Most bookies, fans and pundits have Manchester City down as Premier League favourites this season. Fans of Liverpool will no doubt be hoping for at least a top-four finish, but perhaps Kopites should be looking for their team to have a tilt at the title.
Man City facing injury pile-up
It’s early in the season and City already have a few players sidelined through injury. The club’s talisman over recent years, Kevin De Bruyne, seems to be off the field more than he’s on it these days. Other key figures such as John Stones, Jack Grealish and new signing Mateo Kovacic have already picked up injuries which have seen them miss games.
With injuries already piling up and without the same strength in depth they once enjoyed following some high-profile departures, City may find fate and the betting odds turn against them as the season goes on.
No obvious challenger
If City struggle to maintain their impressive form from the end of last season, which teams are waiting in the wings to swoop in and take advantage?
Arsenal were a surprise challenger last year but fell short as much due to temperament as ability. They’ve strengthened over the summer, but whether they’ve yet shown enough to suggest they could be genuine title challengers this year is debatable.
They arguably benefitted from the inconsistency of teams around them last season, and we won’t know whether they’re more mentally prepared to mount a challenge until later in the campaign.
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Manchester United have had a poor start to the season and have too many problems to solve before they can be considered challengers. Defensive problems and a lack of creativity – particularly from wide areas – will be their undoing, even if they do put a run of wins together.
Expectation is at an all-time high at Newcastle following Saudi investment. While the club has made significant progress under Eddie Howe, it looks like a project which won’t see a real title challenge until next term at the earliest. Sustaining challenges in the Premier League and Champions League simultaneously is a tall order – just look at how long it took City to get it right.
With Chelsea still struggling to get things together, the only other club who might be considered as potential challengers are Spurs. Fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium are loving Ange-ball, but it’s a completely new approach for the club after recent seasons, and even in their best Premier League years, they’ve come up short.
Long live the King!
While Liverpool have brought in some new faces this season, the biggest success story from their transfer window may prove to be keeping hold of Mo Salah. One of the most influential players in recent seasons, his ability and experience could be the driving force behind an assault on the title by the Reds.
He and his teammates will need to be lucky with injuries. After all, Liverpool are another club arguably lacking in terms of squad depth, but a talisman who is on the pitch, playing well and scoring goals can often be the difference in those big moments which separate success and failure. Salah’s decision to stay at Liverpool gives the club an edge that none of their rivals have.