The transfer window is roughly a fortnight from closing and we’ve had our first game weekend to get a feel for how the new Premier League season is going to pan out. We’re going to look at our predictions for how the top 6 will look when we get to May 2018.
1st – Manchester United
2016/2017 was a tough season for United; the new arrival of Jose Mourinho took time to adapt to and they had a taxing Europa League season that resulted in a trophy for them. They finished sixth in the Premier League, so a jump to first would be quite astounding, but Mourinho’s signings have lined up well with his approach to the game and make United a far more formidable prospect. Romelu Lukaku has been scoring consistently well for Everton for the past three seasons and looks likely to continue that trend at Old Trafford. Although not a blockbuster signing, bringing in Nemanja Matic from Chelsea may be the most crucial acquisition. He has the ability to lead and winning mentality to control their midfield in a way that United have missed since Roy Keane’s departure. Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Martial are all due big seasons, too, and should see United become title favourites as the games tick by.
2nd – Manchester City
Pep Guardiola also suffered a difficult start to life in England, but managed to avoid too much criticism as fans and neutrals aimed their attention at Chelsea’s title win and Arsenal’s failure to achieve a top 4 finish. Almost all his transfers were aimed at solving the squad’s full back problem, and £130m later he can consider it solved. They’ve added three world-class full backs to their ranks, as well as a promising forward in Bernardo Silva. These additions should get City closer to playing the fluid, fast-paced attacking game Guardiola likes. Vincent Kompany’s fitness permitting their defense should be far more robust this season to protect the goals scored by their talented set of forwards. A minor question mark hangs over their midfield, but with Fernandino and Toure they should be able to navigate tougher fixtures.
3rd – Tottenham Hotspur
The Spurs squad has grown admirably under Mauricio Pochettino’s guidance over the last two seasons and should manage to continue their impressive league performance. Their difficulty this season lies in the fact that they’re going to be quite inactive in the transfer market due to their club’s finances being aimed at building a new stadium rather than investing in new players. They have, however, kept their key players: Kane, Alli, Lloris, Son, Wanyama – the only first team player they’ve lost is Kyle Walker to City. The consistency afforded by having retained their manager and most of their squad should allow them a strong display throughout the season. The only concern for Spurs is how reliant they are on Kane for the majority of their goals, and a significant injury to him could dent their ability to keep pace with other top 6 sides.
4th – Liverpool
Liverpool are currently under a cloud of doubt regarding Coutinho’s potential departure, but due to the short window of time, left they’re likely to do everything possible to keep him. As their weekend display showed, they’re still in need of a formidable center back, but they’ve got an uncanny ability to storm forward and score goals from multiple positions in their starting XI. Being in the Champions League as opposed to the Europa League also means that their scheduling and travel will be more forgiving and fatigue the squad less. They don’t have the most spectacular squad, but Klopp can extract fantastic performances from even average players and should manage to keep them in the top 4 this season.
5th – Arsenal
While the Gunners have added Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac to their ranks Arsenal still haven’t solved the largest area of concern in their squad – their midfield. Xhaka, Elneny, and Ramsey show inconsistent and unreliable performances that Arsenal can’t afford against more powerful and competent teams. It’s vital for them to bolster their midfield if they aren’t going to be run over by either stronger or more capable players, which may not happen before the end of the window. Another complicating feature of their season is their involvement in the Europa League, which is likely to have the same tiring effect on them that it had on Manchester United last season. Arsenal have the attack to achieve top 4, but whether they’ll have the stamina to perform consistently as a team across a high number of fixtures is unlikely.
6th – Chelsea
Chelsea have had a heap of complications thrown at them and haven’t managed to impress with their transfer activity. They lost club legend and on-pitch leader John Terry due to age, they inadvisably sold Nemanja Matic to fellow rivals United, and they’re about to lose Diego Costa after a fallout between the Brazilian forward and manager Antonio Conte. The addition of competing in a European competition also means their squad will be under far more strain than it was last season when they only had domestic contests to worry about. Although it doesn’t appear as though there’s cause to panic quite yet, there are some similarities between the club’s affairs this season and the 2015/2016 season where they were dragged down by Mourinho’s dramatic exit at the club.
What do you think will happen this season? What’s your Top 6 prediction? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us @MenStuffZA!
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