The first two weeks of the Premier League season are behind us, which means we’re ready for some season predictions, right? I have some way-too-early thoughts on who will finish top 4.
It’s hard for me to imagine anyone other than City winning the title, though Liverpool are pretty damn close. What it comes down to, for me, is squad depth. City has a B team that could seriously compete for a spot on their own. Tottenham showed that City can be humanized, but they will absolutely dominate against the lower teams, driving up their goal difference. That could prove crucial come Championship Sunday.
For most clubs, a serious injury to a player like Leroy Sane would be a knockout punch. But with the quality of talent in this squad and the fact that Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to favor him to start anyway, he is unlikely to be missed.
The Reds finished with the third-highest point total in the history of the Premier League last season and finished second. It could be much of the same this year, but they can push for the title if they stay healthy. With Alisson already down, Jurgen Klopp needs to depend on Adrian, who lost his spot at West Ham last season. Adrian is a more than capable backup, and I really wouldn’t worry about that position.
What is going to be incredibly important is the likes of Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain staying fit. If they can, it gives Liverpool a plethora of midfield options. Lining these guys up behind Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino, as well as a resurgent Divok Origi, could be lethal. Squad rotation is going to be crucial to The Reds’ chances this season, so let’s see how the Champions of Europe fair down the stretch.
I’d love to write about my beloved Spurs finding themselves in the top spot, but they simply aren’t there yet. After Fernando Llorente’s contract expired, Harry Kane became the lone striker on the senior squad. With the glass ankles Harry has proven to have over the past few years, I’d have hoped for some movement to get a backup striker in the transfer window. However, with that said, Tottenham could have a built in backup to their two time Golden Boot winning talisman. Troy Parrott came seemingly out of nowhere this preseason, and the 17-year old certainly impressed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some first team action in the early stages of the domestic cups.
Spurs did some business in the transfer window for the first time since bringing Lucas Moura to the club in January. They brought in 19-year old Englishman Ryan Sessegnon, who could compete for time with Danny Rose and Ben Davies, but also find himself playing in a midfield position as he adjusts to Mauricio Pochettino’s training regiment. Pochettino also bolstered the midfield, which had a depth problem at times last season, adding Frenchman Tanguy Ndombele and fellow Argentinian Giovani Lo Celso.
Even with the injuries and swan dive off a cliff at the end of last season, Spurs still secured a third successive Champions League birth. They are arguably a much better team this year, and if they can get rolling they should finish third comfortably.
As much as it pains me to say, I think the Gunners are going to claw their way back into the top 4 this year. They made some sensible moves in the offseason, adding two class young midfielders in Nicholas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, as well as two solid defenders. Well, at least Kieran Tierney is solid. But he’s out with an injury for another few weeks so we won’t know for a bit what his impact will be. They also brought in David Luiz, who is either a master or a fool on the pitch. Unai Emery will be undoubtedly hoping for much more of the former than the latter.
Woolwich has impressed in their first couple games, showing how dangerous they can be with a strong attack on the wings. If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can continue his co-Golden Boot winning ways and Alexandre Lacazette can stay in form, I see no reason the Gunners can’t out duel Chelsea and Manchester United for that final Champions League spot.
The others vying for a spot
Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, and Leicester City all seem to be a solid fit for the remainder of the top 8. Though Wolves could have another powerhouse season. However, I think they’ll struggle with squad rotation the further they make it into their Europa League campaign.
Chelsea is under a transfer ban, so they weren’t able to bring anyone in over the summer. Even though US international Christian Pulisic is suiting up for them for the first time, he technically signed for them last season and was loaned back to Dortmund. Otherwise, there’s a bunch of young kids coming back from loan to fill out the squad. Losing Eden Hazard to Real Madrid is a huge loss, and I can’t see them competing this season. They need their young attacking midfielders to get a year under their belts together before they come out swinging.
Manchester United made some splashes in the transfer window, but I still don’t think they’re good enough to get over the line. They’ll likely finish fifth, very close to Arsenal. However, they could sneak in. The youth movement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to make them an exciting team to watch. I just wonder if that lack of experience is what keeps them from competing for a Champions League spot. But next year? Watch out.
Leicester and Everton are a lot of people’s dark horses to sneak into European spots. They both are certainly capable, and I’ll be interested to see what they can do. James Maddison can be a game changer if he spends more time playing football than he does on the ground. And Everton’s addition of Alex Iwobi gives them a solid young strike force.
City and Liverpool are in a class of their own. Spurs are on an island. Then there’s everyone else. Will I probably be wrong? Absolutely. But speculation is fun.
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