It only seems like yesterday that the final ball of last season had been kicked and already the new season is upon us.
Many Premier League clubs have been away embarking on pre-season tours, in the USA, China, Singapore and Europe, preparing for the start of the 2019/20 season.
Please see following my preview of the English Premier League 2019/2020
Laws of the game changes
Love it or hate it – kkVAR is now in use for every Premier League game.
There have been six new rule changes since last season:
If the ball hits an attacker’s arm during the build-up to a goal it will be disallowed regardless if it was accidental or otherwise.
An attacking player is no longer allowed near the wall at free kicks and must be at least one metre away, if not a free kick will be given to the defending team.
The goalkeepers must have one foot on the line while the penalty is being taken. And ‘keepers are also no longer allowed to touch the posts before the kick.
Coaches will now be punished the same way as players with referees allowed to brandish yellow and red cards to off-field staff.
Old fashioned drop balls will NOT be used any more and now the giving the ball back to the last team in possession will be the formality.
Whenever a player is substituted, they must exit the field at the nearest point.
This has been introduced to stop players on the opposite side of the pitch walking to the far dugout late on in games.
There have been three managerial changes over the summer, Chris Hughton was sacked as Brighton manager and replaced by Graham Potter. Steve Bruce has taken over from Rafa Benitez at Newcastle and Frank Lampard is the new Chelsea manager.
The three teams promoted from the Championship to the Premier League are Aston Villa, Norwich City and Sheffield United.
PLAYERS COMING AND GOINGS THIS SUMMER
As I write this there are still more players moving around but so far this summer there have been 124 players leaving from Premier League Clubs and only 41 players joining
Gabriel Martinelli – Itano Futebol Clube, undisclosed
Nicholas Pepe – Lille £79 million
Dani Ceballos – Real Madrid loan
Aaron Ramsey – Juventus, free
Petr Cech – retired
Danny Welbeck – released
Stephan Lichtsteiner – released
David Ospina – Napoli
Ben Sheaf – Doncaster, loan
Matt Targett – Southampton, £11m
Jot – Birmingham City, undisclosed
Anwar El Ghazi – Lille, undisclosed
Wesley – Club Brugge, £22m
Ezri Konsa – Brentford, £12m
Kortney Hause – Wolves, undisclosed
Tyrone Mings – Bournemouth, £20m
Bjorn Engels – Stade Reims, undisclosed
Mile Jedinak – released
Alan Hutton – released
Tommy Elphick – released
Albert Adomah – released
Glenn Whelan – released
Ritchie De Laet – released
Mark Bunn – released
Micah Richards – released
Harry Mckirdy – Carlisle, free
Corey Blackett-Taylor – Tranmere, free
Gary Gardner – Birmingham City, undisclosed
Lloyd Kelly – Bristol City, £13m
Emerson Hyndman – Atlanta United, loan
Leandro Trossard – Genk, £15m
Matt Clarke – Portsmouth, undisclosed
David Ajiboye – released
Jonah Ayunga – released
Tyler Forbes – released
Dessie Hutchinson – released
Reece Meekums – released
Rian O’Sullivan – released
Ben Barclay – Accrington, free
Jay Rodriguez – West Brom, £10m
Joel Senior – Curzon Ashton, undisclosed
Stephen Ward – released, signed for Stoke
Anders Lindegaard – released
Jon Walters – retired
Mateo Kovacic – Real Madrid, undisclosed
Eden Hazard – Real Madrid, undisclosed
Richard Nartey – Burton, loan
Jay Dasilva – Bristol City, undisclosed
Fankaty Dabo – Coventry, free
Ola Aina – Torino, £8.9m
Tomas Kalas – Bristol City, £8m
Charly Musonda – Vitesse, loan
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Man Utd, £45m
