Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Season Preview: Liverpool Stands Pat; Chelsea Moves; Reunions at Everton; The New Guys

Top of the Table

Defending Champion Liverpool enters the 2020/21 season with a largely unchanged championship roster and should benefit out of the gate from a long rest uninterrupted by late stage 2019/20 European competition. Detractors suggest a lack of transfer spending risks complacency in the squad but even without any notable additions Jurgen Klopp's men should be well positioned for a title defense and potentially a better performance in this year's Champions League.

Chelsea has made the most aggressive (and expensive) moves in the transfer window to enter the title discussion. While bidding farewell to Willian and Petro, the team has added additional flash to its attacking options with incoming transfers Timo Werner, Hakim Zavich and Kai Haverz. The ability of Christian Pulisic to put together an extended injury free run could be a key to Chelsea's fortunes. Defensively, the club has attempted to address deficiencies through the additions of left back Ben Chilwell from Leicester and center back Tiago Silva from PSG. A change of goalkeeper remains a possibility to complete a defensive upgrade for a club which allowed more goals than any of the European qualifiers in 2019/20, twenty-seven more goals allowed than title winner Liverpool.

Manchester City enters its first season in a decade without club stalwart David Silva and likely suffering some self-doubt following another passive exit from the Champions League. Pep Guardiola's team continues to feature an embarrassment of riches in attack (102 goals in 2019/20, 17 more than title winning Liverpool) but shows signs of weakness in defensive positions only partially addressed to date by the acquisition of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth.

Manchester United starters showed signs of wear at last season's end as a thin bench forced additional minutes on the starting eleven. The acquisition of Donny van de Beek helps with midfield depth and hopefully minutes can be amicably shared with stars Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Unsuccessful attempts so far to acquire Jaden Sancho and to further bolster the back line somewhat temper the optimism generated from a promising Rashford/Martial/Greenwood front line and the dynamic midfield pairing of Fernandes and Pogba.

Leicester stumbled at the end of last season following an unexpectedly strong start which saw them second in the table at mid-season before ultimately falling to fifth. Europa competition will put additional strain on the Foxes who have lost highly regarded left back Ben Chilwell. Leicester's attack remains heavily reliant on the form of 33-year-old Jamie Vardy. 

Jose Mourinho continues to be a fascinating study as is being highlighted in the new Amazon television documentary. Has he been a success at Spurs? Based on points accumulation from the time of his November 2019 appointment, Mourinho would have Spurs finishing in the league's top four. By his own standards, however, Spurs lost more games during that period than Mourinho lost in his first two seasons at Chelsea combined. Even if the team is successful on paper, will Spurs fans accept Mourinho's pragmatic tactical approach? Can Arsenal build on its FA Cup and Community Shield trophies and qualify for Europe? The retaining of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is key to hoopes for progress from Mikel Arteta's side. The signing of Lille defender Gabriel and a potential center back pairing with youngster William Saliba could mitigate some of the team's defensive frailties. The resurgence of defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka will also need continue to solidify the back half.

Mid Table

Wolves appeared greatly tired at the end of its recently concluded Premier and Europa campaigns. The loss of defender Matt Doherty to Spurs further depletes a relatively thin roster. Fortunately, rumored interest of other teams in forwards Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore seems to have somewhat quieted and the team has made an investment in the future by signing highly regarded 18-year-old youngster Fabio Silva from Porto. 

The jury is out as to whether Sheffield United can kick on from a surprisingly strong maiden season following its promotion from the Championship. The team has secured former Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to replace Dean Henderson who was exceptional last year while on loan from Manchester United.

Everton will need to step forward in Carlo Ancelotti's first full season at the helm or possibly face another project re-start. Ancelotti was outspoken on the need to be active in the current transfer market and is now successfully reunited with two former players. Former Ancelotti players James Rodriquez (Real Madrid) and Allan (Napoli) join him to overhaul an Everton midfield in need of renovation. Also joining the revamped Everton midfield is Abdoulaye Doucoure from relegated Watford. 

Sean Dyche justifies being the currently longest tenured Premier League manager by keeping a modest Burnley squad entrenched in the table year after year. Solid defending and the outstanding goalkeeping of Nick Pope make Burnley a tough out in any given match week.

Southampton finished last year strongly under Ralph Hasenhuttl but will need another strong year from striker Danny Ings. 

Steve Bruce did not receive enough credit for keeping Newcastle 10 points clear of relegation last season. The recent addition of striker Callum Wilson from Bournemouth can hopefully add to a goals tally for Newcastle which exceeded that of only three teams in the 2019/20 campaign.

Bottom of the Table

Crystal Palace has been buying time for years now with an aging roster lacking in attacking options. Fans also seem to be tiring of the annual saga regarding Wilfried Zaha's future. Zaha was not the same player last year after rumored moves to Arsenal and Everton failed to materialize. Winless in their final 8 games last year, Roy Hodgson's squad may well be drawn into this season's relegation scrap. 

Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham did little over the abbreviated break to improve their fortunes and may also be facing a relegation battle. Possible the oft injured Adam Lallana, newly arrived from Liverpool, can make a difference in the Brighton midfield. Despite the interest of suitors such as Chelsea, West Ham has so far retained mid-fielder Declan Rice, the loss of whom would significantly dampen the Hammers' chances this coming season.

Aston Villa survived last season with an exciting and gutsy final week. That said, the margin for error remains slim without meaningful roster additions. Keeping talisman Jack Grealish would seem essential to ensure another year's stay at the English top level. 

Of recently promoted squads, Leeds seems best positioned for a strong season. The iconic English cllub, under mercurial manager Marcelo Bielsa, brings an attack minded philosophy. Leeds generated 12% more shots than its nearest Championship competitor last season. 

Fulham returns to the Premier League under promising young manager Scott Parker. The economic effect of Covid 19 and new stadium expenditures may be limiting Fulham player acquisitions this transfer window in a significant departure from the spending spree which preceded the club's Premier League visit two years ago.

Former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic returns to the Premier League with West Brom, though there is little to indicate an extended stay. Matheus Pereira is the creative key to the West Brom attack which features former Premier League players Charlie Austin and Hal Robson-Kanu up front.


  1. Top-tier! Sounds like Pulisic’s hamstring is healed up from the FA Cup, so joining you in fingers crossed that the newly-minted #10 stays healthy...

    1. I believe he may be the first American to wear the number 10 in the Premier League. Clint Dempsey was #23 when at Fulham.

  2. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article...

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I look forward to sharing an exciting season with you!


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