In a year that did not see one of the World Cups, the European Championship or the Copa America, the summer was just another name for agony for football lovers. Their long wait, however, is set to be over on Friday, when the English Premier League gets underway.
Before the ball is kicked for the first time this season, this author chose to make some predictions about the 2017-18 season.
Champions: Manchester City
City have shown sheer intent in the transfer market, and Pep Guardiola’s boys look determined to wrestle the title away from Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. The Manchester club have an embarrassing wealth of attackers, but they needed to be better at the back, especially in the goal. With the summer acquisitions of Ederson, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo, they will hope that their problems would be solved and they can win their first league title in four years.
Runners-up: Manchester United
Jose Mourinho’s team have signed a proven goal-scorer in Romelu Lukaku besides the coach’s old favourite Nemanja Matic. It is widely being said that Matic’s inclusion will mean more freedom for Paul Pogba, but this also means the Red Devils’ defence will be even more difficult to get past. Last season they drew an unbelievable 15 games, which will certainly change this time around. However, I see City edging them in the hunt for the title. It will be very close, but United will give their bitter rivals a very hard time.
The champions have brought in the sensational Alvaro Morata, but they will not be the same without Diego Costa, who has been told that he may leave. Eden Hazard will need to shoulder more responsibility while Conte will hope new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko would replicate his last season’s form at Monaco. As a unit though, I do not see them going past the Manchester clubs.
Fourth: Tottenham Hotspur
This will probably be the last season in Spurs colours for the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. They have finished second last season, but their rivals have spent big money to outmuscle the The Lilywhites. Kane will still be the most likely to win the Golden Boot.
Fifth and Sixth: Liverpool need to keep Philippe Coutinho while Arsenal need to keep Alexis Sanchez. However, both of them are likely to depart and even if they stay with their respective clubs, I do not see them finish in the top four. The All Reds conceded 42 goals last term, while the Gunners 44 and neither has done much in the transfer market to bolster their defence, which will hurt them.
To be relegated: Burnley, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Golden Glove: David De Gea (Manchester United)