In another few days, the 2020/21 Premier League season will kick off, teams will go head to head again and slug it out on and off the pitch; managers will do their bits to win the press room war and hope it translates to something substantial as their teams file out. The curtain raiser, the traditional Shield competition saw Arsenal triumph over reigning champions, Liverpool at Wembley, adding credence to the Gunners’ dominance on the ground, beyond the actual significance of the game, one that saw Arsenal match Liverpool for everything despite featuring an inferior side.
A trophy was awarded, which will add to Arsenal’s trophy cabinet, but takes nothing away from what is expected of Liverpool in the new season; Liverpool remains the team to beat and will have Manchester City to fend off to retain their holy grail, the Kops have not done so much in the transfer window with no real major additions, they haven’t lost any significant player in the current window and doesn’t look like they will lose any, Kostas Tsimikas joined as a cover to Andy Robertson at left back and news persists of their interest in Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, a perfect fit for their romantic midfield puzzle, with Jordan Henderson ageing and James Milner filling in at fullbacks, the Spaniard with rich experience will come handy for their title defense.
Manchester City lost their way last season, they failed to defend two of their domestic titles, losing out in the Premier League to Liverpool and then failing to get past Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal, with their lofty European ambitions capitulating in the hands of Lyon, questions will be asked of Pep Guardiola and his famed ingenuity; in all fairness, apart from the manner of achievement, there’s nothing major that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager achieved with the east land side that Manuel Pellegrini or his predecessor, Roberto Mancini didn’t achieve, leaving questions behind for Guardiola on the justification for the heavy investment in his squad.
It is what it is, you’re as good as your last result, not sure there’s any excuse one can listen to from Pep Guardiola, he doesn’t only owe the Citizens the UCL title, he must fight on all fronts and win everything in sight, after all, there’s a reason he has been trusted with such war chest. He has signed a couple of players but doesn’t he need a backup for Ederson in goal? With Khalidou Koulibaly mooted to join, which will shore things up alongside Nathan Ake that was added from relegated Bournemouth, leaving him with at least three standard center halves, with Aymeric Laporte in consideration, he can then focus on bidding to land other worthy players to knock Liverpool off their perch or maybe go one better in the Champions League at the least
Step forward Manchester United, Donny Van De Beek has joined from Ajax and the noise about Jadon Sancho has subsided, but the question is: Is the squad ready to compete? Man for man with what real contenders have, can United stand up and be counted? There’s a need for an out and out striker, a real need to adequately replace Romelu Lukaku, while many will look into the directions of Dr. Marcus Rashford, the fact he fills the hole behind Anthony Martial flaws that notion; there’s also a need for United to sign a left winger, right or left footed, Daniel James doesn’t look like the Ryan Giggs they thought they signed and will do themselves a lot of good if they fill that void.
In midfield, it looks a lot like they have fixed their problems, but that could mean that a big name would sit out games, there’s Paul Pogba, someone that must start or else they want fan boys to start reminding Real Madrid of his desire to join, Bruno Fernandes was the reason United finished in Champions League places last season, he has to play behind the forwards, Donny Van De Beek just joined and he’s expected to play, there are outsiders in Matic, Scot McTominay and Fred, question is, if the first three start, who sits at the base? Who’s the defensive minded player among the three? Not sure DVB won so many penalties from the DM position and we all know the stories of the other two, but does that mean either of Matic and McTominay can start? Or will United just go for central midfielders and hope they have the energy to run box to box all day?
In defense, United over the past few days have been linked with former Arsenal target, Dayot Upamecano, the French man just renewed his contract with RB Leipzig, this would mean a hefty release clause but United can afford him anyway, but they have to sell first, with Chris Smalling on the radar of AS Roma and Sergio Romero being wanted by Aston Villa, United might want to cash in on Jesse Lingard and Daniel James to fund a move for a quality center back to add steel and maybe Jack Grealish…
Chelsea is ready for the new season, and to be very honest, teams should be afraid of them, with strong businesses done early, Chelsea will look a lot different when the league resumes in another week, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva all available for selection. Kai Havertz has also joined, thereby taking care of the exits of Pedro, who joined AS Roma and Willian, who joined bitter rivals, Arsenal. Speaking of Willian, one can ask questions of Chelsea’s integrity, refusing to hand Willian, a servant of seven years a deserved three year deal because he’s 32 and then handing a 36 year old a potential two year deal…
How will Chelsea line up in the new season? There are still uncertainties around the goalkeeping position with Kepa Arizabalaga unassured, will they sign a new man or stick with Willy Caballero as the only worthy competition to the Spaniard? In defense, the Blues left a lot to be desired against Arsenal in the FA Cup final, injury to Ceaser Azpilicueta didn’t help matters but Kourt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger didn’t cover themselves in glory during the FC Cup finals, Thiago Silva will shore things up definitely but who partners the ageing Brazilian?
Left back is sorted with the big money signing of long term target, Ben Chilwell, great addition by all standards and he’s a great loss to Leicester, but who goes to the right? He may have been the best servant in a long while but it’s time to end the Azpilicueta era, it’s time for the Spaniard to allow someone else take over, Reece James is the name that comes to mind but will he be the man to take Chelsea forward?…
To be continued