Premier League 2018/19: Top 6 preview, transfer rating and predictions
The transfer window has now closed and we can begin looking forward to some actual football over the next nine months. The Premier League's top six can all harbor expectations of a successful season ahead, but only one will finish at the top of the pile come May.
This season, fierce competition is expected at the summit of the Premier League table as teams look to close the huge 19-point gulf between themselves and Manchester City last time out. The Citizens look as strong as ever this year and will look to become the first team to retain the title since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, there is hope for the remaining top six teams. City is likely to put an emphasis on European success this year and it is very possible that complacency regarding domestic competition could creep in as the season progresses. It is up to the challengers to make an extra push and ensure that any lapse from the Manchester club is punished and capitalized upon.
An early start to the season this year adds extra intrigue for the title race. Many of the elite top-flight clubs are without star players for the opening weeks of the campaign due to the World Cup. With a fast start essential for building momentum, we could see some challengers drop out of the race for the title very early in the year.
Below, we look at each of the top six Premier League sides, how they fared during the transfer window, and predict where they might finish at the end of the 2018/19 season.
Last Season: 6th
Players In: Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria, €30 million), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, €25 million), Sokratis (Borussia Dortmund, €16 million), Mattéo Guendouzi (FC Lorient, €8 million), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus, free transfer)
Players Out: Lucas Pérez (West Ham, €4.4 million), Chuba Akpom (PAOK Saloniki, €1 million), Santi Cazorla (Villareal, free transfer), Jack Wilshere (West Ham, free transfer), Calum Chambers (Fulham, loan)
Transfer Rating: 6/10
Arsenal finished a disappointing sixth last season, seven points behind Chelsea. Arsene Wenger 's long career at the Emirates did not end with the glory he would have wished for, but his exit as Arsenal manager represents an opportunity for the Gunners.
The appointment of Unai Emery is an interesting one. The Spaniard has enjoyed great European success in the Europa League with Sevilla and his arrival immediately makes Arsenal one of the favorites for that competition this year.
However, it is in the Premier League that Arsenal will be judged this season. Too many seasons without a real title challenge has left the Gunners faithful frustrated and desperate for a change in fortunes. Perhaps the seismic shift in club culture resulting from Wenger's departure can provide it.
Their transfer market activity has been average with new arrivals such as Torreira, Sokratis, and Lichtsteiner showing that Emery's main focus is on improving the Arsenal defense. The 46-year-old should also place a huge emphasis on the mental fragility of this Arsenal team which has been exposed so often over the past few seasons.
All of this change can adversely affect a club - just look at Manchester United after Ferguson's retirement. For that reason, Arsenal could be in for a long and grueling season ahead.
Perhaps winning the Europa League will represent their best chance at returning to the Champions League for the 2019/20 season.
Next up, Chelsea.