Man City should repeat, but Chelsea and Man United lurking

The Premier League season is in full swing, and Manchester City looks like a strong contender to win the league title. But there are dangers ahead for Pep Guardiola’s men; City may have won the league by just a point in the most recent past, but after a collapse in form they could be vulnerable this time around. Liverpool and Chelsea, meanwhile, are still strong contenders to finish top of the table, while a resurgent Manchester United could be in the mix, too.

Manchester City is the fantasy football darling of the Premier League season. They were the first team to break the 33-point barrier, setting the standard for the rest of the league, and they did so by winning three of their six games. With the top four set, the only thing left to determine is the number of points each team will earn.

Manchester City finished as Premier League champions last season, but this year they face two teams who could keep them from repeating. Chelsea and second-place Manchester United are both very strong teams. Chelsea have a lot of expensive, attacking players such that they could take advantage of City’s less than ideal defense, while Manchester United have very talented, young players who can improve with experience.. Read more about premier league table and let us know what you think.

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    Ian Darke is a journalist for


      Darke is ESPN’s main soccer voice in the United States, having called games for the network at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Since 1982, he has covered the Barclays Premier League and the Champions League, and is one of the most well-known soccer commentators in the world.

Manchester City have won three of the past four Premier League championships, and it would take a bold gambler to bet against them repeating as champions if they sign both Jack Grealish and Harry Kane before the transfer season ends. Is it, however, as clear-cut as many excellent judges seem to believe? Especially if City’s attention shifts to capturing the coveted Champions League title.

The plot deepens behind Man City, as the chasers enter the new season with realistic goals of knocking the champions off their perch.

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Chelsea defeated Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champions League final, and Thomas Tuchel is hoping that Romelu Lukaku, a striker from Inter Milan, will join an already talented squad. Manchester United, who finished second last season, will be hoping that Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane can help them win their first title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, while Liverpool, with a packed Anfield and Virgil Van Dijk back to help them, will see no reason why they can’t reclaim their champagne form from two seasons ago.

With packed stadiums and new VAR instructions, the season promises to be exciting, especially with the dreaded “by a toe-nail” offsides decisions being phased out and fewer easy penalties. Last season’s 125 spot kicks set a new record, with players apparently collapsing to the ground with every gust of wind.

Here are my club-by-club views ahead of Friday’s first match, but forecasts should always be tempered by the reality that additional big transfer events are still quite possible with the window shutting at the end of August.



The £50 million acquisition of Brighton and England defender Ben White is a statement move, but much more is needed following two consecutive eighth-place finishes. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, for example, are only going to become better, but their success is contingent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang regaining his scoring touch. Mikel Arteta’s manager status is still up in the air.

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How will they deal with the loss of Grealish, their talisman? Despite Dean Smith’s additions of Danny Ings, Leon Bailey, and Emi Buendia to the attacking options and the return of Ashley Young to provide some much-needed experience, that has to be the main question. As Villa maintains their Premier League status, another mid-table finish is likely.



The West London club, which was formerly a lower-league club, will be the Premier League’s 50th side, and its Danish manager Thomas Frank has the players thinking that their adventurous style may create upsets. They will, however, need star scorer Ivan Toney to replicate his 33-goal form from last season in the Premier League. After many agonizing near-misses in the promotion race, the Bees have earned their opportunity.



Last season, it was easy on the eyes, but it only managed to finish 16th with 41 points. They will miss Arsenal-bound White, but Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, and Dan Burn provide enough defensive backup, while Yves Bissouma is one of the league’s finest midfielders, drawing many suitors. It would be beneficial if they could get Tariq Lamptey, the raging winger, fit.



Under the new owners ALK, there hasn’t been much in the way of major transfer activity, but they are wise enough to recognize the importance of keeping manager Sean Dyche happy. Last season, the Clarets came back from a poor start to finish 11 points clear of the relegation zone, and they have the nous and grit — as well as a strong squad headed by Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, goalkeeper Nick Pope, and striker Chris Wood — to remain above water once again.



Frank Leboeuf, a Chelsea great, is delighted for Romelu Lukaku, who is allegedly close to returning to Stamford Bridge.



The club most likely to pose a danger to champions Manchester City, whom they defeated in the Champions League final with a flawless tactical performance. This is a quality group, but they were only the eighth-highest scorers in the Premier League last season. At the time of writing, it seems like Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku will come for approximately £98 million to address that issue. The Belgian is no longer the bumbling youngster who failed to impress during his previous stint at Stamford Bridge, but it’s unclear where that leaves last summer’s major acquisition, Timo Werner.



The Palace has seen a lot of changes this summer. Patrick Vieira succeeds Roy Hodgson as manager of the club, which is undergoing a transformation. A dozen players saw their contracts expire, but Wilfried Zaha and a resurgent Christian Benteke remain, and Palace have recruited two solid defenders in Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi, as well as the talented young playmaker Michael Olise. Nonetheless, Vieira will be put to the test.


Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, and others to discuss the most recent news and debate the most important stories. ESPN+ has a live stream available (U.S. only).



Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid, and Rafa Benitez replaces him. Some Toffees supporters may never forgive him for referring to them as a “little club” when he was manager of Liverpool over a decade ago. Will Rafa be able to win over his detractors, or will there be unrest at Goodison Park for a side that slid to 10th place last season? Nothing in the transfer market so far has led you to think they can improve on that. Fresh acquisition Demarai Gray will have to show his worth as a first-team regular, but winger Andros Townsend may find new life on Merseyside.


LEEDS UNITED is a football club based in Leeds, England.