Julian Speroni – released
Jason Puncheon – released
Bakary Sako – released
Andre Gomes – Barcelona, £22m
Jonas Lossl – Huddersfield, to join on July 1
Fabian Delph – Manchester City, undisclosed
Moise Kean – Juventus £28million
Ashley Williams – released
Jonjoe Kenny – Schalke, loan
Kieran Dowell – Derby, loan
Joao Virginia – Reading, loan
Korede Adedoyin – Hamilton, loan
Luke Garbutt – Ipswich, loan
Antonee Robinson – Wigan, undisclosed
Ayoze Perez – Newcastle, £30m
James Justin – Luton Town, undisclosed
Danny Simpson – released
Shinji Okazaki – released
Sepp van den Berg – PEC Zwolle, £1.3m
Rafael Camacho – Sporting Lisbon, £5m
Marko Grujic – Hertha Berlin, season-long loan
Alberto Moreno – released
Daniel Sturridge – released
Adam Bogdan – released
Connor Randall – released
Sheyi Ojo – Rangers, loan
Kamil Grabara – Huddersfield, loan
Rodri – Atletico Madrid, £62.5m
Angelino – PSV Eindhoven, £5.3m
Vincent Kompany – Anderlecht, player-manager
Patrick Roberts – Norwich, season-long loan
Fabian Delph – Everton, undisclosed
Daniel James – Swansea, £15m
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace, £45m
Fander Herrera – PSG at end of the contract
Antonio Valencia – LDU Quito, free
Matty Willock – Gillingham, free
Regan Poole – MK Dons, free
Ayoze Perez – Leicester, £30m
Joselu – Alaves, undisclosed
Josip Drmic – Borussia Monchengladbach, free
Patrick Roberts – Manchester City, season-long loan
Sam Byram – West Ham, £750k
Carlton Morris – Rotherham, loan
Ivo Pinto – Dinamo Zagreb, free
Mason Bloomfield – Crawley, loan
Marcel Franke – Hannover 96, undisclosed
Sean Raggett – Portsmouth, loan
Luke Freeman – QPR, undisclosed
Phil Jagielka – free
Callum Robinson – Preston North End, undisclosed
Ravel Morrison – free
FC Paul Coutts – Fleetwood, free
Martin Crainie – Luton Town, free
Conor Washington – Hearts, free
Daniel Lafferty – released
Caolan Lavery – released
Oliver Greaves – Barrow, loan
Nathan Thomas – Gillingham, loan
Rhys Norrington-Davies – Rochdale, loan
Jake Eastwood – Scunthorpe, loan
Tyler Smith – Bristol Rovers, loan
Che Adams – Birmingham City, £15m
Moussa Djenepo – Standard Liege, £15m
Matt Targett – Aston Villa, £11m
Steven Davis – Rangers, free
Sam Gallagher – Blackburn, undisclosed
Tanguy Ndombele – Lyon, £65m
Kion Etete – Notts County
Kieran Trippier – Atletico Madrid, undisclosed
Luke Amos – QPR, season-long loan
Connor Ogilvie – Gillingham, undisclosed
Michel Vorm – released after the expiration of the contract
Dylan Duncan – released
Charlie Freeman – released
Tom Glover – released
Jamie Reynolds – released
Tommie Hoban – released after the expiration of the contract
Miguel Britos – released after the expiration of the contract
Ashley Charles – released
Andrew Eleftheriou – released
Sam Howes – released
Tom Leighton – released
Joy Mukena – released
Michael Mullings – released
Kai Sanders – released
Sam Sesay – released
Ryan Suckling – released
Ben Tricker – released
West Ham United
Roberto – Espanyol, free
David Martin – Millwall, free
Pablo Fornals – Villarreal, £24m
Sebastian Haller – Eintract Frankfurt, £45m
Samir Nasri – released
Andy Carroll – released
Adrian – released
Edimilson Fernandes – FSV Mainz, undisclosed
Lucas Perez – Alaves, undisclosed
Josh Pask – Coventry, free
Nathan Trott – Wimbledon, loan
Raul Jimenez – Benfica, £30m
Helder Costa – Leeds, loan with an obligation to buy
Kevin Berkoe – Oxford, free
Ethan Ebanks-Landell – Shrewsbury, undisclosed
The stars set to light up Premier League football in 2019-20
Fresh blood, younger bosses and a new breed of top talent are all set to light up the Premier League in the coming season.
