BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE BACK IN FULL SWING
-By OGOOLUWATAN ODEFEMI
After a three month break which must have been anguishing for many, football season is back and the first league to kick off is the Barclays Premier League, arguably the best and most competitive, but definitely the most watched. The last season ended in May and thankfully, the ‘summer’ break was partly filled by the FIFA World Cup that held in Russia.
While the World Cup might be the biggest football tournament in the world and indeed Russia hosted the world to a spectacular tournament which had many great moments including Ahmed Musa’s great run and goal, Luka Modric’s virtuoso displays, the exits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Round of 16, a spirited run by hosts Russia, Kylian Mbappe’s magical runs and Benjamin Parvard’s brilliant goal, it still does not measure up to the excitement and arguments which stem from the Barclays Premier League.
The league already kicked off on Friday with Manchester United defeating Leicester City despite being outplayed for much of the game and this was followed up by other matches on Sunday. Here, we take a look at how the top and bottom of the league might look like at the end of the season taking into account how the top teams have strengthened over the course of the transfer window:
6th: Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s long reign at the Emirates eventually came to an end, with Unai Emery coming in to replace him at the reins of Arsenal. Arsenal were able to secure the services of Lichsteiner as well as other reinforcements across the pitch. Considering the overall strength of the team and the fact that a new manager is attempting to enforce his own style of play on the club, we would not wager against Arsenal coming in the last position of the ‘top six’ of the Premier League.
5th: Tottenham: Mauricio Pochettino’s side go into the new season as the first team in the history of the Premier League not to have purchased a player since the summer transfer was introduced. They were however able to hold unto every member of their team as well as their coveted coach, who might be regretting his decision to sign a new contract instead of taking the Real Madrid job. With arguably the best centre back pairing in the league, as well as quality players in the form of Harry Kane, Eriksen and Dele Alli, Tottenham have a great first team but lack the depth required to consistently win in a league competition. We expect them to just miss out on the Champions League spot.
4th: Manchester United: Five years have gone since Sir Alex Ferguson made good on his promise to ‘knock Liverpool off their f—— perch’ and delivered United’s 20th league title and United do not look like they would be claiming a league title which was practically theirs until otherwise stated a few years ago. Jose Mourinho looks unhappy at the club as they were unable to bolster their defensive options, although they secured the services of other players. In what might not be a good omen for Manchester United fans, this is Jose’s third season at Manchester United and we expect the implosion which has become his signature in his third season to cause United to finish fourth. No surprises if Jose does not make it beyond December as well.
3rd: Liverpool: Liverpool fell behind Spurs last season as they appeared to prioritise the UEFA Champions League over their league position. They have however gone on to have perhaps the most impressive transfer window, securing the services of Allison Becker, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri and we expect that this should give them the edge to be able to do one better than they did last time out. Should they continue on this trajectory, their first ever Barclays Premier League title might just be on the horizon.
2nd: Chelsea: Chelsea missed out on a Champions League spot for this season and have since had a change of coaches, held unto Eden Hazard while securing top midfielders in Kovacic and Jorginho. They however lack a decent striker when compared to the other teams. However, we fancy them to jump a couple of spots from last season’s 5th position and finish as runner ups.
Champions: Manchester City: This is perhaps the easiest position to predict of the 20 spots in the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s record breaking side from last season have gone on to reinforce themselves with the acquisition of Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez and under the continued tutelage of the former Barcelona man, nobody should place a bet against the noisy neighbours securing another easy league win.
Relegated: Brighton and Hove Albion, Huddersfield and Wolves.
Extra: Juventus or Barcelona as Champions League winners.