Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
Manchester City and Liverpool are favourites to win the Premier League but how about United, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal?
Manchester City are favourites to win the Premier League this season and Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are going to be a strong contender for the title as well. We will look at each of the top 6 team's in the Premier League to judge the chances they have to win the league title.
Manchester City: Pep the winning machine
Pep Guardiola has been with the Citizens for two season's and his side were by far the best team in the Premier League last season as they reached a record of 100 points. City won 32 of their 38 games last season in the Premier League and had a winning streak of 18 games in a row. Guardiola has shown that he is a winner and despite not lifting a trophy in his first season in charge of the Sky Blues, he has made them a formidable force in European football.
Guardiola won three consecutive league titles with Barcelona and three with Bayern Munich. He has the players to win the Premier League again and the players know exactly what he wants from them. The discipline and intelligent game they played was admirable to watch and we expect much of the same this season.
So, Guardiola says he does not want his team to get complacent. However, its been a while since any team won the Premier League twice in a row and if one team can do it, it's the Cityzens. City signed Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City last month to add to their already outstanding midfield and with that they have per se improved, on paper at least. They have got the valuable Mendy to add to the squad as he was injured for most of last season.
Alan Shearer: “City will win the Premier League again because of Pep…although I think Liverpool and United will be a lot closer this time.“
Can City keep up the game they had last year? Well certainly they can and Guardiola will not want the standard to drop in the slightest and he will make the necessary adjustments to ensure they keep it.
He has the players to challenge for both the Premier League and for the Champion's League as well and the players will be very keen to embrace the challenge. Also, the strength in depth in his squad is what sets City apart from the other clubs, other than maybe Liverpool this season. This will enable him to make adjustments during games and it will also give him the ability to rotate his squad and rest players as other's lead the charge.
Matthew Upson: “City are a well-oiled machine - when one player steps out another steps in - and that is their great strength.“
However, City may need to be more daring this season as they also have weaknesses and if other team's - like Liverpool did last season - can find a way to counter their dynamic attack then they may not have such a comfortable season as they did last year.
Opinion: The title will depend on who can boast the best away form and who can manage most points verses other top 6 team's. Right now, City look the most likely to do both.
Liverpool: Will have a great chance but must stay focused
So, we all agree that City are the team to beat but can Liverpool really put up a title challenge or will they fade away again as they did last season? That's a great question for Red's fans who have been waiting for the title for so long. Too long. It will need a tougher Liverpool to challenge City and that's exactly what they are now with their new signings, Alisson from Roma, Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, Fabinho from Monaco and Shakiri from Stoke.
The new signings is a powerful statement of intent from the Red's and they are expected to be the one's to take the title from City. Those player's will only give Red's coach Klopp further options but it also give him the depth he need's in his squad to challenge for the EPL title this season. Their game is solid, fluid and powerful and with a Champions League runners-up medal last season, their confidence is oozing.
But they are under pressure to deliver, especially with all the money they have spent in the last transfer window. Klopp has been at the club since October 2015 and has not lifted any silverware yet.
Ian Wright : “You also have to consider that Liverpool are City's Kryptonite, that's why I am backing Jurgen Klopp's side to win the title.“
Ok, they have found ways to beat City but they will need to win around 30 games if they are to win the title. First, they have to be much better playing away from home. At Anfield, they will be very hard to beat but they need to do much better to earn valuable points against the top 6 team's as well. That's the only concern we have with Liverpool. Can they crush opposing team's in their own backyard's as City did last season? It's a tall order but they are the most likely team to do it.
Chris Waddle: “They have spent big money and Klopp cannot keep saying “we are building”.“
Manchester United : Need the killer instinct
Manchester United have improved but their players did not reach their full potential and fans were disappointed with last season's game. “Attack attack attack”, was heard in the stands of Old Trafford as the team lacked punch, panache and killer instinct in some of their home games last season. They were billed as favourites last season and though they are not this year, they still have a very good side and could surprise both City and Liverpool if they get things right.
Ruud Gullit : “United already had players to challenge City last season, but they couldn't do it. You have to ask why so many of their players underachieved.“
Though Jose Mourinho's men made second last season, 17 points behind the Champions, they have a lot of work to do if they want compete with City. Although they could not sign any major players this summer they still have a chance to win the league. They need to bolster the defense and the forward player's need to play a more direct game to be able to kill off games they are expected to win. That is what was lacking last season. The killer instinct.
