How Manchester United, Chelsea and other top Premier League teams prepared for 2018-19 season

Andy Hampson 25/07/2018
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The Premier League returns in just over a fortnight’s time. Here, we t look at how the ‘big six’ are preparing for the campaign.

Arsenal

Ins: It is a new era at the Emirates Stadium with Unai Emery replacing the long-serving Arsene Wenger at the helm and immediately starting to reshape the squad. The arrivals of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will give the Gunners a fresher look in defence and midfield.

Outs: Jack Wilshere, once tipped to become the face of Arsenal, has moved on after being robbed of momentum by injuries while Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker have also left.

Players unavailable: With World Cup players Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny returning ahead of the summer trip to Singapore, Emery now has close to his full squad to work with. Laurent Koscielny is injured.

Outstanding issues: Emery’s revamp is not finished yet with more defensive and midfield recruits possible. Caglar Soyuncu, Steven Nzonzi and Ever Banega have all been linked. Eyes will be on how Ozil performs in the early part of the season. The German was heavily criticised last season and then endured a troubled World Cup, culminating in a controversial decision to retire from international football.

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Chelsea

Ins: A new manager arrives at Stamford Bridge in Maurizio Sarri, bringing defensive midfielder Jorginho with him from Napoli.

Outs: Sarri is yet to get to work on his squad, with no major departures yet.

Players unavailable: Sarri’s pre-season preparations may have been hampered by the absence of numerous first-teamers for their pre-season tour of Australia due to the World Cup. Those missing include both goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois and Willy Caballero, as well as Victor Moses, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and Willian.

Outstanding issues: With the changeover from Antonio Conte to Sarri occurring relatively late in the summer, the Blues may be a little behind in their preparations. Sarri will also have to address the uncertainty over the futures of Hazard and Courtois.

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Liverpool

Ins: Jurgen Klopp has been busy, determined to prove last season’s run to the Champions League final was no flash in the pan. The £65million signing of Alisson – a world record for a goalkeeper – addresses a longstanding issue. Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri also add depth and quality.

Outs: Midfielder Emre Can is the most senior departure although goalkeeper Danny Ward has sought a fresh challenge at Leicester.

Players unavailable: Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah returned to training ahead of this summer’s tour of the United States but Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino and Simon Mignolet are still taking time off. Danny Ings has a minor injury but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could miss the whole season.

Outstanding issues: Klopp appears to have completed his summer business. It is now down to him to incorporate the new players into his exciting squad and try to build on last season’s promise.

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Manchester City

Ins: The Premier League champions are not resting on their laurels having paid a club record £60million for forward Riyad Mahrez.

Outs: Yaya Toure’s depature at the end of last season ended one of the great City careers, although he had become a peripheral figure. There has been no other trimming of the first-team group.

Players unavailable: City travelled to the US for their pre-season tour without a host of players. Of the 16 involved in the World Cup, only Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva were involved.

Outstanding issues: City were disappointed to lose out on Jorginho to Chelsea having made a defensive midfielder a priority but they are not certain to look for another player in the position. In truth, after winning the title with a record 100 points, there are few weaknesses in Pep Guardiola’s compelling squad.

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Manchester United

Ins: Jose Mourinho has bolstered his midfield with the signing of Brazil midfielder Fred while youngster Diogo Dalot adds a defensive option.

Outs: Michael Carrick has joined the coaching staff after hanging up his boots while Daley Blind has returned to Ajax.

Players unavailable: United have been without a host of stars for their pre-season tour of the US, including Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard, while David de Gea and Fred have arrived late.

Outstanding issues: It has been a curious summer for United, with fewer signings than expected so far and the only other major business being a new contract deal for Fellaini. Mourinho appears to have been playing down United’s prospects while rumours persist that his relationship with Pogba is troubled. There is uncertainty over the future of Anthony Martial.

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Tottenham

Ins: Spurs have not yet made a signing this summer although they will be very happy to have tied key players Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, as well as manager Mauricio Pochettino, to new long-term contracts.

Outs: There have been no major departures from White Hart Lane.

Players unavailable: Spurs did have Christian Eriksen, Davinson Sanchez and Son back for their pre-season friendlies in the US but, like most top teams, were still without a number of first-team regulars. These included Kane, Kieran Trippier, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.

Outstanding issues: It has been a quiet summer for Spurs but Pochettino does not seem unduly concerned by the lack of transfer activity. When they do finally dip into the market, centre-backs and wingers could be on their shopping list. The long-term future of Danny Rose also remains uncertain.

spurs

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Watch: Man City won't break records in upcoming season, Pep Guardiola says

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After having had a record-breaking campaign in the Premier League last season, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has admitted it is impossible to do so again.

The defending champions are currently on their pre-season tour of the US and will face-off against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side on Thursday.

Find out what the Spaniard had to say about where City’s focus should be, ahead of the upcoming season.

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Former England goalkeeper Robert Green reportedly closing in on a shock move to Chelsea

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On his way to Chelsea: Robert Green

Former England goalkeeper Robert Green is on the verge of completing his surprise move to Chelsea, according to reports.

The 38-year-old, whose last appearance was in a Carabao Cup first-round match for Leeds against Newport in August 2017, has reportedly agreed terms at Stamford Bridge and is due to undergo a medical.

Green spent last season at Huddersfield but did not make a first-team appearance and left when his contract expired at the end of the campaign.

He is widely expected to take on the role of Chelsea’s third-choice keeper as back-up to Thibault Courtois and Willy Caballero.

Green’s arrival would boost Chelsea’s number of homegrown players after the Blues loaned Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo to Vitesse Arnhem.

Green began his career at Norwich and also played for West Ham and QPR before moving to Leeds in 2016.

He made 12 appearances for England, the penultimate of which was in a 1-1 draw with the USA at the 2010 World Cup when his mistake gifted Clint Dempsey the equaliser.

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