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Around the Pitch: From Arsenal to Chelsea – A Premier League Primer

Here’s a look at 5 teams from this year’s PL and our expectations of each.

Stamford Bridge by Vespa125 is licensed under CC BY SA-3.0

Around the Pitch: From Arsenal to Chelsea – A Premier League Primer


Estimated Reading Time: 9 Minutes

The Premier League made a successful return to play in order to finish out the 2019/20 season, and did so with flair. They backed social justice by kneeling before each kickoff, had Black Lives Matter patches on their kits, and played behind closed doors, with each home stadium looking like one big TV advertisement.

As we approach kickoff of the new season on September 12th, we’re going to take a walk around the league and check in on each club. Where did they finish last season? What are their realistic expectations? How will packing a full season into fewer months affect them?


Arsenal

Kevin Michael Morin

Not the team I want to start with. My hate runs deep here. But I suppose I need to be objective. Arsenal has attacking and midfield options that should terrify any defense, regardless of their talent level. Aubameyang and Lacazette should always be on the pitch at the same time. Unai Emery never seemed to do that, and even Mikel Arteta seems hesitant to do so consistently. The addition of Willian and return of Dani Ceballos should lock everything from midfield up into place. They’ve also been heavily linked with Philipe Coutinho, but nothing seems to have come from that.

Then comes the defense. Dear lord, they’re abysmal. Kieran Tierney is a bright spot if he can stay healthy, but a reliance on Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, and David “let me give away this penalty and get a card in return” Luiz isn’t a bright prospect. They brought in Gabriel from Lille, but can he help shore things up? The Gunners have stayed inconsistent for a few years now, and haven’t been able to crack the top 4. I, once again, don’t see them doing so. They’ll get surpassed by Wolves, and barely qualify for Europe in 7th.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

Arsenal. A London rival. I don’t hate them nearly as much as Kevin, but they certainly aren’t my favorite. It’s going to be very difficult to see Willian in a Gunners kit this year, especially after the FA Cup final just a little while ago. But he helps bolster an already potent front line with Lacazette and Aubameyang, who might be one of the best strikers in the entire PL.

Arteta will likely feel less pressure this year with both FA Cup and Community Shield hardware now sitting in the cabinet, but he still needs to get a better result in the league. I’m not sure they have the depth, or the defense to make a challenge for the top 4, and when you factor in they will be likely making a deep run in the Europa, it’s easy to see them sitting in that 6th spot.

Joe Danbusky

Stacked up front. Improving in the middle. Dodgy at the back. For as long as I’ve been following the Premier League, I’ve always felt Arsenal have been the club that can’t seem to get out of its own way. For all the talent throughout the squad, they can’t seem to string together performances on a consistent basis.

It was no surprise they couldn’t manage to crack the top 5 after enduring the season they did. Changing managers in November is never a good omen, though bringing in Pep Guardiola‘s former assistant Mikel Arteta did seem to bring some calm and direction to the campaign. Bringing in Willian and his pedigree can only help bolster the squad heading into the season. I still feel the defense will prove their undoing and suspect they’ll find themselves somewhere between 6th and 8th by the time the 2020-2021 campaign comes to a close.


Aston Villa

Kevin Michael Morin

In my mind, there wasn’t a chance in hell that Villa was going to stay up. Before last season I had picked them to finish last and get relegated. Well, they surprised me. They’ll need to build on the cohesion built post-restart and cross every finger and toe that they can hold on to starlet Jack Grealish. Grealish joined Villa when he was 6, so seeing their star homegrown player put on another kit would be a devastating blow for the Birmingham-based club. Without Grealish? Relegation. With? Another narrow escape and another year in the Premier League.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

So far Aston Villa have only managed to bring in one player, Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest (for a fee I don’t really understand by the way), and have lost 5 players. But none of those 5 players is named Jack Grealish, so they’re still in fine shape to stay just slightly above relegation. Which is all they’ll do with a ceiling of maybe 15th.

