As we enter the final fortnight of pre-season, football fans up and down the country are beginning to make plans for the first matches of what is sure to be a hectic season. As the countdown to kick off nears its end, I have taken the time to summarise (in my opinion) whether this season will be all it’s hyped up to be. The Premier League 2018/19, will it be hot, or not?
Premier League 2018/19: Hot or Not
What us fans ideally want is a season of excitement at the head and foot of the table. If we take a look at the clubs in the league this season, it would appear that we have all the ingredients for just that.
Last season none of the ‘big teams’ got near Pep’s scintillating City side, who finished an astonishing 19 points clear. However, over the summer, there has been significant transfer business done by a number of the top teams; transfers which could prevent another season of domination from Guardiola’s side.
Liverpool, in particular, have strengthened in key areas with the additions of Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri. Arsenal and Manchester United have also made some shrewd purchases in the transfer window. These include Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) and the highly rated Brazilian, Fred, for United.
With the majority of the top six improving the quality of their personnel you can potentially expect to see a much closer title race this year. Down at the other end of the table, transfers have been happening left right and centre. These include some very impressive (and surprising) purchases from the newly promoted sides. Fulham have signed the highly rated midfielder Jean Michael Seri from Nice, as well as securing former Chelsea player Andre Schurrle on a loan deal.
Wolves have also been investing in proven talent with the signing of the Portuguese international Joao Moutinho. With both of these clubs hoping to avoid only a singular season back in England’s top tier, make sure to keep an eye on these two newly promoted sides. With such a large number of talented players joining the league we can also expect to see an improved standard of football in both halves of the table.
Managerial changes at the top of the table could also revitalise Arsenal and Chelsea. The two clubs both finished outside of the top four last season. The appointment of Unai Emery for Arsenal could be the change that the Gunners need to take them forward after over two decades with Arsene Wenger.
Chelsea and Antonio Conte parted ways despite triumph in the FA Cup last season. Former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri has now taken the reigns. These two clubs have a point to prove and title ambitions will be in both of the new manager’s minds. With so much change over the summer and a whole host of new superstars ready to male their mark in the Premier League, this season could be the most competitive and exciting season yet.
Another Walk in the Park
The majority of the top teams have added quality to their ranks this summer, but will that be enough? Manchester City eased past the competition to win the league last season, and with Pep at the helm, it’s hard to see who can stop them. Their brand of football is spectacular and will be hard to stop even after seeing it on countless occasions. Guardiola is a proven winner; he and his City side are still strong favourites for the title. Whilst City fans will be happy to see this, it makes the prospect of an exciting title race less likely.
The FA confirmed that VAR will not be used in the Premier League this season. Whilst some fans may be ecstatic about this news, others will not. Last season, some of the officiating was majorly disappointing, with controversial decisions in almost every game.
The poor quality of refereeing was summed up by the absence of any English referees in the 2018 World Cup. Whilst VAR is undoubtedly a work in progress, it helps the officials. From what we saw last season, they could use all the help they can get. Whilst the inconsistent refereeing provides excitement, it also makes the game less fair. Until VAR is implemented this will continue to be the case.
Throughout this piece, my criteria for determining whether the season will be hot or not has been excitement. On balance, I believe that excitement won’t be in short supply. With improved quality of teams, new managers and dodgy officiating the Premier League will be as exciting as ever. In terms of the title, Manchester City are still favourites, but they will definitely be challenged to a greater extent this season. The other big clubs won’t allow City to breeze past them with ease this season. Expect drama, expect late goals, expect worldies and wonderkids. Expect the unexpected, the Premier League is back, and it’s going to be HOT.