New names will be entrusted to light up the Premiership, particularly after the promise they’ve shown in pre-season or, in the case of Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos, in Spain’s victorious Under-21 European Championship campaign.
And a clutch of stars will be tasked with proving the difference in terms of improving some clubs and taking others to the next level.
Also among them, Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has had the club’s fans drooling during pre-season with his speed and defensive awareness. It suggests the shirt will not weigh heavy on his back after his move from Crystal Palace.
But it is Tottenham’s Tanguy Ndombele who appears to have made the biggest statement both in terms of what his signing represents to the club and first impressions. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy shattered the club’s transfer record for the 22-year-old’s £65million signature.
Regular Champions League football and Tottenham’s success at reaching last-year’s final means the club are no longer fishing in the bargain bucket. Ndombele’s capture is proof Spurs are moving to the next level. That an approach for a top player can no longer be met with the snorts of derision and Twitter comedy of the past.
On the pitch, the signs are good too. His first three touches, after coming on to the pitch as a pre-season substitute against Juventus, were to intercept the ball and play Lucas Moura in for a goal
The footage from the game against United, in which Ndombele sat Paul Pogba down on his backside, has had nearly a quarter of a million views. The former Lyon man is set to form a formidable alliance alongside Moussa Sissoko, who has already taken him under his wing.
In terms of value for money, Ndombele’s pre-season should mean he is able to hit the ground running. He could prove the best of the summer’s high-profile new boys.
The competition, though, is strong. Such is the quality at Real Madrid, Ceballos askilful, attacking midfielder has had to go to Arsenal for first-team football. Spurs bowed out after being told they would not have an option to buy the 22-year-old next summer. Arsenal were willing to take the hit.
Manchester City midfielder Rodri, 23, has been signed as a long-term successor to 34-year-old Fernandinho. The younger man, formerly of Atletico Madrid, will be entrusted with providing the platform for City’s flair players to express themselves.
The initial signs are also positive. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic dazzled in the club’s win over Barcelona to such an extent the Spanish media were gushing in their praise of him.
The USA star, 20, has been at pains to make clear he does not want to be seen as a replacement for Eden Hazard. Pulisic did, however, provide a threat from the left against Barcelona to bode well for the coming season.
On the face of it, the £40million paid by Newcastle to Hoffenheim for striker Joelinton looks expensive but Joelinton remains highly rated.
The 22-year-old can operate as a penalty box target man, but also has the vision and mobility to drop deeper and link play. The next 10 months will decide which of the latest Premier League intake provides value for money. All of them have fans eager for the games to begin.K
MY CHOICE OF FIVE YOUNG PLAYERS WHO CAN MAKE THEIR MARK THIS SEASON
For academy prospects and aspiring stars, pre-season football is often the perfect opportunity to catch a manager’s eye.
With limited opportunities provided to top-flight youngsters these days, some of the game’s most promising starlets often go under the radar, festering away in the reserves or struggling for consistency across multiple loan spells.
But, every so often a budding talent seemingly emerges from out of nowhere and explodes onto the scene, immediately earning the moniker ‘the next Messi’ or the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.
And, that latter nickname has been earned by Phil Foden, a beneficiary of pre-season football, after the fledging midfielder flourished in the International Champions Cup last summer, notably producing a stellar performance during Manchester City’s 3-2 win over Bayern Munich.
Such was the lasting impression Foden left on Pep Guardiola during the club’s Stateside sojourn last year, that the Catalonian even referenced his impressive summertime displays as a key reason for his ascent to the first-team fold.
“I had the feeling in pre-season – I was incredibly impressed.”
So, which youngsters have impressed for their respective clubs this time around, and who could be knocking on the first-team door for 2019/20 based on their pre-season performances?
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United
Mason is still only 17 but had quite the introduction to senior football when he came on as a substitute during Manchester United’s memorable win over Paris Saint-Germain in the spring, but this could be the season for him to shine at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears keen to promote young talent and Greenwood is the pick of the bunch. The winner of the Jimmy Murphy young player of the year award at Old Trafford last season, the forward can beat a man and shoot powerfully with both feet.
