The Amateurs
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The Amateurs

SOCCER

Predicting the Premier League’s Big Six’s Performance After Their Transfer Window Shopping

Can anyone stop Manchester City’s dominance this season?

The Jerseys of Premier League’s “Big Six” Teams. (Getty Images/Visionhaus)

Football fans around the world agreed that this summer transfer window that closed on Aug. 31, 2021, was probably one of, if not, the craziest transfer window ever in the history of football. With the two GOATs moving away, several homecomings, and expensive transfers, this transfer window was just unbelievable. But let’s focus on how the Premier League’s “Big Six” teams, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, will perform this season after all the transfers they made during this transfer window.

Mikel Arteta is the Main Problem for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta walks on the field after Arsenal’s 2–0 loss to Brentford on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Brentford Community Stadium, Brentford. (Reuters/David Klein)

Stan Kroenke and Arsenal’s technical director, Edu, spent almost 150 million pounds on six players in this transfer window, with center back Ben White as the most expensive signing with a 50 million pounds fee from Brighton & Hove Albion. Arsenal also made a permanent deal for Martin Ødegaard for 35 million euros after spending at the Emirates Stadium on loan from Real Madrid last season. They also brought in Sheffield United’s goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale, for 24 million pounds.

Being the highest spending team in the Premier League in this transfer window didn’t guarantee them an easy start to the season, as they only won once in their first four games. Despite the injuries that Arsenal is dealing with, it seems like Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s manager still can’t maximise the players that he has on his squad. Statistically speaking, their performance has been horrible. According to FootyStats, their xG per game is 0.50, but they can’t score any goals in those three games that they lost. Meanwhile, their xGA per game is 1.46, but in reality they conceded three goals per game on average in three games.

Arsenal’s stats in their first three games. (FootyStats)

Arsenal would be in deep trouble as long as Arteta is still in charge. By the beginning of 2022, Arteta should already solve all the problems in his squad. If Arsenal keeps getting humiliated by other big teams and embarrassed by small teams until the new year, Arteta should be replaced before things get even worse.

By replacing him with a world-class manager like Antonio Conte, who until now is still available, in December or January, Arsenal will still have enough time to get used to Conte’s strategy and try to aim for a top six finish, just like what Chelsea did with replacing Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel last season. If Arteta is still on the job until the end of the season, a top 10 finish would already be considered a good result. But if he gets replaced by someone like Conte midway through the season, a top six finish is not impossible.

Lukaku and Saúl Arrived, Will Chelsea be Crowned Champion This Season?

Romelu Lukaku scores during his debut game against Arsenal on Aug. 22, 2021, at the Emirates Stadium, London. (The Guardians/Tom Jenkins)

After spending almost 250 million euros last season, Chelsea only spent 120 million euros in this season’s summer transfer window. Their long search for a scoring striker has finally come to an end, as they secured a homecoming for Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan for 115 million euros. Lukaku is a desperately needed type of player for Chelsea, because last season, despite being the European champion, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea struggled to score goals.

With Lukaku now being the frontman for Chelsea, it carries a hope for Chelsea to score more goals and win games with two to three goals scored every game. Lukaku proved it straight away that he was the missing piece that Chelsea needed on his second Chelsea debut against Arsenal in week two. It took him only 15 minutes to destroy Arsenal’s defense and score a goal into Bernd Leno’s net.

On the transfer window deadline day, Chelsea secured Saúl Ñíguez from Atletico Madrid, with a loan fee of 5 million euros. A lot of people questioned this decision, because Chelsea already has three world class midfielders in N’Golo Kanté, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovačić. But this was actually a brilliant move by Marina Granovskaia and the Chelsea board, as it allows Thomas Tuchel to rotate the midfielders in different games and different competitions to avoid injuries. With a solid defense, reliable midfielders, and the arrival of Lukaku to help the offense, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Chelsea finishes the season as the champion.

Is Signing Ibrahima Konaté Alone Enough for Liverpool?

Ibrahima Konaté applauds the crowd during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool and Osasuna on Aug. 10, 2021, at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. (Getty Images/Andrew Powell)

Liverpool struggled with injuries last season. Key players like Virgil van Dijk, Diogo Jota, and Joel Matip were all injured for most of last season. A lot of Liverpool fans were expecting their team to sign several young players to strengthen the squad depth this season, considering their core attackers of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah aren’t young anymore. Turns out the only signing that they made was 22-year-old center back Ibrahima Konaté from RB Leipzig for 40 million euros. It was not a bad signing, but it would be better for Liverpool if they sign two young players to avoid what happened to them last season.

At the same time, Jürgen Klopp is still a genius. With all the injuries they were facing last season, they still managed to finish third in the standings ahead of a completely healthy Chelsea. This season, with the arrival of Ibrahima Konaté, the return of van Dijk, and others who were injured most of last season, it’s possible for them to challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for the title.

City is Still Powerful Despite a Disappointing Transfer Window

Jack Grealish holds his jersey during his introductory press conference for Manchester City on Aug. 6, 2021. (Getty Images/Matt McNulty)

It was a quite disappointing transfer window for Manchester City. Their only signing was the team’s record transfer of 100 million pounds for 25-year-old winger Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, making him the most expensive English player in history. In the last couple of years, there have been rumors about the possibility of Lionel Messi reuniting with Pep Guardiola at City, but Messi ended up moving to PSG in this transfer window.

