The English Premier League is back tomorrow starting for the first time on a Friday night with the Gunners facing 2016 winners, Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Coming on the back of one of the most expensive summer transfer windows ever in Europe, expectations are definitely soaring especially for the high-spending clubs and their respective managers.
There have surely been six teams fighting for the top four places in the past couple of seasons, but who makes it to those Champions League places come May 2018? Here are my predictions.
1ST – MANCHESTER UNITED
For me, it is almost impossible to bet against Jose Mourinho who has won the league in every second season at any club he has worked, including his times as an interpreter in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon and as an assistant manager in Barcelona.
Manchester United have invested heavily over the last two transfer windows. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba seem to have settled in the EPL, there have also been the acquisitions of Swedish centre back, Victor Lindelof two-time Premier League winner, Nemanja Matic and also the second highest goalscorer in the EPL in the last 5 seasons, Romelu Lukaku.
It sure looks like they go into the new season covered on almost every front and I think the league will be back in Old Trafford for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge at the club.
2nd – MANCHESTER CITY
I think there’s bound to be much more scrutiny on Pep Guardiola and his City team come May next year if they don’t win the Premier League.
It is not so difficult to see Manchester City winning the league but they also are a team changing alot in terms of personnel and philosophy.
The introduction of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy will surely create a positive feeling about City’s chances going into the new season but with Mendy not participating in pre-season and the seeming reliance on the ageing Vincent Kompany, defensive frailties might just cost City at the death.
Nonetheless, I expect the quartet of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Kevin de Bruyne to push them close to the title with goals.
3RD – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Unlike the other 19 teams in the Premier league, Spurs have not brought in any new players and though unusual, it’s quite understandable.
Tottenham have kept together a compact team of youth and experience that have amassed the most Premier League points in the last two seasons combined and the best defensive record in the same period.
With Harry Kane and Dele Alli, there are goals up front to be created by Eriksen and the likes, while Victor Wanyama, Toby Aldeweireld and Hugo Lloris are expected to continue showing their defensive strength.
On the other hand, Playing the Champions League home games at Wembley last season yielded no positives and they will need to hit the ground running early enough to make the stadium feel like home. With the lack of depth at the club and Champions League distraction, I see them finishing a respectable 3rd at the end of the season.
4TH – CHELSEA
It is becoming a usual sight for Premier League defending champions to struggle in the subsequent season and as much as Antonio Conte has said he hopes to not suffer another ‘Mourinho season’, I firmly expect Chelsea to struggle into Champions League places at the end of the season.
With Chelsea almost losing grip on the title at the back end of last season, additional games on the continent might prove to have a damning effect on their league campaign considering that the squad hasn’t been expanding or vastly improved.
Chelsea have lost Matic and look set to lose the beastly Diego Costa and although they have been swiftly replaced with big money signings of Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata respectively, the injury to Eden Hazard who won’t be starting the season and the obvious lack of depth at the team might just make automatic champions league places a long shot for the West London Club.
Unfortunately for the gunners and the Kops, Arsenal and Liverpool miss out on my top four. With Arsenal playing in the Europa league this season, it’s difficult to see them combining that with a strong run in the Premier league.
I think Lacazette will have a very good debut in the Premier League but Arsene Wenger needs to bring bodies in, keep hold of Alexis Sanchez and get the best of Mesut Ozil to even stand a chance of making it back into the top 4.
For the Kops, with James Milner still starting at left back, Liverpool not signing a top centre-back and going into the season with an inconsistent Matip-Lovren/Klavan defensive pairing, not enough goals up front even with the addition of Mohammed Salah and the rumoured exit of Phillipe Coutinho, it’s difficult to see how they also cope in the Premier league.
Do you agree with my predictions? Have your say below.