Just like that, the summer is over for these English clubs, and the Premier League season is upon us.
Last season was a thrilling affair that came down to the last week to decide who would win the league. Manchester City took it by one point in an almost unprecedented amount of league success, and Liverpool was right behind in a season they could also consider massively successful, as they nabbed their first UEFA Champions League Trophy since 2005.
There was drama throughout to see who would secure the top four spots, which gives the club a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League. Chelsea and Tottenham rounded out the top four, but Arsenal and Manchester United were not far behind.
After the first week’s games, it is safe to say this season will further ramp up the intrigue, as top clubs have either made interesting new signings, have controversy surrounding the team, or decided to stand pat. Here are the top storylines surrounding each top club, and what to keep your eyes out for as the season continues:
Their foot is still on the pedal. And really, they may have even ramped it up a notch.
Man City won the last two Premier League titles, and this past weekend they continued their dominant form with a 5-0 win over West Ham.
Man City is a stacked squad with a clinical striker in Sergio Aguero, star winger-depth in Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, and Leroy Sane, and the best-attacking midfielder in the world in Kevin De Bruyne.
Man City is not a club starving for success, but it still looks like they are. This level of motivation and devotion is why manager Pep Guardiola always gets the best out of his players, and City has their eyes on a three-peat. The team’s possession-based, spread-the-field play style has been massively successful for them, and they have the players to do it.
One trophy that has evaded City is the Champions League trophy, and this one is the most lucrative. Staying consistent in league play while also finding success in the Champions League tournament is difficult, and this is where depth in a squad really comes into play.
Already a stacked team, City added two players at positions of possible-need in Joao Cancelo at fullback and Rodri at defensive midfield. Man City may be the best club in the entire world right now, and their aspirations for this season should be nothing short of complete dominance and multiple trophies. After a superb effort this past weekend, it looks like they are right on schedule.
Liverpool, who finished second last season just a point behind Man City, decided to stand pat this summer and not make a major addition. They won the last Champions League with their current squad, so why spend?
Well, long seasons usually consist of nagging injuries and fatigue, so that’s why. But Liverpool has some of the best players currently playing in England, so they need not worry. Virgil Van Dijk is the best defender in the world, and the favorite to win the illustrious Ballon D’or award (best footballer of the year).
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are two of the best fullbacks in the world, and Mohamed Salah is a magician with the ball going forward.
After a 4-1 victory over Norwich City this past weekend, Liverpool can be very content with where they stand. The club surely wants a league title, and it cannot slip up much if it wants to beat Man City in the title race. The players know this.
Liverpool’s high-press attack puts the opposing teams on their heels, and their quick ability moving forward means they almost always take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes.
With an overall quality that the club has not seen in some time, Liverpool will look to build off of last season’s success and usurp Manchester City as the best team in England.
Chelsea is the most confusing team of the top six. They are a complete wildcard.
On one hand, they finished third in the league last year, in a season that was riddled with controversy and gave them a transfer ban, disabling them from adding any new players this season. It was expected of them to have a down year, but they won the Europa League Trophy and finished in a great position in the Premier League table.
On the other hand, a lot of this surprising success was due to their superstar leading forward Eden Hazard, who has since moved on to Real Madrid. Chelsea also has a new manager in former Chelsea-great Frank Lampard, who is relatively unproven.
To change things up, even more, Chelsea agreed to sell defender David Luiz to Arsenal just days before the season started, surely weakening the side. And yesterday, Chelsea was thoroughly thrashed by rivals Manchester United, 4-0. Not a great way to start a season.
If there’s one bright spot for the blues, it’s 20-year-old American phenom Christian Pulisic is on the squad. Pulisic is a speedy winger that will try to make up for some of what was lost with the transfer of Hazard.
It is rare for an American player to be so talented and highly sought after, and Chelsea has got him. Pulisic really has the talent and potential to be the greatest American soccer player ever. I know I am not the only one rooting for him to succeed.
After such a massive defeat to start the season, Chelsea has a lot of figuring out to do. As the wildcard among the top teams, they can finish anywhere from the top 3, to the lower half of the table.
Lampard must solidify himself as a strong manager if he wants to keep the job and maintain his wonderful legacy among Chelsea fans. In the coming months, we will see what this club is truly made of.
Tottenham Hotspur is a club that in years’ past would have been around the 4-8 range of the table. Now, under manager Mauricio Pochettino, they have been right around 2-4. For a club that is often ridiculed for not having many trophies, Tottenham is still in its golden age.
The club narrowly lost its first-ever Champions League Final to Liverpool last season and showed its fatigue by the time the game came around.
Now, they are rested, motivated, and deeper than they have ever been. With additions of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovanni Lo Celso as midfielders and star striker Harry Kane returning, Tottenham looks to rival Man City and Liverpool for the top of the league.
Spurs won 3-1 over the weekend over Aston Villa. Ndombele scored his first goal for the club, and Kane knocked in two more in a comeback effort. The team’s defense is strong, its midfield has the potential to be dominant, and it might just have the best manager in the world. Bet against Tottenham at your own peril.
Tottenham plays Manchester City this week, in a matchup of two titans.
Arsenal is the club on here with the next biggest question marks.
Arsenal is a team that can play some of the most beautiful football you will ever see. Look no further than this one-touch-frenzy goal they scored against Norwich a few years back.
But almost as often as we see their magic in the attack, come their blunders on defense. Arsenal wins trophies, but they have lacked the consistency to win the league in a 28-game season.
Usually quiet in transfer windows, Arsenal surprised many by signing defenders David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, William Saliba and winger Nicolas Pépé. Add this to a talented front pairing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, and Arsenal could easily be a top-four side this season.
Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0 yesterday. Their biggest question marks will be how the new signings fit, and whether their defense will be strong enough to stop the top players in the league.
Finally, Manchester United, the team worth the most in England and with the most successful history. However, since manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, the club has failed to reach expectations.
It is not for a lack of star power. The club has Paul Pogba, a superstar midfielder, young, speedy forward Marcus Rashford, and just paid bank for talented defender Harry Maguire. The real problem for United in recent years has just seemed to be a lack of chemistry and coaching-prowess.
Current manager Ole Gunner is a former United player and had a successful run last season that won him the permanent job. But there are still too many question marks surrounding his style and this team.
No one but the United faithful would believe the team is on the same level as the world’s best teams, Man City, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Juventus. There are tiers in football, just like any other sport, and United is not in the top one.
A finish in the top-four is not out of the question, but it is going to take a consistently brilliant effort from Pogba to make it happen.
Here is how the table looks after week one:
After one week, a single result is not going to make or break you. But momentum is real, and the winning teams will look to build off their early success. For the losing teams, like Chelsea, they need to get in the lab and figure out what went wrong.
One thing is sure for all 20 teams and fans for each and every one of them: this season is going to be a thrilling ride.