Prospects of Premier League top dogs ahead of 2020/21 season
Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson, centre, celebrates with teammates following the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. [Paul Ellis, Pool via AP]

LIVERPOOL

Manager: Juergen Klopp. Last season: 1st.

Major Arrivals: Konstantinos Tsimikas (Olympiakos Piraeus)

Major Departures: Adam Lallana (Brighton & Hove Albion)

After a season of such total domination, there is some sound thinking behind the decision not to alter the title-winning squad too much and trust again in those who delivered Liverpool’s first championship for 30 years.

Certainly, there has been little to indicate that Klopp’s side will be any less effective this season, so long as injuries do not affect any of the German’s key performers.

Japanese attacker Takumi Minamino, brought in from Salzburg in January, has now had time to settle and will give the Reds another option and perhaps allow Roberto Firmino more opportunities to rest.

But Liverpool are favourites for good reason — Klopp has a complete squad, strength-in-depth and an established system of play that few have been able to cope with.

MANCHESTER CITY

Manager Pep Guardiola. Last season: 2nd

Major Arrivals: Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Ferran Torres (Valencia).

Major Departures: David Silva (Real Sociedad), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich).

Pep Guardiola’s goals are clear for this season — City must regain the upper hand over Liverpool domestically while finally unlocking the door to Champions League success after another disappointing end to their bid for European glory.

While midfielder David Silva will is a loss, the Spaniard’s departure should not cause a major shock to the system since he was already being eased out of a leading role last season and Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are more than capable.

Guardiola will want to see his central defence look tighter and his full-backs more consistent contributors but who would bet against them pushing Liverpool all the way this season.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Last season: 3rd.

Major Arrivals: Donny van de Beek (Ajax Amsterdam)

Major Departures: Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan)

United made progress last season, securing a return to the Champions League and going deep in all Cup competitions, and while they are not ready to compete for the title they must at least show they are getting closer to City and Liverpool.

United fans will expect a couple of more new faces before the transfer window shuts with Jadon Sancho having been pursued all summer and the central defence also in need of more quality.

Without those moves United are likely to be limited to the same sort of challenge they made last year where they were restricted by their lack of decent cover in the squad.

CHELSEA

Manager: Frank Lampard. Last season: 4th.

Major Signings: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain).

Major Departures: Willian (Arsenal), Pedro (AS Roma).

The London club have so far been by far the busiest of the ‘Big Six’ in the transfer window with their impressive recruitment raising hopes of a major leap forward this season.

Germany striker Werner should provide the missing element of a truly top class finisher while Lampard is hoping the 35-year-old Brazilian Thiago Silva can bring some valuable experience and class to the defence.

Last season saw several young players, such as Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic, establish themselves in the first team and, with the added quality brought in from Europe, last season’s FA Cup runners-up are, at the very least, expecting to improve on their fourth-place finish.

LEICESTER CITY

Manager: Brendan Rodgers. Last Season: 5th.

Major Arrivals: Timothy Castagne (Atalanta)

Major Departures: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

The Foxes faded badly at the end of last season, winning just four of their last 17 league matches, and it will be a tough task to improve on fifth this term. Jamie Vardy was the league’s top scorer last season and James Maddison is a confident creator but Rodgers needs to add extra depth to his squad if they are to have the staying power they lacked in the last campaign.

Prospects of Premier League top dogs ahead of 2020/21 season
Graphic shows English Premier League 2020-21 wallchart.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Manager: Jose Mourinho. Last Season: 6th

Major Arrivals: Matt Doherty (Wolves), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton), Joe Hart (Burnley).

Major Departures: Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Victor Wanyama (Montreal Impact)

Jose Mourinho’s arrival in November following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino brought a mini-revival at Spurs who scraped into the Europa League places by finishing sixth.

But their hopes of making the top four this season and returning to the Champions league after four consecutive seasons in Europe’s elite club competition look slim.

Mourinho usually buys top quality players to bring success but must work on a more modest budget at Tottenham where his brief will be to bring the trophy-starved club some silverware.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo, Last Season: 7th

Major Arrivals: Fabio Silva (Porto), Marcal (Olympique Lyonnais).

Major Departures: Helder Costa (Leeds) Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur)

In the two seasons since winning promotion back to the Premier League, Wolves have firmly established themselves as a top-half club, with last season’s campaign even more impressive given the long and demanding involvement in the Europa League.

Their 35 million pounds ($45.47 million) investment in 18-year-old Portuguese striker Fabio Silva, who has played just 12 senior games for Porto, raised many eyebrows.

However, regardless of how long it takes the youngster to adapt to English football, there is enough experience and ability in the team to make another push for European football.

ARSENAL

Manager: Mikel Arteta. Last season: 8th.

Major signings: Willian (Chelsea), Gabriel Magalhaes (Lille), Cedric Soares (Southampton)

Major Departures: Henrik Mkhitaryan (AS Roma)

There were signs of improvement after Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December and engineered a respectable league finish and an FA Cup final win over Chelsea. The Community Shield season curtain-raiser win over Liverpool on penalties at Wembley has added to the air of optimism around the Emirates Stadium.

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the league’s second-top scorer last season with 22 goals but the Gabon international is in his final year and has yet to agree a new deal. There is also the question of whether Mesut Ozil plays a full part this season or finally ends his disappointing stay with the club.

Arsenal will be hoping for a push towards the top four but it is questionable if there is yet enough quality in Arteta’s squad to get back into the Champions League.

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Manager: Chris Wilder. Last Season: 9th.

Major Arrivals: Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth)

Major Departures: None.

The tricky second album? After making such a strong impression on their return to the top-flight last season it is going to be tough for the Blades to improve but Wilder has made a habit of confounding expectations. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s loan from Manchester United has ended but Wilder moved quickly to bring in Ramsdale and hopes to see at least three more new faces before the campaign starts.

BURNLEY

Manager Sean Dyche. Last season: 10th

Major Signings: None

Major Departures: Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Joe Hart (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben Gibson (Norwich City loan), Aaron Lennon (Kayserispor).

The Clarets exceeded expectations again last season with a fine second half of the season to secure their second-best finish of the Premier League era but unless they make some moves in the market it could be a tougher task this time. Keeping hold of talents like England goalkeeper Nick Pope, defender James Tarkowski and winger Dwight McNeil will be key but Dyche badly needs some strength-in-depth, especially in midfield and at the back.

Dyche has expressed concerns about the club’s lack of investment, leading to speculation over his future. Without some cash being spent in September, Burnley could be vulnerable on several levels.

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