Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Preview: Premier League 2019/20 Season

The new Premier League season is here and this season could be the best yet. Manchester City are aiming for a third consecutive title but will face stiff competition from last seasons' runners up Liverpool. While Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are hoping that maybe they could spring a surprise. The rest of the sides are all looking to push on this season and it promises to be a competitive, engaging, high-quality Premier League campaign.

Manchester City are record-breakers in more ways than one in recent Premier League seasons and they will be hoping to become the first club since Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United to win three consecutive Premier League titles. Pep Guardiola has ensembled a magnificent squad and the summer additions of Rodri, Angelino and Joao Cancelo will add even more depth and quality to an already talented squad. Guardiola will aim to build on City's domestic dominance this season by adding the Champions League to their collection of trophies. Manchester City want to continue their dominance of English football in the new season and in David Silva's final season at the club, the Spanish playmaker who has become a Manchester City legend will want to depart on a high like Vincent Kompany did in the previous campaign. 

In any other Premier League season, excluding Manchester City's title wins of 2018 and 2019, 97 points would have been enough for Liverpool to secure their first title in the Premier League era. Plenty of positives for the European Champions to build on in the new season. Virgil Van Dijk was outstanding last season and he will be more determined than ever to bring the title back to Anfield. Its been a case off if it's not broke don't fix it at Anfield with Jurgen Klopp having a very quiet transfer window only adding experienced goalkeeper Adrian following Simon Mignolet's departure to Club Brugge. Liverpool's other dealings were players for the future in Sepp Van Der Berg and Harvey Elliott. Salah, Firmino, Mane and Co will be hoping this is their year to dethrone Manchester City and if they maintain the levels of performance they showed last season, they have a very good chance of upsetting their rivals from Manchester.

The chasers below City and Liverpool have all been busy building a squad capable of challenging for the top 4 as well as the title. Tottenham finally added to their squad after going two transfer windows without signing any players. Spurs smashed their transfer record to sign highly-rated French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele for an initial fee of £55M. Ndombele adds pace, skill, quality and a robust nature to the Spurs midfield. Mauricio Pochettino has also brought in Argentine midfield Giovani Lo Celso and Fulham youngster Ryan Sessegnon who were both long term targets for the Spurs manager. There is plenty of reasons to be optimistic at Tottenham this season with the beaten Champions League finalists looking to finally add some much-needed silverware to their cabinets.  Harry Kane is fit and raring to go and is more determined than ever to bring glory back to the club close to his heart. Meanwhile, across North London, Unai Emery has quietly gone about his business and built a very strong Arsenal team. Emery has finally added much-needed defensive reinforcements in David Luiz and Kieran Tierney. The latter has been brilliant at Celtic and is ready to test himself at a higher level after serving Celtic so brilliantly. Luiz leaves Chelsea to reunite with Emery at Arsenal and could he finally be the man to sort Arsenal's leaky backline? Time will tell but, the name on every Arsenal fans lips is new record signing Nicolas Pepe who joins for a cool £72M. The Ivorian attacker enjoyed an amazing season at Lille and his goals, assists and work ethic has earnt him a big-money move. Pepe completes a deadly trio in attack for Arsenal with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in line to join him when all fit and available. An attack that has Arsenal fans excited and even dreaming for toppling the rest to be kings of England again. It isn't just North London who is a buzz of excitement as West London is gearing up for a season of excitement as Frank Lampard is back at Chelsea as their new manager. Lampard arrives after a terrific year at Derby County to replace Maurizio Sarri who left for Juventus. Lampard is determined to bring continued success to the Europa League champions but takes over with the difficulties of issues beyond his control. Chelsea have a two-window transfer ban meaning he cannot sign any players in his first season at the club. Despite that issue, Lampard has stuck to his guns and is building a squad using the huge crop of talented young players at his disposal. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori are all expected to be involved this season after excellent Championship campaigns while Ruben Loftus Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also expected to be big parts of Lampard's plans once back from their injuries. So although, Chelsea haven't brought in new players, there is excitement at Chelsea finally using the talented academy players who have caught the eye elsewhere. Meanwhile, in the North West of England, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's Manchester United re-build has begun following a disappointing 6th place finish. Solksjaer's first full season is expected to bring the so-called 'United Way' back from the doldrums. Manchester United have invested in young, British players to bring back the glory days as well as using their talented academy to put them back on the map. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire have arrived at Old Trafford for a combined fee of £145M and the fans are excited by those signings with all expected to be key figures this season. As are some of Manchester United's young players with Solksjaer determined to open a pathway to the first team. Mason Greenwood, Axel Tuanzebe, Angel Gomes and James Garner are all expected to be apart of Solksjaer's plans this season. There is real optimism at Old Trafford despite the frustration towards chairman Ed Woodward and Solksjaer will be aiming for the top 4 at the bare minimum this season.