Marcelo Bielsa’s turbo-charged team could even threaten the top six if they don’t succumb to “second season syndrome.” With Elland Road turned up to full volume as fans return, Marcelo Bielsa’s turbo-charged team crowned a superb return to the top flight with a ninth-place finish last season and with Elland Road turned up to full volume as fans return, Marcelo Bielsa’s turbo-charged team might even threaten the top six unless they succumb Patrick Bamford, a polished, articulate midfielder, may push his way into England’s plans, while Junior Firpo has come from Barcelona for £13 million.



Fer Nino of Villarreal should not play football until Wesley Fofana returns from injury, according to Julien Laurens.



Wesley Fofana, the Foxes’ excellent young defender, injured his leg in preseason, which may leave them a bit weak at the back. Despite missing out on the top four for the second year in a row, the season ended with a first-ever FA Cup victory. Brendan Rodgers’ options have been bolstered by the signings of Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare, and Ryan Bertrand, and he still has all of his big-hitters on board, with Harvey Barnes returning from injury and James Justin making good progress.

Will they expect to stay in the Europa League for a long time, and why not?



It will be interesting to see whether we see the “old Liverpool” that won the league two seasons ago. They did well to finish third in May after a disastrous mid-season run due to major injuries. Virgil Van Dijk’s return and Ibrahima Konate’s £36 million signing give them a more sturdy appearance, but they need Curtis Jones to fill Gini Wijnaldum’s shoes following his departure to PSG. There’s also the specter of captain Jordan Henderson’s contract issue hovering over the preseason.



Mark Ogden discusses Pep Guardiola’s plans for Jack Grealish and questions if Man City really needs him.


MANCHESTER CITY is a football club based in Manchester, England.

A plethora of wealth is an embarrassment. How will Pep Guardiola integrate Grealish into his team? Any side would benefit from the England man’s ability to run with the ball, draw fouls, and create opportunities. He is a one-of-a-kind talent, and if Kane joins him, City’s attack will be terrifying, with Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and Riyad Mahrez vying for the remaining spots, with Bernardo Silva likely on his way out. Also keep in mind that Kevin De Bruyne only started 23 Premier League games last season and should be back to his best this season. Last season, City won by 12 points, but this year will be more difficult.


MANCHESTER UNITED is a football club based in Manchester, England.

The club have issued a big vote of confidence in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to hand him an extended contract to 2024 and the funds for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. With Marcus Rashford out for two months with a shoulder problem to start the season, Sancho has the chance to show off his sensational talents while Varane and Harry Maguire looks a winning pairing at the back. If Bruno Fernandes bounces back from a poor Euros (he looked tired), United should be in the mix at the top of the table, though the usual uncertainty over Paul Pogba (his contract expires in June, 2022) hardly helps.



The ESPN FC team examines all of the variables that will influence Raphael Varane’s fit with Manchester United’s defense.



Despite being a club in apparently unending upheaval, they managed to finish 12th last season as Steve Bruce responded to his numerous Toon detractors. They must keep Callum Wilson healthy and complete the signing of Joe Willock from Arsenal, whose flurry of goals proved crucial at the conclusion of last season. So far, they’ve been silent on the transfer market.



Having stuck with manager Daniel Farke, they were able to return to the top flight at the first time of asking and win the Championship. They’ve lost their primary chance creator, Buendia, to Aston Villa, but they’ve done a fantastic job in loaning out Chelsea’s outstanding young midfielder Billy Gilmour. The Canaries have been a little more aggressive in the transfer market than they were on their last trip to the Premier League, but this yo-yo team seems to be on the verge of relegation.



Josh Sargent’s transfer from Werder Bremen to Norwich is discussed by Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez.



Saints supporters would have been alarmed by the unexpected transfer of striker Danny Ings to Aston Villa. Leicester City’s dependable left-back Ryan Bertrand has also departed, while captain James Ward-Prowse is expected to attract interest. The Saints are in risk of becoming surprise strugglers unless they can add to their roster between now and the end of August.



With so much riding on the conclusion of the Kane story, these are trying times in north London. With Toby Alderweireld departing, new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has had a difficult start. However, Spurs have signed Sevilla winger Bryan Gil and £47 million Atalanta defender Cristian Romero. The new Europa Conference League, which isn’t exactly glamourous, is the price they pay for placing seventh last season. Though Inter’s Lautaro Martinez is being sought, how they replace Kane (if he leaves) will be vital to their chances.



Emmanuel Dennis, a promising teenager from Club Brugge, may make an impact when the Hornets return to the Premier League. Danny Rose, a former England left-back, and Ashley Fletcher, a Middlesbrough striker, are among the newcomers, while Ismaila Sarr, a dangerous winger, remains. However, Vicarage Road may face a long and difficult winter.



How will they deal with the games schedule of Thursday-Sunday as they prepare for the Europa League? Last season, finishing sixth with a squad captained by England regular Declan Rice and featuring genuine danger players like Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio was a brave move. They’d want to reclaim Jesse Lingard from Manchester United following a successful loan, as well as recruit a quality defender like Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma or Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car. David Moyes is set to have a busy August.



After two consecutive seventh-place finishes, they fell to 13th place with just 45 points last season, which served as a wake-up call. Nuno’s reign is ended; he’s now rebuilding Tottenham, and Bruno Lage has taken charge. After suffering a terrible broken skull last season, star scorer Raul Jimenez is back in action. There have been a few quiet additions, but Jimenez may face another tough season unless the intriguing young Pedro Neto and Adama Traore (if he remains) can establish a reliable supply line for him. Barca winger Francisco Trincao has the potential to thrill the Molineux crowd.

The Asian Football Confederation Champions League is over, and now the only stage left is the English Premier League. Everyone knows who’s gonna win this season (and why) but who are the other title contenders? Who’s gonna win the FA Cup and the Champions League? And who will be relegated?. Read more about premier league standings and let us know what you think.

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