NEWS

Premier League ready for new season

August 10, 2017

The Premier League is ready to begin a new season - and the prospect could barely be more mouthwatering.

After a summer in which transfer fees have soared to new heights all over the world - topped by Neymar's record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain - fans booking corporate hospitality facilities at Premier League venues will have an array of new stars to see in action.

Champions Chelsea go into the season with Alvaro Morata leading the attack. The former Real Madrid and Juventus striker, who had also interested Manchester United, has been signed as a direct replacement for Diego Costa, who looks set to rejoin Atletico Madrid when their transfer embargo is lifted. Antonio Conte's men have also signed defensive midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, allowing Nemanja Matic to join Manchester United.  

Manchester may provide the biggest challenge to Chelsea as both United boss Jose Mourinho and City coach Pep Guardiola have been splashing the cash. As well as buying Matic to boost the midfield, United have brought in versatile defender Victor Lindelof and Everton stroker Romelu Lukaku, who had been linked with a return to Chelsea. A further signing is expected, which may or may not include Internazionale winger Ivan Perisic. 

As a side that dominated game after game at home without being able to convert their chances, United know exactly where they need to improve. Mourinho usually wins the league in his second season at a club, but can he do so again?

City's biggest moves have been at the back, with attacking full-back Kyle Walker signed from Spurs as one of three full-backs as Guardiola has moved to tackle a key weakness from last season. After Claudio Bravo's erratic form of last season, Guardiola sanctioned a world record fee for a goalkeeper to acquire Brazilian Ederson Moraes to go with world record for a defender, the £52 million splashed out on Benjamin Mendy. With Bernardo Silva signed to boost the midfield and Sergio Aguero retained up front, this season could be the one to show if the tiki-taka style Pep used so effectively at Barcelona can bring a Premier League title. 

Many judges would find it hard to look past Chelsea and the Manchester clubs. Tottenham fans will be disappointed with their lack of transfer activity, but with Delli Ali and Harry Kane emerging as world class talents, they will still have a chance this year. The biggest concern, however, might be the team's recent poor performances at Wembley, as it will be their home ground this season.

Across London, Arsenal have also had a fairly quiet summer as they adjust to their first season outside the Champions League in two decades. French striker Alexandre Lacazette may boost their goal output, but the biggest boost for the fans will be if they can hold on to Alexi Sanchez after a summer of speculation.

Liverpool are also trying to hold on to their best player after rejecting bids of £72 million and £90 million for Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona. They need to keep him at Anfield and persist in acquiring Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton if they are to challenge.

The next nine months will also be exciting ones for the promoted sides, with Newcastle back in the big time and both Brighton and Huddersfield Town playing in the Premier League for the first time. 

As ever, the battles at either end of the table will be fascinating. And could there be another team that "does a Leicester"? The former champions start the campaign at Arsenal tomorrow night (August 11th). Perhaps they will surprise the footballing world again.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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