Rolling Stone India Pitch: What to Expect from the Upcoming Premier League Season
Kicking off this weekend look ahead to new kits, players and more
After the English Premier League had to endure a stop and start year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the season finally finished behind closed doors this past July. Liverpool ran away with the title – their first in 30 years – and secured a 19th Topflight Championship.
While the forthcoming 2020/21 Premier League season kicks off this weekend, a month later than usual (again due to COVID-19), we’re still thrilled to have it back more than ever. Here’s what can possibly go down.
Can Liverpool Retain the Title?
After missing out on the title by just a single point in the 2018/19 season to Manchester City, Liverpool were rampant this past season and charged to the title finishing an impressive 18 points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s team.
It’s one thing winning the league and it’s another thing to defend it. Over the last decade only once has the title been retained (Manchester City winning in 2017/18 and 2018/19). With Liverpool as strong as ever, you wouldn’t bet against them clinching a second Premier League title in a row.
Jurgen Klopp is looking to strengthen his team and is rumored to be linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcântara and bring him to Merseyside. Although Liverpool missed out on the curtain raiser Community Shield for a second year running against Arsenal at the end of August, the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino as well as new recruit Takumi Minamino will be looking to fire on all cylinders come the start of the season.
The Race for The Top 4
If Manchester City and Liverpool end up snatching the Top 2 spots in the league once again, that leaves only two more spots available for the others to battle it out for the Top 4 and Champions League qualification.
The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur as well as teams including Leicester City and Everton will be fighting for a Top 4 finish. Fresh from their FA Cup success and Community Shield win, Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta will be looking to build on that and have bolstered their squad especially in defense bringing in Brazilian center back Gabriel Magalhães.
History has proven that Jose Mourinho teams in their second season are usually much stronger than the previous year. Mourinho will be hoping that he’s able to build a strong squad around star striker Harry Kane to bring success to Tottenham Hotspur.
Both Manchester United and Chelsea were able to squeeze into the Top 4 last season and have also both bolstered their teams. With Chelsea spending big in the transfer market already and United still in the hunt to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho.
Leicester City who were on course to finish in the Top 4 last season, capitulated after the Premier League restarted from the lockdown. Brendan Rodgers’ team dropped to fifth, finishing one place out of the Champions League qualification but will be hoping to bounce back this season with striker Jamie Vardy in the team, who won last season’s Golden Boot scoring 23 goals. Everton on the other hand are building quite the team under manager Carlo Ancelotti signing Brazilian midfielder Allan and are in the market for Columbian midfielder James Rodríguez.
Chelsea Splash the Cash
Although most clubs are holding tight on their purse strings due to the financial climate being affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus, one team that has spent big is Chelsea. This may come as a surprise to some, but we need to be reminded that Chelsea had a transfer ban for the last two windows and hence owner Roman Abramovich has sufficient funds available for Frank Lampard to pick players to suit his system.
The Blues have brought in German striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig for £47.6 million, midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen for a total fee of £89 million, England left-back Ben Chilwell from Leicester City for a fee in the region of £50 million on a five-year deal, midfielder Hakim Ziyech from Ajaz for £35 million as well as seasoned center back Thiago Silva from Paris Saint Germain on a free transfer, who missed out on Champions League glory to Bayern Munich last month.
Leeds United Return to the Premier League
Back to the topflight after 16 years, one of English football’s most storied clubs, Leeds United makes their way back to the Premier League after securing promotion from the Championship last season. Joining Leeds are West Bromwich Albion and Fulham. While the teams that usually come up are the ones battling at the bottom of the table to avoid relegation, be sure for a few upsets, surprise results and more.
After coming up to the Premier League last season, Sheffield United finished in the top half in ninth place last season. The newly-promoted teams will be looking at them for inspiration and try to emulate their result while the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Burnley and West Ham United will hope not to get dragged into a scrap to stay in the Premier League come the end of the season.
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