Peter Schmeichel thinks Man Utd will be the only club from the ‘big six’ not in contention for top four, and expressed his worries about Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez.
The new campaign is less than a week away and each of the traditional ‘big six’ have been active in the market. Manchester United and Chelsea still have irons in the fire regarding further arrivals, though the signings they’ve made thus far have been of a high standard.
The common consensus is the title will once again be contested between Manchester City and Liverpool. However, speaking to the Times, legendary goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, tipped Tottenham and Chelsea to run the powerhouse pair close.
Schmeichel also tipped Arsenal to be firmly in the top four mix. However, the Dane suggested that despite a promising pre-season, Manchester United are unlikely to be in the equation.
His reasoning stemmed from his belief the Red Devils are a long-term project under new boss Erik ten Hag. Regardless, he expects the upcoming maiden campaign with the Dutchman at the helm to be “fascinating”.
Schmeichel also expressed his concerns about Liverpool and City’s new centre-forwards. Both sides have invested heavily in traditional No 9’s and Schmeichel thinks the teams may take time to adapt to the new styles of play.
“It is not going to be as plain sailing for Manchester City and Liverpool as people think. For both, it’s going to be a very different season,” Schmeichel told The Times.
“A massive transition, in terms of the playing style, is taking place at City. Look at Pep Guardiola’s transfer business: signing Erling Haaland and letting Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus go.
“That tells you how committed he is to playing with a No 9 and we haven’t seen that with Pep before.
“How’s that going to play out? How long is that going to take to bed in? Will Haaland be as good in the Premier League as in Germany? I’m not sure. Will he score 25 goals? Yes, if the team service him. But City are not used to playing that way.
“Liverpool are also changing. They signed Darwin Nunez but lost Sadio Mane. Is Nunez going to be as good as Mane? I wonder.
Man Utd the odd team out?
“The competition will come from Chelsea, and from Spurs, who have signed well and in Antonio Conte have a very clever manager who is so good at getting the maximum out of his players.
“I’m also looking Arsenal and for the first time in a long time thinking “top four”.
“Manchester United? Pre-season has been promising but the reality is that a long process of transition is required.
“The club have backed Erik ten Hag in recruiting players he knows and wanted to work worth, and his first season will be fascinating.”
Who will run City, Liverpool the closest?
Chelsea have been the closest challenger to City and Liverpool in recent seasons. Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling are stellar additions, though all is not well in the Blues camp.
Thomas Tuchel recently questioned his side’s physical and mental commitment after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal in pre-season. The fact Chelsea are still scrambling around for more signings on the eve of the new season speaks volumes.
As such, the likeliest candidate to challenge the big two is Tottenham.
Antonio Conte took less than half a season to turn Spurs into a well-oiled machine. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can breach any defence and Tottenham bought both well and early this summer.
The return of Champions League football will stretch the resources at Conte’s disposal. However, Spurs’ squad now has the depth to handle such a strain and the fact they went unbeaten against Liverpool and City in the league last season could be a sign of things to come.