Chelsea defender David Luiz. He is rumoured to be heading rival neighbours Arsenal after allegedly chickening out under new manager Frank Lampard. PHOTO/COURTESY
In slightly over 24 hours, the Premier League gravy trains engine kick start its engine for another nine months of nonstop action.
The usual suspects are expected to remain at the driver’s cabin despite noises from the chasing pack. So the question is; in what state of health do these six teams go into the season? Who has done some good business?
City are bookies favourite for a third tittle in a row and possibly Guardiola’s final stint at Manchester city.
They have gone about their business in frightening efficiency. They have bought Fernadinho’s replacement and have somehow convinced Juventus that Danilo is worth 34 million, the cheeky bastards, replacing him with Cancelo.
Expectations are that they are supposed to stream roll their way again to the tittle due to their squad in depth and quality of players.
David Silva, arguably their best ever player, enters his swansong year at Man City and he would want to leave on a high. De Bruyne will hopefully have a full season in him and that in itself is a reason to worry for the premier league.
Player to watch: Benardo Silva
His Gaffer thought he was cruelly omitted from the final list of FIFAs best players, and few would argue against that assessment. He was Man City’s standout performer, currently Guardiola most trusted lieutenant and is expected to push into the top tier as one of the very best in the game
Despite the acquisition of Cancelo from Juventus the team stills looks short due to the departure of Kompany and their continued nightmare of Mendy (Zinchenko is no left back). Could their defensive inactivity come to bite them?
Predicted finish: 1st
A quiet summer it has been for the European Champions. They have decided to go with the tried and tested team that came painstakingly close to a premier league title, but danger lies in stagnation.
They have recalled a few players from loan who will be expected to push some of their reserve players as the first team is done and dusted.
Players to watch: Sadio Mane
On the shortlist for FIFAs player of the year Champion’s League winner, Afcon finalist, Premier League top scorer. What else could he want? The feeling remains he could still surpass those heights. A first African player of the year since George Weah?
Their inability to freshen is their biggest Achilles heel.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Chelsea summer has been characterized by loss of their best player, one new signing and a flurry of loan signings recalled to the stable.
A new coach has also taken over the helms. And for the first time we will get to known how good their academy is.
Player to Watch: Frank Lampard
Possibly handed a free shot this year, but how he decides to take the shot is what will determine his long term future. How he will incorporate youth and experience will be key to the season’s performance.
Giroud is not a 20 goal a season striker, Tammy Abram is not proven at this level, Batshuayi has been a hit and miss, they have lost Hazard, where will the goals come from?
Expected finish: 5th
After an incredible run to the final of the Champion’s League they have their noses up and followed it up with breaking their transfer record.
Despite getting a few players across the line they have lost a fair bit of first teamers and they seem to be an injury or two away from digging profusely into their academy. They hope to seal a deal or two in the final day to give them the safety net needed.
A left back, a midfielder and a striker need to be purchased or loaned.
Player to watch: Ndembele
Has already shown enough promise in preseason to set some Tottenham fans tickling in their loins. A replacement for Ndembele who will provide the thrust from midfield. His performance will be key to their season.
Their first 11 can trade punch for punch with the best and still come out favorably, but that’s as good as it gets.
The best news of the transfer has been they were able to keep all their strikers and added another goal threat in Pepe. The worst news is in the course of the season they could field a center back pairing of Mustafi and David Luiz (if transfers go against them).
Simply stupefying! Of importance will be the defensive coach ability to coach a semblance of defense into the shambles at the back. Journey back to the cream of Europe is of utmost importance to the team and could be the catalyst to Unai’s unemployment.
Player to watch: Pepe
With his big price tag, he has to hit the ground running. Emery mentioned a lack of wingers denied him flexibility in his first season at the Emirates but with purchase of Pepe and return Reiss, better is expected of the Spanish schemer.
Possible finish- 4th
Had some shrewd defensive signing, at least it’s the last of a pairing consisting of Jones and Smalling.
Harry Maguire literally beefs up the defense and in Bissaka they have acquired one of the most promising fullbacks in the game, but that ends our story. The midfield is a senior starter light with the departure of Herrera and Pogba still doesn’t really fancy them.
It will be a nervous 3 weeks as the Mancs will be casting anxious glances at The Iberian Peninsula hoping Zidane doesn’t finally pry away their prized asset. The hope is that more academy graduates will be given a chance to show what they can do.
It’s up front where there is the biggest cause of worry. Dan James is fast and is hardworking, but hard work can only get you so far. They have lost Lukaku and have to rely on Rashford to finally start producing the goods.
Player to watch: Rashford
By alienating Lukaku at the tail end of last season and declaring Rashford his first choice striker, OGS made his bed and he now has to lie in it.
Rashford has to prove his manager right or things may go south pretty fast. It’s believed the coach had a stay of execution with his team’s comic finish to last season and he won’t be second time lucky if a repeat is witnessed.
Tempers have been on short leash since Fergie stopped prowling the touchline and they are not about to change. Will he last till Christmas?
Where will the goals come from?Possible finish: 6th