For the sixth consecutive season the fixture computer has served up a home game for starters – but Arsenal have won only one of those. It it would do them the power of good to start with a bang. Finishing 2016-17 awash with FA Cup happiness was a boon but the mission to climb back into the top four and push up as far as they can is back into sharp focus. But the question remains, have Arsenal strengthened enough? Arsenal continue to make defiant noises but there is a certain roller coaster involved with their season. It will be vital to see how they take on the challenge of Thursday-Sunday matches. A top four finish looks probable, improving on last season but it remains to be seen how they fight for the Europa League trophy.
Most important player: Alexis Sanchez
Predicted finish: 4th
A mention of a title defence for this club is enough to take away all the optimism. Managers such as Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho failing to defend their title has been a struggle to say the least. Hangover from celebrations or is it simply just complacency? There have been tensions behind the scenes, as the head coach did finally put pen to paper in July but it wasn’t the extension initially agreed upon. Winning a Premier League without European football cluttering up the schedule is one thing. Competing for silverware on four fronts is quite another. Antonio Conte has been careful of just that, as he said in the preseason, “We don’t have a lot of space to make mistakes. We need to improve and increase our squad to be something important for the present, and also for our future.”. That quest to add greater quality to the squad is ongoing, and will most likely remain so until the deadline passes. Assessing whether Chelsea will boast the required depth to retain their title is probably best put off until early September. Yet there is nothing to suggest Antonio Conte will not be able to find a way. In truth, it is the manager who could still set this side apart. The mantra of “work, work, work” will remain, Conte and the retaining champions will be determined this season’s defence proves more productive than in 2010 and 2015. If he is given the tools with which to work, history should not repeat itself.
Most important player: Eden Hazard
Predicted Finish: 3rd
Ever since the Premier League era began,, it has been a trait for Liverpool that a season of reasonable progress is followed by a season of downfall. The demands of Europe and the risky transfer strategy for Liverpool is yet to pay off. But more than anything Jurgen Klopp has been insistent that what he demands is consistency from his team which will take them to a title challenge for which they ironically consistently fall short of. Liverpool finished the previous season in the top four for only the second time in eight seasons, but how they now take on the challenge of Champions League, provided they qualify through the playoffs against a tie with Hoffenheim and the burden of a more filled calendar will have to be seen. Liverpool however, desperately need to strengthen their squad if they are to survive in the Champions League and challenge for the Premier League. Already in controversy over Virgil van Dijk and if you add into mix Barcelona’s interest in Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool need to sign players to show signs of improvement. Liverpool need to resort to a quality over quantity strategy in the market to have quick results in order for title contention.
Most important player: Roberto Firmino
Predicted Finish: 6th