After strong league performances by Man City and Liverpool over the 2018/19 Premier League season, it’s understandable that most predictions for this season’s winners focussed on one of those two teams.
But despite the existence of a 25 point gap between last year’s runners-up, Liverpool, and Chelsea in 3rd position, it’s not an unrealistic prospect that more than two teams will fight it out for the right to be named Premier League champions.
Having recorded two recent 2nd place finishes, and reached a first ever European Cup final last season, Tottenham will find themselves under more pressure to compete this season.
Pochettino has often referred to the club’s need to invest more in new signings in order to continue progressing and keep pace with the league’s top teams. And with some big money signings arriving over the summer, including Tanguy Ndombele for a reported club record fee of £62.8million, Spurs have a stronger squad with which to mount challenges for domestic and European honours, and should be aiming to finish considerably closer to the likes of Man City this time around.
One of the keys to a more successful season lies in delivering greater consistency in the Premier League, a competition in which Spurs lost more than a third of all matches last season. That fact alone shows how much scope there is for Spurs to improve, and it’s easy to see a much improved points total by the end of this season.
The contributions made by the club’s new signings will also be important. and while there may be calls for them to be given time to settle into English football, Liverpool demonstrated last season that by strengthening just two or three key positions with top quality players, a significant improvement can be delivered almost instantly if there is a strong team to begin with.
Whilst it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Spurs among the title contenders, the other three sides in last year’s top six will have to do a lot more to convince that they can make the step up from challenging for a place in the top four, to competing for the title itself.
As was the case with Spurs, big money has also been splashed out on new signings at Arsenal and Man United, though it’s asking a lot of the likes of Nicolas Pépé and Harry Maguire to help deliver the scale of improvement needed, and senior players at both clubs will be expected to deliver more this season.
Even during campaigns which ultimately ended in disappointment, both sides showed an ability to put together lengthy runs of good results, and with the margin of error for title-challengers becoming ever smaller, it’s vital to be able to go on long winning runs, and avoid dropping points against the league’s weaker teams.
But with the latter being an all-too-frequent experience for both – particularly Arsenal – it’s premature to expect that either club are equipped to challenge Man City over an entire season, and not unreasonable to suggest that regaining a place among the league’s top four would be considered a decent year and act as a catalyst for further progress.
Another club with a tough season ahead is Chelsea, whose transfer ban has come at the worst possible time, with the loss of star player Eden Hazard, and the prospect of all of their nearest rivals being much stronger.
After a good start under Maurizio Sarri last season, during which they were tipped as potential challengers, Chelsea faded as the season went on, and losses such as 6-0 against Man City and 4-0 away to Bournemouth highlighted just how far Chelsea were from mounting a title challenge.
However, the Blues still managed to deliver European silverware, and finished in an unlikely third place, after taking advantage of an end-of-season slump by Spurs which almost cost them a top four place.
A repeat season is impossible to imagine, but short of a season which is a total disaster, Frank Lampard shouldn’t initially find himself under the same degree pressure as many of his predecessors, given the disadvantages he faces, and should still be in charge next season with the benefit of a year in the job.
2019/20 Premier League top four predictions:
- Man City
- Man United