When Paul Pogba and Pep Guardiola were announced as managers of Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, experts were left scratching their heads in figuring out a favorite for the winner of English Premier League. With Jurgen Klopp getting a full pre-season and signings fitting into his profile, the race to the finish line was getting tighter and choosing the likeliest of Champions becoming seemingly impossible. Not to forget Tottenham and Arsenal. The North London giants were always in the fray to lift the Premier League trophy till late April last season. Tottenham were heralded for their youthful, attacking squad that provided the fans surrounding White Hart Lane with a reason for Optimism and hope for the future. The Gunners meanwhile repeated the same old story being played out for the last 12 years but finished second nonetheless. Whether the optimism will hold true in the upcoming season remains to be seen.
Among all the hype surrounding the managers and clubs, Manchester United have been ruthless in the transfer market unlike the last three years gone by. They gone about their signings with an effectiveness that was hallmark of Chelsea’s recruitment drive two seasons ago. Luring the big-name Center forward, a player who will be the next thing to a guarantee for goals against the likes of Bournemouth,Sunderland,Middlesbrough, etc and a person who will bring the much needed aggression to Old Trafford that many faithfuls yearned for.
With Paul Pogba arrival imminent, are Manchester United emerging as the favourites to lift PL trophy?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will no doubt just be gaols alone. With the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial emerging last season, the big Swede will be provide a valuable tutelage to the young stars.Playing with Ibra always enhances a player and the duo wouldn’t be an exception. In the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, United have ensured that Ibra will have the killer passes to put into the net. The Armenian lit up the Bundesliga last season. It was for no reason that coach Thomas Tuchel labelled him as the “Biggest Loss” for Borussia Dortmund.Equally adept at creating chances and converting them,he will no doubt satiate the hunger for goals that Man United supporters have been hungry for years since Alex Ferguson’s departure. In the defence, Eric Bailly has been brought in to give them much needed solidity without compromising the fluidity in attack that was palpable under Louis Van Gaal. and with the biggest transfer statement of the year seemingly inevitable, the arrival of Paul Pogba will be the last piece in the PL trophy jigsaw that Mourinho is putting together. The Frenchman was wooed by Barcelona last year who were willing to stump up an excess of €80 million last year.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid were credited with an interest in the midfielder this year and it’s not for nothing that Juventus demanded a world record fee for him. Pogba is only 23 years and has become an indispensable part in the Bianconeri machine. Their latest Scudetto was a result of not only the whole team’s resilience,but the brilliance of Pogba. The ex-Man United star was credited with 12 goals and 14 assists, his performances as the season progressed seemed to justify his decision to take on the Number 10 shirt. With Jose Mourinho, he is arguably getting an upgrade on the manager front. The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are only going to better his stats. And the midfielder’s arrival to the place that discarded him will give him another chance to take care of the unfinished business that he felt he has with Old Trafford. His arrival has seen Manchester United, at least on paper, edge to favourites tag that was cause for much debate.
Manchester City have signed Guardiola but don’t possess a squad to match the Catalan’s genius. Yaya Toure, Eliaquim Mangala,Jesus Navas haven’t exactly set Premier League on fire and they will not be much of Guardiola’s use. The notable arrivals, Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito will only solve the void in the attack as the ex-Dortmund’s injury will rule him out of preseason under Guardiola. With no sight of further signings and the rumour mills seemingly cool about the prospects, finishing in the Top-4 will be a priority of Guardiola in the first season no doubt. At Chelsea, Antonio Conte has a mountain to climb. To take the London giant to the very top after a 10th place finish is a tough ask from the Italian.
The players will be rejuvenated and hungry no doubt but the mentality at Manchester United at the moment is simply better than what they possess. The scars of last season will take time to heal and to expect them to overcome them and triumph at the domestic scene is looking unlikely. Jurgen Klopp will have a squad to challenge but not the win to win the EPL trophy though.Not this season. The players will no doubt become better in the years to come and the Reds may finally end their 26 year wait at some point in future but one expects that to get into the Champions League spots is their primary objective. Arsenal have blown their best chance in more than a decade and to expect them to pull it off this season is bordering on naivety. Likewise, Spurs and Leicester City will be there to challenge this season, not to triumph.
The arguments will be plenty and the bets will be placed on many, but a punter worth his salt knows where he will get his safest return this season.