Kieran Davies looks ahead to a week of whispered concerns, power shifts and an elephant in the room.
Not even a World Cup tournament could fill the void left by the end of a Premier League season. The drama, upsets, controversy, brilliance and pace of the league we all love makes it the most watched worldwide. Showcasing some of the world’s best players, a weekend never goes by without some piece of genius lighting up the terraces. Football actually has come home and it starts all over again at Old Trafford as Jose’s Man Utd take on Leicester City.
One of the things we love about the Premier League is the unpredictability of it. Some things never change though as Mourinho tries to deflect attention from his side’s lazy pre-season efforts by talking about other teams and how much money they are spending. Considering the Portuguese game player has spent enough money to bankroll a space programme, he seems to be clutching at straws. They have not strengthened a squad that was a long way off the leading pack and this could prove to be a long season for their fans with the manager the bookie’s favourite for the sack. Another team with a distinct lack of transfer activity is Tottenham. Whether their manager feels his squad cannot be strengthened or the investment and outlay of a new stadium has meant there is no money to spend, Pochettino will have the advantage of working with a squad he is very familiar with. Silverware will no doubt be the minimum required to appease their talented players and keep them at the club’s new home.
Pep’s City are the much-fancied favourites for this season’s title, with the Spaniard making a few minor changes to the squad that romped home last season victoriously. It is safe to say that if you finish above City, you will be crowned champions. There is no such thing as a ‘dead-cert’ in football and the Premier League will be more competitive than ever this season. Anyone can beat anyone which was always makes the achievement of Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ something we may never see repeated. Having found a replacement for their manager, he has wasted no time in adding his own imprint to the squad he works with, being very active in the transfer window. They need to return to Champions League football at the first time of asking. The financial loss of not doing so is very damaging to any club. The same message will have been conveyed to Chelsea’s manager no doubt. Having invested heavily in a largely unknown goalkeeper to replace the departing Courtois, this could really be a season of transition for the London outfit.
This could be the season we see a power shift within the Premier League. Liverpool are the team everyone is whispering concerns about after a very impressive summer of transfer business, most notably addressing the elephant in the room and recruiting a world-class goalkeeper. Having held off advances for the much-coveted Mo Salah, Klopp’s team and squad seems to have a real depth to it and should worry anyone in this league with its attacking flair. It remains to be seen whether the heavy investment in the back line will sure up the leaks that cost them so dear last season. There will be a few surprise packages as ever and picking them is just as hard. On paper, Fulham have added well, West Ham spent like Brewster’s Millions and Everton had a very impressive deadline day with no less than three big name additions. Wolves have bought enough players to field a completely new first team while fellow newly-promoted Cardiff have stayed loyal in the main to the squad that took them there.
The transfer window closed before the season started for the first time since the change, really giving managers the stability they crave as they know what they will have to work with for the forthcoming season. For me, this change is welcomed as there is ample time throughout the summer to conclude any transfer activity. There is a real north/south divide to the Premier League when you look at this season’s table. With maybe even three or four ‘mini-leagues’ within that group of twenty, whoever you support from start to finish, the season offers many thrills and spills. Whether it’s Jose’s bus, Jurgen’s ‘heavy metal’ football or Catalan flair of Pep’s armada……..we are always guaranteed talking points.
With lots of new managers and big money transfers, this season has the potential to be one of the most open Premier League seasons than we have ever seen. From top to bottom the league is wide open and predicting how things will pan out is nothing short of impossible. The opening game is the Christmas Day of any football fan and we return back into the cycle where one game can make or break your weekend. No sooner does the roller coaster of emotions draw you back in to the euphoria of the Premier League season, an international break rears its unwelcome head. Lap it up, absorb it, enjoy it, before the football Grinch returns.