Dion Dublin: “what they are missing at the moment is harmony.“
United have a great squad but they lack harmony and intensity. They will need to rectify those issues if they want to challenge for the EPL title this season. And if one coach can do that, it is Jose Mourinho. But he said his side would face “a difficult season” unless they signed at least one more player, which they haven't. The squad's new player's are Brazil World Cup midfielder Fred and teenage full-back Diogo Dalot.
Paul Ince: “Last season, United weren't great….they really need to hit the ground running this time. There are some positives but I definitely think they need another striker.“
He has won the Premier League with Chelsea but has complained, rightly so, that United were not able to sign the players he wanted and that has hindered their title challenge. United have spent big money over the last two season's with Mourinho, but have they spent intelligently? Not really. They need another striker and a world-class central defender as well.
Opinion: United are tough to judge, they have a good squad but no real game plan.They can win the league or even fallout of the top four if they are not careful. That's how unpredictable they are.
The outsider's: Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
Tottenham: a credible outsider but still short
Of the outsider's to win the title this season Tottenham were better placed team last season. They managed a very honourable 3rd spot but they have not signed any new players and that is a concern for the north London club. Mauricio Pochettino has real quality throughout his side and arguably the best striker in Harry Kane, but they may find it hard to keep up with the leader's after Christmas.
Ian Wright: “I just think they might make a stuttering start that other teams might take advantage of.“
The only problem with them is if their main striker Harry Kane gets injured. Then they tend to struggle to score goals. They will need to address that at some point and add a new forward to their ranks. They remain likely to stay in the top 4 but it will be difficult as the other outsider's, Arsenal and Chelsea, will not be playing Champions League football so they can concentrate fully on the EPL. The higher number of games may play against Tottenham towards the end of the season.
Chris Waddle: “Spurs will definitely be in the top four and I think they have an outside chance of winning the title.“
Arsenal: top-four finish a priority
Arsenal need to get a back in the top four, period. That must be the main objective for the club right now. After 22 years of Arsene Wenger, a change was desperately needed and their new coach Emery has got a good winning record in Spain and France. He lifted the Europa League with Sevilla on three occasions and won the league title with PSG last season. However, he does not have any Premier League experience and we wonder how he and his player's will cope with the very busy Christmas schedule and the difficult end of the season.
Ian Wright: “I have faith in Arsenal finishing fourth because I think their attacking players will cause all other team's problems.“
Positives for Arsenal is that they have a new dynamic in place and the squad is full of optimism. It's refreshing in a sense. It's great for the Gooners and that will also liven up spirits at their Emirates stadium this season.
Martin Keown: It will be a really close battle to make top four. Arsenal and Chelsea will push United all the way and have an outside chance of claiming a Champions League spot.
They have great players and their attack has the quality to help them achieve their objective of getting back into the Champions League. We expect them to play with more whip and with more determination under the new coach but how far he can take them depends also on the players.
Opinion: Arsenal players have underachieved and they need to add more muscle to their game if they want to get back into the Champions League.
Chelsea: Just short last season but not improved
Chelsea are another team that need's to get it's shape right. They have strikers but not up to the standard required for a top 6 team and they will struggle to win the big games this season. They have not been able to find an adequate replacement for Diego Costa who brought them so much in their title winning season in 2016-2017. The availability of top strikers is a problem for the owners and Chelsea may pay dearly for not having one. They have to find another striker during the winter transfer window or they will have a tough time away from home towards the end of the season.
Ian Wright: “Who is going to score the goals? So they need another striker which is why, as things stand, they don't make my top four.“
Chelsea signed Italian coach Sarri from Napoli to achieve that goal. Their game may change but they need to work hard if they want to reach the top four. They have added Jorginho from Napoli and Kovacic from Real Madrid and those are two good players to add to their squad. Chelsea also paid £71m to sign goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
Opinion: Two of the top-six teams will miss out again and Chelsea have to work harder if they want to reach the top four, but without a top striker, it's a tall order.
But who do you think who will win the Premier League 2018-19?