Who will be champions of England?
JT: To put it simply, Manchester City will be champions once again.
City are a phenomenal team, one of the best in the world, and while there are still some issues that might hurt them in Europe (namely in defense), I do believe the overall quality and depth will allow them to be champions once again. The addition of Erling Håland will get all of the attention, and rightfully so, but I do like the additions of Sergio Gómez and Julián Álvarez as well, giving City much needed depth in key positions. The ability to hold on to Bernardo Silva despite interest from Barcelona is also crucial, as Silva showed just how incredible of a player he can be when at his best last season. There will have to be an adaptation period after losing the directness of Raheem Sterling in attack and adding a different sort of center forward in Håland, but the sheer quality in this City team should allow them to be the top dog after 38 games.
Liverpool will still be a good team, I do think they will overcome this early season slump, but I do think they need additions in this transfer window if they are to be stable this season. The injury to Thiago is massive, and drops in form for Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have severely weakened Liverpool’s all-important midfield. Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz are both outstanding players on their day, but they are both still finding their feet in the Premier League, and the task of replacing a player as important as Sadio Mané is a massive one. The two redeeming points that Liverpool fans can cling on to is that firstly, Liverpool are always a team that can turn it on at a moment’s notice. We have seen on numerous occasions that this team can go on a sudden ridiculous tear and win boatloads of games, which is how they clawed their way into the title race last season. This is still a very talented team on paper with world class players all over the pitch. The struggles are understandable, but they can be overcome. Secondly, the World Cup in the middle of the season is going to be massive in determining the outcome of title races, and if Liverpool are able to get to December in a good position and relatively healthy, they will be in a good position to pounce if the World Cup hinders City’s competitive ability. Liverpool are not out of any race.
Can a team outside of these two contend for a title? I do not think so, but I would not rule it out. Tottenham are a very experienced and balanced team with their fair share of star power all over the pitch. A full season of the Son-Kane-Kulusevski attacking trio could really propel Spurs to some special things, and the addition of the oft-hated Richarlison does give them a key difference-making forward off the bench. Arsenal could also do it, believe it or not. Yes, it is way too early to draw conclusions about this Arsenal team, but they are still remarkably talented and show an incredible understanding of their system and of each other. There is no guarantee that they can maintain this start to the season, but if they are able to stay relatively healthy and Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli can maintain around this level of form, then this can be a team that is there or thereabouts come the business end of the season.
V: On the other hand, I disagree with my good friend. I really do believe it could very well be Arsenal’s year. For the first time in a long while, the Gunners look really lethal. Mikel Arteta has publicly (and very wisely) declared that the Gunners are not in the Premier League title race yet. That being said, after the first few games, one cannot deny that he has formed a team that works like a well-oiled machine. Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko are the vital cogs that the Gunners have sorely been lacking while the arrival of Fábio Vieira and Marquinhos provides Arteta necessary tools to build for the future. It’s not just the quality of players that Arsenal have brought in this window. Instead, it’s who these players will be playing alongside throughout the season. Mikel Arteta and co. have gradually built a formidable team over the past few seasons. Most importantly, Arsenal finally cleared deadwood to open spaces for academy prospects and future arrivals. Yes, their exodus may leave the Gunners thin in some departments but for every position, there is at least one competent deputy, which is decent, to say the least. We will get a clearer picture of Arsenal’s capabilities once they face the bigger teams but I do think they have it in them to beat their fellow top-6 cotenders.
Nevertheless, I do think that Manchester City will once again clinch the title with Erling Håland probably slotting home the goals. Man City have depth, experience, and most importantly a tactical genius connecting the dots at the helm. Yet, I think Arteta’s Arsenal (and not the Reds) will be giving them a fair fight till the end of the season. It would be a fitting end to the campaign though, and makes for a good footballing story – will the student beat the teacher?
On a complete side note, if Manchester United win the 2022/23 EPL title, I shall not shave my beard for a whole year to celebrate.
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