Guardiola and City were close to signing Harry Kane as the rumors were swirling strongly that Kane would leave Tottenham this summer. But Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, refused to sell him or even negotiate Kane’s fee with Manchester City. That left City with one last option, Cristiano Ronaldo. A lot of media at the moment said that the probability of Cristiano joining City was at 70%. That was until Manchester United hijacked the deal and arranged a homecoming for Ronaldo to Old Trafford.

Despite a quite disappointing transfer window, City is still a powerful team. Being the defending champion, this will be a huge confidence boost for the team. Yes, they’ll be more powerful if they sign a striker like Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo, but what they have right now with Sterling, Grealish, Gündogan, and Dias is enough to defend their title against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.

Ronaldo and Varane Will Boost Manchester United’s Confidence

Cristiano Ronaldo walks alongside Juan Mata during Ronaldo’s first training session with Manchester United on Sep. 7, 2021, at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington, Greater Manchester. (Getty Images/Ash Donelon)

Out of the six teams in the aforementioned “Big Six”, United probably had the craziest transfers this window. After a year of waiting, Manchester United finally secured the signing of English winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for 85 million euros. An important signing to improve their highly anticipated, young front three of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and the new kid in town Sancho himself. United also found an experienced partner for Harry Maguire.

Four-time Champions League winner, World Cup champion, Raphaël Varane signed by United for 40 million euros from Real Madrid. Varane’s experience will be impactful in big competitions like the Champions League. His experience will also help his fellow United defenders to improve their game and confidence.

On top of that, United also made the most shocking, dramatic, and emotional transfer in this transfer window. Twelve years after he left, Cristiano Ronaldo is finally back at Old Trafford. No one expected this transfer to happen, especially when the media started to talk about how high the probability was for Ronaldo to sign with United’s rival, Manchester City. But that’s what a transfer window is all about, anything can happen.

United successfully hijacked City’s deal with Ronaldo, and signed the 36-year-old for 15 million euros from Juventus. Tactically, there was no urgency in signing Ronaldo. But again, experience is very important for a team who is desperate for more trophies like United. He’ll play alongside young players like Rashford, Greenwood, and Sancho, who all can learn a lot of things from Ronaldo.

Regardless, United still can’t find the missing piece in their holding midfielder position. Fred and Scott McTominay are clearly not enough if they want to join the race for the title against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They were in the race for signing Saúl from Atletico, but Chelsea was the team who managed to finalize the deal with him. Their manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, also seems to be a little bit of an issue for this team. Out of the four teams that are most likely to challenge for the title, United has the least experienced coach.

Don’t get it wrong, Ole is a great manager. But to compete for the title against world-class coaches like Tuchel, Klopp, and Guardiola is a tough job for Solskjær. Nevertheless, with this season’s squad, a Champions League berth for next season should be guaranteed for this team.

Will This be Kane’s One Last Dance?

Harry Kane celebrates his goal during last season’s win over Dinamo Zagreb on March 12, 2021, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. (AFP/Alastair Grant)

No major changes in the squad for the Spurs this season. They bought three U-23 players in Bryan Gil, Emerson Royal, and Pape Sarr for a total of 66.9 million euros. Nuno Espírito Santo was also brought in by Daniel Levy from Wolverhampton to replace José Mourinho after last season’s disappointing result, finishing seventh behind West Ham and Leicester City.

Nuno is lucky enough to still have Harry Kane with him after all the rumors that he will depart from Tottenham in this transfer window, thanks to Daniel Levy for rejecting any kind of negotiations with clubs who are interested in Kane. Kane has been Spurs’ most important player in the last five seasons, to have him stay this season, it would be important for Tottenham if they want to finish top six.

Even though there’s no significant changes in the squad, if Nuno and his players are more balanced between attacking and defending, and maximise the potential that they have this season, a top six finish would be possible even though it’s not going to be easy.

This season won’t be easy for everyone. These transfers have made teams become more complete. The teams outside the “Big Six” are also getting a lot better. Good chemistry, full focus, and maximum effort are needed every single game. No matter if it’s against big teams or teams in the relegation zone, performing their best is what they need to achieve their season’s goal because in the Premier League, every game is important and every single point counts.

Abdul Rasyid Nur Afiat is a 16-year-old part-time student, and a full time sports enthusiast. He enjoys all kinds of sports; soccer, American football, basketball, baseball, beach volleyball, badminton, Formula 1, you name it. But his first love was soccer.

He started watching soccer since the 2010 World Cup. He also found his love for Lionel Messi during that World Cup. His love for other sports developed as he got older. He was mainly influenced by his brother who exposed him to American football and baseball. He dedicated his time to watch Chelsea, the New England Patriots, and the San Diego Padres live on TV.

You can follow him on Instagram at @arasyid16 for his daily updates, and at @rasyidlagimotret for his photography work that he did as a hobby.

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The Amateurs.

The Amateurs.

A sports blog from an amateur’s perspective.

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