The English Premier League gets underway soon and Manchester City and Liverpool are expected to dominate the title race once again and it’s hard to disagree. However, the more interesting viewing may well be in the capital city, London, rather than the country’s northwest.
The big change in London is the official confirmation of former Chelsea legend and New York City midfielder, Frank Lampard, returning to Stamford Bridge as the new head coach following Maurizio Sarri’s move to Juventus. Whilst it was hardly a secret nothing is done until it’s done and now it has been confirmed the season ahead poses serious intrigue for the future of the club – both in the short and long term.
Lampard proved during his time with Derby County in the English second tier that he’s a meticulous manager who demands high standards, which is what he has grown up with, and if you match the required effort then he’ll pour his trust into you and give you a platform to develop, whatever your age. That should be music to the ears of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who struggled for game time under Sarri despite spending most of their time in and around the first-team squad.
Meanwhile, defenders Fikayo Tomori, a loan signing for Lampard last year, and Ethan Ampadu, who has eight caps for Wales, could also see some time on the field. On the creative front, it’s predicted another of Lampard’s Rams loanees, Mason Mount, will play a big part in the new-look Chelsea side and Tammy Abraham will hope to take any opportunity that comes his way up top.
If Lampard is given the time, he could well guide Chelsea through their transfer embargo and develop a core of youngsters to help them for a decade or more.
Whilst it’s all change at Chelsea, another club in London are steadying the ship after parting ways with their long-standing manager, Arsene Wenger. Arsenal had a reasonable campaign last time out under Unai Emery and now he’s worked with his team for 12 months they’ll be much stronger this season – particularly if they can land Wilfred Zaha and Kieran Tierney – two long term targets – from Crystal Palace and Celtic respectively, but so far they have only signed a Brazilian youngster called Gabriel Martinelli.
Regardless of incomings, one problem remains for Emery and that’s Mesut Ozil, who is the top earner at the club and clearly isn’t a huge part of the plan at the Emirates. Unfortunately, his wage seems to be a stumbling block to moving him on so it might well be that Emery has his hands forced; mind you, Ozil is some talent to have in your midfield – providing he turns up with the right mindset.
The one big loss Arsenal have suffered during the close season is Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh midfielder was a fan favorite and after moving to Juventus this Summer, will leave a big hole to fill in the hearts of Arsenal fans. It won’t make or break Emery’s second season but if they find their local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, racing off ahead it could well be a contribution to any pressure that builds.
Spurs have their own business to look forward to and, arguably, have the most exciting season ahead of any team. The big news is their new stadium will be home for the entire season – like it should have been last year – and that’s a huge boost for the club.
After a couple of windows without any signings, it was suggested they didn’t have the funds to have the stadium and sign players, but they just landed French sensation Tanguy Ndombele for a record fee. Perhaps the increased season tickets, Michelin star restaurant, microbrewery, and Europe’s longest bar have all contributed to the transfer kitty. Also, since they will host games in October for the next season of NFL, future wagers are convinced in a positive outcome for Spurs next season.
On the field, they reached the Champions League final last time out where they lost 2-0 to Liverpool and it’s difficult to see them going one step further in 2020; instead, their focus should be on closing the gap to Man City and Liverpool whilst aiming to be best of the rest. This would mean at least one of Emery or Lampard would miss out on the top four to give the campaign added spice.
Although they are not top 6 favorites, like the teams mentioned above, West Ham should be looked upon, since they are apparently doing some great business over there. The Irons were able to sell troublemaker Arnautovic for $25 million to China, cashing in some money that will be necessary to land Maxi Gomez, a bright talent that plays in Celta de Vigo. The Uruguayan forward is 22, while Arnautovic is already 30, so the switch seems to have ideal timing.
Plus, the East London side, that is coached by Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini, has already signed Euro U21 sensation Pablo Fornals. The prolific attacking mid is one of the best Spanish talents and has joined from Villarreal for $24 million, a price tag that can be a bargain if he performs as he did in La Liga. West Ham finished 10th last season and they will be looking to improve that position.
Finally, in the London batch, there is Crystal Palace. They finished 12th last season, but they can say they were the only team capable of defeating the champions Manchester City in the last EPL. Andros Townsend wonder volley in that game even won the Goal of the Season Award. However, so far Crystal Palace hasn’t been having the best transfer season ever.
They secured Stephen Henderson on a free, but the goalkeeper from Nottingham Forest won’t be anything else than a backup. Still, they sold Aaron Wan Bissaka to Manchester United for $50 million, which means they have some cash to spend until the end of the month.
It is still uncertain whether Zaha stays with Palace, reports suggesting one of the North London teams will pick him up – Arsenal or Tottenham – but that would also mean more money coming in. If Palace is able to rebuild with young talent and spend the money wisely, they might be able to land another season safely from the relegation zone.
Who knows what the new season holds in store but, one thing is for sure. The London big boys should be fantastic to watch throughout the upcoming campaign.
Written by Ashley Munson