Preview: English Premier League 2017/18

August 4, 2017

Posted by David Stephens Receive News Alerts

There is no doubt in my mind that Man City have a title winning side and I will even go as far as suggesting,City must be expected to win the Premier League this season. The odds are just below 3.00 on the City win.

Coach Guardiola has finally realised that he has to strengthen their defensive line and he has bought two world class defenders, B Mendy and K Walker along with a new keeper from Benfica. C Bravo, their other keeper, was much better playing for Chile than playing in the City shirt.

The excellent Monaco midfielder B Sliva has also joined Man City and I also expect big things from Gabriel Jesus this season. David Silva, injured at the moment, will be fit for the season opener and both Kun Aguero and V Kompany are fit and playing at the moment.

City seem to have hit early season form having scored seven goals vs Real Madrid and Tottenham in friendly games.

Chelsea will be as strong as last season, potentially that is, but now they will also play in Europe, in the Champions League, and it is an entirely different challenge to compete on two fronts for Conte’s men. Conte is of course aware of this, but there are a lot of choices to be made this season while it was mostly plain sailing for Chelsea last season.

Rudiger, the ex Roma defender, who performed sensationally well for Germany in the Confederations Cup, has joined Chelsea and Conte has also signed on Bakayoko from Monaco and Morata from Real Madrid. Perfect signings, the way I see it and Morata is supposed to replace D Costa who is on his way away from the club. Matic will probably leave for Man United, but Conte has not made his last signing.

Chelsea look strong and if you like to back Chelsea also this season, the odds are 4.50.

Man United look pretty much the same as last season. Their new striker Lukaku will hopefully be scoring as many goals as Ibrahimovic last season and their other new signing Nilsson-Lindelöf, a defender, has to improve his game drastically, or he will find it tough to be a regular in the United defence. He mostly played poorly for Benfica in Europe last season, but Mourinho must have noticed something else, or he would not have bought the Swede.

Someone pointed out that the prolific goal scorer Lukaku rarely scores in the big profile games and this has to change at United.

The odds on the United league title win are 5.00. United were hard to beat last season, but they too often failed to break down inferior sides at Old Trafford. They rarely impressed, but they won two titles, did they not? However they have to play much better offensive football to win the Premier League? Maybe Mourinho sees it differently.

Tottenham have an awesome starting eleven including the cream of the crop of the English footballers, but they do not have a squad strong enough to compete both in Europe and in Britain. They have been close to a disaster in Europe these last two seasons, but I cannot believe that coach Pochettino will sacrifice success in Europe for success on the domestic front this season. Tottenham have a lot to prove in Europe and they have to make a serious attempt this time around and it will cost them league points, at least from my stand point. No big signings so far by Spurs, but there is always a chance that new home grown talents will get their breakthrough this season. That is the way coach Pochettino likes to do it and you can only admire him for that. Pochettino, by the way, has promised to recruit one or two new strong players these last two weeks.

Anyway Tottenham cannot afford many injuries with their rather thin squad. Tottenham as league winner are priced 11.00.

Both Liverpool and Arsenal are priced 13.00 to actually win the league title.

Not consistent enough is my general opinion about these two rather attractive sides. Probably not strong enough either, but on a good day their respective offensive lines can match any attacking line out there.

Liverpool can attack with both M Salah and S Mane from the flanks this season and if they can hold to on to P Coutinho (which I doubt) they will be quite an attacking force. They have to strengthen their defensive line and there is a good chance than Van Dijk will join from Southampton and believe you me, he would be perfect for Liverpool. A Robertson, left back, has joined from Hull.

So on their day Liverpool will probably blow any team away, but it is this “tiny” problem of consistency they have to handle better.

Lacazette, the Lyon forward, has joined Arsenal from Lyon. He is great, but not week in and week out, if you know what I mean and I fear he will prove to be one of these “typical” Arsenal players, the multi-talented ones, but not always the 100 % motivated ones.

I sound a bit disillusioned? Sure enough. Wenger and his Arsenal will probably have a mixed season again. Last season they won the FA Cup, but they also conceded ten goals against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and there is no excuse for such results. They ended the season well and I will give them credit for that. As Arsenal are my side I can see myself giving this 13.00 on the title win a chance.

Everton have sold Lukaku to Man United and so far they have bought the Ajax midfielder D Klaasen, S Ramirez, striker from Malaga, the Burnley defender M Keane, W Rooney and a new keeper, J Pickford. About Rooney I have my doubts, but Klaasen is quite a player. They will most likely sign G Sigurdsson from Swansea and he will be ideal for Everton, especially as it looks like R Barkley will leave.

