Over the last few years football in England has changed somewhat. There was a time where teams went all out for silverware – the league, the FA cup or even the league cup – but now it seems a top four finish, and the subsequent qualification to the Champions League, is more important. Here we look at the contenders for the season ahead.
Manchester City have been the standout team over the last couple of seasons having won back to back titles whilst breaking records and playing a style that is easy on the eye. You can expect more of the same this year as Pep Guardiola refuses to let complacency into his camp and has strengthened his squad with the addition of Rodri from Atletico Madrid.
The only question mark over City is how the loss of captain Vincent Kompany will impact them behind closed doors. We suspect his absence won’t be enough to let someone else steal the title.
Jurgen Klopp worked wonders last season as the Reds finished second with a record high number of points and they clinched the Champions League trophy too. Still, his three main men – Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – have all been playing throughout the summer in the African Cup of Nations and Copa America, respectively.
It’s highly plausible Liverpool will see the effects of that as the campaign progresses given their style of play. A top four finish is almost guaranteed, but they’ll probably have to settle for second place – again.
Tottenham Hotspur were well in the title race last year until their form collapsed and, in the end, they were grateful to hang on to fourth spot. They’ll expect to close the gap on the leaders this time round.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who were defeated finalists in the Champions League last time out, will be in their newly inaugurated home ground, which hosts two NFL matches in October, one of which with the current NFC champions Los Angeles Rams.
From August and it was expected the stadium would limit their funds in the transfer market, but Tanguy Ndombele has arrived, and it looks like another big money signing is on the radar. Perhaps Giovani Lo Celso. If Harry Kane bangs the goals in like he can then expect them to finish third.
It’s all change at Stamford Bridge with Maurizio Sarri having moved on and Frank Lampard now at the reigns. The biggest loss isn’t Sarri though, it’s Eden Hazard who is now at Real Madrid. Lampard won’t have the option to replace him given they’re under a transfer embargo.
The youth set up at Chelsea is decent and the youngsters will get game time. Will they have enough to secure Champions League football after last years third place finish and Europa League success? It remains to be seen but it could be a stretch too far for Chelsea to be a safe bet for top four.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer hit the ground running when he arrived at Old Trafford to replace Jose Mourinho, but the road became rather bumpy after he signed his permanent contract. Solskjaer is trying to take United back to the days of young up and coming talent and has secured the services of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka already with further additions looking likely.
On the flip side, will Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku turn out for the Red Devils next season? We expect Pogba to do at least another year before moving on but Lukaku may well find himself in Italy with Inter Milan in the next few weeks. Solskjaer could prove a shrewd appointment in the long term but it might be another year of Europa League for the time being.
Unai Emery arrived at Arsenal and had big shoes to fill after all Arsene Wenger did for the English game and the ex-PSG boss did a reasonable job – nothing more, nothing less.
Providing speculation around the future of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is nothing more than pure rumour then the Gunners have a strong attacking line up, which could be added to again with Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha. A commanding defender is still lacking but the firepower they have probably gives them the edge over their rivals.
There you have it, a review of all the teams aiming for the top four, unless of course you fancy a dark horse to join the race amongst the works in progress that are Arsenal, United and Chelsea. We wouldn’t rule it out and we’re sure teams like Wolves, Leicester and Everton are thinking exactly the same.