When there are major question marks about the future of the club’s main striker, in this case, Romelu Lukaku the best thing you can do as an understudy, is demonstrate to the manager that he can live without his chief threat, and that is exactly what Greenwood has been doing, with his dazzling performances yielding two goals, including a winner against Inter Milan last week.
The fleet-footed forward has excelled this summer, prompting comparisons with Ryan Gigg’s rise nearly three decades ago by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while the Norwegian has also hinted that the youngster could start for the club’s opening Premier League match against Chelsea.
Rhian Brewster (Liverpool)
Earmarked as a future Liverpool star, the Merseyside wunderkind has left Kopites purring this summer with his destructive abilities inside the penalty area evoking fond memories of legendary Anfield strikers of old, including Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler.
Brewster famously drew acclaim after clinching the Golden Boot in England’s FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph in 2017, but a long-term injury lay-off plagued his progress last season. However, the scintillating Londoner is back, and he certainly means business, netting four goals in four games, including against Borussia Dortmund, as well as a clinical brace in the 6-0 mauling over Tranmere Rovers.
Jurgen Klopp has already lavished praise on the youngster, with the German even suggesting his elite-level prospect is now “ready” for Premier League football.
Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
Long-tipped to break into the first-team reckoning in north London, Nketiah has perennially been on the cusp of fighting his way into Arsenal’s starting XI but is yet to truly hold down a prominent role in senior plans.
That said, the lethal Lewisham marksman has just turned 20 and has been making significant noise this summer, bagging three goals against high-quality opposition, including a double to sink Fiorentina and a winner during the Gunners’ 2-1 triumph over Bayern Munich.
There are substantial blockades preventing Nketiah from making the centre-forward role his own in Unai Emery’s first-team notably the world-class talent of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the high-level performances of Alexandre Lacazette but the pre-season breakout star believes he is now ready to rival Arsenal’s current crop of insatiable strikers.
Billy Gilmour – Chelsea
Position: Central midfield
With Chelsea currently enduring a two-window transfer embargo, this could prove the perfect opportunity for Frank Lampard to nurture and blood in young talent, and that is exactly what he has been doing for his pre-season so far, with Billy Gilmour the pick of the teenage bunch.
A Glasgow-born midfielder, the 18-year-old could be mistaken for a La Masia alumnus such is his technical ability and dazzling imagination. He drew widespread adulation from Chelsea fans for his performances in Ireland and was even namechecked by Lampard for his mesmeric form against Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic.
Lampard told Chelsea TV: “Billy Gilmour has had a brilliant trip.
“As a young lad, the personality he has shown on this trip to play two games at the level has played them is great.
“I just hope Billy pushes on with that this season.”
Adrian Bernabe – Manchester City
Position: Attacking midfield
Apart from the usual suspects, Bernabe was arguably the star of the show in the 4-1 mauling over West Ham, impressing on the right flank with his improvisation and twinkle-toed feet. Lining up in a very inexperienced City XI, Guardiola’s young guns strutted their stuff and swaggered to a half-time lead, before his top dogs emerged after the restart and wrapped up a comfortable win.
Such was his impact against the Hammers that he retained a starting berth ahead of David Silva for the Premier League Asia Trophy final against Wolves, and looked every bit a first-team player.
It’s clear Bernabe has been educated in Barcelona’s esteemed academy, such is his innate ball-playing ability and passing range.
Ben Johnson – West Ham United
Provided the first-team start against Man City by Manuel Pellegrini in the league last season, the Chilean followed up on Johnson’s debut appearance by handing him a second start against City in pre-season. It doesn’t get much tougher than that for an introduction to senior football, but the teenage defender handled himself expertly in both games and looks set for a season in-and-around Pellegrini’s first-team plans.
Nephew of former Man Utd full-back Paul Parker and cousin to ex-Spurs centre-back Ledley King, Johnson has defensive blood running through his veins and given his proficiency with either foot, his versatility could prove indispensable for the Hammers next term.
Dixon Sanderson – Wolves
With Wolves set for a European travail next season, squad depth will be crucial for Nuno Espirito Santo, but he may not have to scour the market quite so vigorously as he has a number of talented youngsters on the books ready to step into his religious 3-4-3 formation, particularly Sanderson.
