The Premier League title race in 2017-18 looks set to be one of the most intriguing in history, with so many clubs spending big money in search of top spot.
Here, we assess which sides could mount a serious challenge, and who may struggle to keep up with the pace.
Pep Guardiola is under pressure to deliver in his second season at Manchester City and, having been backed with big-money in the transfer window, another trophyless campaign could spell the end of his tenure. The Spaniard will hope his decision to splash out over £150million on Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Ederson will pay dividends after acknowledging City’s defence was not up to scratch last term. If the new signings adjust quickly, particularly goalkeeper Ederson, it is hard to see beyond City’s slick attacking side for the title.
Jose Mourinho has a habit of winning the league title in his second season at a club and Manchester United are likely to go close this term after a considerable transfer outlay. In each of his spells as manager at a large club – Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid – Mourinho has won the domestic league in his second campaign. Despite winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League last season, United were well off the pace in the Premier League but the addition of striker Romelu Lukaku, in particular, will spearhead them firmly into the title picture.
Chelsea have the added pressure of European football to contend with this season but the defending Premier League champions also have a nine-year jinx to break. Manchester United were the last team to win back-to-back titles in 2009 and, despite impressing last term, Blues boss Antonio Conte will have his work cut out to repeat the feat. A summer of uncertainty – which started with the Italian’s own future, and is still ongoing in the case of Diego Costa – has hardly helped. A subtle change in style to accommodate £60million striker Alvaro Morata could also loosen Chelsea’s grip on the title.
Tottenham’s recent momentum could come undone due to their wretched record at Wembley and a lack of transfer activity this summer. Spurs are set to switch temporarily to the national stadium while their new home is built but, after struggling in the Champions League there last term, boss Mauricio Pochettino must be worried. Tottenham are the only Premier League club yet to make a signing this summer but, on the other hand, they have retained all of their star players. The likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane may be a year older and wiser, but expect Spurs to come up just short again in the title race.
Everton have invested well to improve the spine of their team but a tilt at the Premier League title is still well beyond Ronald Koeman’s troops. Instead, the Dutchman will be expecting to challenge for Champions League qualification and he could come close. The likes of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Davy Klaassen will add extra quality to an experienced squad and a returning Wayne Rooney could help the Toffees finish as top dogs in Merseyside for the first time in five years. The loss of Lukaku could be offset by the shrewd purchase of striker Sandro Ramirez from Malaga.
Former Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah will add speed up front but, his signing from Roma aside, the slow pace of Liverpool’s dealings in the transfer window could prove costly. The main areas of concern for the Reds remain in central defence and at the heart of midfield which, in fairness, they have tried to address. The spectacular collapse of the Virgil van Dijk deal from Southampton and the so-far unsuccessful pursuit of RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita will potentially hinder boss Jurgen Klopp ahead of what he hopes will be a lengthy Champions League campaign.
Arsene Wenger will have the unfamiliar problem of balancing Premier League duties with Europa League ties but a far more regular quandary threatens Arsenal’s season. The prospect of losing a star player to a title rival – namely Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City – is a recurring nightmare for Gunners fans. Wenger has insisted the Chile forward will stay and has splashed out £45million on Alexandre Lacazette. However, should they falter in their pursuit of Champions League qualification, Wenger’s own future will again be brought into fresh doubt.