TOP OF THE KLOPPS: Will Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp be able to regain his title? AFP/VNA Photo.
City at a stroll? Liverpool to repeat their heroics of last season? Or what about big spenders Chelsea? Will they be able to (once again) buy their way to glory?
The new Premier League season is just days away, so which team do you think can finish top of the pile?
After what has happened over the past nine months or so, I think there’s no doubt that it is time to expect the unexpected.
Football without fans, COVID-19 lurking in the background, this season will surely be like no other.
So what can we expect? Here are my predictions, and I’ve no doubt most of you will disagree.
Last season the Reds won it at a stroll, smashing everyone else into oblivion. And while I’d love more of the same this time around, I think it will be a much closer affair. Liverpool, I feel, will be even hungrier to retain their title. That said, their lack of activity in the transfer market, aside from fullback Kostas Tsimikas, is a concern. The smart money says Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara is Anfield-bound and if that deal is done then it’s Liverpool for top spot all the way.
SECOND: Manchester City
No one in their right mind can ever doubt the quality of Manchester City, but since Barcelona’s Lionel Messi decided to stay in Spain, I don’t think they will have enough in the tank to top Liverpool. Plus, and this is a big plus, if you were to ask Pep Guardiola what trophy does he want to win next season more than any, then it will be the Champions League. Yes, I think City will give Liverpool a run for their money, but they won’t be able to topple the champions.
Inexperienced maybe, but there’s no doubt Frank Lampard has all the attributes to become a top-class coach. But for now, I think Lamps is still learning his trade. That said, his mega-rich boss has certainly backed his manager in the transfer market, and Chelsea have sure smashed it when it comes to buying quality players. But decent or not, the new blood at Stamford Bridge still needs to gel, and I don’t think this season will be quick enough. For me, they still are the third-best team in the Premier League and that’s where they’ll finish.
FOURTH: Manchester United
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, much to the annoyance of the United faithful. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not good enough to be the manager at Old Trafford. He did lead his team on a decent run towards the back-end of the COVID-19 disrupted campaign last time around, but there are too many holes in that first team for them to mount a challenge. They need to work out their goalkeeping issues, a new centre-half is needed and while Bruno Fernandes is proving to be a shrewd bit of business, the enigma that is Paul Pogba blows far too hot and cold.
FA CUP: Everton
Everton fans I speak to are still counting their lucky stars they have a manager of the calibre of Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian is pure class and the Goodison Park faithful know only too well they are boxing well and truly above their weight with him in charge. They won’t challenge for the top four, and they may even struggle to finish in a Europa League spot, but all said and done, I do see the Blues having a decent cup run and could go all the way.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Juventus
I’d like to say Liverpool, I want to say Liverpool, and I hope beyond hope it is Liverpool, but I just have a sneaky suspicion the coolest man ever to put on a pair of boots, the one and only Andrea Pirlo will lead the Old Lady to success in Europe. I’m going for a Juve/City final with the Italians coming out on top.
So these are my predictions, what are yours? Log on to our website or Facebook page and have your say. — VNS