Joe Danbusky

Saved by virtue of a Hawkeye Technology malfunction in the first game back from the COVID pause. Instead of losing that game to Sheffield 1-0, the gaffe earned Villa a point by virtue of a 0-0 draw. Subsequently, they survived relegation by a single point. As long as Jack Grealish is still wearing the claret and blue the squad will have a chance of staying up. If Jack goes, I fear the Villans will as well – apologies to superfan Tom Hanks.


Brighton and Hove Albion

Kevin Michael Morin

Brighton are a club that drive me crazy. They can be tough all over the pitch, and make you work for every point. With 14 draws last season, they’ve proven they can put up a wall if they need to, and that may be their only hope of staying up this season. But, I see them unfortunately falling out of the Premier League after their first run in top flight since the early 80s.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

It seems very likely that Brighton will be flirting with relegation this season. They just don’t seem to have the talent. Maybe if they don’t ship Shane Duffy out on loan again, they’ll be able to shore up their defense a bit, but wins will still be hard to come by. Couple that by having to end the season against Man City and then @Arsenal, this might be the year they fall out of the Premier League picture.

Joe Danbusky

Duffy is in fact heading to Celtic on loan, which doesn’t do any favors for the Seagulls. They’ll need to get off to a quick start and the players will have to step up their game if they hope to stick in the top flight. There is some budding talent on the pitch. Yves Bissouma and Tariq Lamptey have been making names for themselves. Adding former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana may give the team a bump, but it’ll be a tough task to not be relegated. I fear their run-in at the end of the season may seal their fate.


Burnley

Kevin Michael Morin

Turf Moor is one of the most difficult places to play in England. They have a bright, young keeper in Nick Pope, who I’m sure Wilhelm would love to snap up over at Chelsea. James Tarkowski has continued to prove himself a class defender. The club’s attacking options, though not world class, are perfectly serviceable. Burnley has the tools to stay a mid-table team for a bit of time, and that’s exactly where I see them landing this season.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

Burnley is boring. Someone (cough Chelsea cough) needs to rescue Nick Pope from this side. They’ll finish somewhere between 12 and 15.

Joe Danbusky

I always love watching Sean Dyche patrol the sideline when Burnley are on the pitch. Of course, if I’m talking about the manager, what does that say for the actual squad? Like Kevin and Andrew above, I’m fully onboard the Nick Pope train. The club have bounced around mid-table for the last few years, getting as high as 7th a few years back. They’re a solid mid-table team for me.


Chelsea

Kevin Michael Morin

The additions of Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell are big ones. The former is the much-needed veteran and the latter is a young talent that can bomb up and down the wing. If Frank Lampard can figure out his defense, Chelsea could win the league. It pains me to say that, but you can’t ignore the class this squad currently has. Sure, they had a lackluster end of the restart, but they still were able to secure Champions League football.

The youth movement under Frank is what has saved this club from tumbling to the lower depths of the Premier League. Christian Pulisic was a monster until his unfortunate injury. Mason Mount has been under Frank’s wing since Derby, and that’s just to name a couple. With the signings of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, anything shy of a Top 4 finish would be an utter failure. Chelsea will win the Premier League.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

As a huge Chelsea fan, this has been the most exciting Silly Season in a long time. Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Malaang Sarr, and KAI HAVERTZ added to a side that already boasts Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, N’Golo Kante, and Mateo Kovacic? (Insert evil laugh here)

Is it enough to topple Man City and Liverpool? Maybe, maybe not. We’re still likely to give up way too many goals (unless more moves are made), but I think Frank gets it done in just his second season at the helm. Who knows, maybe even a double or a treble is possible???

Joe Danbusky

Ugh – this one hurts. The magnitude of the signings Chelsea have made heading into this season is impressive. Frank Lampard has been a breath of fresh air for the squad, likely helping draw some of that talent to Stamford Bridge. Barring some catastrophic injuries or some other unforeseen circumstance during the season, they have a legitimate shot at all the hardware. I’m not quite as confident as Kevin seems to be, but I think they’re close to a lock for a top 4 finish.


Stay tuned this week for more Premier League coverage!

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