Premier League 2019-20: What to expect as the new season kicks off
We are just hours away from the start of what might be another blockbuster of a Premier League season. And as the teams have finished their pre-season and got their transfers finalised, we look at how this season might progress. The transfer deadline day brought some exciting additions and yet another summer of significant spending, smashing the £1 billion threshold for the fourth year running.
Last season was a relentless two-horse race between Manchester City and Liverpool, and it might be a similar story this year. League champions Manchester City have strengthened in the positions for which they needed reinforcements with Rodri coming in to provide cover for Fernandinho and the likes of Angelino and Joao Cancelo providing competition at wing-back.
With these additions, most will expect City to continue their ruthless attacking game and crisp final-third play in the pursuit of a third Premier League trophy on the bounce, cementing this squad's status as one of the best sides ever in Premier League history.
Champions League winners Liverpool, in contrast, have only signed youngsters Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott -- both of whom are players for the future rather than an improvement on the first team. Some might say the Reds need another forward to provide healthy competition and cover for the fearsome front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Klopp recently mentioned that they are not in "fantasia land where you get whatever you want", confirming what we knew was going to be a quiet summer for the Reds. Klopp and the fans are expecting that the return of injured players -- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Joe Gomez -- will provide the extra gear needed to overtake Manchester City.
Spurs had a remarkable run last season, especially considering they spent no money at all last year. They still managed fourth position in the league and an impressive run to the final of the Champions League. They have brought in a combination of defensive nous and creativity in Tanguy Ndombele. Spurs' challenge for the trophy will also be boosted by Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, who joined them on deadline day.
Chelsea fans will hope that new boss Frank Lampard can work his magic at Stamford Bridge as they begin a new era under the club legend. Keep in mind that they will also have to make up for the loss of the brilliant Eden Hazard. Christian Pulisic may be able to offset that loss but the team will have to battle hard to compete for the top four, given that they are banned from signing anyone until January 2020. The Blues face Manchester United in the first round, an early test for both teams.
Arsenal are yet to truly impress under Unai Emery as they begin their second season under the Spaniard. Admittedly, the Gunners' attacking play should continue to be breathtaking, especially with highly-rated winger Nicolas Pepe now joining Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14) and Alexandre Lacazette in attack.
But not even the most ardent of Arsenal fans will argue that their defence needs significant improvement to challenge for the top four. The Gunners have addressed that but will the additions of David Luiz and Kieran Tierney from Chelsea and Celtic, respectively, solve their defensive problems?
For Manchester United and club boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, this season may be one of rebuilding with a mix of established talent and youth potential. Youngsters Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James will be hoping to add some quality and record signing Harry Maguire (supposedly for £80 million) will be expected to add much-needed defensive stability. A lot also depends on Paul Pogba as well -- who's equal parts talent and inconsistency.
Away from this lot, there's the 'best of the rest'. Arguably, four clubs will be competing for that title -- Wolves, Everton, West Ham and Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City. Wolves were a breath of fresh air last season, unafraid of any side and at times even playing their best counter-attacking football against the top sides. They have also signed former AC Milan striker Patrick Cutrone, so expect them to challenge for the top six.
Everton have strengthened this summer, permanently signing last year's impressive loanee Andre Gomes, bringing in an experienced Fabian Delph from Manchester City and talented young striker Moise Kean from Juventus. They will want to break into the top six with the quality at their disposal.
West Ham United have also made some positive signings, although only time will tell whether goalkeeper Roberto, playmaker Pablo Fornals and club-record signing Sebastien Haller will be able to provide the Hammers with the firepower to challenge for a Europa League spot. Leicester City begin their first full season under Brendan Rodgers and we will most likely see them playing possession-based attacking football. The duo Ayoze Perez and lethal finisher Jamie Vardy could be impressive to watch.
Premier League newbies Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa will hope they can stay in the league next season. Surprisingly, Aston Villa have spent over £130 million since their promotion. Hopefully they'll do better than Fulham, who also spent a similar sum but were relegated last season.
Burnley will need to improve if they want to avoid relegation, especially in attack as they scored a mere 45 goals last season, on par with Southampton. Newcastle United were only saved by the genius of Rafa Benitez last year and will have to work hard to stay in the league as Benitez has left the club.
With Spurs, Arsenal and United spending considerably and bringing in marquee signings, are we going to see them proving their title credentials or are we in for another season of Manchester City and Liverpool battling it out for the league?
Liverpool's pre-season form has been poor and having not made any major signings, it will be interesting to see whether they can keep up with the free-spending City. The Community Shield clash between the two was a preview -- City dominating the first half and Liverpool the second, and the former clinching it on penalties.