5 Talking Points ahead of the 2018-19 Premier League season
Manchester City will be looking to defend their title as their challengers attempt to reduce the gap.
The new Premier League season gets under way on August 10, when Manchester United host Leicester hoping to close the gap to neighbours and reigning champions Manchester City.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some talking points ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
Can Manchester City be caught?
Pep Guardiola’s men won the title last season at a canter with five games to spare and eventually finished on 100 points, 19 ahead of closest rivals Manchester United and 30 better off than last previous year’s champions Chelsea. The addition of long-term target Riyad Mahrez in a club-record £60million switch from Leicester suggests they are not about to rest on their laurels, and the chasing pack have a job on their hands to reel them in.
Is there life after Arsene?
Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign at Arsenal drew to a close at the end of last season amid a blend of gratitude for his efforts and frustration at the club’s failure to mount meaningful challenges in the Premier League and Champions League in recent campaigns. Successor Unai Emery has wasted little time in bolstering his squad, with the additions of Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, but his new-look team will need time to settle as he attempts to revitalise the club.
When Tottenham’s league of nations reconvenes ahead of the big kick-off, manager Mauricio Pochettino will welcome back World Cup winner Hugo Lloris and eight more men who made the semi-finals – Belgium trio Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele and England’s Kieran Tripper, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane. There is little doubting the quality at the Argentinian’s disposal, but Spurs need to start winning trophies if they are to be regarded as a genuine force both at home and in Europe and this summer’s exposure to what it takes to make it at the highest international level can only help the club.
The Pogba enigma
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has spent an inordinate amount of time over the last two seasons having to defend £89.3million midfielder Paul Pogba. The 25-year-old powerhouse has struggled to reproduce his form for France on a sustained basis for United, but, having returned from Russia with a World Cup winner’s medal and underlined his ability once again, he will hope to bring that form back with him.
Maintaining the momentum
Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield will all spend a second season in the top flight after surviving the first with relative comfort, the Magpies finishing in 10th place, 11 points clear of the drop zone. It was only the third occasion on which all three promoted clubs have achieved the feat, and Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham face a major challenge to match them as last season’s strugglers attempt to avoid a similar fate this time around.