The Premier League is back, and fans will be delighted to see their teams set out for a new campaign after a delayed start. As ever, there is the usual mix of excitement and trepidation among fans, but most will be keen to get going again for another season.
There are, of course, many questions that will only be answered in the coming weeks and months. Below we look at 10 of the most interesting issues that will only be addressed with time:
Will Chelsea’s Gamble Pay Off?
Chelsea are the big spenders of the transfer window (so far), with around £200 million spent on players like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. Thiago Silva has also been brought in on a free transfer to add some experience to the defence. On paper, they look like fine signings, but how will they gel with a squad that already looked like it needed time to develop? It might take Frank Lampard a while to work out his best team, and results could suffer while he does that.
Will Moyes Be the First Managerial Casualty?
David Moyes is not the favourite in the Premier League sack race; that honour goes to Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson. However, he is the second-favourite – around 6/1 with the bookies – and we think we know the reason why. After the opener against Newcastle, West Ham have a horrible run of fixtures fearing matches against City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Wolves and Leicester. That could see Moyes’ Hammers in trouble come mid-October. Would the board wield the axe?
Can Leeds Match Lofty Expectations?
According to 888sport Premier League betting, Leeds are 7th favourites (150/1) to win the title. Few expect that to happen, of course, but the positioning – ahead of teams like Leicester, Wolves and Everton – is almost unheard of for a newly-promoted team. Most new clubs’ priorities revolve around staying up (Leeds are 4/1 to be relegated), but the Yorkshire club has loftier ambitions than that and many pundits have tipped them to do well. But we wonder whether fans should dampen expectations a little bit, and put stability as the top priority for a club that has spent years in the wilderness.
Will Burnley Be Burnley Once More?
Nearly every season, you can find a list of pundits preseason suggesting that Burnley’s time is finally up. And then, Burnley do what Burnley do best by grinding out the results they need. But we wonder whether Burnley and Sean Dyche get enough respect? Last season’s 10th place finish (five points ahead of Everton and just two behind Arsenal) was completed with the minimum of fuss, and the Clarets even played some lovely football at times. They will be just fine and continue to become an established Premier League club.
How Far Can Arteta Take Arsenal?
We mentioned Chelsea’s transfer business earlier, but Arsenal can claim to have gotten some bargains. Willian is exactly the type of player Arsenal need at the moment, and Gabriel Magalhaes looks a snip at £25 million. The goal must be a top-four finish, or, at least, enough progression to suggest that they are getting there. Mikel Arteta looks like a man with a plan, and we will be interested to see how that starts to unfold.
Was Leicester’s Malaise Continue?
A lot was made of Manchester United’s excellent form when leapfrogging Chelsea and Leciester into third place at the end of last season. The gap between Leicester and United in January was 14 points, but the latter finished four points ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ men. While United deserve credit, it should be noted that Leicester were generally awful in 2020. The Foxes have won five league games in 2020, a run that saw them spanked by relegated teams like Bournemouth and Norwich. It really has gone under the radar just how poor Leicester have been, and it will be interesting to see what Rodgers can do about it.
Where Will Donny Van De Beek Play?
Speaking of United and that fine turnaround in 2020, it begs the question of where new signing Donny Van De Beek fit into the line-up. Van De Beek is a fine player and should enjoy a great tenure in United’s midfield, but he presents a selection problem in an area where United finally had some balance. Will he play with Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, thereby leaving United light defensively? Will United revert to three at the back? Will Mason Greenwood be the casualty if United move to a 4-4-2? We genuinely just don’t know.
Can Wolves Step Up to the Next Level?
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the club seems well run with an excellent manager behind the wheel. We do wonder, however, whether a ceiling of sorts has been hit. While the club has, once again, invested wisely this summer, major assets like Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore are constantly linked with moves away to bigger clubs. It would be a shame to see the project at Wolves start to tread water.
Will Mourinho Turn Things Around?
Of all the clubs within the so-called “Big 6”, the foundations at Tottenham Hotspur look the most shaky. They’ll feel the pinch of no Champions League revenue this season, and that’s an issue compounded by the fact that match day revenue is depleted when playing in empty stadiums. This is new a different type of challenge for Jose Mourinho. If he is to turn things around by getting Spurs purring again and getting a Champions League spot, it might be the greatest achievement of his career.
Will We See the Emergence of a Big 2?
We mentioned the Big 6 above, but should we really be talking about a Big 2? Teams like Spurs feel a lot closer to Wolves and Everton than they are to Liverpool or Manchester City. The latter is the odds-on favourite for the title, with Liverpool just a shade behind at 7/4 to retain – everyone else seems to be deemed an also-ran.