The English Premier League season 2018/2019 is upon us and Nigerians are super excited as the best league in the world kicks off this Friday with a mouth-watering match between Manchester United and Leicester City.
Ahead of the big kick-off of the EPL 2018/2019 season, we take a look at the likely title winners and the teams who will likely make the top six.
Winners: Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s team has been tipped to become the first side to retain the Premier League trophy since Manchester United in 2008/09 due to the blistering form it strolled to the title last season.
Manchester City won the title with a record of 100 points and while replicating that feat, and winning 32 of 38 games again might be tricky, they showed in the Community Shield win over Chelsea that they will again be the team to beat.
Riyad Mahrez has been the only summer signing so far at £60m but City are a level ahead of anyone else and players like Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden will be looking to have more of an impact this time around.
The only concern has been the failure to sign Jorginho, who went to Chelsea, and a subsequent dearth of cover for Fernandinho in the holding midfield role.
But unless something huge happens, City should retain their title. They have too much class in all areas of the pitch.
With the kind of football Liverpool played last year, blowing teams apart, it was disappointing that they ended up only fourth but the Reds showed their quality when reaching the Champions League final, which they lost to Real Madrid.
The prime reason and fall guy for that defeat, Loris Karius, has been addressed with Liverpool breaking the world transfer record for a goalkeeper to sign Brazil number 1, Alisson Becker for £67m.
Naby Keita and Fabinho have joined for £54m and £40m respectively while Xherdan Shaqiri joined from relegated Stoke City for £13m, adding to Jurgen Klopp’s attacking options.
Still, the main driving force of Liverpool is the trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah and if they all stay fit, then Liverpool might even manage to push City close.
Tottenham Hotspurs have been quiet in the transfer market and could see their ranks depleted if Toby Alderweireld does leave for Manchester United.
It is not a situation which has impressed some of their supporters but Mauricio Pochettino has a young squad at his disposal and even if upgrades do not come from the transfer market, Spurs should improve this season as they continue to mature.
Pochettino has crafted one of the best-organised teams in the league and in Harry Kane, they have possibly the best striker in football, and now a World Cup Golden Boot winner too.
Fourth: ArsenalIt has been two seasons out of the top four for Arsenal but with Unai Emery in charge and the business they have done in the market, they could just return to the Champions League.
Arsenal’s summer transfer work has been quick and efficient, with Lucas Torreira, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matteo Guendouzi and Bernd Leno all looking like useful additions.
Guendouzi has shown he is a big talent during pre-season with many man-of-the-match performances in the games he has played so far.
Numerous Arsenal players have said that Emery is implementing a more rigorous approach on the training ground, with a renewed focus on pressing, tactics and off-the-ball work, all areas which fell into disrepair under Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal is certainly talking the talk and returning to the Champions League would be a significant achievement.
It has been really a bizarre summer at Chelsea, with Antonio Conte having to take the first days of pre-season training despite knowing he would be sacked, and with Maurizio Sarri already slated to replace him.
The issue of Sarri’s move from Napoli was resolved far too late and even if the Italian clearly has some transformative plans for Chelsea, he has little time to implement them.
To make things worse, Chelsea’s transfer work has been disappointing, Jorginho aside, and Thibaut Courtois is agitating for a move.
Eden Hazard is also linked with an exit and Chelsea only have three days to sign replacements. The Sarri appointment was bold but it could be an uphill battle for Chelsea this season thanks to their sluggish summer.
Sixth: Manchester United
From perennial contenders to propping up the big six, this summer has been another disaster for Man U with Jose Mourinho complaining and whining all summer.
Fred and Diego Dalot may have joined the club but United have failed to land their top targets so far and are now being linked with everyone and anyone from Harry Maguire to Toby Alderweireld to Jerome Boateng to Yerry Mina.
Yet they are nowhere close to getting any of them and the mood around the camp is gloomy with Mourinho’s constant moans providing an unwelcome soundtrack to a summer on tour in America.
Mourinho also unwisely criticised Anthony Martial for not returning to the tour after his second child was born.
There were even suggestions that United are lining up Zinedine Zidane to replace Mourinho.
Jose’s third seasons are notoriously difficult and it’s hard to see this ending happily.