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Can Man City retain the Premier League title?
The 2018 FIFA World Cup finished just over three weeks ago and many of us were diagnosed with a severe case of tabanca. “What do we do now?” was the question we just did not seem to have the answer for. But, how time flies! Here we go again, as tomorrow marks the start of arguably the most popular league in the world.
The English Premier League (EPL) is by far the most watched league as an average game is followed on television by over 12 million people around the globe. It is carried by over 80 broadcasters in more than 200 territories. By all means, it is easy to understand why the EPL has such a following and nearly everyone in T&T follows or supports a team.
It is no secret, and I certainly have never hidden the fact that I am an ardent Liverpool supporter. It really happened by accident when I was slightly younger and I saw them play a game possibly on TTT (as there was no cable). They had a striker by the name of Roger Hunt who seemed to just score for fun. From then until now, I remain a diehard You'll Never Walk Alone (YNWA) fanatic. Of course, I have suffered as since writing this column, Liverpool has never won the Premier League and the last time they hoist the First Division title was 28 years, 93 days 23 hours 40 minutes and 4 seconds ago. The wonderful thing for me was that I was able to see them win various titles and cups over the years, much like when I was able to see and appreciate the West Indies team mowing down the opposition; those were the good old days.
So cometh the 2018-2019 season; as one Liverpool fan said to me, he is “cautiously optimistic”. I am not sure what that means, but if it means he is afraid to go out there and boast and brag that Liverpool is going to win the League, then he will never be able to do that. After all, they have spent close to £170 million on transfers - more than any other team. They seem to have a manager who knows what he wants, so, why shouldn't they win the league? Everyone washed their mouths on the defence; they now have the most expensive keeper and central defender in the game so that should help.
The combination of Salah, Mané and Firmino is regarded as the best-attacking force in Europe. The midfield has been reinforced and this time manager Jürgen Klopp has a bench to turn to if things are not going according to plan. So why shouldn't Liverpool fans feel confident about their team winning the Premier League title for the first time in history? There will be tremendous pressure on Klopp to win a trophy or two after his transfer window spending spree.
Any club with aspirations to win the league has to be more consistent and possess the killer instinct of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. This is a team that won the League comfortably by 19 points. However, they have only added one big name player in Riyad Mahrez to their squad so, Pep will be looking at more or less the same squad that won him the league last year to defend their title. Man City will be a difficult team to beat. On their day, they have many match winners De Bruyne, Silva, Sané, Agüero, Jesus, Sterling and the list can go on. To win the league, you must finish ahead of City.
The people's favourite, Manchester United, seems to be going through rough waters. José 'the special one' Mourinho is at loggerheads with his board and some of his star players are unhappy. The burning question remains: can Jose get the team playing how he wants quickly enough in order to challenge the likes of the first two mentioned? He builds his team on a strong defence and even though he has one of the finest keepers in the world in David de Gea, he is trying to get a central defensive pairing to suit his style of play. Since this column is written before the transfer deadline, he may well get his wish.
Chelsea is another big-6 team that is in turmoil. The team's new Italian manager Maurizio Sarri is battling more to keep players rather than trying to get new players to add to his squad. It will strike a devastating blow if he loses Thibaut Courtois - voted the best keeper in the World Cup. However, if he can keep the likes of Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Kanté etc., they will be competitive. The other two London clubs - Arsenal and Spurs may very well struggle. Spurs have not added anyone special to their squad and I can't see them clawing back those already mentioned.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has a change in manager after 22 years; Arsene Wenger has been replaced by Spaniard Unai Emery. I expect he will take some time in getting to know his squad, and even though he has brought in a couple new players, they will have to gel quickly with one another and get used to the system.
The winner should come from the big-6 and relegation candidates could be Cardiff, Watford and Huddersfield. Enjoy the EPL Trinbago; it never fails to be competitive and entertaining.
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