EPL REVIEW: CITY STRENGTHEN WITH RECORD SIGNING RODRI; LIVERPOOL STAGNANT
With the newest English Premier League season on the horizon, we take stock at the comings and goings in the transfer market, and take a look at the current odds, with Manchester City favourites to win a third successive triumph, in what the bookies feel is another two-horse race.
On Friday 9th August, the Champions League conquerers Liverpool welcome Norwich City to Anfield to kickoff the 2019/20 English Premier League (EPL) season.
It promises to be another big bushy moustache of a season.
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the first time.
Amazon Prime showcasing EPL games.
Manchester City trying to win three titles on the spin.
Liverpool trying to win their first-ever EPL title.
Let’s take a close look at the runners and riders.
The two big guns
Manchester City – 4/6 favourites
As expected last seasons’ winners are this seasons’ favourites. Pep Guardiola has bolstered his defensive midfield options by bringing in Rodrigo ‘Rodri’ Hernandez Cascante setting a new transfer record £62.5 million from Athletico Madrid. The 23-year-old has been compared by some to Sergio Busquets a lynchpin of the Barcelona side that’s won eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, so there’s a lot of expectation on him to fill a position currently owned by Fernandinho.
Club Legend Vincent Kompany has left the Etihad to return to his native Belgium as Player Manager for his boyhood club Anderlecht, and while there’s been a drop in his appearances in recent years, he’ll surely be missed in one of the noisiest dressing room in the league.
One can’t imagine City has finished their transfer dealings, with realistically the most squad depth in the league it will be interesting to see how other rumours surrounding them such as the potential losses of Leroy Sane & Fabian Delph will impact their spending and squad in the coming weeks.
Liverpool – 5/2
After last seasons’ close EPL run-in and Champions League triumph, it’s understandable that Jurgen Klopp has yet to dip his toes in transfer market waters (except the signing of Dutch youngster Sepp van dear Berg from PEC Zwolle).
Liverpool has released a whole heap of players both permanently, or on loan including the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Marko Grujic & Danny Ings and with squad depth mentioned as a possible reason for last seasons’ failure to eclipse Man City, it should be sooner rather than later that we see Liverpool making some moves.
The long shots
The remainder of last seasons’ top four challengers played a game of ‘who wanted it less’ as the season came to a close. Points dropped like garden gnomes in the hands of three-year-old urchins, but eventually, Spurs and Chelsea shared the spoils of Champions League football. Arsenal had a shot at redemption in the Europa League final but fell well short and was eventually beaten badly by Chelsea.
Tottenham – 18/1
Spurs bought nobody last season, and there’s hardly been a quickening of that pace so far in this run-up. Two youngsters have arrived in the form of Kion Etete (Notts County) & Jack Clarke (Leeds) as well as six-time capped French international Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon) who’s the only one of the three expected to slot into the first tea.
Chelsea – 35/1
Talisman Eden Hazard has finally left for Madrid, and what a gap that will leave in this Chelsea side (16 & 15 premier league goals and assists respectively last season) as Frank Lampard comes in as manager, big ask considering he has one season of management under his belt. He’ll be hoping for a fair crack at the whip but considering Chelsea’s transfer ban, it’s a big ask for “Super Frank” to do much out of the gate except tread water. Let’s hope Abramovich gives him the benefit of the doubt if things go pear-shaped after sacking 13 managers in his 15 years at the club.
Man United – 50/1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promised to overhaul the squad and strip out any deadwood as the season drew to a close, and the only players left at this stage are fan favourites Ander Herrera & Antonio Valencia, arguably some of United’s most consistent performers in recent seasons albeit the latter dwindling off in 18/19. The signings of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are positives, but a lot more changes are needed if United are to compete for the top four let alone the league.
Arsenal – 70/1
Arsenal fell woefully short as last season drew to a close, with five games to play it was all in their hands and with one left, a top-four spot was mathematically impossible, that’s quite a fall from grace. The Loss of Aaron Ramsey will be a huge miss, and with both Petr Czech & Danny Welbeck also leaving, there will be a significant gap in terms of experience in the dressing room. Edu has returned to the club in a technical director role which many fans are hoping will help out in the transfer department as many signings in recent years have shown to be well below par, it will be interesting to see how the season pans out for the Gunners as they continue their transition under Unai Emery.
For the punters
Outside of the usual ‘Big 6’ Leicester City have pulled of quite a coup in landing Youri Telemans from Monaco, and as expected the Premier League new boys for the season Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa have signed 17 players between them as they prepare for life in the top flight. Mike Ashley looks to continue pinching pennies at Newcastle as Rafa Benitez exits – they are yet to sign anyone.