Does This Promise to be One of the Most Exciting Premier Leaugue Seasons Ever?
We are only four games into this season at the time of writing, but already it is becoming clear that it will be a special one in the Premier League. The current top four of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are all sides stacked full of talent and depth. It promises to be an exciting and unpredictable title race, with all four capable of going the distance come May.
Taking a look at these teams in order, Manchester United are in a solid position following their business in the summer window. The main signing was, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has returned following twelve years away at Real Madrid and Juventus. The Portuguese international is a talisman, and can spearhead United’s attack well, and will undoubtedly bring goals. United have also strengthened their defence by bringing in Raphael Varane. In general, his CV is impressive, having won titles and Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, and he was of course a key part of the France team that won the World Cup in Russia. They already had the basis of a solid starting eleven, but now with these two they can be a viewed as a side to be reckoned with. Expect Bruno Fernandes to link up well with Ronaldo, and also Mason Greenwood to have a breakthrough season, who will be supported on the other flank by another new signing, Jadon Sancho. Varane will partner Harry Maguire in what looks like a solid pairing in the centre of defence, with both physically dominant. Whether they will challenge to the end could come down to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, though, who is yet to win a trophy, but will hope that can change this season.
Chelsea have also started the season in fine form. Having won the Champions League last season, they have been looking to continue this momentum, and their big summer signing, Romelu Lukaku, has made an instant impact. He has Premier League credentials, having played for Everton and Manchester United, before a two year spell with Inter Milan, and now he has come back to another one of his former clubs. He has scored in three out of his first four games and seems to be the striker that Chelsea need, and his hefty fee already looks to be justified. Last season, goal scoring was one of their biggest problems, with Timo Werner inconsistent. Now though, with a clinical finisher playing in front of the likes of Havertz, Ziyech and Mount, Chelsea are definitely ones to watch out for. This is in combination with a solid defence, who can rotate between a back four or five under the new systems implemented by manager Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel has done very well since being appointed in January, and will be confident that he can build on a great end to last season.
With regards to Liverpool, following their dominant title winning campaign two seasons ago, last season by their standards was a disappointment. Pre-season predictions forecasted a two horse title race between themselves and Manchester City, and they started well, but a dip in form after the New Year meant at one stage they looked like missing out on the top four. They did, however, manage to secure a spot on the final day and with the boost from Champions League qualification, have looked so far so good this season. There are two other main reasons as part of this success as well. Firstly, the Anfield crowd has made a big difference, and the return of van Dijk, the best central defender in the world, has given much needed stability. Liverpool only signed Ibrahima Konate from Leipzig in what was a quiet window, but they still have the depth to mount a title challenge. As long as van Dijk stays fit again, and the lethal front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino perform, then all bodes well for them. And crucially, Jurgen Klopp has the credentials to succeed, having already won the title.
And for Manchester City, the reigning champions, the task is to try and retain the title, which has only been done once in the last twelve years. The only manager to do it though was Pep Guardiola, and if he can do it twice then it will be highly impressive. They already have the squad depth, and the summer addition of Jack Grealish adds to the lethal attacking threat that they pose. In combination with Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, they will not be short of goals again. The only weakness they have is probably in the striker department, with Aguero gone and no replacement for him, meaning Gabriel Jesus will have to have a big season. Defensively, Ruben Dias has now had a full Premier League season under his belt and can be expected to continue his good form in his partnerships with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte. Guardiola has won the title three times now, and under his guidance, plus the squad talent in which Grealish has come into, expect them to be in the title race to the very end.
Overall, this season we have four teams all capable of going the distance. The current top four is likely to stay the same, with a clear gap between these clubs and the rest of the league. You can make an argument for each one as to why they could do it: Manchester United have Ronaldo who will lift the team around him and has won many titles before, Liverpool have van Dijk back and Klopp will want to prove a point, Chelsea have won under Tuchel already and have added Lukaku, and Manchester City have Guardiola and will not be wanting to give up their crown without a fight. You can already tell it is going to be close, and there are no guarantees whatsoever. There is everything to play for, with the potential for these clubs to only be separated by a few points come the end of the campaign.