Premier League title contenders: Can anyone catch Man City?

The Premier League returns on Friday as champions Manchester City begin their title defense against newly promoted Burnley at Turf Moor.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who achieved trebles in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League last season, aim to make more history this time by becoming the first English club to win four consecutive league titles.

But two months after lifting the European Cup by beating Inter Milan in Istanbul, City have seen their home rivals strengthen their squads, while Guardiola’s side simultaneously lost key players Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez.

So can we expect one of the chasers to beat Man City and clinch the title this season? Or will the champions do it again?

The 2023/24 season is upon us and there are still three weeks to go until the September 1 transfer window closes. How are the main contenders progressing and how much do they still have to do to become title challengers?

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (USA)


City confirmed themselves as the best club side in the world last season but football goes on and they are arguably weaker now than they were two months ago. The loss of Gündogan and Mahrez will clearly feel Guardiola’s team. Mateo Kovacic brings proven quality and experience from Chelsea but he’s no gundogan and City are yet to replace Mahrez.

The arrival of RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol has bolstered an impressive defense but it’s questionable whether City needed reinforcements in defense ahead of attacking signings. The big question for City is what they will do if striker Erling Haaland is out for a while through injury. The Norway international avoided health setbacks last season and City reaped the rewards, but it would be a tall order from Julian Alvarez to fill the gap if Haaland were to miss out.

City, meanwhile, have been unable to add emerging talent to their midfield with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice absent. And they could still lose Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo in that window, so the next three weeks will be crucial to their hopes this season.

FIRST TEAM INS: Mateo Kovacic (£30m), Josko Gvardiol (£77.5m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Ilkay Gundogan (released), Riyad Mahrez (£30m), Benjamin Mendy (released)



Arsenal have stated they are serious about their summer recruitment. Big, ambitious deals for Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, followed by the signing of Ajax defender Jurrien Timber, have seen the Gunners tackle key areas of their squad and show they are serious about making the move for the first time in 20 years win title.

Rice will bring strength and leadership to Mikel Arteta’s side in midfield, more than offsetting Granit Xhaka’s departure to Bayer Leverkusen. And if they strike a deal for Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, the club will have two standout goalkeepers in the Spaniard and Aaron Ramsdale.

But have Arsenal done enough after topping the Premier League for so long last season only to make a mistake up front? It’s hard to say they’ve come up short in any way, so Arsenal are well positioned to go one step further than last season and win the Premier League.

But if there’s one area they could address before the window closes, it’s up front. With Gabriel Jesus injured again, Arteta needs an insurance policy by signing a new striker.

FIRST TEAM INS: Declan Rice (£105m), Kai Havertz (£67.5m), Jurrien Timber (£35m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Granit Xhaka (£21.4m), Pablo Mari (£4.2m), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (released)





Is Rasmus Hojlund a good signing for Manchester United?

Rob Dawson debates whether Rasmus Hojlund will succeed at Manchester United after signing from Atalanta.

United have benefited from the stability instilled by manager Erik ten Hag and have enjoyed an impressive summer window in which all priority areas of recruitment have been addressed. Ten Hag wanted to provide more dynamism and goals in midfield, a goalkeeper who can launch attacks with his spread and a centre-forward and with the signings of Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund United have delivered for his manager.

But United still have business to attend to. Harry Maguire and Fred will likely follow David de Gea through the exit door, with Scott McTominay also available. If those players move, United will try to secure a deal for Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat.

After a decade of bad decisions and stagnation, United appear to be back on an upward trend, but they still don’t look ready to win the title. A lot will depend on whether Hojlund can settle in quickly and score regularly, or whether the 20-year-old struggles in his first season. But if United manage to sign Amrabat before the deadline they will have a squad capable of pushing for the title provided they avoid injuries.

FIRST TEAM INS: Mason Mount (£60m), Andre Onana (£47.2m), Rasmus Hojlund (£72m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: David de Gea (released), Anthony Elanga (£15m), Alex Telles (£4m), Phil Jones (released), Axel Tuanzebe (released)





Marcotti is delighted with Tonali’s move to Newcastle

Gab Marcotti believes Sandro Tonali will be a perfect addition to Newcastle’s side following his move from AC Milan.

Constraints on financial fair play have dashed Newcastle’s hopes of a quick upgrade from Eddie Howe’s squad, with only AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali and Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes arriving at St James’ Park so far.

