Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: OPINION: What do the TOP 6 clubs need before the season starts?

OPINION: What do the TOP 6 clubs need before the season starts?

The 2022/23 English Premier League season is one week away from the very first whistle. After every major possible outcome stretching down to the wire last season, we are in for another dramatic battle at the highest level. Manchester City were pushed to their limits by Liverpool in clinching the Premier League title, Chelsea slowly lost their grip on the third spot as Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal battled for the UEFA Champions League fourth spot, while West Ham put the heat on Manchester United up until the final day.

The Summer transfer market’s dealings are hotter than ever, with big money moves, calculated deals, as well as a few downright conniving business transactions. With the Premier League season starting early, due to an unusual but just as exciting winter World Cup, there are 16 matchdays to be completed before the break and 15 points in August up for grabs which further incentivizes getting business done early. After a mild international break and clubs returning from pre-season across the globe deals are bound to find completion at a higher rate.

There have already been a few high-grade transfers, with Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Richarlison, Darwin Nunez, and Erling Haaland ready to kick off the season at new PL clubs.  So, what does your top six side need in order to enhance themselves?

Man City

Manchester City has for the first time in many seasons, lost players who need immediate replacing. With Rodri establishing his dominance in the first team setup, he does still need backup after Fernandinho’s contract ran dry, while Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Oleksandr Zinchenko have also parted ways for varying fees.

Kalvin Phillips stepped in on a basic fee of £42million, with a potential £3m in added bonuses. Relatively unknown Julian Alvarez joins hoping to make his presence a potential bargain should he go on to make a sustained impact for the club long-term. While more worldly renowned Erling Haaland joins from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth £51m. Four of the five departures have been replaced leaving the left-back position wide open. Ukrainian national Zinchenko joined Arsenal, while Benjamin Mendy is still facing trial on criminal charges.

The target man is Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Cucurella, who earned himself the Club’s Player of the Season award in his debut showing. The Seagulls turned down City’s initial offer for the 23-year-old specialist left-back, but it is just a matter of time before Pep gets what he wants.

City has completed most of its business well before the start of the season, and long before the closing of the transfer window. With Guardiola having instilled his identity and demands on the team many moons ago, it is just a matter of moving pieces around and being mentally prepared to have a go at every trophy available – again.

Liverpool

Liverpool has buckets full of experienced players with young talents to impart that knowledge to albeit in the middle of the park. The Reds have seemingly completed all their business before pre-season began, so Jurgen Klopp’s system prevails. But one thing to question is his faith in the present midfield.

Seemingly, no midfielders are joining this window, so at the very least they have to justify Jurgen Klopp’s faith in those already present. Klopp's trust in Fabio Carvalho, Harvey Elliott, and Curtis Jones to step up a level is intriguing.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picking up an injury in the warm-up games was a reminder of how quickly moving pieces can be affected.

Trusting Klopp’s judgment is not the most difficult task, but his faith in the next generation alongside a much older generation in the engine room does leave my nerves on edge, so I can only imagine that of the Liverpool faithful.

Chelsea

Chelsea needs a major defensive overhaul, while up front is slowly becoming an area to address. Several of Thomas Tuchel’s first team players are rumoured to want out of Stamford Bridge. Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta, Timo Werner, and possibly Hakim Ziyech are the names in question.

Kalidou Koulibaly has arrived from Serie A side Napoli for £33m, but the new owners need to get another defender over the line. Head coach Thomas Tuchel is hoping to land Presnel Kimpembe from Paris Saint-Germain, while Barcelona continues to be a thorn in the side of everyone involved with Chelsea, reportedly close to an agreement with the Club’s target Jules Kounde.

Tuchel, ideally wanted three new defenders with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leaving to face each other in El-Classico, so anything less may be seen as a disappointment.

All the current focus is on strengthening the defense, there are other areas Tuchel would also like to add greater quality and depth.

The German tactician will look at his attacking options again before the transfer window shuts. Especially, since Chelsea failed with a bid to sign Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele coupled with rumours of Ziyech and Werner wanting out, Tuchel would like to add at least one more forward signing to Raheem Sterling’s £47.5m deal.

Thankfully, for Blues supporters, money is seemingly not an issue even after the change in ownership.

Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur had plenty of arrivals, but now it’s time for Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici to trim and tone the squad. The majority of Spurs’ signings have been through a sufficient pre-season, which as we have all come to know, under Conte is one of the most grueling. The players had the opportunity to get familiar with one another and work together in a stringent system. On the flip side, the axing is now set to begin with players that can put money back into the Club.

The end-of-season injection of finance into Spurs has meant a big summer. Djed Spence from Middlesbrough is the sixth arrival at the London Stadium, a left-back who was a star in Nottingham Forest’s promotion campaign. Richarlison is the biggest name, signed to give the Kane-Son duo relief with the pressure of Champions League football on the horizon.

Every arrival looks like a first XI challenger with the exception of Fraser Forster not going near Hugo Lloris. The obvious priority now will be moving to those who have been viable challengers, such as Harry Winks, Tanguy Ndombele, and Giovani Lo Celso.

Arsenal

Outgoings for Arsenal have in recent times been a lot more difficult than incomings. Gunners’ technical director Edu Gaspar has completed deals for five players this summer, including £45m striker Gabriel Jesus, £30m midfielder Fabio Vieira, and £32m Oleksandr Zinchenko. The outgoings have been less than straightforward with Bernd Leno, Alex Runarsson, Hector Bellerin, Pablo Mari, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and Nicolas Pepe all sitting fairly tight at the club despite not featuring prominently in Mikel Arteta’s process.

With the difficult decisions of Mesut Ozil and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, as well as Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sead Kolasinac, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all gone for free, to loosen up Arsenal’s wage bill, that is not a sustainable way of doing business. Arteta will not want these players hanging around this season, and Arsenal will almost certainly need to raise money through sales if they are to strengthen further.

After much talk of Nicolas Pepe finding elsewhere to ply his trade, the Ivorian has seemingly committed his time to The Arsenal via an Instagram post stating: “I worked hard during the summer. Changed a lot of things. I’m focused and determined with @arsenal and my teammates.”

Arsenal are one or two signings away from having a proper go at fourth or even third place this season coupled with decent cup runs. The big push now before the final days of the transfer window is moving players on to build up capital to bring the final deals to fruition.

Manchester United

For the mighty Manchester United, no deal has ever seemed impossible, until recently. With no Champions League, and players actively seeking an exit from United, times are changing. Erik Ten Hag joining the Club after managers' reputations have been dragged in recent years is in my opinion United’s last hope at remaining a top six club.

The Dutch manager has brought in three players thus far, two of which have been groomed in the Dutch Eredivisie. Tyrell Malacia joins from Feyenoord for a minimal fee, while Ten Hag’s ex-player, Lisandro Martinez comes into the fray for £57m, alongside free transfer Christian Eriksen. All these players have similar qualities, and one that stands out the most is the work ethic in playing to a system.

In addition, Man United have already agreed to a £72 million fee with Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong but the deal hinges on the Catalan club coughing up £17m in deferred wages they owe the Dutch midfielder.

The crucial holding midfield role Erik ten Hag has earmarked for his former Ajax player, the prospect of failing to land him after all this time and effort would be a huge setback. United are likely to persist even if De Jong has not signed by the time, they face Brighton in their season opener on August 7, but the time is quickly passing by.

Written by Joshua Gaillard