Premier League preview: Arsenal pull it together? Will United break up?

Somehow, it’s that time again. Play some dramatic music, create a content generator and get ready to explore the hottest happenings: the Premier League season is upon us once again.

What form this edition of football’s big embarrassing series will take is, of course, not yet clear. After all, it’s fun.

As the 20 teams in the world’s richest league return to action this weekend, however, there are a few questions hanging over everything. How they respond will go a long way in determining how things unfold.

Before every new Premier League season starts, the obvious question is which team will win in the end. Unfortunately, in the league’s current incarnation, it’s not a particularly interesting poll. Manchester City will win it as they have four of the last five editions and will most likely do so by seeing off a spirited but ultimately futile challenge from Liverpool. However, this time, there is just one small caveat.

The idea that Erling Haaland’s presence will somehow disrupt City’s rhythm enough to affect the team is overstated; It might be an awkward marriage for a few months, but both have more than enough to thrive regardless.

Far more important is the fact that Haaland is just one of 16 senior players currently at Pep Guardiola’s disposal. That would be a risk in the normal season. This one has a big World Cup in the middle, making it a colossal gamble.

It sounds like damning Arsenal with faint praise to suggest that Mikel Arteta’s side have won pre-season – largely because they have – but, amid all the hype and exaggeration, the last few weeks have produced some genuinely encouraging signs for the Spaniard and his compatriots. documentary stars.

Gabriel Jesus certainly has the makings of a transformative signing and his former Manchester City team-mate Alexander Zinchenko could not be far behind. Arsenal are a much more complete team than they were a year ago. He may not be ready to challenge City or Liverpool, but he is one who could end the club’s long exile from the Champions League.

The biggest obstacle to Arsenal’s renaissance lies just down the road. Not at Chelsea, where a chaotic transfer window is likely to end with a stronger and yet less consistent squad, but at Tottenham, transformed by Antonio Conte, a supernova manager who comes in, pushes his players to the limit and then explodes. . The concern when he arrived at Spurs was that the club had almost the diametrically opposite approach.

It didn’t seem to be a problem. Tottenham are very much in winning mode. Ivan Perisic, Richarlison and Yves Bissouma have been brought in to make a team good enough to qualify for the Champions League last year into one capable of winning the title. Given the oddity of the season, it doesn’t seem impossible. Spurs have one chance under Conte, effectively. He did everything to get it.

In what might have been the purest distillation of modern football imaginable, Cristiano Ronaldo received a rapturous welcome back at Old Trafford last week. Manchester United fans clearly want him to know how much he means to them, even though he has made it clear he does not want to stay at the club.

After about 45 minutes, when he was substituted, Ronaldo left the stadium at half-time, against the wishes of his manager, Erik ten Heg, and was clearly convinced that he did not need to stay.

Believe it or not, there has been progress at Manchester United this summer. Ten Hag is a smart meeting. The club have made some smart signings. But it is a curious development, tempered by the fact that United appear to have no list of recruits other than the players Ten Haggis knew and liked and have been missing from the Ronaldo saga. As it stands, he could be forced to stay simply because no one wants to sign him. How Hag manages ten that defines the first months of his reign.

Arguably, this season should be the best chance since 2016 for a team outside the traditional Big Six to challenge for a place in the Champions League. The entire campaign will be affected by the World Cup and it is hardly a stretch to suggest that the superpowers – who are stacked with players heading to Qatar – could be more susceptible to fatigue afterwards.

Whether any team can get out of the set is another matter. Newcastle finished last season on a Saudi-sponsored high, but it was substantially quieter than the LIV Golf Series this summer. Leicester and Wolves seem to be stagnating. That leaves perhaps West Ham – bolstered by some smart additions – as the only viable contenders. Of course, it’s even more likely that David Moyes’ side won’t be able to keep up the pace either, and at the end of another season things will be exactly as they were before.

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