Patience will never tell when it comes to football, especially to say when you have to survive two entire months without competitive football. But at the end of it there is a reward, on the 11th of August when the Premier League kicks off…
Community Shield (Arsenal vs Chelsea Sun 3rd Aug 14:00)
Just as the way last season concluded, this season’s curtain raiser will be no different to the way last season rounded off last season as Chelsea will be seeking for revenge against Arsenal, who dented their chances of the League and Cup double last time out at Wembley when the Gunners defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final.
Both clubs endured completely different seasons with Chelsea cruising to the title whilst Arsenal going through their toughest yet under Wenger after Liverpool succumbed the Gunners to fifth on the final day. Arsenal were in phenomenal shape at the start of the season with seven victories in a row to put them at the summit of the table before Middlesbrough all but ended that run with a goalless draw… but it was not until the conseuctive defeats against Everton and Manchester City that had begun Arsenal’s meltdown from top to fifth. In an otherwise disappointing season for Arsenal, the impressive goalscoring form of Alexis Sanchez must have been quite reassuring for the fans and they were given an extra sigh of relief when Arsene Wenger finally broke his duck this summer to fufill fans’s wishes to finally sign a top-class striker- in the name of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. The Gunners will gain an upper hand in the Community Shield match on Sunday having defeated Chelsea in the same competition two years ago when young prospect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won Arsenal the trophy with the only goal of the game, a ferocious left-footed strike.
Match Predictions/Analysis: 3-1 to Chelsea
Despite beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the International Champions Cup and winning the annual Emirates Cup in preseason, Arsenal have pretty much had an average preseason conceding lots of goals and also losing to Chelsea 3-0. As Arsenal know in previous encounters against the Blues, defence will play a huge part and with the likes of Batshuayi, Willian and Pedro, I think Chelsea’s defence will be too hot to handle for Arsenal.
Premier League Season Preview
The task of defending your Premier League crown has become very difficult in recent years especially after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 with both Chelsea (2015-16) and Leicester (2016-17) the most recent culprits. The pressure lies on Antonio Conte to achieve the feat for the first time since ‘old Fergie’ days but with all of Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Spurs fighting for the crown, it could never be a much easier task. Unarguably the bookmakers’ favourites are Manchester City who have broke their bank yet again to ensure that their squad is the best it can be to land a third title in seven seasons. The signatures of defenders Ben Mendy, Kyle Walker and Danilo will strengthen an aspect of City’s game that has never been so strong, their defence. As well as signing Bernardo Silva, City’s attack is of course unrivaled along with Liverpool’s and Tottenham’s but again it will depend upon how the defence performs this season, having leaked many goals last season.
1. Manchester City
Though no one can claim that last season was an excellent one, it was important that City were controlled in their final few games of the season to land a third place spot eventually as they waited till the penultimate game of the season against West Brom to secure Champions League qualification. In contrast, this season Pep Guardiola will be hoping to mount a much sterner title challenge than last season’s having been out of the shadow of Conte’s and Pochettino’s for the majority of the season.
He did of course pip his rival Jose Mourinho to the Champions League spots, but most predicted at the start of last season for the world’s two best managers to take the top two spots, not 3rd and 6th. Maybe it could be the case this season but as far as everyone knows about City, this season their squad is as strong as it could (nearly) possibly be in all aspects defence, midfield and attack. Guardiola’s devastating attack will be likely to play a huge factor in City’s season with Gabriel De Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane likely to humiliate many teams…
They might eventually fall short of defending their Premier League crown but unlike previous teams in the past who have had to defend their crown, you should expect Chelsea to put up a strong fight for the crown despite the absence of key players in Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic. You would expect Chelsea’s defence and midfield to be as solid as it was last season however goalscoring could prove to be a major issue for Conte’s side this season as it will take Alvaro Morata some time to adapt to the Premier League. However if Chelsea do get 1-3 goals in most matches this season they should be fine and comfortable as long as they keep a clean sheet, especially against the stronger sides.
The last day of last season was nerve-racking for every LFC fan but Liverpool found a way to break Middlesbrough’s resistance on their way to an emphatic 3-0 victory for which all but secured Champions League qualification. Perhaps the reason to why Liverpool didn’t finish higher than 4th was mainly down to the amount of goals they leaked as well as collapsing against teams in the bottom half.
But on the bright side, Jurgen Klopp did see his side cause upsets over the big teams last season and remained unbeaten against the top six. If Liverpool want to qualify for the top four again, then they will have to hold their nerve against their underdogs and keep up their immaculate form against the top six…
It was hard for most Arsenal fans at the conclusion of last season as they narrowly missed out on their routine top four spot to end Arsene Wenger’s remarkable streak of 19 years of finishing in the top four. It was the typical Arsenal once again last season, having blown away their place at the top of the table in December. It happened two seasons ago when the Gunners finally looked destined to land their first Premier League title in 12 years when Arsenal had a narrow lead at the top of the table with only 3 months of the season to go, only to let Leicester complete one of the biggest sports stories of all time. I think last season’s torrid experience was just a one-off and I expect Wenger’s men to bounce back especially after the signing of Alexandre Lacazette and the reassurance that Alexis Sanchez will be staying for yet another year to come…
5. Manchester United
Despite signing Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, Manchester United still look unpredictable and weak compared to the other teams. Three of the last four seasons have seen United finish 7th, 5th and 6th which sums up how much United have faltered after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Lukaku may be one of the Premier League’s best centre forwards but he may struggle to make a breakthrough for United if he does not get the service he needs from the likes of Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera. Not even the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic could save Manchester United from their misery last season despite the Swede scoring over 20 goals last season. One goal scorer is simply not enough to win at Premier League title and I think United will endure yet another difficult season but there still will be high hopes amongst the Old Trafford crowd to bring back the glory days…
6. Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham are ultimately back with Britain’s elite after two successive top three finishes with the help of star men Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Goals were all of the place last season as Tottenham finished with their record haul of 86 goals including an incredible 13 goals in the final two games when Harry Kane scored 7 goals in three days during thumping away victories at Leicester (6-1) and Hull (7-1).
But after the departure of Kyle Walker to Manchester City, I feel Tottenham’s defence will suffer in his absence and it will be increasingly difficult to replace such a right back unless Tottenham otherwise went for Hector Bellerin. Though their attack will continue to flow with goals, Tottenham could find themselves struggling against the top six teams on the day since all of them have improved their squad to ensure it is nearly the best as possible while Tottenham haven’t cashed in on anyone big this summer. It could turn out to be the case that money doesn’t buy you the title as Leicester showed two seasons ago but we will see as time goes on…