West Ham have surprised me most so far by signing M Arnautovic and J Hernandez, Chicharito you know. Zabaleta has also joined the club and the England keeper Joe Hart as well.
I predict than Arnautovic could be a West Ham hero. He is the kind of player who thrives on inspiration, a bit like D Payet and with the backing of the Hammers faithful he could perform miracles. He was the brains behind many Stoke points last season. Chicharito is a proven goal scorer and that is a fact and he will feed off Andy Carroll, I am sure. West Ham look good, maybe as strong as Everton.

Huddersfield are favourite to go down, but I do not know if they are much worse than half a dozen other teams. Huddersfield have a shrewd manager, they have established a way of playing their football, they are sticking to their principles and they have signed some quite decent players for this season.

New untested Premier League coaches can be a problem. Say Southampton who have hired M Pellegrino. His Southampton have yet to make any big signings and they will most likely lose their defensive ace Van Dijk. F De Boer will try his luck at Crystal Palace, (Loftus-Cheek and J Riedewald are new Palace players), M Silva has left Hull for Watford. W Hughes and N Chalobah will play for Watford this season, but Beharmi is set to leave. My guess is that these three clubs will be able to prolong their season in the Premier League, but they cannot be quite sure.

G Sigurdsson will leave Swansea, it is almost a fact and he was their everything last season. OK, there will be funds for coach Clement, but there is no guarantee that Clement will be able to sign the right kind of players. So far Roque Mesa and the young striker T Abraham have joined Swansea.

Stoke were mostly a disappointment last season and now their ace Arnautovic has left the club. Defender P Bardsley has also left along with their all-important striker J Walters as well. Without Arnautovic and Walters last season Stoke would have been relegated, or close to it and I am not optimistic about the Stoke season. K Zouma, a defender, has joined from Chelsea and D Fletcher is now a Stoke player.

Newcastle have been surprisingly inactive on the transfer market, but I do expect Benitez to strengthen his side in these last two weeks. Well, not really inactive, but I would have expected bigger names than their recent signings, who are J Murphy, Lejeune, Manquillo and Merino.

Brighton are a well oiled unit, they will probably be OK, but I would not risk my money on this assumption.

Burnley have signed the two veterans J Walters and J Bardsley and J Cork and C Taylor as well, but their leading defender M Keane has left for Everton.

J Defoe has joined Bournemouth and I like this signing despite the Defoe age factor. Bournemouth are like Huddersfield, but a little stronger, their coach Howe is sticking to his ideas and they will get their points.

WBA? Not to worry. There always seems to a place in the Premier League for a Tony Pulis team. They play some kind of “ in your face football”, they are the masters of set pieces and there is not a team that enjoy facing a team like WBA. Jay Rodriguez and an Egyptian defender have joined WBA and their veteran midfielder D Fletcher has left for Stoke.

R Mahrez, who was a disappointment last season, is still a Leicester player as I am writing these lines. Iheanacho, a striker, is sure to join from Man City. Iborra and H Maguire are new signings. I do not trust Leicester, I do not have faith in their coach, but I guess they will be OK.

Swansea and Stoke are teams that risk getting into trouble this season, but who will finally get relegated?

Burnley, Swansea, and one of the newcomers Brighton, or will it be Huddersfield, but I have to say, it is mostly guess work.

In the Championship I do not care much for two of the relegated sides, Hull and Sunderland, but I think I will back the third relegated side, Middlesbrough, to win the Championship title. They have invested more than 30 million pounds on new players and they have hired Gary Monk as their coach.

The Toulouse striker M Braithwaite has joined the club. He is good and another strong goal scorer is Assamabalonga who has joined from Nottingham Forrest. He has scored 30 goals for Forrest in 65 games. A third, quite promising striker, is A Fletcher, who has joined from West Ham. J Howson, C Christie and D Randolph have also joined Boro. Many of their foreign players have left.

The odds on the Middlesbrough league win is 9.00.

Aston Villa could also be worth backing (8.00). Their two new defenders John Terry and Chris Samba are not the quickest in the business, but surely these two will rule in the Championship. G Whelan, another proven Premier League player has joined Villa along with the former Hull footballer Elmohamady, who coach Bruce knows well from his stint at Hull. Bruce and his Villa have to deliver this season, but will their strikers do the job?

Wolves are also on the go with new players like the expensive R Neves new in their team along with D Jota and W Boly. They have half a dozen of quite strong players in their team, mostly Portuguese players, and they look interesting, at least in my opinion. Their new coach is also Portugese, Nuno. How he will fit in the Championship is of course an open question, I admit that.

The odds on the Wolves win are 14.00.

– Chris

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