With the English Premier League kicking off on August 10 and the transfer window closing a day before, we take a look at the big six and where they stand at the moment
It is that time of the year again. Football fans all over the world, after a period without any competition, will once again hook to the screens as the 2019/20 season of the English Premier league is set to begin on August 10 with Liverpool and Norwich City kicking things off.
The start of the EPL also brings to an end the transfer window for all the teams for England. Teams have chopped and changed to fill in the gaps in their squad, and with deadline day fast approaching expect the English clubs to go all out to secure as many players as they can.
Here we take a look at the big six, their strengths, weaknesses and new additions to the squad and how they can impact the teams.
Last year’s champions Manchester City, under boss Pep Guardiola will be looking to achieve a feat few EPL sides have done before – claiming three titles in a row. The task may be difficult looking at the amount of competition at hand, but City certainly have the talent to pull it off.
The blues were not that active in the transfer market this season, but managed to smash their record for the second time in the last two years. They spent 62.5 million pounds on the 23-year-old defensive midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid.
Last season, Rodri was a revelation in the La Liga, proving to be their best midfielder – ahead of the likes of Busquets and Casemiro. And be it Xabio Alonso in Bayern or Sergio Busquets in Barcelona, Guardiola has always had world class players just in front of defence. Though, Fernandinho was a pivot for City in the past few seasons, he too has not been getting any younger.
Though Rodri may be just a replacement for this season, he will be the future for City, and if his performance in the recently held Community Shield is anything to go by, he is surely going to light things up.
Angelino from Dutch side PSV also comes in as a backup left back to Oleksandr Zhivchenko at a price of just 12 million euros, while goalkeeper Zack Steffen joining from American side Columbus Crew.
As per latest reports, Joao Cancelo’s transfer from Juventus is also likely to be announced before the transfer window closes, with Danilo going in the other direction.
Strengths: A genuinely strong midfield with holding players like Rodri and Fernandinho, and attackers like De Bruyne and Silva. Going forward, City are absolutely lethal with Aguero, Jesus and Sterling. City also have a ridiculously strong bench strength, with players like Mahrez and Sane sitting on the sidelines.
Weakness: The left side of their defence is where City should have looked for replacements, with fairly inexperience Oleksandr Zhivchenko being the starter. The departure of Vincent Kompany too has left the side without a great leader.
The Reds came perilously close to winning their first Premier League title last season, but Manchester City snapped away their dreams at the very last moment. Last year’s Champions League winners under Jurgenn Klopp will be looking to go one step further this time and land their first EPL title in history.
New arrivals: Liverpool have had quite the quiet summer transfer window with just two low key transfers. As a back up to goalkeeper Alisson Becker, the Reds have brought in West Ham’s Adrian, with Simon Mignolet leaving for Anderlecht. Youngsters Sepp Van de Berg and Harvey Elliot have also signed but are unlikely to get action in the senior team
They have been heavily linked with a move for Phillippe Coutinho to return to Anfeld. But Klopp has rejected those rumour going on to state that this window is not the one where they would spend a lot of money, and is content with his squad.
Strengths: In Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool have got the world’s best centre back, and with a fit-again Joe Gomez and Joel Matip their defence looks impenetrable. Add to that the two full back Alexander-Arnold and Robertson- with their defensive capabilities, and the ability to attack. Going forward Liverpool have the best attacking trio in the EPL – Salah, Mane and Firmino – with the likes of Shaqiri and Origi on the bench.
Weakness: The midfield seems to be the only bit of worry for the Reds, because most of their creativity going forward comes from the full backs. Naby Keita had a mixed first season, and one also cannot depend wholly on Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for producing creativity. So, a signing there could have been helpful.
Also, with Nathaniel Clyne’s injury, the Reds lack depth in the full back positions should any one of them get injured.
With the departure of Maurizio Sarri and the arrival of new manager Frank Lampard, Chelsea will be looking ahead for a good 2019/20 season, after finishing in 3rd last time. The Europa League Champions of last year, will be looking to do good this time around, in spite of their two-year transfer ban.
Chelsea were handed a two-year transfer ban by UEFA last season, because of discrepancies in their youth system. So, they had to have a quiet transfer window, in spite of losing their main man Eden award to Real Madrid.
The only player they could sign, however, was Mateo Kovacic, who was already on loan at Stamford Bridge and the Blues decided to shell out 45 million euros for the Croatian midfielder Now, Kovacic is no Hazard, but he has the talent to shine at the big stage.
The biggest arrival of the summer for them has not been any player but their manager. With Sarri leaving for Juventus, the Blues brought in their greatest ever player Frank Lampard as the boss. Now Lampard has the nostalgia factor and the fan support, but given his experience in this role is just a year, he needs to up his game for Chelsea, in spite of having a good season in the championship last year with Derby County.
