Last Sunday, the 2019 FA Community Shield saw Manchester City take on Liverpool at the Wembley Stadium. The Citizens won the close encounter in a penalty shootout, with Wijnaldum the only player to miss his penalty. This annual charity match is the precursor to the Premier League season, which kicks off on Friday, August 9 when Liverpool battle Norwich City in the season opener.
It looks like the City train will continue to speed along. Pep Guardiola’s men look unmovable at the top of the table. Their performances the last couple of seasons have put them in a league of their own. With all the money and talent at their disposal, it seems they also have lady luck on their side. [See Stone’s goal-line clearance last season against Liverpool, Van Dijk’s shot that was almost over the line and Walker’s goal-line clearance in the community shield.] These fortuitous incidents I referenced were just against Liverpool. I take nothing away from Manchester City; they deserve their glory. Liverpool, their closest rival had a record-breaking points tally and only one defeat all season and City still won the league. That should tell you they are an exceptional team and we are witnessing greatness.
It is going to be exceptionally difficult for Liverpool to improve on last season’s performance. If they play any better than they did last campaign, they will be champions come May. It’s that simple. The Reds have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, except for the signing of a couple of young players. Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott are the only additions to the squad. Jurgen Klopp has likened Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Adam Lallana returning from injury has new signings. Liverpool indeed has a deeper and more talented team than in previous seasons, but so too their rivals. If Liverpool wants to compete on all fronts this season, they might have to add a couple more pieces [defenders] before the transfer window closes.
Chelsea was rightly banned from signing any new players for their continued flouting of the transfer laws. The Blues shouldn’t feel too blue because they will have two additions to their squad in Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic. Not to mention the army of players they have out on loan. Losing Hazard to Real Madrid will be a big blow, however, because he carried them for most of last season. Chelsea will get a boost from their appointment of club legend Frank Lampard as their manager. The novelty will eventually wear off as the season continues and we will see their shortcomings.
This season Arsenal returns to the Top Four. The Gunners have been quietly building an impressive squad in the last couple of years. Two of their notable additions so far this transfer window are Dani Ceballos and Nicholas Pepe. I felt Arsenal underachieved during the previous campaign and were let down by their defense. That and the fact that they didn’t play Lacazette and Abameyang together more often. This season don’t be surprised if Arsenal is hanging around the Top Four.
Tottenham Hotspurs have been at the cusp for a while. Some will say they have made the transition and are a bonafide big club. They have the players, they have the coach, and now they have the stadium. If they had won the Champions League in June, I would have agreed. Spurs need to win something, and they need to succeed fast. I think this is the year they take a step back and fall out of the Top Four.
Manchester United will make a resurgence this campaign. They have managed to hold on to key members of their team and also improved their defense with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. Considering that United finished sixth last season, it won’t take much for them to improve this time around.
Premier League Champion Poll
Premier League Predictions
Top Goal Scorer
- Raheem Sterling
Player of the Season
- Raheem Sterling
Manager of the Season
- Pep Guardiola