The return of Premier League football seems to have confirmed one thing: that Manchester City are very, very good. Pep Guardiola’s team ran away with the league last season, earning a record-smashing 100 points in the process, and they don’t seem to be showing any signs of rust this year. But it’s notoriously difficult to claim two league titles in a row – it hasn’t been done for ten years – and some of City’s challengers have seriously strengthened their squads for this campaign. So who’s in the running, and what are the top teams’ chances for Premier League success?
It’s very hard to bet against City repeating their success from last time around, and the odds on Man City to win the league 2019 are very favourable. The silver lining for their challengers, though, might be the pressure on the team to emulate their remarkable success. Now that their opponents are wiser to City’s tiki-taka tactics, they might find it more difficult to pass their way through teams who are determined to sit back. And with 33-year-old Fernandinho playing the crucial anchor role in the heart of midfield, fitness might become an issue over the course of the season; City tried to sign his heir this summer, but were rebuffed. There may not be too much in terms of silver linings for City’s opponents, but there are straws to clutch.
While other top teams dithered, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp got his transfer business done quickly this summer. Naby Keita, a box-to-box midfielder who joined from RB Leipzig, will give the midfield a powerful and intelligent upgrade, while the need to sign a world-class keeper like Alisson was made apparent after Loris Karius’ nightmare in the Champions League final last May. Xherdan Shaqiri is a game-changing option on the bench, and most importantly, the team’s talisman Mo Salah looks back to peak fitness and form for this season – he was unplayable last year, and he’ll be key to Liverpool’s title challenge this time around.
With Jose Mourinho seemingly unsettled at Manchester United and Tottenham failing to improve their squad this summer, Chelsea could spring a surprise and launch a title challenge. It all depends on how quickly new manager Maurizio Sarri can implement his methods; the enigmatic Italian has strengthened his side with the capture of Jorginho in the middle of the field, but switching to a fast-moving 4-3-3 might take time, and question marks remain over Alvaro Morata’s form up front. But with N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard retained in the transfer window, fans can be cautiously optimistic that a title challenge is in the pipeline.
United, Spurs and Arsenal will all be hoping to compete this season, but they’ve suffered less impressive summers than their three main challengers. But the more things change, the more they stay the same – and it seems Manchester City will again be the team to beat in the Premier League this season.