Staff writer Christy Malyan – aka The Clickbait King – has his say on what’s probably going to happen in the Premier League this season.
Can’t say I agree with his ‘Signing of the Season’ pick, but he insists the man is going to procude…
With Manchester City and Manchester United’s one-upmanship in the transfer market dominating the headlines, Chelsea’s title credentials have slipped under the radar – and the less focus on the west London club after last season (the campaign that shall not be named) the better.
The Blues’ squad is still overflowing with proven winners and although they’ll have to adapt to Antonio Conte, the Italian faces a much smaller rebuilding job than Guardiola or Mourinho.
His task is simply to get prior champions performing like champions once again and that results-first style ingrained into the Chelsea DNA could be the difference in a title race set for more turbulence than an Air Asia flight piloted by Gazza.
City are still miles away from being a true Guardiola side and that transition will almost certainly cost them at times this season.
United, meanwhile, will be able to churn out results in typical Mourinho style and their signings are ready to hit the ground running, provided Pogba’s finally recovered from his Las Vegas hangover.
Arsenal will do what they always do; start slowly, debate Arsene Wenger’s future, suddenly start playing beautiful football and look like challenging before crumbling in March and finishing in fourth place… and then hand Le Prof a new contract!
Three clubs in need of proven Premier League quality but all coming to the end of disappointing summers. Sean Dyche has only brought four players to Turf Moor thus far and although he’s always protruded team ethic over ability, their squad is still essentially at the same level it was during 2014/15 when they finished five points short of safety.
Likewise, Swansea City have sold their entire attack and replaced it with an ageing Fernando Llorente and Atletico hotshot Borja Baston, whilst captain Ashley Williams has just left for Everton three days before their first game. I just can’t see enough quality in their starting Xi. And finally, Hull City.
Their summer has been dictated by Steve Bruce’s resignation and last season’s Playoff final hero Mo Diame is another huge loss. With an injury list multiplying like a gremlin thrown into a swimming pool, the Tigers surely won’t recover in time to put in a viable survival bid.
Liverpool are a real force under Jurgen Klopp, albeit one with some debatable summer signings and overshadowed by questions of consistency.
I can’t see the Reds being a genuine part of next season’s title race or even making the top four, but their potential combined with Klopp’s ability has to manifest in some form and the FA Cup could be the competition in which they really come to the fore. If Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are fit, the Reds can beat anybody.
If Zlatan Ibrahimovic is even half the player he was at PSG, then the signing of the season is virtually a no contest. It seems implausible the 34-year-old will score as frequently in the Premier League but even 15 goals would be a handsome return for a striker signed on a free transfer.
Likewise, there will be plenty of tricks and skills for the cameras along the way. So even when you factor in Zlatan’ s outrageous wages, the Premier League’s 19 other clubs will struggle to land a better pound-for-pound signing.
Ilkay Gundogan is a talented player and for £21million, on paper at least, he’s an absolute steal for Manchester City.
He’s a German international, a BuLi winner and a former Champions League finalist who fits the Guardiola philosophy perfectly. The only issue, however, is the 25-year-old’s injury record. He’s never managed more than 28 league appearances in a single season throughout his entire career and spent almost a year out of the game with a serious back injury.
He now arrives at the Etihad with a dislocated kneecap, so even if Gundogan recovers by the end of August, he’ll still be playing catch-up with his team-mates and the rest of the Premier League – never a good scenario when you move to a new club.
Alex Iwobi showed glimpses of his ability last season and with Arsene Wenger yet to add to his attacking options, the 20-year-old could find himself enjoying an important role in the Arsenal squad this year.
He’s quick, intelligent, has a lethal eye for goal and is clearly trusted by Wenger, who called upon him against Barcelona in the Champions League last season.
With the careers of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seemingly stuttering, Le Prof could end up turning to Iwobi as his main man on the right-hand side.
Stoke City have been threatening to upset the Premier League’s established order ever since Mark Hughes took the job in 2013.
They boast a fantastic goalkeeper in Jack Butland, a formidable and experienced back four, technical talent in midfield and attack but there’s just one piece of the jigsaw missing – a 15-goal per season striker.
If the Potters boss can add one to his squad before the summer transfer window slams shut – with West Brom’s Saido Berahino the standout candidate – his side stand as good a chance as any of capitalising on the chaos in the Premier League next season.
For what City may lack in defensive organisation next season, they’ll almost certainly make up for at the other end.
Leroy Sane adds to an already impressive attacking midfield containing David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne and one can only assume Guardiola’s presence will see their chance creation stats reach an all-time high.
And fortunately for the Citizens, they have the most lethal finisher in the Premier League to put them away. Its just a question of whether Sergio Aguero can keep himself fit for in excess of 30 games. If he does, he’ll finish top of the scoring charts.