By: Charlie Ryan, Staff Writer
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has been the Premier League’s most enjoyable team to watch. Goals galore on the front end and a leaky defense on the back end-what’s not to love? Their statement victory over Arsenal to open the season was the hallmark of big things to come. Liverpool boasts impressive form against quality opponents with nine wins and three draws against the league’s top six sides. Klopp’s attacking trident of Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and summer signing Sadio Mané has lit the league ablaze, each with double-digit goal tallies for the season. Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip have failed to plug the holes of the porous defense, conceding 42 goals so far. Liverpool had several games in hand to close out the season but due to their poor form against mid table sides, I predict them to drop points, grabbing seven out of nine and finishing the season in fourth place with 76 points.
#3. Manchester City
For the first time in his illustrious managerial career, Pep Guardiola will conclude the season trophy-less. From Champions League glory with Barcelona, to utter domination of the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, this season is anomaly of sorts for the Spaniard. Where does he cash this reality check? Pep’s lucrative signings failed to amend the defensive and goalkeeping issues the English side had been plagued with in the years prior. Claudio Bravo’s gaffes found him relegated to the bench in favor of Willy Caballero, and John Stones’ transformation into a confident, ball-playing center back has not panned out whatsoever. With Gabriel Jesus’ return to the attack and four winnable games in hand, I expect City to grab all twelve points and finish in third place with 78 points.
If it were not for Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino would be crowned manager of the season. The Argentinian boss has quietly transformed the mentality of the north London club from one desperate to finish above rival Arsenal to one with title aspirations and an insatiable hunger for silverware. Tottenham’s season has been characterized by impressive defensive stability and a collective belief in their ability to win games. Harry Kane has cemented himself amongst the league’s top strikers, scoring 20+ goals for his third consecutive season at the club. Chelsea has all but won the title, but do not think the Spurs will take their foot off the gas. I expect them to breeze by a depleted Manchester United and see out their remaining fixtures, grabbing all twelve points and finishing the remarkable season in second place with 89 points.
Antonio Conte has revolutionized the Blues with shrewd summer signings, tactical genius, and unmatched energy. After arriving last summer, the Italian oversaw the signings of N’Golo Kanté, Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso, and David Luiz, and the recalling of loanee Victor Moses. Conte has instituted a dynamic and quintessentially Italian 3-4-3 into this Chelsea side. Much like Atlético Madrid’s Diego Simeone, Conte does not need to dominate the game to win. Chelsea’s efficiency on the break and comfort in defense is more than enough to grind out results against any club. With four easy games in hand, England’s most coveted piece of silverware, adorned with blue and white ribbons, will be heading back to Stamford Bridge. (Antonio Conte will hoist the Premier League trophy in his first season at the club. Courtesy of skysports.com)