SOCCER

Premier League: Who can challenge Man City & Liverpool in title race?

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Manchester City won the Premier League in spectacular fashion last season

Manchester City and Liverpool have produced a rivalry in recent years that has taken the level of English football to another level.

Over the past five seasons, Pep Guardiola’s City have won the top-flight trophy four times, while Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have won it once.

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It looks like these two teams will be the ones to catch up once again in 2022-23, after City bolstered their squad with the signing of Norwegian goal-scoring machine Erling Haaland and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, while Liverpool have brings in Darwin Nunez to replace Sadio Mane.

The two teams met in the Community Shield on Saturday – with Nunez scoring as Liverpool won 3-1.

With the chasing pack aiming to close the gap, which of the clubs that finished behind them is most likely to challenge the two powerhouses?

chelsea

Position last season: 3rd

Players in: Raheem Sterling (£50m), Kalidou Koulibaly (£33m)

Absent players: Antonio Rudiger (free), Andreas Christensen (free), Danny Drinkwater (free), Romelu Lukaku (loan)

There have been major upheavals at Chelsea after American Todd Boehly completed his takeover of the club to end the highly successful era of Roman Abramovich.

Boehly has a tough task to follow, but has signaled his intention with the high-profile signing of Raheem Sterling from champions Manchester City.

Although not an equal replacement, the England international replaces Romelu Lukaku, who returned to Inter Milan after a struggling season at Stamford Bridge during which he fell out with boss Thomas Tuchel.

Chelsea were top of the table at one point last season, but their form dipped in the second half of the campaign, and now without a main centre-forward in their squad, Tuchel could well deploy a more fluid front three with the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic are available.

German key defender Antonio Rudiger left on a free to join Real Madrid and Senegalese skipper Kalidou Koulibaly eventually joined the Premier League as a substitute.

Tottenham

Position last season: 4th

Players in: Ivan Perisic (free), Fraser Forster (free), Yves Bissouma (£35m), Richarlison (£60m), Clement Lenglet (loan), Djed Spence (£20m)

Absent players: Steven Bergwijn (£26m), Jack Clarke (£10m)

Spurs have recovered under Antonio Conte after a poor start to last season to clinch an unlikely Champions League place and the Italian has been fully supported in this transfer window.

A whopping £60m has been paid to Everton for Richarlison’s services, although the Brazil international is not guaranteed to be an automatic starter, which shows the strength in depth he now possesses.

Yves Bissouma adds steel in the middle of the park. while the free signing of Ivan Perisic seems like a smart move as the Croatian provided eight goals and seven assists for Inter Milan in Serie A last season.

Conte has won top-flight titles with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan and with the north London side adding to last season’s squad they may be seen by some as the favorites to place in the top two.

Spurs also enter the new season with a more stable feeling than last year when striker Harry Kane’s future was uncertain with rumors circulating of a move to Manchester City, which ultimately failed to materialise.

Arsenal

Position last season: 5th

Players in: Marquinhos (£3m), Fabio Vieira (£30m), Matt Turner (£8m), Gabriel Jesus (£45m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (£30m)

Absent players: Konstantinos Mavropanos (undisclosed), Alexandre Lacazette (free), Matteo Guendouzi (£9m)

Arsenal fans will be hoping their eye-catching new signings can add to a squad that fell at the end of last season after appearing stuck in the top four.

Mikel Arteta has secured a transfer coup with the acquisition of striker Gabriel Jesus for £45m from Manchester City and the Brazilian will spearhead the Gunners’ frontline this season. Meanwhile, Ukraine international Oleksandr Zinchenko followed suit by swapping east Manchester for north London.

Portuguese midfielder Fabio Vieira has also joined from Porto, while Alexandre Lacazette has returned to Lyon, with Norway international Martin Odegaard named captain.

Boss Arteta trusted the youth last season, with Arsenal being the team with the youngest average age,external link so another year of experience should be very useful to them.

Manchester United

Position last season: 6th

Players in: Tyrell Malacia (13m), Christian Eriksen (free), Lisandro Martinez (£55m)

Absent players: Dean Henderson (loan), Edinson Cavani (free), Juan Mata (free), Paul Pogba (free), Jesse Lingard (free), Lee Grant (retired), Nemanja Matic (free), Andreas Pereira (£10m)

This season will mark 10 years since Manchester United last won the Premier League and the role now falls to former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag to try and restore the fortunes of a fallen giant.

The Red Devils limped to a sixth-place finish last season under caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick, recording their worst points tally in the Premier League and trouble in the dressing room was reported.

Big first-team names including Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani have all left, while the free signing of Christian Eriksen could prove to be a masterstroke.

There are still issues to be resolved – captain Harry Maguire, who had a poor campaign, was occasionally booed by his own supporters last season and was laugh again during the pre-season game against Crystal Palace at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

And the big question remains, will Cristiano Ronaldo stay or will he go? He played for United in Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford – but his long-term future is yet to be determined.

Other teams in the mix?

Can Newcastle disrupt the establishment? The Magpies looked adrift early in the campaign but produced a stunning turnaround under Eddie Howe.

In the second half of the season, Newcastle collected 38 points which were only bettered by Liverpool (48), who finished second, and eventual champions Manchester City (46).

The big-money signing of Dutch centre-half Sven Botman will add more stability to the defence, while England keeper Nick Pope could eventually become the number one behind him.

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