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

Kevin de Bruyne
Manchester City won the Premier League in dramatic fashion last season

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

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

It looks like these two sides will be the ones to catch once more in 2022-23, after City strengthened their side with the signing of Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, while Liverpool brought in Darwin Nunez to replace Sadio Mane.

The two teams met in the Community Shield on Saturday – with Nunez scoring as well 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)

Players out: Antonio Rudiger (free), Andreas Christensen (free), Danny Drinkwater (free), Romelu Lukaku (loan)

There has been significant upheaval at Chelsea after American Todd Boehly completed his takeover of the club to end the highly successful Roman Abramovich era.

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

Although not a like-for-like replacement, the England international comes in for Romelu Lukaku, who returned to Inter Milan after a season of struggle at Stamford Bridge in which he fell out with boss Thomas Tuchel.

Chelsea were top of the table at one stage last term but their form dropped off in the second half of the campaign, and now without a main central striker in their squad Tuchel may well deploy a more fluid front three with the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic available to call upon.

Key German defender Antonio Rudiger left on a free to join Real Madrid and Senegal skipper Kalidou Koulibaly has finally moved to the Premier League as his replacement.

Tottenham

Position last season: 4th

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

Players out: Steven Bergwijn (£26m), Jack Clarke (£10m)

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

A hefty £60m has been paid to Everton for the services of Richarlison, although the Brazil international is not assured of being an automatic starter, which shows the strength in depth they now possess.

Yves Bissouma adds steel in the middle of the park. while the free signing of Ivan Perisic looks to be a shrewd move as the Croatian provided eight goals and seven assists for Inter Milan in Serie A last term.

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 break into the top two.

Spurs also go into the new season with a more settled feeling than last year when striker Harry Kane’s future was in doubt with rumors circulating of a move to Manchester City, which ultimately did not transpire.

Arsenal

Position last season: 5th

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

Players out: 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 away at the end of last season, having looked nailed-on for a top-four place.

Mikel Arteta 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 him in swapping east Manchester for north London.

Portuguese midfielder Fabio Vieira has also come in from Porto, while Alexandre Lacazette has returned to Lyon, so Norway international Martin Odegaard has been named as captain.

Boss Arteta placed his faith in youth last season, with Arsenal being the team with the youngest average age,external-link so another year of experience should stand them in good stead.

Manchester United

Position last season: 6th

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

Players out: 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 mantle now falls to ex-Ajax manager Erik ten Hag to attempt to restore the fortunes of a fallen giant.

The Red Devils limped to a sixth-place finish last term under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, recording their worst Premier League points tally and there were reports of dressing-room unrest.

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

There are still issues to resolve – captain Harry Maguire, who had a poor campaign, was booed by his own supporters at times last season and was jeered once again in the pre-season match against Crystal Palace at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

And the big question remains, will wantaway 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 remains to be resolved.

Any other teams in the mix?

Can Newcastle disturb the establishment? The Magpies looked like being cast adrift at the start of the campaign but produced a stunning turnaround under Eddie Howe.

In the second half of the season, Newcastle picked up 38 points which was bettered only 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 backline, while England goalkeeper Nick Pope may eventually become the number one behind him.

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