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  • Chris Sobey

Football


The 2019/2020 Premier League season kicks off in two weeks’ time and judging by this summer’s activity including transfers it looks like the title will be contended by reigning champions Manchester City and Liverpool again. City will need to adapt at the back quickly with the departure of long-time club captain Kompany last season and the main challenge will be replacing his quality, experience and most of all brilliant leadership qualities.

However, the rest of the championship winning squad remains and manager Guardiola will be looking to the likes of central defenders Stones, Mendy, Otamendi, Mangala and Laporte to step up and establish their position as the first-choice central defender and possible future club captain. While there might be questions marks at the back Guardiola and City have no such worries in midfield and attack and it’s fair to say they still possess the talent and quality to win a third league title in a row and challenge on the European front in the Champions League.

Liverpool look set to be Manchester City’s main challengers again with the likes Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United still looking someway short of competing in terms of their squad’s quality and experience, previous managership experience and success and summer transfer activity. The bookmakers make City odds on favourites to retain their title with Liverpool available above 2/1 and considering how close things were last season I’m sure many Liverpool fans and supporters will be lapping up the generous odds on the Reds.

Spurs should be able to shorten the gap if they can keep the majority of their best players fit all season, as they missed star England striker Harry Kane for the majority of the second half of last season, and with odds of above 20/1 available and a quarter of the odds for three places I’m sure there will be many each way supporters of Spurs this season.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United’s chances are reflected in their title winning odds, which are available at 40/1 and above, and of the three I think Arsenal might be best placed to improve on last season’s fifth place finish as Frank Lampard is likely to struggle in his first season due to his managerial inexperience in the top flight and all does not seem well at Manchester United still, with the long running Pogba saga still ongoing and a squad that still lacks enough world class quality and leadership throughout.

Newly promoted Wolves established themselves as the best Premier League team outside the big six last season, which was an amazing achievement. Manager Nuno Espirito lead a Portuguese revolution at Molineux last season and his vast knowledge and experience of Portuguese football and it’s players paid dividends as he built, developed and expertly managed a squad with Portuguese players at the beating heart, to a seventh placed finish in their first season back in the Premier League. They will have the distraction of the Europa League including qualification this season, which has proved to be a poisoned chalice for many Premier League teams in the past, but Wolves do seem to be better placed and prepared to cope with this extra distraction this season and I’m sure manager Espirito won’t let it become a millstone around their necks if there are signs his squad are struggling to compete on four fronts this season.

The likes of Everton, Leicester City and West Ham Utd all finished in the top half as well last season and they will no doubt be challenging for the same honours again this season as well as pushing on and trying to break in to the top-six along with Wolves. Watford and Crystal Palace finished eleventh and twelfth respectively last season and they both look well placed to match if not better last season’s achievements.

Bournemouth, Burnley and Southampton will all aim to improve on last season’s disappointing season and of the three I think Burnley and Southampton are the best placed to improve on last season’s results, while Bournemouth could easily find themselves in the relegation battle again. Along with Sheffield United I think Newcastle United and Brighton could find themselves in the relegation battle again while Norwich and Aston Villa look the best placed to survive and establish themselves as regular Premier League outfits again.


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