English Premier League 2018/19 - Top 6 Predictions
The world’s toughest football league is back, and the buzz that it generates is second to none! The opening week fixtures went more or less the way one would’ve expected, and there were no major upsets. So before the action gets really exciting, I thought of making my own predictions for the top 6 this season.
Here we go:
1. Manchester City
The reigning champions began their campaign with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Arsenal. The fact that they achieved this without even starting some of their key players like De Bruyne, Sane and Gabriel Jesus proves how strong this squad is. The addition of Riyad Mahrez makes them even more dangerous.It is going to be really hard for anyone to compete with Guardiola’s boys, who can be placed in the same league as that of Ferguson’s treble-winning team of ‘99 and Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ of 2004. Hence, Manchester City definitely are the favourites to win the title again, and thereby stamp their authority over the Premier League
If any team can give Manchester City a run for their "money" this season, it is Liverpool. They’ve spent big this summer, and addressed some of their key weaknesses from the previous season, the most significant of which is bringing in Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson from Roma. They have begun their campaign in style, thrashing West Ham 4-0 at Anfield. They were also the only side who were able to gain an upper hand over the champions last season. So an improved Liverpool side could definitely prove to be serious title contenders. But I’d still expect them to fall short this season, and end up a close second behind Manchester City.
This would be a surprise pick for many. But being a die-hard Gunner, I firmly believe that Arsenal is capable of finishing at this position. There is an air of positivity around the team right now, with a new manager, new group of support staff and some useful additions to the squad. This could just prove to be the catalyst that helps them go the extra mile this season. True, they lost to Manchester City on the opening weekend, but that was always expected considering how strong City are right now.
Arsenal’s main area of concern is their defence, which can be termed mediocre at best. But their attack is rather strong, and the front four of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil and Mkhitaryan / Ramsey could cause headache to any opposition on their day. The two strikers in particular look to be in fine form, and if they can remain injury-free for the entire season, then Arsenal definitely are capable of getting back into the top 4 this year. I expect a very tight competition for 3rd, 4th and 5th places, with Arsenal just making the 3rd spot.
4. Manchester United
Last season’s runners-up began their campaign with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Leicester. With rumours spreading around that there are issues between the manager and some of the players, the atmosphere does look a bit negative here, which could see them drop to 4th place this year. Some of the newly joined players still seem to be finding it difficult to follow Mourinho’s style of football, the primary example being Alexis Sanchez who has been a shadow of his former self ever since joining from Arsenal. From a neutral point of view, United's defensive style of play do seem to be having an adverse effect on the team’s overall performance. Having said that, this is a side with top quality players all round, and if they can resolve these internal issues quickly, they could very well surprise everyone and go a long way in the league.
The former champions seem to be in a bit of a turmoil right now, with their No.1 goalkeeper leaving for Real Madrid, and rumours that some of their key players want to leave the club. They earned a comprehensive victory over Huddersfield in their opening match, but it is their next match against Arsenal that would be the first real test for the team this season. A victory over their London rivals could definitely boost the squad’s confidence, and get them on track for a strong season. But like Manchester United, they need to resolve all their internal issues as quickly as possible. I do believe Sarri can bring out the best in this squad and even make them title contenders next season. But the way things stand currently, I would expect Chelsea to finish fifth this season.
6. Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham recently set a rather unpopular record by being the first club to make zero signings in the Summer Transfer window ever since it began in 2003. Financially, they seem to be going through a similar phase as their North London rivals twelve years ago when they moved to the Emirates Stadium. Yes, they do have a very strong starting 11 right now who can beat any side on their day. But should Harry Kane, Dele Alli or one of their other key players get injured, Pochettino would struggle to find a quality replacement. This lack of squad depth is the reason I expect them to finish 6th this season. And if the management doesn’t have sufficient funds to make quality signings in the future transfer windows, they could well be in a for a rough couple of years.
Irrespective of how things turn out in the next 10 months, one thing is certain - we are in for a really exciting season of football. Not just the top 6, the relegation battle also could turn out to be extremely tight this year, and with the quality of sides at an all-time high, all predictions could go out of the window by the time the season ends.