The 2019-20 English Premier League season begins on Friday when 2019 UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool host newly-promoted Norwich City. Although Liverpool has experienced European success over the past 30 seasons, it hasn’t been that way domestically.
Liverpool is seeking its first English league title since 1990, two years before the formation of the current English Premier League. Its 18 league titles are second to Manchester United’s 20, but it has been three decades since the Reds lifted the domestic crown.
The Reds came closest last year, losing only one game in league play, but ultimately finished second to Manchester City. The Blue Moon rose again under Pep Guardiola’s watch thanks to Sergio Aguero’s goal-scoring prowess and Raheem Sterling’s timely offense.
Though Man City continues to get stronger offensively with the additions of midfielder Rodri and wing-back Joao Cancelo, they did lose their captain Vincent Kompany and didn’t do much to improve in central defense by bringing in help for Aymeric Laporte.
Liverpool didn’t make too many impactful additions either, not that they needed to. With the league’s best defense and a team filled with talent, this could be the year Liverpool breaks the drought.
Manchester United could be a strong competitor once again this season after addressing its defensive woes from last year by signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. There are still questions over Paul Pogba’s future with the team and losing Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan are major holes to fill offensively.
Wolverhampton shocked the league by finishing seventh in its first season since being promoted from the Championship. Bringing in more talent from the Iberian peninsula in the form of Raul Jimenez from Benfica, Pedro Neto from Braga, and Jesus Vallejo from Real Madrid will also help strengthen the team. Could Wolves even finish top-five this year? Not out of the question with teams like Tottenham and Arsenal possibly taking a step back.
Another small club contender is Leicester City. The unlikely champs from a few seasons back, they added record-signing Youri Tielemans from Monaco and Ayoze Perez from Newcastle. The Foxes are in prime position to improve upon a ninth-place finish last season with some strong weapons added.
Big clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal look on the verge of crisis. Chelsea is appealing a year-long transfer ban and was unable to keep Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata from leaving. Arsenal fans are displeased with ownership, despite signing Nicolas Pepe for a club-record fee. The Gunners lost Aaron Ramsey to Juventus and defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Laurent Koscielny on low-money deals.
As for Tottenham, Kieran Trippier is a massive loss but bringing in a budding star like Tanguy Ndombele for a record-deal gives a reason for optimism.
Biggest Transfers, In or Out
Nicolas Pepe, Youri Tielemans, and Tanguy Ndombele comprise just a few record signings from a crazy transfer window. Manchester City’s acquisition of Rodri came at a club-record 62 million pounds, Brighton signed Adam Webster for a record 20 million pounds, Joelinton joins Newcastle from Hoffenheim for a record 40 million pounds, and Sebastian Haller signed to West Ham for a record 45 million.
The biggest splash was Maguire signing with Manchester United for 80 million pounds, a world-record fee for a defender.
While most clubs paid big bucks, teams like Norwich paid little money to bring in big-time players. Swiss striker Josip Drmic joined on a free transfer, goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann came over on loan from Schalke, and right back Sam Byram cost only 750,000 pounds from West Ham.
New Year, New Rules
This year’s competition will feature a ‘mid-season break’ for the first time in February. Ten teams will rest on one weekend and the other ten will rest the following weekend. VAR will also be used for the first time.
Predictions for Top Players and Teams
Golden Boot: Harry Kane, Tottenham – If the English striker stays healthy, he can benefit from the service of Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele. He’s already good enough to generate his own chances, and it could be a career-best year for Kane.
Golden Glove: Allison, Liverpool – His defense might not be just the best in the Premier League, but the best in the world. Fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are so skilled in both defense and the attack while Virgil van Dijk may have earned the title of best in the world on his own. Allison, meanwhile, is elite enough even without the defense he has in front of him. His 21 clean sheets led the league in 2018-19 and he should run away with it again this season.
Player of the Year: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City – He was named young player of the year last season after he showed the ability to score and create scoring chances in abundance. Sterling was a big reason why City won the title last year and he is arguably one of the best midfielders in the world at just 24-years-old.
Manager of the Year: Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolverhampton – He has led Wolves from out of the depths and into prominence once again. This season could be a breakout year for the Portuguese manager’s club and his cool presence on the sideline has made a significant impact on the players.
CHAMPION: Liverpool – This could very well be the year Liverpool breaks its title drought. With an incredible defense, strong midfield presence of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino anchoring the attack, the Reds could put together one of the best Premier League seasons of all time.
Answering the “Casual Fan” Questions
Q: Okay, so if Liverpool won the Champions League, doesn’t that mean they also won the Premier League?
A: The Champions League features teams from all over Europe and to qualify out of England, a team must finish in the top four of the league standings. The Europa League, a lower-level European competition, features the winners of the FA Cup and English League Cup as well as the EPL fifth-place finisher should they qualify.
Q: So how do they determine the Premier League champion?
A: Well, each team plays 38 EPL matches and the team with the most points (3 for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss) at the end of league play is the winner. If there is a tie, goal difference (goals scored minus goals allowed) is the first tiebreaker.
Q: What about teams that finish at the bottom of the standings?
A: Teams finishing 18-20 in the standings are relegated to the EPL Championship, England’s second division. In turn, teams from the Championship that finish in the top two are automatically promoted while those finishing 3-6 enter a playoff tournament where the winner is promoted. This year, Aston Villa, who finished fifth in the championship, was promoted via the playoffs along with top finishers Sheffield United and Norwich City. Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were all relegated.
MATCHDAY 1 SCHEDULE (All times EST)
|August 9, 3 p.m.||Liverpool||Norwich City||NBC Sports|
|August 10, 7:30 a.m.||West Ham||Manchester City||NBC Sports|
|August 10, 10 a.m.||Bournemouth||Sheffield United||NBC Sports|
|August 10, 10 a.m.||Crystal Palace||Everton||NBC Sports Gold|
|August 10, 10 a.m.||Burnley||Southampton||NBC Sports Gold|
|August 10, 10 a.m.||Watford||Brighton||NBC Sports Gold|
|August 10, 12:30 p.m.||Tottenham||Aston Villa||NBC|
|August 11, 9 a.m.||Newcastle||Arsenal||NBC Sports|
|August 11, 9 a.m.||Leicester City||Wolverhampton||CNBC|
|August 11, 11:30 a.m.||Manchester United||Chelsea||NBC Sports|