Premier league winners:
I think the coming season will be between Man City and Liverpool. Given City were so dominant last season they have to be favourites, and the bookies are marking them in pre-season as odds on. Liverpool however have momentum and some quality additions. Having beaten City in the Champions League and reached the final of that competition, I think they will fancy themselves playing any of the league's top teams. The big question mark is whether they can mount a consistent title challenge? I recall the 3 - 3 whirlwind draw at the Emirates last season when we overcame a 2 goal deficit only to let a 3 - 2 lead slip... Liverpool will need to much tighter to push City this coming season. Ultimately, it will boil down to City's hunger and Pep's ability to keep them fresh and motivated. An interesting race ahead.
Champion League spots:
Four teams will be vying for these last 2 CL spots; ManU; Chelsea; Arsenal & spurs. Perhaps biased, but its in these positions I disagree with the professional bookmakers most. The bookies have ManU & Chelsea in the 3rd and 4th spots respectively. I think this overlooks an unsettled and increasingly erratic and nasty Mourinho. I can see him walking out the door before the January transfer window opens. Chelsea have got rid of Conte and are potentially about to lose a great keeper and creative midfielder. Their owner is no doubt collateral damage in recent British Russian diplomatic tensions. Arguably Chelsea may finish outside the top 6 this season?
As for Arsenal, I think best case is 3rd, but we have to admit for now our North London rivals have a more balanced and experienced team. This could be Kane and Pochettino's first and last hurrah in their new stadium. I will reluctantly give them the nod to finish 3rd, above us, but I think going into the 2019/20 season we will truly be the team vying for the Premiership and be the momentum team - Hopefully I'm wrong and Emery can get the better of our rivals. But ultimately finishing 3rd or 4th is academic. Momentum is key, as is getting back in the CL where we belong!
Arsenal players to shine:
As I write, I still sense a clear out is due and probably coming. But I sense some of our newest additions will be quick to shine:
Goalkeeper - I see Leno taking over as our first choice keeper. It will be interesting to see if the domestic cup and Europa league games will also see Leno wear the gloves or perhaps see Cech gets the nod there? How Emery rotates his Keeper will be interesting, after the Wenger years and a dedicated number 2 for cup games.
Defence - Assuming we will now be a back four, the questions are can Bellerin start to fulfil his potential under Emery's tutelage? Can we have a settled central defence, Sokratis & Mustafi? Will Mustafi survive the coming cull? Can Nacho defy his years and remain a fan favourite? Which if any of our youngsters can break into the back four? I liked Mavropanos, but last chance saloon for Holding and Chambers? Interesting to see if we can end this season with a settled back four given our terrible 2018 away defensive displays.
Midfield - Going into the new season the key question is whether Ramsey will re-sign and commit, and if not, whether the club will offload him. The other prospect from pre-season is the young Frenchman Guendouzi... can he prove more than a flash in the Singaporean pan? I still have serious doubts about Xhaka, so will be interesting to see if Emery can improve the Swiss man's rash temperament and failure to track back. I look forward to see rave reviews about our pint sized Uruguayan Torreira. Hopefully a fan favourite and something we've missed for many years now.
Attack - Can Lacazette and Aubameyang play together? That to me is the 64k Dollar question which I suspect the answer is no to. I will be backing Aubameyang to be the EPL top scorer, watch out Sala and Kane, there's a new sheriff in town! I'm very curious to see what Emery can mould out fo Iwobi's potential. And can he cure Ozil's malaise and lanquid efforts? I would imagine Emery will have no untouchables that cannot be dropped, seeing who he drops from our attack will be very instructive!
Conclusions: Man City will win the title again. Liverpool will come close but again remain trophyless as will spurs. We will get back into the Top 4 with Emery showing a ruthless nature. Mourinho will implode and Chelsea will fade badly. I predict Aubameyang will be our player of the season. I pray we have one or more cup runs where we can get back to lifting silverware! COYG