Top 5 Things to Watch Out For This Premier League Season
The Premier League season kicked off this weekend and as usual there are plenty of talking points about the season ahead. Last year we got an incredibly tight race for the title between Manchester City and Liverpool which was only decided on the final day of the season. Are we in for another two-horse race or can the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea or Arsenal cast their hat in ring?
- Will Frank Lampard last the season at Chelsea?
Frank Lampard is back at the club where he won every title possible in 13 seasons and scored 211 goals. The Englishman has had only one managerial season under his belt, and that was in the Championship with Derby. Lamps led the young Rams team to the play-off final last year, but the jump to the Premier League has started with what Lampard called a “reality check” in their 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford.
The score-line was a lot harsher than the actual performance suggested, as the Blues twice clattered the frame of the goal. Lampard of course has also had to contend with a summer transfer ban, thought it could well work in his favour by granting him more time to work on his tactics with the players that he has got.
Eden Hazard’s departure to Real Madrid leaves a fairly big void in the Chelsea team as the Belgian was the topscorer for them in the last two campaigns. So, the key question for the Blues this season will be how well they can cope with their restricted roster. And as always, if results continue to not go their way, how long with Roman Abramovich keep his cool?
- How will VAR work in the Premier League?
This is the first season that VAR has been fully introduced in the Premier League and we already got to see it in full flow during Man City’s game against West Ham. VAR chalked off a Sterling goal as it was deemed his shoulder was offside and later it allowed Sergio Aguero a retake of his penalty after Declan Rice had infringed into the area when the spot kick was initially taken.
More than a few people believed that video referees would end all debate around decisions and take away talking points, but if anything, it looks like VAR will only add to the discussion. The impact that VAR will have on the English game will be interesting to watch, as the Premier League officials have stated that they don’t intend to change the fast-flowing nature of matches and will reverse decisions only where ‘clear and obvious’ errors have been committed.
One can expect to see VAR in the discussion almost every weekend and more than a few big games will likely end up being decided by it. One can now officially say that football has likely changed forever and will never be the same again.
- Can Manchester City continue to raise the bar?
Manchester City start as the massive favourites to capture the Premier League once more after holding off Liverpool last season, despite the Reds very best efforts. If anything, City’s performances in the previous season were even more impressive than their record-setting 2017-18 campaign as they won 14 games on a trot to close out the league.
This summer City have added even more depth to their squad with the signings of Rodri and João Cancelo and as Jose Mourinho put it on Sky Sports he reckons Man City’s B-Team could contest for the title as well. The 5-0 thrashing of West Ham inspired by a Raheem Sterling hat-trick certainly indicates that this team has all the ingredients to win the title once more.
Many feel that the Champions League will be Pep Guardiola’s top priority this year, but ever since becoming the Barcelona manager in 2008, he has gone on to win the league title in eight out the 10 seasons at the various clubs he has managed. The lure of doing a threepeat and matching their city rivals’ record for consecutive PL titles will be undeniable.
- Will Liverpool’s wait for domestic glory continue?
Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a Premier League title would have ended last season had City slipped up even once on the home stretch. The Reds didn’t end their campaign empty-handed however, with a victory over Spurs sealing a sixth European title.
However, it wouldn’t be remiss to suggest that it is the domestic title now that the Reds will want to capture at all costs. Jürgen Klopp didn’t really change his squad this summer, suggesting that he is happy with the current crop of players that he has and believes they are good enough to bring domestic glory to Anfield.
They started off with a statement of intent in their 4-1 win over Norwich in the opening game of this campaign. Mo Salah was once more on the scoresheet and he will be hoping to get his hands on a third successive top goalscorer award. With a Champions League victory now under their belt, it may well prove to be the year that The Reds finally end their barren league title patch, in the process, elevate this group to immortality.
- Are the Good Ole returning at Man United?
This summer has been a strange one for Manchester United and their fans. They have strengthened the team in the areas of immediate concern, but there remains the feeling that not enough has been done to get them back on track.
Harry Maguire and Aaaron Wan-Bissaka cost the Red Devils over £130million and the defensive solidity they bring to the previously porous backline was there to see on Sunday in United’s 4-0 win over Chelsea.
But now that the defence seems to be fixed, it is personnel upfront that fans will be worried about. Romelu Lukaku was allowed to leave for Inter Milan and no new striker was signed to replace him. This means that the responsibility for the attack falls squarely on Marcus Rashford’s shoulders. The 21-year old is clearly talented, but how will he cope with being the number one striker at the club?
And finally, there is one Paul Pogba. The Frenchman seems to change his mind about his future plans just as often as one changes the toilet roll in the bathroom. Following the victory against Chelsea, he once again hinted that ‘question marks remain’ over his future at Old Trafford.
The choice now for manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will be whether to try and appease Pogba and keep him motivated or show the door to a player who is not sure about being at the club. The aim for United this season will be a top four finish and it seems that how they get there is a question which Ole will have to find an answer to pretty quickly.