With the EPL 2017/2018 now just underway, we’re already getting a good look at the early form of the teams. Although it may be optimistic to consider Huddersfield up there with the big boys just yet – remember what happened with Leicester just a couple of years ago!
Antonio Conte has had a frustrating summer. Usually, you’d expect a club of Chelsea’s stature – rich, high performance and reigning champions – to take their pick of players to reinforce the team but it hasn’t quite panned out that way. Sure the addition of Morata is a major plus, but at the same time has coincided with the end of Diego Costa’s time in London. The same can be said with Tiemoue Bakayoko, a big money acquisition from Monaco who it transpires is a like-for-like replacement for the already proven Nemanja Matic that surprisingly has headed to Old Trafford.
On the plus side, it looks like Eden Hazard will be sticking around for at least another season so they will retain their most influential creative talent. Defensively they will expect to continue last seasons form of rugged consistency with three at the back.
Key Player: Hazard
Pep wanted more and by the looks of things, he’ll have little to complain about. Already boasting a squad that features astonishing depth yet with a seemingly perpetual habit for defensive errors at the worst possible time, the Citizens will be looking to big money new kids Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker to shore up the full back positions. Throw in Bernardo Silva and big money young Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson and it’s clear that they should be much improved at the back – providing they gel effectively.
This is a big season for Guardiola and after another staggering summer of spending (don’t forget the huge sums invested on the likes of Gabriel in the previous winter window) trophies will be expected. They certainly have a squad large and talented enough to compete on all fronts this year.
Key Player: Sergio Aguero
Mourinho is another manager who will be expected to deliver this season. The last campaign may not have been the most memorable until the Europa League victory, but it did serve to highlight the issues within the squad and identify the areas which must be strengthened. On paper it is clear that the intention has been to reinforce the spine, with promising Victor Lindelof hoping to finally shore up the defense, Nemanja Matic adding steel and vision in the middle with the proven goal scoring talent of Romelu Lukaku leading the line.
Early signs suggest that they may well be a team on the up again, with these additions settling into their roles almost immediately and also seeming to add a lot more confidence to their team displays. With maybe just one more big addition – fans would like a winger with Bale being repeatedly mentioned – but maybe more pragmatically an effective modern attacking full back this could well be their season.
Key Player: Matic
Wenger certainly had a rough time last season and many neutrals were surprised that he managed to hang on. It would be safe to guess that he kept the job under the proviso that he do some housekeeping with the squad, which so far has seen an enormous number of second squad players moved on. Their replacements so far have been the French international striker Alexandre Lacazette, finally given the opportunity to play in a major team (no offense to Lyon) at a club record transfer fee, and the lesser known Sead Kolasinac from Schalke.
Maybe it is not the time to panic just yet – Wenger isn’t shy of leaving deals late – but the objective ought to be Champions League qualification, as silverware may be a little too ambitious this year.
Key Player: Lacazette
Spurs are another team who have had a weird summer. Despite being many pundits choice for having the most balanced first eleven in the country, it was assumed that they would also be looking to strengthen the squad heavily in order to be better able to deal with injuries and suspensions. With just a week to go until the window closes, they still haven’t made a single first team signing. However, besides making an impressive £50m on trading Kyle Walker to City, they haven’t lost any of their talents either. Fans are understandably a little concerned, especially as this is a season when they’ll be playing home games at Wembley while their new home is being built.
Still assuming they maintain the spirit of last season and have luck avoiding injuries, they ought to be thereabouts come to the end of the season.
Key Player: Christian Eriksen
Assuming Huddersfield eventually start to drop points, we’d expect Everton to maybe make a push for a Champions League berth this season. They’ve bought well and are in the unusual position of not being obliged to sell. Stoke City have also been spending smartly and have attracted a ground of younger, up and coming players rather than following their traditional spending pattern of looking for good value established pros. The likes of West Ham, Southampton and Leicester will be worth a watch as they have the class to take points from any of the top sides. Expect whoever takes the title this year to likely do so with a record low points total – this is going to be a close one.