The Premier League season has finally kicked off. While football fans were treated to summertime sports courtesy of the World Cup, the Premier League’s return from hibernation was greeted with excitement around the globe. There is nothing quite like the league’s yearly return from the offseason.

The 2018-19 season sees plenty of change in the Premier League. New teams, fresh players and managers, and more money has poured into the league. The combination of all four should make this term as unforgettable as the one that came before it.

It is a long road to May when this season’s Premier League champion will be crowned. A lot will take place between now and then; and Premier League fans have a lot to look forward to until the season’s climax.

Premier League – Title contenders

The dawn of each season sees all 20 Premier League teams having a chance to win the title. At least they do on paper. In reality, six teams have a real shot at winning the title; and of those six, four are projected to fight for the championship.

Reigning champions Manchester City go into the season having kept all of their top stars. The club added winger Riyad Mahrez to the ranks in a £60 million deal. His addition may come in handy as attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is suffering from a knee injury. Manchester City are the top squad, but the combination of cup competitions and a title hangover may give another club the chance to snatch the title.

Liverpool had the best summer transfer window of any club in the Premier League. The Reds spent big and upgraded the goalkeeper position and midfield area. Both positions desperately needed upgrading. Jurgen Klopp now has the most quality depth he has had since arriving at Anfield.

Manchester United are still a title contender despite doing very little in the transfer window. The biggest news going into the season was the internal conflict between manager Jose Mourinho and the club’s hierarchy. Mourinho was disappointed in the club’s lack of spending, while the club hasn’t been impressed with how the manager has thrown around money. If a trophy doesn’t come this season, it could be Mourinho’s last at Old Trafford.

Chelsea hired former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri to overhaul the club. Despite selling goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea held onto everyone else. Chelsea can focus on the Premier League while playing fringe squad members in the Europa League. It could prove to be a great season for the Blues.

Premier League – New players

Liverpool’s work in the transfer market saw four players come into the club. All four are stars, but perhaps none will be as important over the long-term as goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The Reds never truly replaced former shot-stopper Pepe Reina. However, Alisson gives Liverpool the sure hands they had lacked since Reina’s departure.

Chelsea also added a goalkeeper as they paid a world-record £71.6m for a shot-stopper. Kepa Arrizabalaga joined from Athletic Bilbao to take the place of Courtois. Although he is young and didn’t have the clean sheet record of his predecessor, Kepa is expected to be the next great Spanish goalkeeper.

Wolverhampton Wanderers marked their return to the Premier League with some transfer spending. Wolves may have pulled off the transfer deal of the offseason by purchasing Joao Moutinho for £5m from Monaco. The 31-year-old midfield maestro still has it and can unlock defences with his expert passing.

Premier League – New managers

Four managerial changes took place prior to the season’s kick off. The most significant was Arsenal’s appointment of Unai Emery. The Spaniard took over for Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman called time on his 22-year career at the club. Emery wants to change the club’s philosophy and will need time to do it. This season will see Arsenal experience growing pains.

Everton welcomed Marco Silva to the dugout this term. The Toffees had long been admirers of the tactician. Silva emerged onto the Premier League season in 2016-17 as he nearly saved Hull City from relegation. He moved to Watford a year later and got the Hornets off to a great start. However, Everton’s flirtations with Silva midway through the season caused Watford to sack the manager. He is now in charge of a club desperate to return to the top tier of the Premier League.

West Ham appointed former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini to the helm. The Hammers then spent heavily on players to back the new manager. Despite the purchases, none seemed to show the Hammers had much of a strategy when shelling out millions of pounds on talent.

Sarri was the last of the four managers hired this summer. Chelsea took their time to appoint him. That was down to the large financial matters that had to be solved prior to his unveiling. He arrives with a big reputation. Sarri’s tactics and man management could be the things to turn around the Blues after Antonio Conte’s dreadful final season in charge.

The Premier League will once again be unpredictable this term. Many of the questions football fans have won’t be answered for another nine months. Until then, fans can enjoy football from the fastest paced league in the world.

Are you thinking about visiting the UK and attending a football match?  Please do not hesitate to contact us and we can assist you with options and travel itineraries to help you plan for the occasion!

Read this blog for some handy tips: Attending a football match in the English Premier League? An Experts guide for non-UK residents

August 2018

Mark Buck is the Managing Director of United Europe Travel Services (Pty) Ltd, an online and offline travel services company based in South Africa

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