Latest posts by Charlie Widdicombe (see all)
- Why Formula E Could Overtake F1 As The Pinnacle Of Motorsport - August 13, 2018
- Premier League 2018/19: Pre-Season Predictions - August 10, 2018
- Fantasy Premier League 2018/19- Gameweek 1 Team Selection - August 10, 2018
It’s almost 3 months since Vincent Kompany lifted the 2017/18 Premier League trophy for a dominant Manchester City side. Since then, the football world has been encapsulated by a thrilling World Cup, and the earlier transfer deadline means that signings for England’s elite clubs are done and dusted before a ball has been kicked. But which club has made the most of the summer transfer window, who will spring a surprise, and which club will lift the league trophy on 12 May 2019?
Best transfer business
Everton and West Ham have both made a number of shrewd looking signings. The Toffees acquired a Barcelona trio of Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes, as well as midfielders Richarlison and Bernard. Only Richarlison can boast any Premier League experience; Marco Silva will be hoping his new signings will aclimatise to their new surroundings far better than the likes of Nicola Vlasic, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez, who all failed to perform when signed last season and ultimately cost former Everton manager Ronald Koeman his job.
West Ham have gone for several players who are experienced in the Premier League. Jack Wilshere was much improved for Arsenal last season and sought a move across London in an attempt to finally realise his potential, whilst Lucasz Fabianski and Lucas Perez are bargains at £7 million and £4 million respectively. Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks and Felipe Anderson will only improve but are already good enough to fit striaght into the Hammers’ XI.
Fulham have also impressed, building a strong squad that belies their status as Premier League status. Alfie Mawson was wanted by several league clubs and Andre Schurrle could prove signing of the season if he rediscovers his goalscoring form pre Borrusia Dortmund.
Best of all, though, is surely Liverpool. Alisson is the safe pair of hands Liverpool have been craving since Reina left 5 seasons ago, Fabinho and Keita are an upgrade on Henderson, Can and Milner/Wijnaldum, and Shaqiri provides top-class backup to the front three. It may not be enough to win them the title, but it certainly leaves them favourites to be the main challengers to Manchester City.
Most likely to disappoint
Having become the first team in the Premier League era to make no signings in a transfer window, Spurs have been widely tipped to drop out of the top four. But their young squad will continue to improve, and a top four finish would be considered a success if they brought a trophy back to their new stadium.
Expectation will be high for a Burnley team who finished 7th last season, but if they remain in the Europa League, they may be stretched with a squad that has only signed two outfield players, both of which (Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra) are unproven at this level.
Likely Title Winners
It’s simply impossible to look beyond a team that finished last season 19 points clear. City have kept all their players of significance and have strengthened with the signing of Riyad Mahrez. Liverpool may well close the gap, but City should have enough in hand to retain the title- a feat that hasn’t been achieved in a decade.
Such is the aura surrounding Wolverhampton Wanderers’ return to the Premier League, it would no longer be a surprise should they finish in the top half of the table.
Instead, it may be an established league team to spring a surprise. Crystal Palace steadily improved over last season with Roy Hodgson steering them to safety, and whilst Jordan Ayew, Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer are decent signings, keeping Wilfried Zaha was by far the biggest success for the Eagles this window. Behind the top 6 teams, Palace could surprise many to become “best of the rest”.
Teams to be relegated
Cardiff are the favourites to go down, and with a hugely inexperienced squad at this level it’s difficult to argue against the Bluebirds finishing rock bottom. Watford have failed to bring in high quality replacements for Amrabat and Richarlison, and the Hornets could well be in for a tough season. The third team is harder to predict: Southampton should just have enough quality, so it could be tight beteween Brighton and Huddersfield in their second seasons in the league.
All is not well at Manchester United. Jose Mourinho demeanour continues to deteriorate, criticising players and showing his displeasure at a lack of signings. A poor start at Old Trafford could lose him the dressing room and his job.
Rafa Benitez’s reputation has been restored at Newcastle whilst working under a minimal budget. If rumours that he is furious at the lack of funds available are true, it would be no surprise to see him walk away from St James’ Park and end up managing a club with European football before any other manager is sacked.