The new football season has started and we are three weeks into the season having reached the first international break.
What have we learned so far?
North London divide
As a loyal Arsenal fan it hurts to see what is happening to the club right now. Losing all three of their first three games in such a negative fashion, Arsenal are a club in turmoil and in need of an inspiring few months to climb the table to get back to where they belong which should be in a European football qualifying spot. Lack of fit first team players has definitely played its part in their poor start to the season, having missed out on Partey’s services due to an injury in pre-season was a big blow as he would’ve started alongside Xhaka in
midfield. Gabriel also missing due to injury would have been a starter at Centre Back having been one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers last season. Lacazette & Aubameyang both not being able to start our first two games due to COVID didn’t help, as they are the main source of goals for the club. Another huge problem with this team seems to be lack of experienced players with tactical nouse and desire to fight to win football matches. With many people calling for Mikel Arteta to get sacked due to the poor start to the season, it looks unlikely he will lose his job anytime soon as the Kroenke’s have made it clear they want to stick with him as the manager and trust his long term plan. For many, this plan seems very unclear, as Arsenal seem to have lost their identity and go into each match without any clear plan of attack or defence for that matter. Artetas’ plan seems to be to recruit young players and build a team for the future, moulding the team around players such as Emile Smith-Rowe and Martin Odegaard. Having spent £129 and counting million this summer on signings such as Ben White, Lokonga, Tavares and Odegaard, Arsenal are currently the windows biggest spenders, which puts even more pressure on the manager if they don’t live up to expectations. As I’m writing this, Arsenal sit 20th, yes 20th in the Premier League…
On the other side of North London, Tottenham have had a blistering start, winning three out of three games with a 1-0 score-line, including a huge win against Manchester City. The big speculation this summer around whether Harry Kane was going to stay at Spurs or not is finally over, with the English striker committing his future to Tottenham (for now). Beating Manchester City would definitely have helped convince him that his current club is capable of competing with the very best, but they need to be able to do so on a regular basis. With the sacking of Jose Mourinho last season, Nuno Esperito Santos was appointed before the start of this season and is currently doing a fantastic job. Bringing players such as Eric Dier and Dele Alli back into the team appears to have given the squad a boost and with Son firing the goals in, Spurs are looking good and likely to have a strong season, even if we are only three games in.
The newly promoted sides have had mixed success. Watford beat Aston Villa in their first game of the campaign in a thrilling five goal encounter with Sarr, Dennis and Hernandez all scoring for the hornets, they looked dynamic in their attack and for me, Ismaila Sarr is going to be a star, his flair and finishing ability for such a young player is frighteningly good, and you’d think he’s only going to improve with more premier league experience.
Norwich have struggled in their first three games as many expected they are one of the teams favoured for relegation due to lack of squad depth and first 11 quality. They’re going to be relying on Timo Pukki to fire them to safety in the league once more this season. They have however signed two great youth players on loan with Billy Gilmour (Chelsea) and Brandon Williams (Manchester United) which will add quality to the squad. Norwich main weakness is their defence which has been proven time and again to be leaky at this level, conceding ten goals in three games is a worry for fans of the Canaries.
Brentford have been tipped to be the most successful newly promoted side by many bookmakers. It’s easy to see why as well, they’re a strong, well organised team with a great manager in Thomas Franck. They are also unbeaten so far, winning against Arsenal in convincing fashion in the first game of the season and earning two hard fought points in the following two games, against Palace and Villa, they have made a statement to the rest of the league that they’re a serious outfit.
Who is going to win the League?
When it comes to talking about who could win the League this season, the gap has been closed and for me five or six teams could quite feasibly win the title. Starting with the current Champions, Manchester City are most people’s favourites to retain the Premier League title this year. After winning last years title by 12 points and adding 100 million pound man Jack Grealish to their roster, City fans have every reason to be excited about this year’s campaign. Even though they sold club legends Sergio Aguero to Barcelona this summer and David Silva to Real Sociedad, both these players didn’t play a substantial part in their victorious season last year due to injury or not being selected by Pep Guardiola.
Liverpool are in with a much better chance of challenging for the league this year, after being plagued by injury’s, namely Virgil Van Dijks’ ACL injury which held them back from being defensively sound enough, he is back this season and Liverpool have looked great in their first three league games, beating Norwich and Burnley convincingly and earning a point against Chelsea they’re sitting nicely in 4th place.
Chelsea could also win the League, off the back of their Champions League win last season, their clearly full of confidence and with star signing Romelu Lukaku returning to the club for his second spell with the Blues, Thomas Tuchels’ side look more than ready for the long season ahead with good strength in depth within the squad I think they’ll give the other top teams a huge run for their money.
Manchester United finished 2nd last season and will be aiming to win the league this year as they have made numerous world class signings such as Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus, Jadon Sancho from Dortmund and Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. All three you’d think being starters for the club. This added to their already talented team with players such as Greenwood and Pogba making a brilliant start to the season scoring goals and making lots of assists. Obviously the main talking point here is Ronaldo, widely considered as one of the world’s best footballers, coming back to Old Trafford for his second spell at the club. He is coming back aged 36 but as hungry as ever to win titles as he is such a focused professional, and will be eager to please the fans that have shown him respect over the years when he has played against United with Madrid & Juventus etc, not to mention how widely adored he was when he was winning Premier Leagues’ and Champions Leagues with the club over 12 years ago. Varane partnering Maguire at centre back will be a huge boost in confidence as defence has been the clubs main concern for a while.
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My top 6 predictions: My bottom 3 predictions:
1. Manchester City 18th. Watford
2. Chelsea 19th. Southampton
3. Liverpool 20th. Norwich
4. Manchester United
5. Tottenham Hotspur
6. West Ham United
Leave your predictions for this season down below in the comments!
Sports Blog – Written by Sam Newton