We’ve kicked off the 2017/2018 season and if the opening weekend was anything to go by, it should be dramatic and offering a host of talking points. While there haven’t been any major managerial changes near the top, there have been a number of high profile transfers from the bottom to the top of the league. We’re going to look at some of the major possibilities that could unfold as the new campaign kicks into full swing.
Best New Signing: Alexandre Lacazette
The Frenchman has a lot of pressure on his shoulders as he’s the first truly prolific striker Arsenal has signed in some time. The Gunners have endured uncertain periods with the likes of Olivier Giroud, who is talented, but perhaps lacks the ruthless capability to fire his team to any silverware. Lacazette has been scoring up a storm in Ligue 1 for a few seasons and has already opened his account for Arsenal this past game weekend. He possess all the attributes to slot into their attack seamlessly: a predatory eye for goal, impressive pace, and an affinity for keeping the ball on the ground – much like Arsenal. With decent service from teammates Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, he’s likely going to be the most impressive newcomer to the league.
Best Promotion Team: Newcastle United
Despite suffering a loss against Spurs in their opening fixture, Newcastle appear to be the team with the best hope of survival out of themselves, Brighton, and Huddersfield. They haven’t spent as much on new players as they should have and will hopefully rectify that in the remaining two-week period, but they do have the managerial talents of Rafa Benitez, who masterminded their promotion back to the top flight. The experience Benitez has from his time at Liverpool and the winning mentality he possesses should put the Geordies in good stead to survive a tough season, but they’ll need to reinforce their squad to ensure they reappear in the Premier League next season.
Top 4 Dropout: Chelsea
Chelsea are going through a difficult period following their title victory, with some controversial transfers potentially addling their ability to keep up with the ascending Manchester clubs. Conte hasn’t added to his squad but rather replace outgoing players with untested alternatives. John Terry has departed and been replaced with Antonio Rudiger, Nemanja Matic left and Tiemoue Bakayoko came in, Diego Costa is likely to leave with Alvaro Morata taking his place. Overall, the Blues simply haven’t added to their squad with the additional obligation of the Champions League in mind, which may result in their squad being spread too thin. They had the benefit of zero travel or fatigue last season because they had no European contest. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case and their squad seems ill-prepared for the increase in fixtures.
Title Winners: Manchester United
After having his first season to familiarise himself with the new club, and using two transfer windows to cast United in his image, this should be the season where Jose Mourinho brings the league back to Manchester United. His two biggest signings, Lukaku and Matic, are both Premier League veterans with a mass of experience in the league. Add to that Paul Pogba’s second season and Matic’s presence allowing him to venture forward more, and United are likely going to cut a dominant figure in the league this season. They’re likely to be followed closely by derby rivals City, but Mourinho’s focus is clearly on the domestic title and United haven’t been this well equipped to compete for a league title since Sir Alex Ferguson left.
Title-Winning Dark Horse: Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham has benefited immensely from the consistency and structure provided to the club by Mauricio Pochettino. The board has allowed him time and resources to build his team and they’ve done an excellent job of keeping the majority of their impressive talent. For two seasons in a row they’ve been able to keep pace with supposedly bigger teams and have looked competent title rivals. While the additional fixtures of European competition could possibly drain them as the season wears on, they’ve definitely improved greatly over the last couple of seasons and will capitalise on any stumble from either Manchester Club.
Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku
Relegated Teams: Brighton, Swansea, Bournemouth.
What do you think will happen this season? What are your predictions for the way the season will pan out? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us @MenStuffZA!
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