Liverpool’s title rivals attempt to spend their way to catch up in Premier League

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Whether Liverpool can retain the title this season could well depend on how their top six rivals perform.

Finishing the 2019/20 season 18 points ahead of Man City has kicked Pep Guardiola’s annual recruitment drive up another gear, adding Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres so far, with links to Kalidou Koulibaly ongoing.

Over on the other side of Manchester, United have added Donny van de Beek to their midfield. They’ll need more than that to challenge though.

Tottenham have signed two Premier League proven players in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty, but it’s difficult to see them breaking into the top four.

And Arsenal have done similarly with Willian, and added yet another centre-back in Gabriel Magalhaes – except he might actually be decent.

But the real big spenders so far have been Chelsea, who have followed up their addition of Liverpool target Timo Werner by adding Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva. But until they sign a goalkeeper and a quality centre-back, perhaps concerns over Frank Lampard’s side won’t be quite founded.

Such spending has heightened anxiety among some sections of Liverpool’s support, especially online, worried that the Reds’ lack of transfer activity – combined with the condensed season – could mean we don’t get the double title celebration we all want next May.

We speak to fans of the rest of the top six to get their views on the season ahead…

Man City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 2, 2020: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. This was Liverpool's first game as Premier League 2019/20 Champions. (Pic by Propaganda)

FAN: Simon Curtis – @bifana_bifana

Where do you think Man City will finish?

Depends on whether the right signings are made (centre back/left winger). Even if they aren’t and a certain Argentinean flier appears at the Etihad’s front door, it should be 1st, Champions League distractions notwithstanding.

Advice for visiting supporters to your stadium…

If you get in, it will mean restrictions are being lifted, so make the most of it.

Anything new at your club?

A new kind of pressure on Pep Guardiola: Longest he’s been at any club, Liverpool to be overhauled and questions being asked about his approach after the Lyon disaster.

With the possible arrival of you-know-who, it amounts to a big season with several very different challenges. It is never dull.


Man United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) shakes hands with Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Kadeem Simmonds – @KadeemSimmonds

Where do you think Man United will finish?

Fifth, fourth if we are lucky. There have been some players who have kicked on under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the likes of Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams – but his inability to get anything out of anyone outside of the starting XI is worrying and while all fans want fresh new signings, what happened to old-fashioned coaching?

Why does he not trust anyone off the substitutes’ bench when these are players who had good spells before Bruno Fernandes arrived?

Fred and Scott McTominay were doing well, and while they may be squad players, he will need them at times this season and must do a better job of making sure the squad can play his way and not just his starting XI.

If he can’t get anything out of the bench in games where the starting lineup are having an off day – it will happen – I worry that we will drop silly points and end up needing clubs above us to drop points at the end of the season to finish inside the top four.

It may be asking too much for lightning to strike twice.

Advice for visiting supporters to your stadium…

Wear a mask, listen to the advice which says wear a mask and maintain social distancing and until fans are allowed back at Old Trafford, stay well away.

When fans are back, wash your hands and continue to wear a mask. And obviously enjoy the experience and count yourself lucky that you are one of the select few to be allowed into football during the current climate.

Anything new at your club?

Outside of the awful third kit, which makes us look like cows, it feels like just another season.

Well, and our captain got arrested with what sounded like a plot for Taken 4!

But the media says he is a model professional and that he would never get in trouble, so we should all assume he’s totally innocent.

Champions League football, that’s new I guess, and there’s a somewhat happy Paul Pogba and more competition for David de Gea in the form of Dean Henderson.


Chelsea

Timo Werner. (Kohn Walton/PA Wire/PA Images)

FAN: Richard Long – @Chelseafan_Rick

Where do you think Chelsea will finish?

Third. I think it will be a battle with Man United, but ultimately, I am expecting us to be much improved this season and we should be making the Champions League places comfortably.

Our defending last season was terrible. The signings of Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva should hopefully improve us at the back. I think this team will need a season or so to gel and the title push could happen next season.

Advice for visiting supporters to your stadium…

Make sure you eat and drink before getting into the stadium! The food is ridiculously expensive and the beer served is terrible – something Chelsea fans have been campaigning to change for years.

Anything new at your club?

Apparently if you look closely at the pitch during the games this season there’s going to be a star man running down the right, his name is Hakim Ziyech and he’s f****** dynamite (to the tune of David Bowie’s Starman).

Sorry, that’s all I’ve got for you!


Tottenham

Tottenham Stadium (Image: James Wilson/Sportimage/PA Images)

FAN: Rob Guest – @RobGuesty

Where do you think Tottenham will finish?

Tottenham finished last season strongly and I think they will have a good season. Jose Mourinho’s men have a very good start and they could easily be around the top after eight games, given they only face Man United out of last season’s top six in their opening Premier League fixtures.

What could prove problematic, however, is trying to balance Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup football as well as the league. Spurs will finish the season in third and there shouldn’t be that big of a gap between themselves and the top two.

Advice for visiting supporters to your stadium…

Get to the ground as early as possible to take it all in. It really is a fantastic stadium and all fans seem to love coming to N17, as many see it as one of the best grounds in the entire world.

Liverpool are down to play Tottenham away at the end of January and hopefully by then all fans will be allowed back in.

Anything new at your club?

An old favourite has returned to the club this summer and is now part of Mourinho’s coaching staff. With Ricardo Formosinho departing at the end of last season, Ledley King has taken up a position and he is already playing his part.

He has been seen working with the club’s defenders prior to their pre-season friendlies and hopefully his new role will see the team improve at the back after conceding goals for fun last year.

Part of his role also sees him support the academy players making the step up to the first team, with King himself having done that in the past during his playing days. It really is a great appointment.


Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 29, 2020: Arsenal players celebrate with the trophy after winning a penalty shoot-out against Liverpool following a 1-1 draw during the FA Community Shield match between FA Premier League Champions Liverpool FC and FA Cup Winners Arsenal FC. The game was played behind closed doors. Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties. (Credit: Eddie Keogh/The FA)

FAN: Matty Long – @Matty_Long

Where do you think Arsenal will finish?

Fifth. Given a Liverpool/Man City top two, we are probably looking to pinch a Champions League spot from Chelsea or Man United. Chelsea have already spent big and you suspect United will too, so Mikel Arteta will have to perform more miracles in the coming season. If not, finishing above Tottenham will have to do.

Advice for visiting supporters in your stadium…

Make a racket, wash your hands, and buy a tea from every cafe you pass on the way to the ground. They’ll have really missed the matchday trade.

Anything new at your club?

There’s never a dull moment. The club announced some unfortunate redundancies and our Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi, left too. On the pitch we’ll hope William Saliba – signed last summer and back from loan – can step into our defence and become our own Virgil van Dijk.

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