Ahhhh the English Premier League is back like it never left! It’s been strange to see the effects of the CoronaVirus Pandemic on global football and the realignment of the League seasons. With last season getting spread out until the end of July, and Champions League entertaining us for the month of July, I feel spoiled to be back with league play in Early September! A short vacation break meant clubs needed to remain focused, including making quick work of the strange transfer window which will now overlap about a month into the season. While some teams have made great strides in improving team depth and filling vital holes (My Gunners got some centerbacks, ayo!). Others have some work to do in order to ensure top 6 for European play. Before getting into our typical prediction format for the upcoming season, here is a breakdown of the big 6 and what to know about the league Giants.
The blues have done the best transfer business of any team in the world this summer, and I don’t think this is up for debate. The German fan in me is crying inside to see die Manschafft’s future in Chelsea blue, and I expect a strong connection between Werner and Havertz begin to form for the long haul. They are now Chelsea’s top earners and have big expectations to bring Chelsea back to Premier League/Champions League Glory. Where Chelsea really needed help most was on the defensive end, and snagging England LB Ben Chillwell, and the Brazilian legend Thiago Silva (ON A FREE) will add some much needed consistency to the back line. Ziyech comes in for the right wing, with a beautiful left foot that be cutting inside on defenses. This completes a dangerous front three with Werner and the now #10 MAIN MAN Christian Pulisic! What a guy. Americans be excited, but patient. We’ve never seen a US national in a #10 at a European Powerhouse, and is new territory on our quest to catch up with the rest of the world. Easy top 4 expectations for the blues this year if the defense proves sturdy enough to get the close wins.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now a well oiled machine with a defense that is only getting stronger, and a midfield gaining experience – the front three remains the best in the world. There’s been rumors of a move for Thiago Alcantara from Bayern, but this only makes sense if there is a piece of the team looking to move on – in the case of Wijnaldum this could be a quality replacement. Expect more of the same success this year, as Gomez and big Virgil solidify their partnership it will only mean more shutouts allowing them to continue winning the close games.
Of all the teams in the big 6, Man U had the best end to last season that saw them creep back into the top 4. Bruno Fernandes came in halfway through last season and shined bright with his dynamic passes, smooth dribbles and poise in front of net and at the penalty spot. He will be the glue in the midfield this season as Pogba continues to gain confidence, and together they free up the goal scorers in front – watch out. An England fueled attack with the likes of Rashford and Greenwood are expected to keep getting better, with Greenwood giving United fans a lot to be excited about at only 18. New arrivals include Van De Beek coming in from Ajax – bringing versatility into the midfield with the ability to play through the middle or out wide. More important is the return of Dean Henderson, the Man U academy boy back from a stellar Loan spell at Sheffield. If the attack keeps firing on all cylinders and the defense can keep the goals out, we’ll see their best finish since Sir Alex.
Oh what a whirlwind summer it must have been for Manchester City fans. Negotiations of a possible Lionel Messi to the Premier League would have been completed if it weren’t for the politics involved. Nathan Ake made the move to Manchester, with great technical skill and ball winning aerial ability – he’ll surely help the patched up back line from last season. In the attack we’ll be seeing much of the same team fielded by Pep Guardiola. Kevin De Bruyne will continue to pull the strings through the middle of the field. Can Aguero stay healthy one more season? That’s the biggest factor in their success for me, Jesus was gaining confidence but how much longer can Aguero’s inconsistency in the lineup keep their #9 out? Ferran Torres comes in from Valencia to provide even more depth in the roster.
Another unexciting off-season for the Spurs, but they got the job done in patching their weaknesses. Biggest signing being arguably the nose-for-goal right back Matt Doherty coming over from Wolves. Where Aurier offered plenty of dynamism down the right flank, there was an inconsistency in the end product – leaving Doherty to be an attractive choice to start immediately. Hojberg is added to the midfield, which is a bit of a conundrum to me. Sissoko, Ndombele, Winks, and Lo Celso all play a similar role, so it’s clear that Mourinho felt that something was missing in the middle of the field. If this team can find a way to play non-Mourinho ball under Mourinho, it could be a really fun team to watch. Dele Alli and Kane were starting to build rapport up the middle, with Heung Min Son being one of the most electric players in the league.. If they can get off to a good start I expect they can improve 5 spots on last season’s lackluster 9th place finish.
The second best turnaround of last season’s big 6 would go to the Gunners. What Mikel Arteta has done at the club since taking charge has Arsenal fans optimistic. His charisma and willingness to work with/ communicate well with all his players reminds me of Klopp. Convincing Willian to hop across London on a free transfer to be a part of a 3 plan (to return to champs glory), speaks volumes on his dedication to the rebuild. Willian brings a winning mentality, one that will ideally rub off on the loads of youth talent (namely the young attackers Martinelli, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah). William Saliba finally joins the team after his courtesy loan spell back to France. Paired with the new signing Gabriel, there’s finally some young quality CB’s coming in to the Arsenal backline to join Tierney / Maitland-Niles in preparing for the backline of the future. Expect every game to be a shootout this year as the Arsenal welds its new shield.