Christian Pulisic, often dubbed America’s best player, joined the Blues bac in January, but will make his debut with the start of the new season, and at 20 people are already comparing him to Eden Hazard. Only time will tell if he can take the Belgian’s place in the side.
Strength: In central midfield, there are few teams as strong as Chelsea with the likes of Kante, Kovacic, Mason Mount, Jorginho ,Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – with all of them having an incredible pre-season.
Weaknesses: The Blues look a depleted squad bit at the back and at the front. David Luiz is a sure starter, but players like Kurt Zouma, Anthoni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen don’t pose the same threat as say a Van Dijk or Maguire does. Full backs Azpilicueta, Marcus Alonso and Emerson are not up to the mark.
Even going in front, Chelsea have on-and-off wingers Pedro and Willian, and not a solid goal scoring striker – Giroud and Batshuayi are good but only as backups. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s Achilles fracture is also a worry for the Blues
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have been in somewhat of their golden period in the past year or so. With splendid performances, last year, they also managed to reach the Champions League Final while finishing fourth in the EPL. Will Spurs go one better sand consolidate their name as one of the best ever sides in the EPL. Only time will tell.
After an 18-month transfer hiatus, Spurs finally entered the market this year with their most expensive signing in history as they beat Real Madrid and Barcelona to secure Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for 65 million pounds.
Ndombele will fix the one loophole, that haunted Tottenham-a solid presence in the midfield. He provides the balance and composure that one needs from a central midfielder, and could very well become Spurs’important player on the pitch if he adjusts life well in the EPL.
They are also on the verge of signing promising young English right back Ryan Sessengon from Fulham, and would prove to be a good deal, since Kieran Trippier moved to Atletico Madrid.
Spurs, are also in the hunt to sign Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis or Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon, with key player Cristian Eriksen on the verge of leaving the club.
Strengths: Going forward, Tottenham are dangerous with Harry Kane leading the line and Delle Alli playing right behind him and Son Heung Min in the wings. The central defensive trio of Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Sanchez are also deadly.
Weakness: Both wing back positions look vulnerable, especially the right hand side with the departure of Trippier.
Last season Unai Emery’s side after starting with a bang ended slumped mid-season an ended on a disappointing 5th position. This year, Arsenal have splashed the cash and will be looking for a return to the Champions League after three consecutive seasons outside the top four.
Probably one of the most talked about transfers of the season was when Arsenal decided to splash a club record 80 million Euros on Lille striker Nicolas Pepe. On the wings, Arsenal have always been lacking a proper goal scorer and Pepe might just prove to be the signing of the season if he comes in to his own.
William Saliba also joined the gunners from St Etienne adding firepower to the backline after the departure of Laurent Koscielny. The lone signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid is also a smart move following Aron Ramsey’s move to Juventus.
But the Gunners’ transfer season is far from over. They are expected to bring in the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Rugani. But the most sensational rumour, has been their link with Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho.
Strengths: The frontline looks especially menacing especially after the arrival of Pepe, as he links with Aubameyang and Lacazette upfront.
Weaknesses: The back line for the Gunners seems very weak with no potential great players in the mix. Mustafi has been disastrous as a centre back, and also with the departure of Lichsteiner and on and off form of the likes of Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.
After a disappointing finish at sixth last season manager Ole Gunner Solksajer will look to rebuild the entire squad and assure the Red Devil of a return back to their glory days. The main objective for the squad, will be to re-enter the Champions League this season.
Manchester United have been the busiest ones among the top six in the transfer market, with them being linked to an astonishing 100 players in the whole transfer window.
Aaron Wan Bissaka was brought in from Crystal Palace this season for a whopping 50 million pounds, making him the second most expensive right back signing in the EPL. This was a position that United desperately needed to fill up, and with the defensive astuteness of Wan Bissaka, the Red Devils have got their first genuine right back since Gary Neville vacated the spot.
The transfer of the summer, however, was the arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a humongous 8o million pounds – thus making him the most expensive defender of all time. Maguire brings precision, leadership abilities and most importantly the physicality that United so desperately lacked at centre back.
They have also brought in Daniel James for just 15 million pounds from Swansea City, and the right winger form Wales has already proved to be a potential imporatant player in the few games he had in pre-season.
They are also inked to a number of players – mostly with Bruno Fernandes and Cristian Eriksen, and if they bring in any one of these players, it will improve the field, especially after the departure of Ander Herrera
Strengths: At the back, United look solid after a long time with a back four of Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof and Shaw. If players like Rashford and Martial light up, then United are very much potent in attack also
Weakness: Lack of depth in the squad is one of the major drawbacks in the squad. Also, the midfield looks weak, and if United fail to land a midfielder in the coming days, they are in for a deep trouble.