Premier League: Three teams that could break the top six dominance
The new Premier League season is approaching rapidly. Per usual, there are a few teams that are being touted to possibly sneak into a top-six spot. For the past three seasons, the top six spots have been occupied by the heavyweights of England which include the two Manchester Clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham. There has been a clear disparity between these heavy hitters and the rest of the league.
However, due to different circumstances, this could be the season where one of the outsiders could find a way into the top six. Manchester City and Liverpool are the clear challengers for the title, with Tottenham looking to put up a hell of a fight. The rest of the teams are up in the air. Arsenal will look even better in attack and in the middle of the park with the acquisitions of Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, but their defensive issues have yet to be fixed.
Chelsea has the young talent but losing Eden Hazard who contributed to over thirty goals last campaign is a huge hit. It’s also important to note that key players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be missing the first few months of the season. Frank Lampard is an inexperienced manager who needs to figure out a lot in his first season which makes Chelsea a much weaker candidate.
Manchester United is a bit of a mess. Defensively they’ll improve with the acquisition of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, it can even be further improved on if a deal for Harry Maguire goes over the line. In the midfield, the likes of Matic and McTominay are simply not good enough to carry the Red Devils.
Paul Pogba’s future is up in the air and if they lose him, then just like Chelsea they lose their main difference-maker. In the attack, Marcus Rashford is still a good prospect, but he doesn’t possess the quality to carry a forward line on his own. Anthony Martial is inconsistent and Alexis Sanchez has shown little to nothing since moving to Old Trafford almost eighteen months ago.
There are rumors of a Dybala-Lukaku swap, as well as links to Bruno Fernanes and Sergei Milinkovic-Savic but these, are all rumors and one would think there is no feasible way that all of these transfers will go through. With all that being said, let’s look at the biggest outside contenders for the top six and discuss the possibility of dethroning one of the big boys.
Disclaimer: Everton won’t be discussed as they haven’t addressed their striker situation. There is also still a lot of deadwood on the team as well as the fact that one of their key players Idrissa Gueye has just been sold to PSG. Wilfried Zaha could be a big bonus if they were to get the deal over the line but there are still many problems within that squad that has yet to be addressed.
#1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves were the giant killers last season, taking a total of sixteen points from the top six, in their first season back in the Premier League after an extended stay in the Championship. It’ll be too simple, however, to say that because of their pedigree against the bigger teams that they will easily improve on their seventh-place position from last season and sneak into the top six.
One of their main problems is actually against the relegation battlers. Out of the thirteen games that Wolves lost, six of them were against teams that finished in fifteenth place or below. If they hope to improve on their seventh-place finish, they have to continue to go toe to toe with the big clubs while also being able to break down teams that’ll sit back and counter-attack against you for ninety minutes.
Nuno Espirito-Santo is a very good manager who can organize a defense, his Wolves side conceded fewer goals than the two teams that finished directly above them (Arsenal and Manchester United).
On the other hand, the attack was the worst in the top twelve. Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota do the job but there is very little goal help from the midfield. Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker, and Joao Moutinho scored a total of seven goals combined in last years Premier League season. Patrick Cutrone is a new signing for Wolves who could also help out in the goal department if he hits the ground running, his time at AC Milan was inconsistent but there’s clearly some untapped potential there.
The final factor that could affect Wolves’ possible top-six challenge is the Europa League. Wolves are currently in the second qualifying round; therefore it isn’t set in stone that they will be competing in the competition. The Europa League is either a blessing or a curse and usually nothing in between.
Top-quality teams that have the depth can give younger players a run in the early stages and when it comes to the late stages it gives teams an opportunity to secure Champions League football and win a European trophy. Wolves, unfortunately, don’t have that depth like Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, etc.
Playing Thursday night can take a toll on your season which could play a big role in a drop-off for the team. If they can somehow find that balance as well as getting a bigger goal output from their midfielders, a better game plan against teams that’ll play a low block, and consistency against the top teams then Wolves could very well end up breaking into the top six.