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Premier League 2018-19: Here are the 4 teams that could be occupying the Champions League spots by season end

pssekatawa
ANALYST
Feature
1.05K   //    10 Aug 2018, 05:03 IST

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League

Ladies and gentlemen, the Premier League is back. Every new season brings its own dimensions and this season is no different. Unlike recent offseason transfer windows, the top six teams haven't spent as much cash this time with the exception of Liverpool. Most managers of the top 6 seem to be content with what they have at their disposal. They, therefore, see no need to splash as much money as one would have expected.

All the same though, the league starts on Friday night and it feels right to look at who will finish in the top 4 next season.


1st: Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League
Manchester City should be champions again next season

With the exception of Leicester City who went against all odds to win the league, defending champions are always the team to beat. Pep Guardiola's men have absolutely whatever it takes to retain the title. The Manchester City team oozes class throughout. From the goalkeeper, who ironically couldn't get a minute of football at the World Cup, through the midfield and the forward line, City are clearly spoilt for choice.

The addition of Riyad Mahrez was the icing on the cake as City looked really comfortable with the attacking players already at the club. He will definitely add more goals and flair on the wings which makes Pep Guardiola's team all the more menacing. The Catalan tactician had promised to add one more player as an alternative to the ageing Fernandinho, but by the close of the transfer window, no news of a new addition had come through.

As for new season, expect the Cityzens to once again dominate possession and score loads of goals. Yes, only two men have been able to defend the Premier League and City could be riding against the storm. But boy, they are armed to teeth and are expected to retain the title next season.

2nd: Arsenal

Arsenal v A.F.C. Bournemouth - Premier League
Arsenal could spring a surprise and run City close

Yes, Arsenal. Football is not a movie that once Rambo is the star character, he will start and conclude a mission no matter what. Arsenal are a bit of an unknown entity with a new man in charge after a very long time under Arsene Wenger.

Unai Emery may not have been in charge of any club in England before, but we all know what he can do from his time at Valencia, Sevilla and PSG. The Spaniard is a master tactician with an obsession for video analysis and high energy pressing pragmatic approach. There's a worry that it might take long for his ideas to sink in, but a number of his playing staff have been at Dortmund where Thomas Tuchel used the same pressing style. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all played under the German at Dortmund. Most importantly, most of the key players have had a full preseason with their new manager, unlike their counterparts who haven't. In Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arsenal have two of the best number 9s in world football, while Ozil and Mkhitaryan are two of the best playmakers around. That informs the assurance that Arsenal will definitely score goals more than most and goals win football matches.

Despite a dismal season, Arsenal scored 74 goals, the same as Spurs and 10 less than Liverpool. One would want to think they will definitely win more away games than the four they won last season. They look to have addressed the defensive problems as all the signings they made were defensive.

If they manage to shut up shop at the back, at the front they are up there with the very best. The Arsenal team was not as bad as the results made them appear and that was reflected in their magnificent home form.

I'm sure they won't be listening to their detractors one bit and will surprise many by offering the stiffest challenge to the defending champions City.

3rd: Liverpool

Liverpool v Manchester City - Premier League
Liverpool look good for the third position next season

Liverpool are the majority of the pundits' pick to offer the closest challenge to Man City and for good reason. They entered the transfer window with real verve and intent, signing Naby Keita and Fabinho for big money.

But it was the signing of Alisson Becker that stood out. The Brazilian keeper was signed for a world record fee for a keeper before Chelsea smashed it with the signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga. The other beauty about Liverpool is that they made all their signings early, allowing Klopp the time to work his philosophy into his new signings.

But to be honest, I think Liverpool's signings have been a little overhyped. This is not to downplay what they have done in the market. It's absolutely commendable, but Alisson is not De Gea and we've seen him concede goals aplenty before, therefore signing him for a mammoth sum of money doesn't make him impregnable. Keita and Fabinho are good too and will make the Reds stronger, but I'm not sure they would get into the City team. 

The Liverpool defence is definitely improved with Van Dijk in the side, but it is still not the meanest. They would do well to improve on Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson who are more known for going forward than defending. Jurgen Klopp would definitely make do with a playmaker, but they made a mess of the Fekir deal and lost out on him.

That said though, Liverpool are a very strong side and will offer a stiffer challenge that will see them finish 3rd next season

4th: Chelsea

Chelsea Unveil New Head Coach Maurizio Sarri...
Maurizio Sarri could steer Chelsea to 4th

Chelsea have had a turbulent summer that was definitely undesirable. New manager Maurizio Sarri has come in to steady the ship. The summer has been enshrouded in speculation linking players away from the club. Credit though goes to Sarri, who has ensured that, with the exception of Thibaut Courtois, he has convinced other key players to remain at the club. Keeping Eden Hazard and Willian has been Sarri's biggest achievements so far.

The hitherto doom and gloom has ended in optimism following the arrivals of Kepa and Mateo Kovacic. The latter's arrival presents a tantalizing prospect of a midfield run by Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic. Coming in the way he did, Sarri is likely to be given time to implement his plan at Chelsea. He will be working under the radar and if they don't drop needless points, Chelsea will in two/three months have gelled. 

With the super attacking playing style implemented by Sarri, Chelsea will score goals and win enough football games that will see them nick ahead of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to finish 4th next season. 

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