In what turned out to be one of the best Premier League seasons ever, Man City eventually triumphed after being pushed all the way by Liverpool. Will it be a case of new season, same result in 2019-2020? Or will the blue side of Manchester have some competition on their hands?
You only have to read the latest betting tips from Betfair to know Pep Guardiola’s men are strong favourites to defend their Premier League title. At 1/2, City are well-fancied. Liverpool at 3/1 are expected to offer the biggest threat with the other Big Six teams looking on from a distance.
While little weight might be attributed to pre-season results – after all, Man Utd have won every game they’ve played and remain an unfancied 39/1 for the title – Liverpool’s lacklustre warm-up schedule has shown frailties. The side has been leaking goals, losing to Borussia Dortmund 3-2, Napoli 3-0 and Sevilla 2-1, while drawing 2-2 with Sporting Lisbon.
Do Jurgen Klopp’s men have a hangover from last season; their exertions to win the title, and the eventual disappointment of losing out, playing on the minds of their talented squad. And while Arsenal and Manchester United have spent millions on new recruits, Liverpool have stayed relatively quiet in the transfer market.
The Anfield faithful will argue the Merseysiders have no reason to add to an already stellar squad. But United aren’t the only Manchester club to spend big during the summer. City have almost matched their bitter cross-town rivals by spending in excess of £100 million.
Does that mean Manchester City are readying themselves to disappear off into the sunset? United and Arsenal will hope they have at least closed the gap, each having addressed two key issues that will make them better in 2019-2020.
By breaking their transfer record with the purchase of Nicolas Pepe from Lille, the Gunners add a new dimension to their already star-studded frontline. The goal-scoring winger has a directness and keen eye to shoot that’ll complement the talents of Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Similarly, the Red Devils, who conceded over 50 Premier League goals last year (worse than Wolves, Everton, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle as well as the teams that finished above them), have addressed their frailties with approximately £130 million spent on the defence alone. If centre-half Harry Maguire and right-back Aaron Wan Bissaka live up to their billing, United will undoubtedly be in the mix for the top 4 too.
Yet, despite the expenditure of the teams desperately seeking improvement over their 2018-2019 exploits, there’s still a clear gulf between them and Guardiola’s men. Spurs’ squad lacks depth, Chelsea have lost Eden Hazard and United and Arsenal appear to have too much ground to make up for a title push this year. Unless Liverpool rediscover the form that led them so close to a first Premier League title, there are few reasons to think the blue side of Manchester won’t be celebrating again.