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Thursday, June 8, 2023

The quality in the Premier League has reached a new peak

Manchester City and Liverpool’s rivalry at the top of the Premier League has defined an entire era of English soccer. While City have won four of the last five titles, Liverpool have pushed them all the way to the end in two seasons and even got the better of the Etihad Stadium outfit in 2019/20, when they clinched their first championship for three decades.

As things stand, there’s no reason to believe City and Liverpool can be caught at the top of the Premier League table this season. Pep Guardiola’s side have added Erling Haaland to their ranks while Darwin Nunez has joined Liverpool for a club-record fee, giving Jurgen Klopp’s team another dimension in attack.

Saturday’s Community Shield acted as a curtain-raiser for what will almost certainly be another duel between the two rivals. Liverpool claimed a 3-1 victory, but City will surely retaliate over the course of the season. The Premier League champions boast too much quality within their squad to stay down for too long.

It’s not just City and Liverpool keeping the standard high across the Premier League this season. While there might be a gap between the top two and the rest, the competition below is stiff. In fact, the Premier League could be stronger this season than at any other stage of its 30-year history.

Tottenham Hotspur are ready to take further steps forward this term with Antonio Conte remoulding the North London club in his own image. Spurs pulled themselves up into the top four, and the Champions League, last season and this should give them a platform to achieve even greater success.

Arsenal are also hopeful of improvement. The summer signing of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City has given the Gunners a new focal point in attack with the Brazilian scoring seven goals in just four games during pre-season. Mikel Arteta chased Jesus in the knowledge that he would be the perfect centre forward for Arsenal and the early signs are he might have been right.

There is a greater degree of uncertainty at Chelsea, and not just because they have a new owner in the form of American businessman Todd Boehly. The Roman Abramovich era is over at Stamford Bridge following the government sanctions placed on the Russian oligarch, but the Blues have still shown ambition in the transfer market. 

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have departed, but Koulidou Koulibaly has arrived in their place. Chelsea are expected to sign another central defender before the end of the transfer window after failing to land Jules Kounde and so the Blues’ defensive rebuild will be somewhat incomplete as the new season kicks off.

The West London outfit has also made a few changes in the attacking third. Raheem Sterling was captured from Manchester City after Romelu Lukaku was sent back to Inter on loan just one season after the Belgian was signed for a club-record fee of £98m. Sterling is expected to form a partnership with Kai Havertz, who will now be seen as Thomas Tuchel’s first-choice centre forward.

Manchester United have a new manager in the shape of Erik ten Hag, with the former Ajax boss aiming to implement a fundamental culture change at Old Trafford. Ten Hag’s methods and ideas will likely take some time to bed in, but United can expect to be stronger than they were last season, when they suffered their worst-ever Premier League points tally.

West Ham have finished in the top seven in each of the last two seasons and have added Italian international striker Gianluca Scamacca to their squad this summer to provide them with greater firepower in the final third. This is a statement signing that proves the Hammers want to break through the glass ceiling.

Leicester City endured a difficult 2021/22 campaign as they struggled to juggle their domestic duties with Europa League and Europa Conference League participation. This season, though, the Foxes will be solely focused on the Premier League and domestic cup competitions. Brendan Rodgers stands a good chance of pushing his team back up the table.

English teams have demonstrated their quality in European competitions such as the Champions League in recent times, and it’s possible they have gotten even better over the 2022 summer. Premier League clubs have more money than clubs of any other league, and the impact on the pitch is becoming clearer than ever. The race for the trophy, the fight for the top-four, and the qualification battle for each European competition has never been more exciting.

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