Predictions for the Top of the EPL Table
By: John Sefcik
Disclaimer: There is still 3+ weeks left in the transfer window, so nothing is set in stone yet. By the way, John is another New Jerseyan who will be writing about the EPL for us whenever he feels like it. Welcome him aboard.
Everyone seems to think United is a shoo-in to make the top 4 now that they have completed the purchase of Paul Pogba for around $117 million. It has been a busy summer for United, with the new editions of Jose Mourinho, Zlatan and now Pogba, surely United has done enough to crack into the Top 4 and qualify for the Champions League next season, right? Wrong.
Why? Because of their two aging strikers. If Mourinho and every United fan can accept that Rooney is over the hill, then the red devils might have a chance at the Champions League.
Lets face it, Marcus Rashford proved that he was far superior to Rooney towards the end of last season in the few opportunities he got to play in the Euros. The legend that was Wayne Rooney is no more, and he should be far behind third man on the striking depth chart for United this season. I doubt he will be relegated to that position, though. I’m thinking they’ll implode halfway through the season, and it will be due to an inability for Rooney, Zlatan and Jose to all co-exist in one locker room and most importantly, on the pitch.
Now here’s who will make the top 4 this year:
1: Manchester City
Even with all their new signings, United still has the second-most talented team in Manchester. What is scary about City specifically is they have a good mix of veteran stars (Aguero, Silva, Kompany and Toure) and players that are still developing into what could potentially be world-class talent (De Bruyne, Sterling, Iheanacho and new signing John Stones).
And, all of this talent will now be coached by a proven winner, and a manager who knows what it takes to become the champions of Europe: Pep Guardiola. Yes, City’s defense is still a cause for concern, but top to bottom they have the deepest roster in the premier league.
Now, I know that a lot of you will have a problem with me having Chelsea as high as finishing second in the EPL, but let me explain. Their starting XI will be almost an identical roster to what Chelsea had when they decisively won the league two years ago. Not to mention they have a ton of young talent waiting to come on from the sidelines. N’Golo Kante is a great pickup for the blues which will make them far more athletic in the midfield.
Diego Costa is a huge question mark as to whether or not he will still be at Chelsea when the transfer window closes. But, working under the assumption that he will be, I believe that Conte will be a perfect match for Costa and the Italian will get the best out of Costa. Its hard to imagine the two not getting along as their personalities seem to be nearly identical. The biggest reason I have Chelsea this high is that they have a top 4 talented roster in the premier league, but most importantly they don’t have any European soccer matches to play this year. This talented of a squad gets to put their sole focus on England, and not have to worry about any mid-week matches against tough competition. It would not surprise me if Chelsea winds up winning the league based on this alone.
I expect more of the same from last season for Tottenham. They have a lot of young talent, and Harry Kane is already one of the top strikers in the EPL.
I believe that this team is simply too young to win the league this year, but they are talented enough to end up in the top 4. The big question for the Spurs is whether or not they are deep enough to compete both in the EPL and in Champions League, and I am not sure if they are. I believe in Jurgen Klopp and now that he has had a full preseason to prepare a team I believe in Liverpool being up to the test. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool holds up in the first month of the season as they face Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea in the third, fourth, and fifth weeks of the season respectively.
Sorry Arsenal nation, once again your manager has refused to acknowledge the problem that is your striker. Giroud is good, not great, and if Arsenal want to compete in both England and Europe, its been said by everybody and their mothers over the last few years, but Wenger clearly knows more then the whole world. This year Arsenal will not be good enough to make the top 4 and hopefully Wenger will see the door because of it.