By Jack Hayhurst
Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece and views expressed in this article are not necessarily reflective of The Beehive or The Beehive’s associated writers.
Well the summer may not be over, yet the start of the new Premier League season has certainly grabbed our attention. The commitment that we will see from the newly-promoted Brighton and Huddersfield, both unfamiliar with the status of being a top-flight side, and the class of the bigger teams will surely bring us some very entertaining football.
Judging from pre-season performances and activity in the transfer window, the title seems very likely to be heading to Manchester, but to which team? Manchester City have spent around £212 million so far this summer on world class players such as Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur and Benjamin Mendy from Monaco, and their defence finally appears to be fairly solid following its calamity last season with John Stones and Claudio Bravo. They also have arguably the world’s best manager in Pep Guardiola, who will help City’s talented young players grow and fulfil their potential. City looked formidable both at the beginning and at the end of last season, however they will only be able to challenge for the title if they can replicate that form consistently throughout the season.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
Manchester United are certainly the team to keep an eye out for this season and Jose Mourinho is keen to win the title, as he always does in the second year of managing a club. Without breaking the bank like Guardiola has done this summer with City, Mourinho has quietly made some vital signings. Natural goal scorer Romelu Lukaku signed from Everton earlier this summer for a fee of £75million, potentially rising to £90million, having only just missed out on the Golden Boot last season with 25goals, and has already scored four goals in his first three official appearances for his new club this season. Lukaku is arguably the best striker in England currently, and brings not only goals but remarkable strength and pace. Having been encouraged to move to Manchester United by best friend Paul Pogba, the chemistry between the two will certainly be a joy to behold this campaign. However, Mourinho also completed the bargain of the summer after Serbian defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic joined the Red Devils from rivals Chelsea for a fee of around £40million. Matic is exceptional both defensively and offensively and will provide a free roam role for Paul Pogba. Not only will he help protect United’s defence, but he will also be key in instigating counter-attacks with his passing ability. Jose Mourinho has finally found a perfect defensive partnership in Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, a player who has completely transformed under the United boss, and has an excellent back-up option in Victor Lindelöf whom he acquired from Benfica this summer, although he has had a rather shaky start to life at Old Trafford. United have been playing great football recently and seem to be playing with flair and intent, just like they did under the great Sir Alex Ferguson. After winning both of their opening Premier League games 4-0 against West Ham and Swansea, placing them at the top of the table, Manchester United really could be the team to be at this season.
Predicted Finish: 1st
Chelsea could be a surprise package this season–but not in a positive way. Antonio Conte could replicate what Jose Mourinho at Chelsea did in the 2015-2016 season, which saw him get sacked before the start of the New Year. Conte, like Mourinho, has already begun to fall out with some of his players, in particular Diego Costa. Costa, now 28, was a key player for Chelsea last season and was their top scorer in all competitions, far ahead of the likes of Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi. However, after helping Chelsea win their sixth top flight title, the Chelsea striker received a text message from Conte explaining how he was not part of the Italian’s plans for the new season. Costa recently spoke out against his manger and has described the decision to inform him by text as a “moment of madness” and called the Chelsea boss “disrespectful.” Costa now seems unlikely to return to the club, with a move to Atletico Madrid being his preferred destination. To replace Costa Chelsea have signed Alvaro Morata for a fee around £60million, however many Chelsea fans are disappointed with the signing after missing out on top transfer target Romelu Lukaku. Although the Spanish centre-forward recently scored for the blues after coming on as a substitute against Burnley, he missed a sitter against Arsenal in the Community Shield penalty shoot-out and he has not looked comfortable in English football. Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat by Burnley on the opening day of the season was perhaps a reminder to Conte that this season may not be as easy as he thinks.
It is equally as difficult however, predicting the relegation victims as it is deciding the title victors. Newcomers Huddersfield have been dismissed and tipped for relegation by many, yet they might just provide a few surprises come the end of the season. They have a great manager in David Wagner, who guided them to a remarkable victory in the Championship Play-off Final having been relegation candidates that same season. They have also broken their transfer record this summer following the arrival of the highly talented striker Steve Mounie from Montpellier for £11million and Aaron Mooy from Manchester City for £8million, having impressed for them in a season-long loan last year. There is a possibility that Huddersfield may upset the odds once again.
It is fair to say that the new Premier League Season will be as exciting and competitive as ever. Most sides have strengthened their squads during this transfer window and there are many talented young players who will be given their chance to shine. The Premier League now consists of even more world class players and managers, and the class of the top sides will now be matched by the commitment and dedication of the smaller clubs. There have been some huge bills and there will be some heart-breaking spills, yet there will certainly be many big thrills!