Wednesday, August 14, 2019

THE Premier League was back at the weekend and already it looks like it is going to be more of the same from all the fancied teams.

Reigning champions Manchester City picked up where they left off with a 5-0 away victory at West Ham and they looked brilliant. They have so much strength in depth in their squad and scarily they look like they have gotten better too.

They signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid for a club-record fee and he looks a very clever player and one that will really help them in the Champions League. It is very hard to look past City for the title this season and they are worthy favourites in my eyes.

If they do have a weakness, it’s at left back if Benjamin Mendy can’t stay fit. The alternatives are Olek Zinchenko and Angelino. Both are young players and both are very good, but they are not at the same level as Mendy. Regardless of who plays at left back, I don’t think it will stop City from winning the league, but it might affect their chances of ending their European hoodoo.

Liverpool started brilliantly too with a big victory at home to Norwich in the opening game on Friday night. They looked very threatening going forward but at the back, especially on the right in the space between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, they looked a little vulnerable and that was against a Norwich team playing their first top-flight game since 2016.

Norwich should have scored at least once in the first half and possibly two if they were clinical so that will worry Liverpool fans.

In attack, they were excellent and even though Sadio Mane was rested after his exploits at the Africa Cup of Nations, his replacement Divock Origi looks like he has stepped up his game and he will be a very good back-up to the established front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane.

Liverpool will be very good but unfortunately for them, they just won’t be as good as Manchester City over the course of the season in the league and they will have to wait a little bit longer to get their hands back on the title.

Spurs will be a top four team again comfortably. They have strengthened their squad but with the closure of the European transfer window still another couple of weeks away, I think they will lose Christian Eriksen which will be a problem for them.

To get to the next level in the Premier League they need to be keeping their best players, not losing them.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are going to have interesting seasons for different reasons. Chelsea are going through a massive transition with their new manager Frank Lampard and they are under a transfer embargo so he has to make do with the players at the club. Because of this he should get a bit of time to sort things out at Chelsea (unlike a lot of managers who have gone before him at the club) but he will need to pick them up after their shocking start away to United at Old Trafford Sunday, losing 4-0.

United on the other hand will be happy with their start and with how their new signing Harry Maguire has settled in at the club. There is a lot of pressure on him to succeed at United, not only because of the world record transfer fee for a defender that United paid for him, but because everyone is expecting him to change the fortunes of the club.

That isn’t going to happen but it was an important step for the club to take if they are to regain that Champions League place. The biggest problem for United is their midfield and their squad depth in attack. Daniel James looks a very smart and exciting signing but he is still learning his trade. Losing Romelu Lukaku and not replacing him is a blow, unless Alexis Sanchez comes good. If he can recapture his early Arsenal form, he will be a massive player for United and will take the pressure off Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and the youngest of the trio, Mason Greenwood, who has looked very good for United in pre-season.

I think Chelsea will just about make the top six this season and the final Champions League spot will be a straight shootout between Man United and Arsenal. Which one of them will get it? I’m not so sure.

Before the weekend I would have said Arsenal and although one decent performance doesn’t make everything alright at Old Trafford, I’m going to stick my neck on the block and say United will finish fourth and get back into the Champions League.

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