Updated:Jul 28, 2022 6:35 pm
There is a fairly big gap between the Premier League elite and the rest of the league.
Manchester United had a woeful season last time out and still managed to finish in the top 6, so the task these clubs are facing to overthrow them is huge.
But, some teams are better placed to mount a challenge on that 6th position than the others, let’s take a look at who I think those clubs are.
Of course, based on last season, West Ham is the team most ready to pounce should one of the top six clubs have a bad season. They finished just 2 points off Manchester United last season, and they could be close yet again.
A flaw that held West Ham back last season was a lack of depth in their striker position. Michail Antonio started very quickly, but his fitness and injury concerns saw him tail off towards the end of last season, and that hindered The Hammers. With European football again on the schedule for West Ham they need to address this issue.Embed from Getty Images
The good news for West Ham fans is that they are on the verge of doing that. According to multiple sources, they are very close to finalising the signing of Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo. The 23-year-old Italian international bagged 16 league goals in 36 appearances in the Serie A last season. That gives him a goal-per-game ratio of 0.44, which given that his team finished 11th in the league is actually very impressive.
His 36 appearances last season also suggest that he should be able to be relied upon for the vast majority of the season, which should allow David Moyes to rest Antonio more often, which could lead to better and more consistent goal returns from the Englishman. If West Ham can get Scamacca and Antonio firing on all cylinders, they will be a very dangerous side in the Premier League.
Newcastle was excellent in the second half of last season. They have got a lot of things going for them right now. The biggest, of course, is the bankroll they now have after the Saudi takeover, but another weapon of there’s which should not be overlooked is Eddie Howe.Embed from Getty Images
They have already improved the squad this summer too. The arrival of Nick Pope and Sven Botman, as well as making Matt Target’s move to Tyneside a permanent one should mean that they are ready to continue their from the back end of last season across the entirety of next season.
However, the number 9 position still worries me. Callum Wilson has thrived under Howe before, but his injuries are becoming a regular occurrence, and Chris Wood cannot be relied upon regularly for a club that wants to progress up the table.
I do think that a top-half finish is possible without Newcastle signing a striker, however, if they want to get as close as they can to the top six, they must splash the cash on an elite striker. Without that, it will be very difficult.
Leicester is the final team on my list. Despite having a relatively quiet season last time out, they still managed to rally to an 8th-placed finish. That shows the quality that Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal.
The big question mark over Leicester City for me is Jamie Vardy. How long can this superhuman keep performing at the top of his game? He doesn’t seem to take his fitness too seriously, we’ve all heard of the famous Jamie Vardy pre-game Redbull, and yet he is still here, scoring goals for fun. He is defying the odds as he has done throughout his career.Embed from Getty Images
But this has to come to an end eventually. He is now 35 years of age and in the near future, his levels are going to drop. It’s inevitable. If that happens to occur this season, then Leicester will not be anywhere near that 6th position in my opinion. Ihenacho is a good option off the bench, or even alongside Vardy, but I don’t this he has the quality needed to lead the line on his own should Vardy’s fitness wain and injuries start to hit.
However, if Jamie Vardy can once again defy the odds and score 15-20 Premier League goals Leicester could well be the team who pounces should one of the top six have a disastrous season, especially if James Maddison can sustain his form and Harvey Barnes can get back the level he has shown in the past.
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