With a Champions League campaign on the horizon this season, Newcastle still don’t seem to have the strength to finish in the top four in the Premier League, especially with Howe being replaced by Allan Saint- Maximin and Chris Wood waived.

Newcastle are likely to seek more attacking signings in the coming weeks given the absence of RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai at Liverpool. But after surprisingly qualifying for the Champions League by finishing fourth last season, Newcastle need to do more to meet the demands of the coming season.

FIRST TEAM INS: Sandro Tonali (£60m), Harvey Barnes (£38m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Allan Saint-Maximin (£23m), Chris Wood (£14.5m), Ciaran Clark (released), Jamal Lewis (loan), Karl Darlow (£400,000)





Klopp questions Saudi Pro League’s extended transfer window

Jurgen Klopp admits he is concerned Saudi Pro League teams have almost three weeks longer to complete their transfers than European clubs.

Liverpool’s summer has been dominated by the midfielder but Jurgen Klopp’s plans have been upended by the departures of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to the Saudi Pro League.

After sacking Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner at the end of last season, Liverpool added Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szobozlai while Klopp began to rebuild their midfield. However, those plans initially included Fabinho and Henderson until big financial offers from Saudi Arabia forced the club to let the two experienced midfielders move on.

As the season nears, Liverpool still need to develop their midfield to avoid being left behind by injuries or suspensions. A move from Southampton’s Romeo Lavia is a priority but even if they sign the former Man City youngster, Liverpool will start the season with too many new faces in a key area of ​​the pitch.

Unless they manage to land at least two more signings, Liverpool could be in for a difficult season.

FIRST TEAM INS: Alexis Mac Allister (£35m), Dominik Szobozlai (£60m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Fabinho (£40m), Jordan Henderson (£12m), Naby Keita, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (all released), Fabio Carvalho (loan)





Wright: Postecoglou meets ‘the best of the best’

Ahead of the start of the season this weekend, Premier League legend Ian Wright is hoping new Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou will be given time to implement his ideas.

Spurs have done plenty of deals this summer and appointed a new manager with the signing of former Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, but the only transfer update anyone with links to the club is interested in is Harry Kane’s future. The now 30-year-old England captain has been speculated for three summers in a row but is closer to exit than ever after sources told ESPN on Thursday that Spurs have accepted a €100m offer from Bayern Munich.

Unless Kane says he will stay to see through the final year of his contract, his situation will linger over the club until the end of the transfer window. If Kane stays, Spurs have a chance to finish in the top four. If he leaves, they face a long, tough season all about qualifying for Europe. The club knows the equation well enough, but the uncertainty doesn’t help anyone.

FIRST TEAM INS: James Maddison (£40m), Pedro Porro (£34m), Dejan Kulusevski (£25m), Guglielmo Vicario (£17m), Manor Solomon (free transfer)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Harry Winks (£10m), Lucas Moura (free)





Why Robert Sanchez is an ‘excellent’ signing for Chelsea

Shaka Hislop analyzes what Chelsea get from signing goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

Another summer of transfer upheaval at Chelsea but the club still haven’t added a centre-forward to the squad. Christopher Nkunku (who is out “for a long time” following knee surgery) and Nicolas Jackson will play in attack, but new coach Mauricio Pochettino has no number 9 to build his forward line up around.

Although Romelu Lukaku is still at the club, it seems his future lies outside of Chelsea. So if Pochettino wants a centre-forward he will have to look outside Stamford Bridge for the answer and that could be Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic.

Until the dust settles, it’s impossible to predict whether Chelsea will bounce back from last season’s disastrous season or whether they will slide from crisis to crisis again. It will take time for Pochettino to transform the squad but the sooner Chelsea can find a striker the better.

FIRST TEAM INS: Christopher Nkunku (£58.2m), Nicolas Jackson (£34m), Angelo (£12.9m), Lesley Ugochukwu (£23.2m), Axel Disasi (£38m), Robert Sanchez (£25m)

FIRST TEAM OUTLETS: Kai Havertz (£67.5m), Mason Mount (£60m), Mateo Kovacic (£30m), Kalidou Koulibaly (£20m), Christian Pulisic (£17m), Edouard Mendy ( £15.8m), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£13.75m), Ethan Ampadu (£7m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (undisclosed fee), Cesar Azpilicueta (free transfer), Abdul Baba Rahman (free transfer ), N’Golo Kante (free transfer), David Datro Fofana (loan)

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

Related Articles

Back to top button