The 2019 – 2020 Premier League season gets underway on Friday night with the visit of newly-promoted Norwich City to Liverpool, runners-up last time round, and Champions League winners.
Once again, Manchester City will start favourites to retain their title, having strengthened their squad by signing defensive midfielder Rodri from Atlético Madrid, and Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo. Captain Vincent Kompany has left for Anderlecht to become player-coach, and Leroy Sané faces a long layoff because of an ACL injury, but he had been linked with a move to Bayern Munich anyway, so City should be able to cope with his absence.
Liverpool will again be in the mix for the title, but their pre-season plans have been hit by players coming back late from summer tournaments. They have been relatively quiet during this transfer window, and need to start well if they are to keep pace with City at the top.
Tottenham Hotspur finished fourth last season and will be looking to do better this time. After two transfer windows where the Champions League runners-up were forced to sit on their hands to pay for their new ground, Spurs have splashed the cash this summer, breaking their transfer record to sign defensive midfielder Tanguy Ndombélé from Lyons, and wing-back Ryan Sessegnon. Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso has also arrived on loan from Real Betis, signed, in part, to cover the eventuality of Christian Eriksen departing before the European transfer window closes.
Europa Cup Winners Chelsea, who finished third last season, have a new manager in Frank Lampard, but have had a difficult summer because of the transfer ban imposed by UEFA. They have leveraged pre-existing deals to bring in Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, and to make the loan of Matteo Kovacić into a permanent deal, but the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid will be sorely felt, and with the club forced to rely on its bedrock of young talent, they may struggle to replicate last season’s successes.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton appear to be in a three-way fight to fill out the top six. Arsenal had limited funds to spend, but, by carefully structuring deals, they have had a successful transfer window, signing Nicolas Pépé from Lille, Kiernan Tierney from Celtic, and Chelsea’s David Luiz. They have also acquired midfielder Dani Ceballos, from Real Madrid on a season’s loan.
By contrast, Manchester United have had a less successful window according to some of their fans, although the club has managed to hold on to both Paul Pogba and David de Gea. Harry Maguire has signed for £80 million, a world record fee for a defender, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James have also joined the club. However, no replacement has been brought in for Romelu Lukaku, who has been allowed to join Inter Milan, whilst the failure to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon has frustrated some supporters.
Everton are another team to have had a good window, although Crystal Palace rebuffed their efforts to sign their main transfer target, Wilfrid Zaha. Instead Alex Iwobi arrived from Arsenal instead in a late deal, and he joined other new recruits, Moise Kean, Fabian Delph, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin at Goodison Park, whilst Andrés Gomez’s loan from Barcelona has been converted into a permanent deal.
At the other end of the table, the three newly promoted clubs, Aston Villa, Norwich City, and Sheffield United, can all expect to struggle, but Villa, having signed no fewer than 12 new players in the window, may be the best placed to survive. They are likely to be joined in their relegation fight by Brighton, under new manager Graham Potter, and Burnley.
And Newcastle United look particularly vulnerable to the drop, after revered manager Rafa Benitez finally lost patience with owner Mike Ashley and upped sticks for China. His replacement, Steve Bruce, was the choice of few of the club’s fans, and, having lost Salomón Rondón, who followed Benitez to China, and Ayoze Pérez, who has moved to Leicester City, it is hard to see where their goals are going to come from this season.