Premier League 2019-20: Can Man City go three in a row? Omnisport's top-six predictions
Three months on from a gripping and relentless title race reaching its conclusion, the Premier League is back.
Manchester City are aiming to become the first English team since Manchester United in 2008-09 to win three consecutive top-flight crowns, although Liverpool enter the campaign buoyed by their status as European champions.
Tottenham have finally bolstered Mauricio Pochettino's imperious management by making some big moves in the transfer market, while Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea find themselves in various stages of transition and possibly vulnerable to the top-six ambitions of Leicester City, Wolves and Everton.
Ahead of the big kick-off, nine Omnisport journalists considered the above and predicted their Premier League top six for 2019-20. Here's how our scores averaged out.
1st – Manchester City
A near unanimous choice as champions, eight of our panel backed Pep Guardiola's men to make it three in a row on the back of 100- and 98-point hauls in the past two campaigns.
STRENGTHS: Even allowing for Leroy Sane's knee injury and potential departure, City boast a stacked attack where Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez will be bolstered by triumphant international outings. Their midfield dominance will only be enhanced by a fit-again Kevin De Bruyne and record signing Rodri.
WEAKNESSES: Vincent Kompany's departure leaves Guardiola a senior centre-back light and without one of the most inspirational leaders the Premier League has seen. Benjamin Mendy's fitness woes and questions over Oleksandr Zinchenko and Angelino's capacity to produce elite performances over the course of a season mean left-back is as close as City come to a problem position.
Champion you will be back soon. You know this team will stand beside you and help you pic.twitter.com/RbNN2RDzdO— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) August 8, 2019
2nd – Liverpool
Despite their unforgettable heroics in Europe, seven of our writers believe Jurgen Klopp's men will be the bridesmaids once more.
STRENGTHS: The best defence in the league, including a pair of full-backs as good as any operating in tandem in world football. Similarly, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane remain a fearsome attacking proposition for all opponents.
WEAKNESSES: There is onus on Naby Keita to improve and Jordan Henderson to excel in his advanced role over a prolonged period as midfield creativity is often lacking. The drop-off between the first-choice front three and the back-up underlines a relative lack of depth that a quiet transfer window did not address.
We're back at Anfield tomorrow— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 8, 2019
UP THE REDS pic.twitter.com/UJd8CwWELz
3rd – Tottenham
Outside of the top two, Spurs were the only other unanimous pick to finish in the top six.
STRENGTHS: Tanguy Ndombele was a headline-grabbing addition and, although Pochettino would undoubtedly have preferred an earlier arrival, Giovani Lo Celso should ease the creative burden placed on Christian Eriksen and thrive behind Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
WEAKNESSES: An ageing defence could find itself overworked in protecting the talented but error-prone Hugo Lloris. Having been a position of strength, Kieran Trippier's departure leaves Spurs looking slightly flimsy at full-back.
4th – Manchester United
The mixed nature of United's preparations – from strong friendly showings to a now typically disjointed effort in the transfer market – resulted in the widest range of predicted placings, with two of our panel placing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men outside the top six.
STRENGTHS: Pace and flair in attack, enhanced by the raw but exciting Daniel James. United paid top dollar for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire but the pair should add steel to what had become a troublingly leaky defence. On ability alone, Paul Pogba remains in this column.
WEAKNESSES: Romelu Lukaku's departure felt increasingly necessary but United now lack a proven, consistent goalscorer. Despite his status as a club legend, Solskjaer's lofty position in the sack race odds tells you all you need to know about a manager whose credentials – or lack thereof – will be under the microscope at the first sign of trouble.
5th – Arsenal
Despite two votes going in favour of the Gunners ending their Champions League absence this time around, the consensus was Unai Emery's team will fall short despite providing their fair share of entertainment.
STRENGTHS: Adding record signing Nicolas Pepe to an attack featuring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette means the Gunners can do serious damage to any opponent and could become a must-watch team. Dani Ceballos excelled as Spain claimed glory at the European Under-21 Championship and could prove to be one of the most shrewd acquisitions of the transfer window.
WEAKNESSES: The other element in Arsenal's appeal to neutrals is a defence that might never veer too far away from shambles. David Luiz and Kieran Tierney were much-needed arrivals on deadline day but a new-look backline has plenty to prove.
6th - Chelsea
Leicester's top-six credentials were given strong consideration but Chelsea just edged out the Foxes, despite Frank Lampard's lack of top-flight experience and having their hands tied in the transfer market.
STRENGTHS: Lampard's affinity with the supporters means last season's poisonous negativity surrounding Maurizio Sarri's reign should be a thing of the past. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and injured duo Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are expected to thrive as Lampard gives chances to graduates from the best youth system in the country.
WEAKNESSES: Eden Hazard's combined goals (16) and assists (15) last season accounted for almost half of Chelsea's Premier League goals. Making up for that shortfall will be nigh on impossible. Sarri was not flavour of the month in west London but the fact is a coach poached by Serie A heavyweights Juventus has been replaced by a man with one year of senior managerial experience.