EPL Season 2018/19 Preview

For the third consecutive year running Man City flew out of the blocks to start their second campaign under Pep Guardiola in exceptional style and going to the top of the table. Last season however, the Citizens managed to maintain that performance level unlike previous years and go on to win a record breaking 18 straight games, putting them 15 points clear after 20 matches. Man Utd started the season strongly too, having won their opening three matches without conceding a single goal, but they couldn’t quite match the attacking prowess of Man City and slipped behind.

Liverpool had a successful season reaching the Champions League final and securing their spot in the competition for next year with fourth place in the league, while Spurs had another nearly year – finishing in the top-four but failing to win anything. Finally, Chelsea and Arsenal were disappointing with both sides recruiting new managers for the upcoming season, as they finished fifth and sixth respectively.


MAN CITY

History tells us that it’s hard to look beyond any of the aforementioned teams with 24 of 26 PL champions finishing in the top three in the previous season. Defending champions have an excellent record two with 16 of the last 22 finishing in the top two and given their dominance last season, it’s unsurprising to see them as short as 1.7 to retain their title. As they’ve been guilty of in the past after winning the title, Man City have failed to strengthen significantly, with Mahrez their only addition of note at the time of writing.

However, such is the depth of their existing squad it’s hard to look past them. Although Gabriel Jesus’s stock fell somewhat after a disappointing World Cup, he’s still young and remains a handy second-fiddle to Aguero who looked very sharp in the Community Shield. The old guard of Silva, Fernandinho and Kompany are all into their 30s but defender Laporte arrived in January, Gundogen is fit from the start of this season, youngster Foden should get more game time and Mendy is almost a new signing so there is plenty of quality cover for the champions.


LIVERPOOL

Liverpool are second favourites at 5.1 after an eye-catching transfer window, whilst the fact that since 1998/99 all nine PL teams that have reached a Champions League final the previous season have finished in the top four. They’ve finally addressed the goalkeeping position by bringing in Alisson whilst they’ve strengthened their midfield with Keita and Fabinho.

Their front line remains electric but the concerns over the quality of the back up is still there as Shqiri was a shrewd signing but Origi, Sturridge and Ings don’t look up to the task.


MAN UNITED

Man Utd are next in at 13.0, a reflection of a pretty disastrous pre-season. However, with Sanchez in the side for a full season and the likes of Lukaku, Lingard and Pogba in particular all putting in impressive performances at the World Cup, on paper they could outplay those odds. Fred will likely play alongside Matic with Pogba the most advanced of the midfield three and that will be an exciting prospect for Utd fans as Pogba showed what he can do in Russia with more attacking license thanks to Kante’s excellent defensive work.

The expectation is that they’ll add at least one more player before the end of the window but there are major question marks over the manager and whether he’s lost the dressing room. Mourinho’s negative attitude and tactics don’t get the best out of his players while there is a heavy reliance on De Gea between the sticks and it could be a battle to keep their top-four place.


CHELSEA

Like Utd, Chelsea’s only real significant signing to date has been a defensive midfielder in Jorginho. Courtois, Willian and Hazard have all been linked with moves away from the club and they’re yet to sign a new striker, with Morata not cutting the mustard last term. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Blues at the time of writing, it’s hard to recommend them even at a fairly big price, but should they keep their stars and add a striker then they’ll certainly be a threat under the impressive Sarri.


TOTTENHAM

There’s been virtually no transfer activity at Spurs as yet as Pochettino is set to rely on the talented squad of players from last season. They have a world class keeper in Lloris and an excellent defence, whilst Kane guarantees them at least 20 goals should he stay fit and he’s supported by the likes of Son and Eriksen, though the form of Alli is a concern and the central midfield generally looks the area of weakness for Spurs. Should they have brought in a Fred or a Jorginho then they’d certainly have been of interest but with the move to a new stadium, we’re looking to be against them.


ARSENAL

Arsenal are rated as the outsiders of the Big Six but we’re not so sure that should be the case after what looks like an excellent first transfer window under Unai Emery. They’ve strengthened at the back with Leno, Sokratis and Lichtsteiner coming in and they’ve finally signed the defensive midfielder that many have long been crying out for in Lucas Torreira.

Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan have settled in at the club after joining in January whilst Lacazette had an impressive pre-season and so the Gunners should make a better fist of things this season.


CONCLUSION

At this stage, it’s impossible to oppose City. Liverpool look the only side equipped to challenge but we thinks it’s a season too soon and they’re short enough. With Mourinho in charge we’re not keen on United but if that were to change in the early part of the campaign then we’d reconsider.

There are too many unknowns about Chelsea and we give them little hope if Hazard leaves and Spurs are settling into a new stadium and are yet to strengthen. Although we don’t expect Arsenal to challenge they’ve had a settled and productive preseason and we think the value lies with them to finish inside the top four.


TOP SCORER

Aubameyang hit the ground running for the Gunners with 10 goals last term to go with 13 for Dortmund. In 2016/17 he netted 31 times for Dortmund, whilst he has 11 in his 15 Champions League appearances too as he’s a striker of the utmost quality. With supply from the likes of Ozil and Mkhitaryan, he looks the value to be top scorer, with Lukaku the other one we’re interested in having got a season under his belt at Utd and an opportunity for his friendship with Pogba to flourish.


RECOMENDATIONS

 BACK (WIN) – Man City Premier League Winner at $1.70

 BACK (WIN) – Arsenal Top Four Finish at $2.88

 BACK (WIN) – Aubameyang Top Scorer at $7.40

 BACK (WIN) – Lukaku Top Scorer at $11.50


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