Absence of Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk casts a shadow over Southampton and goalscoring issues have not been fixed

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MANAGER

Mauricio Pellegrino

STAR MAN

Virgil van Dijk

LAST SEASON

8th

TOP SCORER

Nathan Redmond (7)

KEY INS

Mario Lemina (Juventus, £18m), Jan Bednarek (Lech Poznan, £5.7m)

Jan Bednarek

Jan Bednarek

KEY OUTS

Jay Rodriguez (West Brom, £12m), Jason McCarthy (Barnsley (£200,000), Cuco Martina (Everton, free), Martin Caceres (Verona, free)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

For the first time in many season, Saints have not – yet – lost a star name. New manager Pellegrino worked wonders at La Liga’s Alaves.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

The absence of skipper Van Dijk, whether temporarily or permanently, casts a considerable shadow. Goalscoring issues have not been fixed and they have been poor in pre-season.

ONE TO WATCH

In the absence of any exciting incomings, the onus falls on the likes of Sofiane Boufal to belatedly live up to the enlivening reputation he earned at Lille before last summer’s arrival.

Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal

EXPECTATION

The revolving door of managers keeps spinning at Saints, yet their record of respectable finishes also continues.

REALITY

The time when change catches up with Southampton seems at hand. If Manolo Gabbiadini does not attain consistency of finishing, a descent down the table awaits.

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Man United are still one or two players short of matching Man City and Chelsea as they lack pace and width

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MANAGER

Jose Mourinho

STAR MAN

Paul Pogba

LAST SEASON

6th

TOP SCORER

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (17)

KEY INS

Romelu Lukaku (Everton, £90m), Nemanja Matic (Chelsea, £40m), Victor Lindelof (Benfica, £30.7m)

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

KEY OUTS

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Released), Wayne Rooney (Everton, free), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad, £8m)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

Lukaku is a like-for-like replacement who should exceed Ibrahimovic’s goal tally and Matic gives Mourinho the midfield anchor he so desperately craves. Pogba should be more consistent in his second season.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

Still lack pace and width in attack and Mourinho doesn’t seem happy with summer business; an unhappy Jose rarely makes for a happy club.

ONE TO WATCH

Andreas Pereira is a technically-gifted and versatile midfielder who impressed in pre-season.

Andreas Pereira

Andreas Pereira

EXPECTATION

Champions League football a minimum, title challenge the ultimate. Neither United or Mourinho are used to feeling irrelevant for long in the title race.

REALITY

Still one or two players short of matching Chelsea and possibly Man City but if all their major players produce they will surely be in the title mix.

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Gabriel Jesus could be a bona-fide superstar this season but Man City may have to sacrifice one competition for silverware

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MANAGER

Pep Guardiola

STAR MAN

Kevin De Bruyne

LAST SEASON

3rd

TOP SCORER

Sergio Aguero (20)

KEY INS

Benjamin Mendy (Monaco, £52m), Bernardo Silva (Monaco, £43m), Kyle Walker (Spurs, £45m), Ederson (Benfica, £35m), Danilo (Real Madrid, £26.5m)

Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

KEY OUTS

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester, £25m), Fernando (Galatasaray, £4.75m), Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma, £4.5m), Bacary Sagna (released), Gael Clichy (Basaksehir, free), Pablo Zabaleta (West Ham, free)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

Full-backs are crucial to Guardiola’s system and the Spaniard has secured massive upgrades in that department.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

An untried Ederson in goal, an injury-prone Vincent Kompany and often unconvincing duo John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi points to a soft central defence.

ONE TO WATCH

Gabriel Jesus. Injury curtailed the Brazilian last term but expect him to become a bona fide star.

Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus

EXPECTATION

With quality and depth now in abundance, a major title push and a similarly huge leap forward in Europe.

REALITY

May have to sacrifice one competition but there is no reason why this team should not be lifting some sort of silverware.

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