The summer offers a chance to change things at clubs following the conclusion of the previous season. The day after their final match of the season, Brighton sacked Chris Hughton following a 17th place finish. Despite leading Brighton to safety and an FA Cup semi-final, chairman Tony Bloom decided to dispense the likeable manager who will be a legend in Brighton folklore having got them promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history but 2 wins in 21 league games saw the writing on the wall for him. His replacement is Graham Potter who arrives after a season at Championship side Swansea City. Potter is tasked with ensuring Premier League football remains at the Amex Stadium and he has spent big this summer. £20M spent on both Neal Maupay and Adam Webster as well as £15M on winger Leandro Trossard. Brighton fans are optimistic and cheerful heading into the new campaign but this certainly isn't the case for the Newcastle United fans. The Geordie faithful are far from happy with what has gone on over the summer. A failed takeover bid and the fact the club couldn't agree a new deal for Rafa Benitez has left the fans majorly unhappy and disillusioned with their club. Disliked owner Mike Ashley has tried to get back onside with the club-record signing of Brazilian striker Joelinton for £40M and the signing of exciting winger Allan Saint-Maximin. New manager Steve Bruce has been backed but the fans remain unhappy and underwhelmed with his appointment as manager and the signings don't paper over the cracks at the club. Steve Bruce has a massive job on his hands uniting the club he supported as a boy and trying to win over a disillusioned fan base.

While Newcastle fans are disillusioned and unhappy, the fans of the promoted clubs are full of excitement and belief that their clubs can make a statement this season. Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa are back in the top league after their respective times away. Norwich are back as after winning the Championship title and their attacking style and flair has won plenty of admirers and the Canaries are hoping to make more than a song and dance this season. Norwich have had a very quiet summer spending just £1M in the transfer market with the club more focused on tying down what they already have. Key players Max Aarons, Onel Hernandez, Marco Vrancic, Marco Steipermann and Teemu Pukki have signed new deals at the club. Daniel Farke has done an excellent job at Norwich and survival in the big league would represent another successful season. Sheffield United are back after 12 years away and the fans are fully behind beloved manager Chris Wilder who is a blade through and through. Two promotions in his three years so far at the club and United are going from strength to strength. Chris Wilder's back three formation and high pressing style are expected to catch a few out this season and the general feeling around the club is that survival is very much in their reach. The fans can relate to the manager and their captain with both bleeding Sheffield United as much as they do. Billy Sharp finally gets the chance to test himself in the Premier League after years in the lower leagues and he is ready to seize his opportunity. And if all those reasons weren't enough for the fans to be excited, the Blades broke their transfer record 4 times this summer. Luke Freeman, Callum Robinson, Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie have all been record signings with the latter still holding that title after arriving for £20M from Swansea. The Blades are ready to make a big impression but survival remains the main objective. It has been an amazing 2019 for Aston Villa and their fans. The club went on a record-breaking winning run to secure a top 6 place and secured promotion after beating Derby in the play-off final. Dean Smith has done a magnificent job at the club he bleeds for and adores as much as the fans do. The Villa faithful are full of excitement ahead of the new season after spending £127M in the transfer window tying down loan signings and adding new players after the Villians lost 15 players following their play-off success. Key loan signings Tyrone Mings, Anwar El Ghazi and Kortney Hause are back on permanent deals while Tom Heaton and Matt Targett arrive with plenty of Premier League experience but their eye-catching signings have been Brazilian players Douglas Luiz and Wesley Moraes. Luiz arrives from Manchester City after Pep Guardiola couldn't get a work permit for the defensive midfielder he rates very highly. He will bring steel and composure to the Villa midfield. While striker Wesley is Aston Villa's new record signing eclipsing what they paid for Darren Bent in 2010. The Brazilian arrives from Club Brugge for £22M and Dean Smith is backing him immensely heading into the new season. The striker brings pace, power, an ability to score and assist goals and a big physical presence up top. Villa will pay enterprising, attacking football this season with Smith promising his philosophy will not change for any opponent this season. Big things are expected from the Midlanders this season but survival in the league would certainly represent an excellent season back in the Premier League.

The Premier League 2019/20 season is shaping up to be one of the best and most competitive. Quality goals, excellent football and drama will be in huge supply throughout the season. Manchester City are favourites once again as Guardiola seeks a third straight league title but the chasers behind will be aiming to take the glory away from City. While the rest of the sides will be competing for Europe, cup glory and Premier League survival. Competition is rife across the league and the season promised to be exciting with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

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