The top flight is back, with a fascinating selection of fixtures to kick off the 2020-21 campaign
The Premier League is set to return this weekend with a series of fascinating fixtures as the world’s most exciting competition enters a new season.
2019-20 was a campaign like no other, with Liverpool romping to the title in record fashion despite an unprecedented break in play due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All eyes will be on whether the Reds can retain the title this season, having ended a three-decade wait for the gold with last season’s success.
Last term was no fluke for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who had previously reached consecutive Champions League finals—winning won—and registered a 97-points tally as they finished runners-up behind Manchester City in 2018-19.
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Some elements of the fanbase are underwhelmed with the club’s off-season additions, where there’s been limited reinforcement to a squad that was fairly fortune with injuries last year.
Will the Reds have enough to get over the line again, or will the wear and tear of three testing campaigns finally catch up with Klopp’s troops?
Snapping at their heels will be Manchester City, who must bounce back after an underwhelming season last term.
They won the EFL Cup, but that clearly isn’t sufficient for Pep Guardiola and his star-studded side.
They’ve signed Nathan Ake to help shore-up an uncertain backline, but how can the Spaniard compensate for the departure of his compatriot David Silva?
Elsewhere, there’s reason for optimism among the rest of the chasing pack.
Chelsea have had an eye-catching transfer market, bringing in the likes of Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
There’s no doubting their quality, but can Frank Lampard forge a cohesive unit out of these new elements, or will Chelsea take some time to settle…particularly following the exits of Pedro and Willian?
Doubts remain around the goalkeeping situation for the Blues. Kepa was replaced by veteran Willy Caballero during the 2019-20 campaign, although at the time of writing, Chelsea are yet to get a reported deal for Stade Rennais keeper Eduard Mendy over the line.
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Until they do bring in a new stopper, this could be a glaring weakness in their newlook side.
Manchester United appear to have turned a corner under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and while they flopped in the FA Cup and Europa League semi-finals, he has the makings of a strong team.
There remain concerns about the backline, but going forward, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood should go from strength to strength alongside the bubbling creativity of Bruno Fernandes.
At Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s continued service to the club—for now at least—means that the Gunners will be a match for anyone, and there are hopes that, with a competent supporting cast, he can better his tally of 22 goals from the last two campaigns.
Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah should continue to improve under new coach Mikel Arteta, who will be hoping that Nicolas Pepe can reveal—on a consistent basis—the qualities that prompted the North Londoners to part with £72 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.
Tottenham Hotspur remain something of an unknown quantity under Jose Mourinho, who struggled to truly establish an identity at the club last season, while Everton’s summer spending and the presence of Carlo Ancelotti could help the sleeping giants emerge from their slumber.
Of the rest of the league, much is expected of Leeds United following their promotion under Marcelo Bielsa, while Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City will look to continue with the progress they made under Nuno Espirito Santo and Brendan Rodgers last term.
At the foot of the table, promoted duo West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will have their work cut out to remain afloat, particularly considering the brief turnaround between the end of one season and the start of the next.
In Slaven Bilic and Scott Parker, they have managers who know the Premier League well, but it’s imperative they continue the momentum from last season as they look to start strongly and give themselves the best chance in battling against the drop.
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