With unproven managers at Chelsea and Manchester United and a possible David Luiz-Shkrodan Mustafi center back partnership at Arsenal, there are scenarios in which the seas part and a new team finishes in the Top Six for the first time since Chelsea and Liverpool crashed out of the picture in 2015-16.
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But they’ll face a loaded fixture list thanks to the Europa League (assuming they don’t exit at the hands of Armenia’s Pyunik in the third qualifying round or a similar foe in the playoff round). The first group stage date is sandwiched between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on the league docket, the second between Watford and Man City.
That’s a test of depth, one of which most of their players are taking for the first time.
Then there’s Everton, which has amassed some serious experience and guile even amongst its youngsters. Moise Kean arrives from Juventus, while Andre Gomes, Djibril Sidibe, and Fabian Delph are no strangers to silverware.
If Jean-Philippe Gbamin can quickly adapt to the league to combine with Delph and provide 75 percent of what Idrissa Gana Gueye gave the club, look out.
The Irons have finally added their prototypical center forward and should be nice and settled at the London Stadium. The question is whether West Ham can rewrite their organizational reputation this season.
There are arguments to be made for Watford and even Aston Villa, but those seem a bit farfetched unless the Hornets are seriously out-scouting the rest of the world.
So we’ll finish with Leicester City, who needs to hope that Jamie Vardy can keep holding off the hands of time and youngsters Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi can take a hold of the team to take the next step as stars.
But the question of how they’ll replace Harry Maguire is a real one, as is the big Brendan Rodgers effort: Can he focus the club the way he did when Liverpool had a Europe-free year in 2013-14, and take advantage of the fixture list to ride into the top tier?