EPL: It's a huge six as new season begins today!
As the new English Premier League season kicks off tonight, mid-day profiles the top six clubs and their title prospects
Last season position: 1st
With back-to-back EPL titles in the bag, Manchester City have established their authority in English football. However, even they will feel the void left by hotshot central defender and captain Vincent Kompany, who has moved to Anderlecht. Manager and master tactician Pep Guardiola though has already drawn up a replacement for Kompany in Rodri, the six-foot-three former Atletico Madrid medio, who makes for a fine defender. Sergio Aguero (21 goals last season) and Raheem Sterling (17 goals) will once again have to essay the massive roles of scoring and assisting if City aim to cross the record 100 goas (they scored 95 last season) en route to ruling EPL for a third time on the trot. With the EPL, FA Cup and League Cup treble in the bag last season, the UEFA Champions League will be on top of City's wishlist to complete a remarkable quadruple.
Key players: Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling
Top signing: Rodri (£62.5 million)
Last season position: 2nd
Liverpool didn't do much wrong last season, finishing runners-up to Man City by just one point. They have not lost a match at Anfield since 2017 and suffered just one defeat [away] in their 38 matches last season. They put that disappointment behind and went on to win the UEFA Champions League thereafter. Such has been manager Jurgen Klopp's confidence in his side that he's not made any major signings since he feels he doesn't need to alter his first team.
Key players: Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk
Top signing: Sepp van den Berg (£1.3 million)
Last season position: 3rd
Former Chelsea star Frank Lampard, who scored 211 goals during his 13-year career with the Blues, has returned to Stamford Bridge as manager and fans will be expecting a lot from him. Former boss Maurizio Sarri didn't do a bad job, helping Chelsea finish in third spot last season, but owner Roman Abramovich still sanctioned his sacking. Star striker Eden Hazard has left for the mighty Real Madrid and that could hurt the Blues considering he scored as many as 48 goals for them last season. Ex-Dortmund man Christian Pulisic will lead upfront in Hazard's absence but may struggle to make as good an impact as the brilliant Belgian.
Key players: N'Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud, Cesar Azpilicueta
Top signing: Christian Pulisic (£57.6 million)
Last season position: 4th
The Spurs have had an almost mercurial rise across the last decade and if there were still any doubters, they'd be eliminated by the London outfit's UEFA Champions League final performance last season. However, Tottenham's trophy cabinet is not particularly overflowing and manager Mauricio Pochettino will have to address that. 'Mr Dependable' Harry Kane will continue to lead upfront with Son Heung-Min providing able assistance. New signing Tanguy Ndombele is expected to excite with his pace and technical ability in the midfield.
Key players: Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Hugo Lloris
Top signing: Tanguy Ndombele (£55 million)
Last season position: 5th
Arsenal without the legendary Arsene Wenger were always going to struggle and new manager Unai Emery has had his fair share of hiccups when he took over last season. The Gunners were hammered in the Europe League final 1-4 by Chelsea and Mesut Ozil criticising Emery thereafter didn't do the London outfit any favours. Super striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did well in his debut season to finish in tied spot for the EPL Golden Boot with Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah — all with 22 goals.
Key players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette
Top signing: Nicolas Pepe (£72 million)
Last season position: 6th
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a mountain to climb if the Red Devils are to reach anywhere near the top three this EPL. And the 'Baby-faced Assassin' has made his intentions clear by signing the world's most expensive defender Harry Maquire (£80 million) from Leicester. Ashley Young will lead the side. French World Cup-winner Paul Pogba will be United's architect. Alexis Sanchez, who did not have a great last season, scoring just once, must step it up.
Key players: Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez
Top signing: Harry Maguire (£80 million)
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