Of course, Morgan Gibbs-White is the star teenager in the Molineux ranks, but he has already developed into a senior professional of genuine Premier League quality, and so Sanderson comes in as the unheralded teenager to have impressed most for Wolves this summer.
His second-half cameo caught attention during the 4-0 drubbing over Newcastle last week, but his stock skyrocketed as he excelled at right-wing-back during the pre-season Asia Cup final victory against Man City, drawing rave reviews from Wolves fans.
Troy Parrott -Tottenham Hotspur FC
Starting against Juventus on your senior debut is no mean feat, especially for a teenager who is filling in for Harry Kane. But, Dublin-born Parrott showcased his worth and vindicated Mauricio Pochettino’s selection choice.
The Argentine has perpetually struggled to find a competent backup option for Kane, but Parrott looks like he could be the man to step up and provide Pochettino with the requisite depth to remedy any void the England international may leave should he suffer another injury setback.
Against Juve, Parrott, not only kept pace with some of world football’s finest athletes, but he often outshone the globally recognised superstars, putting on a masterclass of performance as well as having a key hand in Spurs’ opening goal.
MY OPINION ON THE SEASON AHEAD
After the summer break and the all the club’s activities, with managerial changes and in the transfer market, the new season is upon us, so who do I think will be challenging for the title and who will be fighting from the start to avoid relegation.
I do not see anything that clearly changes my thoughts that the top three vying for the title, will be Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs, all three clubs seem to have gone through the pre-season with settled teams and some additional qualities added.
The rest of the expected top six, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea still seem to be in transitional periods, new managers at United and Chelsea will see pressures and expectations at a new level, both managers Solksjar and Lampard are genuine chaps, who you want to see do well, knowing both of them well, means that I really hope that they can get on top of things early on and keep the doubters and the boards at bay. Arsenal under Emery has not seemed to have progressed at the level that the fans will demand and a poor start to the season will see him under pressure.
Chelsea will have to try and fill the massive void left by the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, Frank Lampard has landed his dream role at the helm, but it may have just been a season or two too early, he was learning the game at managerial level, with his role at Derby County last season and one more year’s experience gained there may have been better for him, but time will tell.
I think that Everton can be the team best equipped to break into the top six, the signing of striker Moise Kean from Juventus could be one of the signings of the season.
At the other end of the table, there are a number of teams who are going to be fighting for their survival from day one, Brighton and Burnley just survived last season and will again be happy for every point gained, newcomers Aston Villa who have spent around £130 million in the transfer market will be the favourites to survive, whilst Sheffield United and Norwich will also be under pressure from the first game.
Another exciting season ahead and you can be sure that the team that you support will bring you excitement, frustration, joy, despair, success, failure, highs and lows, but no matter what, they are your team and you will be supporting them come what may.
I had an okay season last time around with my predictions if you feel that you can beat me, then please feel free to email your predictions through!
Please see following my week 1 predictions:
Liverpool 3 v 1 Norwich,
West Ham 1 v 3 Manchester City,
Bournemouth 2 v 1 Sheffield United
Burnley 1 v 2 Southampton
Crystal Palace 1 v 2 Everton
Watford 2 v 1 Brighton
Spurs 3 v 1 Aston Villa
Leicester 1 v 2 Wolves
Newcastle 1 v 2 Arsenal
Manchester United 2 v 1 Chelsea
Personally, I have had a lovely close-season break, I spent three weeks in the Kruger Park, with some amazing sightings, a Lion pride with Cubs took down a Buffalo in front of us, we saw Leopards, Elephants, Kudu, Hyena, Black Mamba’s, Dung Beetles, and many more beautiful animals.
One evening my eldest daughter Stephanie and I were out at a sleeping platform, deep in the wilds of Africa, we had had our dinner and my daughter had gone up on to the platform to go to bed, I stayed down reading a book, by the fire, then I heard something and put my torch on and there was a large male Leopard standing about five metres away , we looked at each other, then the Leopard walked on past, my daughter filmed the Leopard as it was walking past me.