The Premier League is arguably at the strongest and most competitive that it’s been at since the 2015/16 season when all of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger were managers and Leicester City were crowned champions.
This time around though it’s not the managers that make the competition competitive however, it’s the actual players available to all the different squads.
This summer we saw the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho to the league, while Jack Grealish was also on the move as one of the better players in the division.
Despite Arsenal spending over £150m on new players their squad is arguably weaker than it was at the end of last season and they will find it a struggle to get back into the top six this season when compared to the likes of Leicester and West Ham.
But after three Premier League games, the transfer window is complete, so these are our pre-season picks for the top six positions in the Premier League this season.
Likely lineup: Lloris; Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon; Skipp, Hojbjerg, Alli; Bergwijn, Kane, Son
It seems to always be the same teams in and around these conversations but Tottenham actually had a pretty good transfer window this time around.
They kept hold of Harry Kane after months of speculation, signed Cristiano Romero for their problem centre-back position, signed Emerson Royal at right-back and have also managed to integrate Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli into their midfield.
They lack serious depth and injuries at any point in the season could be an issue for them, but keeping Kane is huge. He guarantees them goals throughout the season and means they always have a chance to win games, but his overall enthusiasm to be at the club could be an issue.
My gut tells me that defensively they’ll be strong but they won’t score enough goals and that will see them get too many draws to finish in the top four, plus Kane won’t be as productive as he has been in recent years.
Likely lineup: Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans; Barnes, Maddison, Perez; Vardy
Many thought it would be third time lucky for Brendan Rodgers’ side this season to finally break back into the top four after their summer window, but I think they’ll fall just short once again.
The Foxes added Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare, Ademola Lookman (loan), Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand to their squad and for the first time managed to keep their previous squad together into the new season, with no major sales. However the serious injury to Wesley Fofana in pre-season will have harmed their defensive strength and Jamie Vardy is one year older now.
They’ve started the season well but I feel the teams above them last year have further strengthened too and it means that unfortunately for them, they’ll just miss out once more.
Likely lineup: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane
I’m going to get this in there early, but the top four I have selected could genuinely interchange in any way and I wouldn’t be that surprised. But something in my gut tells me that Liverpool will finish fourth this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side managed to scrape a third place finish last season despite having minimal defenders for most of the campaign, and this season they welcome back all of Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and new signing Ibrahima Konate in the heart of their defence.
Unfortunately for Reds fans though, they failed to strengthen the squad anywhere else. Harvey Elliott returned from loan and has done well so far in the Premier League but I don’t think he is quite at the level where he can help launch a title challenge and their lack of depth means they’ll likely fall off as the season goes on.
At their best though they’re without a doubt one of the best teams in the world, and with one of the best managers in the world on the bench it’s really hard to completely write them off.
Likely lineup: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, Grealish; Mahrez, Torres, Foden
The reigning champions were just three wins away from winning the lot last season and then went and added the first £100m player in Premier League history to their squad, yet I think they’ll fall off this year.
Jack Grealish’s arrival to the squad obviously boosts them, but the failure to sign a top striker to replace Sergio Aguero is a problem. Yes, they won the league last season without a striker but to expect to do that again seems short-sighted and Guardiola’s chase of Harry Kane all summer tells me he knows that too.
Ferran Torres has started the season well in that role but I’m not totally convinced he can be that consistent goalscorer they need, so I think they may struggle in games against the better defences this season. Defensively they’re arguably stronger this season with Aymeric Laporte playing himself back into form, but the team just doesn’t strike fear into me like it once did.
As good as they are, with the depth and manager they have, they just don’t have that aura about them for me this season and for that reason I think they’ll fall to their lowest finish under Guardiola.
Likely lineup: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo
I’m willing to admit this could be a bit of bias, but Manchester United look so strong this season.
As a unit they have one of the best defences in the league and their attacking options can compete with Paris Saint-Germain for depth and talent. They have match winners all over the pitch and credit must go to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for building a squad that is now expected to compete on all fronts.
There is a glaring midfield weakness though and ultimately, that could be what lets them down. Against the top sides, the lack of a top defensive midfielder could be an issue and Solskjaer is likely to make up for that by using both members of McFred together and sacrificing an attacker.
While they’re probably best placed to win things this year moreso than any other since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, it may be a cup competition that falls their way rather than the league because the gap between the top managers and Solskjaer is just that big. They’ll run it close, but ultimately it’ll just be one step too far.
Likely lineup: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Havertz, Lukaku, Mount
The champions of Europe looked formidable under Thomas Tuchel in the second half of last season but they had one glaring weakness – finishing in front of goal.
So what did Uncle Roman do? He signed Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m fresh off arguably the best season of his career to date to lead the line. The Belgian scored in first game against Arsenal and played well against Liverpool as Chelsea earned a draw with ten men at Anfield and already looks the perfect man to shoulder their title challenge.
Defensively they still look imperious but they look even more well drilled and with added depth to their midfield with Saul Niguez joining on loan from Atletico Madrid it’s hard to see where they will come apart this season.
A top manager, arguably the best squad in the league, a solid defence, a world class midfield, a goalscoring machine up front and a system that they’ve seemingly mastered – Chelsea are my picks to win the title this season.