|WELL-OILED MACHINE: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City begin the Premier League campaign as favourites. AFP Photo
Just one more day to go and English Premier League football returns. Halleluiah and praise the Lord.
If anyone needs me on Saturday evenings, late Saturday nights, Sunday evenings or early hours of Tuesday mornings for the next eight months or so, leave a message, because I’ll be busy.
I appreciate it’s only a few weeks since Italy were crowned European Champions after beating England at Wembley, but for me, international football is no real substitute for the Premier League.
So as has become tradition, I shall once again reel off a few of my predictions that, if my past form is anything to go by, will not be worth the paper they are written on. But here goes anyhow.
CHAMPIONS – MANCHESTER CITY
Signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa last week will do nothing but improve Pep Guardiola’s already well-oiled City machine. And if, as is heavily predicted, Harry Kane heads north and signs as well, then the team from the blue half of Manchester will be extremely difficult to beat. Barring long-term injuries to any of their key players, I expect City to retain their title. But I would say it won’t be as easy as last season.
RUNNERS-UP – LIVERPOOL
I know a lot of people have written Liverpool off for the season ahead before a ball has even been kicked, and that suits me just fine. Many have said their lack of activity in the transfer market will prove costly, but I’m not so sure I agree.
A fully-fit pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez who missed virtually all of last season through injury will be like two new marquee signings. If Liverpool hit the ground running and get off to a good start, I feel they will be closest to City at the end of the campaign.
THIRD – CHELSEA
We saw a glimpse of just how well Thomas Tuchel has adapted to life in the Premier League after he was appointed Chelsea manager last season. A fine Champions League display saw them lift the trophy. Now he has a full season to prove his worth, and if Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper and returns to Stamford Bridge as seems to be the case, then Chelsea will be formidable in attack. If the Belgian can match his form of last season when he played in Italy with Inter Milan, he will bang in the goals.
FOURTH – MANCHESTER UNITED
Yes, I get they came second last season, but I don’t feel that was a true reflection of their abilities, and more a case of others around them not performing. And I know I’ll probably get slated for this, but I am still not 100 per cent convinced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is good enough to lead United to the top. They have spent big, particularly on Jadon Sancho from Dortmund, but with a hefty price tag to his name he needs to quickly adapt to his new surroundings.
FA CUP – EVERTON
Rafa Benitez has a pretty tough job on his hands at Everton, after an earlier successful spell as manager of Liverpool. But if he manages to win over the fans, especially those bitter Blues who are already annoyed at his appointment, then I think there will finally be silverware heading to Goodison Park.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Who would honestly bet against a team with a forward line of Mbappe, Neymar and Messi? Not me, for sure. But how about this for a prospect… PSG versus Barcelona in the final. A mouthwatering match for sure, however, I think their opponents are more likely to be a team from England. Don’t rule out a good showing in the competition from Liverpool, although Manchester City will be pushing hard to get their hands on the trophy they came so close to winning last time around. VNS