On Saturday, August 29, newly crowned Premier League Champions – Liverpool faced FA Cup winners – Arsenal in the FA Community Shield. For the second season in a row, Liverpool lost the season-opener by way of a penalty shootout. This time it was the youngster Rhian Brewster who missed his penalty. After missing out on the Community Shield last season, the Reds went on to win the Premier League title in a record-setting pace. One can only wonder if their failure at the first chance of Silverware, is a positive omen of things to come this season.
Before the start of the 2019-2020 Premier League season, I said that Liverpool would be Champions if they could improve on their record-breaking points tally and near-perfect performances from the previous year. You can check out that quote below:
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.
When I made that statement, nobody (except the Liverpool players) thought the Liverpool team could play any better than they did. I, along with several pundits, incorrectly predicted that Manchester City would retain the Premier League title. As a life-long Liverpool fan, I was never so happy to be wrong in my life.
Jurgen Klopp has said that Liverpool will not be ‘defending‘ their Premier League title, but rather ‘attacking‘ their rivals. There is a belief in some sporting circles that ‘attack‘ is the best form of ‘defense.’ In Klopp’s case, he might be thinking that if Liverpool ‘stay hungry‘ and play the type of football they have been known for in the last two years, then they will retain their crown come May.
Liverpool have only made one signing so far in the transfer window. They signed Greece defender Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos as cover for the left-back position. The Reds have been linked with Midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, while Gini Wijnaldum might be on his way to Barcelona. There is consternation among Liverpool supporters who feel that the current squad is not deep enough to endure the upcoming season and cup competitions. It is worth mentioning that this Liverpool team is the same group of players that won the title by eighteen points. They have Takumi Minamino (who signed in January of last season, and had an inspiring preseason), Curtis Jones, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Naby Keita (who looks ready to prove his worth finally), among other players who didn’t feature a lot last campaign.
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola were whiskers away from signing Lionel Messi if you believe the tabloids and transfer gossip. In the end, it wasn’t to be (they will probably sign him next year) and City will have to figure out another way to usurp Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. There is another popular belief in sporting circles that says that ‘defense wins titles.’ Last season, Manchester City lost nine games in the Premier League. They lost a lot of those games on the defensive side of the pitch. Going into the new campaign, City have not sufficiently addressed their defensive frailties. They did, however, bring in center-back Nathan Ake from Bournemouth.
Chelsea finished the last campaign a respectable fourth position after being hit with a transfer ban and being ‘forced‘ to play ‘youngsters.’ So far, this transfer window, the Blues have been splashing the cash. They have signed Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chiwell, Thiago Silva (free) and Malang Sarr. Chelsea have an exciting and talented squad on paper, but football is not played on paper. It remains to be seen if Chelsea’s star-studded team will hit the ground running, or they will need time to gel.
Manchester United are back! That’s what I keep hearing. Bruno Fernandes is the second coming of Cristiano Ronaldo, or that’s what the pundits and United fans would have you believe. Manchester United have not lost a Premier League game with Fernandes in the team, so if he plays all the team’s fixtures in this campaign, they should be champions or fighting for the title. The reality is that Manchester United are several pieces short of challenging for the Premier League. On the other hand, the United hierarchy believes (or maybe not) that Jadon Sancho is the missing piece of the title-challenging puzzle. This transfer window has been dominated by ‘Sancho to United‘ headlines. If United can pry Sancho away from Borussia Dortmund, it might be enough for them to secure a top-four finish in the upcoming campaign.
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