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BBC Sports pundits pick top four contenders …as Premier League kicks-off today

botchway August 9, 2018

 

No team has managed a successful defence of the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009 – but will this season be different? That is the aim of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

But who will challenge them in 2018-19? Can big-spending Liverpool mount a serious challenge? Will Manchester United narrow the gap? Can Tottenham improve? And are Chelsea and Arsenal contenders after changing their managers in the summer?

Manchester City

Alan Shearer: It has been a long time since anyone won back-to-back titles but I think City will win the Premier League again because of Pep. He will play exactly the same way and they are going to be very hard to stop, although I think Liverpool and United will both be a lot closer to them this time.

Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) Britain Soccer Premier League

Sue Smith: If anything City will be stronger because their problem area was left-back last season. Benjamin Mendy is now back and fit and is a real threat down that flank. Look through the rest of the team and it is top quality throughout.

Liverpool

Ian Wright: I want this season’s title race to be more spicy and I think it will be. If Liverpool can get some impetus, then we don’t know how Manchester City will react under pressure if a team can stay close to them at the end of the season. I am backing Jurgen Klopp’s side to pip them to the title.

Ruud Gullit: If City have to battle for the league, we don’t know if they can do that. They will be up there at the top but I am backing Liverpool to win it. They are contenders because of the way they play, and how they control games but they also want to entertain and they want to attack – they play the right way.

Manchester United

Jermaine Jenas: I don’t see it ending well. There are too many internal issues with existing players, issues over their style of play, and also issues with potential signings supposedly saying they do not want to go and play there for him because of that style of play. United fans are not convinced by the football they play under him, so it is going to be an interesting few months.

Dion Dublin: United have got so much quality in their squad and they definitely progressed under Jose Mourinho last season. What they are missing at the moment is harmony, but if he can find that and get all his good players smiling and happy, they will be very close.

Tottenham

Chris Sutton: Tottenham have not signed anyone yet but I still think they have got good strength in depth in their squad. On top of that they are strong defensively and have lots of creative options and have the best striker in the league in Harry Kane.

Joleon Lescott: Are Spurs trying to win the league? Do they believe they can win it? I think they hope they can, but they won’t expect it, like the City players do. They remind me of Arsenal a few years ago, when they were just content with finishing in the top four.

 

Chelsea

Ian Wright: They have got a new keeper and I think Eden Hazard will stay, but who is going to score all the goals?

At the moment it looks like they will be relying on Olivier Giroud because it is not happening for Alvaro Morata and we have seen that Michy Batshuayi is not going to do it at this level. So they need another striker which is why, as things stand, they don’t make my top four.

Matthew Upson: What Sarri saw in the Community Shield will have told him a lot about what his players are capable of, in terms of fitting into his system or reaching the required standards. He has issues to tackle right through his team and, with Thursday being the transfer deadline for incoming players, there is not much time to decide whether to address them in the transfer market.

Arsenal

Ian Wright: I have faith in Arsenal finishing fourth because I think their attacking players will cause all the other teams problems – but I am still worried about the defensive side. They start against a City team who know exactly what they are doing, but this might be a good time to play them because some of their players are late back from the World Cup.

Martin Keown: It will be a really close battle to make the top four. Emery has had longer time with his team than anyone else – they’ve largely all been together for the whole of pre-season – and they could potentially cause an upset.

Credit: bbc.com

 

EPL Weekend Fixtures

Friday 10th August

Manchester Utd 7:00pm Leicester City

Saturday 11th August

Newcastle Utd 11:30  Tottenham

Bournemouth   02:00  Cardiff City

Fulham             02:00  Crystal Palace

Huddersfield    02:00  Chelsea

Watford            02:00  Brighton

Wolverhampton 04:30 Everton

Sunday 12th August

Liverpool       12:30 West Ham Utd

Southampton 12:30  Burnley

Arsenal          03:00  Manchester City

 

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