfer market. Jose Mourinho had a target of five players to purchase to enhance his energy depleted squad. Yet, he could get only three of them. Fullback Diogo Dalot, Brazilian midfielder Fred and third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant were the acquired players. The irony is the ‘other two’ were the players that he mandatorily had to sign. The transfer window ended, so did the title hopes of Manchester United and dreams of millions of fans around the world. The ‘other two’ positions were supposed to be a centre-back or fullback and a winger. Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld was the prime target and fall–back options like Harry Maguire, Yerry Mina, Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin fell down the gutters. Neither happened, further diminishing the play quality of Manchester United this upcoming season. Fred, a box-to-box midfielder and the only first team player of the three signings is a valued addition to midfield, but the defensive half is still in a dilemma. The Portuguese’s record of never failing to win the league in a second season as a manager was broken at Manchester United last season. Credits go to his defensive playing mindset and the reason for the same is unknown. Though United has a star-studded line-up, it fails to accomplish the high-pressing, counter-attacking football that other top-flight teams like ManCity, Chelsea and Liverpool cherish. With injuries taking a toll on players every season, it has found its shelter this time as well. Nemanja Matic, defensive midfielder and Antonio Valencia, right wingback, both first-team players are sidelined due to injuries. Manchester United clash with Leicester City in the opening day encounter of the Barclays Premier League on August 11, playing into their 140th year since the club was founded, it marks a landmark for the most successful club in football history.