Arsenal and Chelsea in danger, Man Utd in for miserable season – pundit’s top four verdict
That’s the verdict of Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith.
In the end both managers left the club and appointed new bosses in Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery.
And with both clubs beginning fresh journeys under new managers, former Arsenal star Smith feels those two could be out of the Champions League spots come the end of the season.
“While Arsenal will not finish in the top four, it will still be a season of learning and improvement under Emery,” Smith told Sky Sports.
“And it is very much an unknown quantity in Sarri and you never quite know how it will go at Chelsea, it could go one of two ways. But with Sarri trying to change the structure of the team, it will take time.”
Manchester United finished second behind champions Manchester City last season as Pep Guardiola’s side stormed to victory, breaking the 100-point barrier in the process.
Jose Mourinho came in for plenty of criticism from fans and pundits for his dull playing style and Smith reckons supporters could be in for further frustration.
He also feels the £60m acquisition of Riyad Mahrez for Manchester City and the £170m Liverpool splashed on signings will put them two in contention for the title.
“Riyad Mahrez is a valuable addition and in Pep Guardiola they have a manager who retains his hunger, and as long as he can keep that hunger in his players too, then they will have too much for everyone else,” Smith added.
“With the signings Liverpool have made, Naby Keita and Alisson being the big ones, and the weaknesses they have addressed -with them now appearing to have a quality ‘keeper – it should take them to second.
“I do not think it will be a particularly entertaining campaign for United fans, but they had a great defensive record last season and although he did not get his centre-half, there is no reason why they will not be as difficult to beat.”
Tottenham endured the most frustrating transfer window, becoming the first Premier League side to not sign anyone in a summer window since it was introduced in 2003.
But Smith feels Mauricio Pochettino has enough quality to still finish in the top four.
“I know there is a lot of negative talk about Spurs given their lack of transfer activity, but they have a quality squad whatever people say and they will get a buzz from moving into their new home,” Smith said.
“So I think they will have another good season under a quality coach.”
The Premier League season gets underway when Manchester United host Leicester.