Premier League: Man City, Liverpool fight for title; Man United uncertainty under Mourinho

The Premier League is back! A new season brings fresh optimism and hope for the campaign ahead -- but how are the clubs shaping up?

ESPN FC's club correspondents, bloggers and staff run the rule over all 20 teams and predict their final position in 2018-19.

Using last season's table, with the three promoted teams at the bottom, here's a look at each club's season ahead.


Biggest signing and biggest loss: It's hard to think that there was too much missing from Manchester City's record-breaking title-winning season, but Riyad Mahrez will add an extra attacking threat. His individual skill and ability to go either way to beat a man will give an extra dimension to an already destructive forward line. Pep Guardiola held on to his all players but allowed Yaya Toure to leave at the end of the season when his contract expired. The Ivorian midfielder, 35, wasn't able to recreate his incredible form from his previous seasons but he was hugely popular member of the squad and will be missed.

Expectation for the new season: With such a young and competitive squad, City should go into the new season where they left off with the belief that they are capable of beating anyone in the Premier League home or away. Guardiola has a squad full of options and anyone without the hunger to defend their title will quickly find themselves on the sidelines.

Key man: Kevin De Bruyne has got better with each season at City, and this could even be the year when he pushes for the Ballon d'Or. His passing and vision is better than almost anyone in the world and he has the maturity to push City on to a greater things in Europe.

Manager stability: It's hard to envisage a situation where Guardiola, who signed a two-year contract extension at the end of the season, could be sacked. He would remain even with an unlikely finish outside the top four and no silverware, such as the trust in his coaching ability. He would probably stay even if City were relegated.

Predicted finish: Champions. City remain the team to beat. While their other rivals have strengthened, Guardiola has a settled, hungry and exciting squad. Their fearless desire to try to win every game heaps the pressure on rivals and while another 100 points is extremely unlikely, it will likely take a huge points total to finish above them. -- Jonathan Smith, Manchester City correspondent

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Biggest signing and biggest loss: As it stands, Fred is the only signing Jose Mourinho has made this summer who is expected to walk straight into the team. Daley Blind is the biggest name to depart but after a season on the sidelines he will not be missed.

Expectation for the new season: A Premier League title challenge and progress in the Champions League. United took a step forward last season -- even if they did finish 19 points behind Manchester City -- and they will have to do the same again.

Key man: Paul Pogba. If he can do for United what he did for France at the World Cup, United will look like a completely different team. Mourinho needs key players to improve to make up the ground on City and Pogba will be top of that list.

Manager stability: It's been a difficult summer for Mourinho but there is no suggestion, for now at least, that his position is uncertain. The longer he goes without winning the title, the more pressure there will be on his shoulders and things might be different in 12 months' time.

Predicted finish: Second. Liverpool have spent heavily in the summer but there's no reason why they should be any more prepared than United to challenge City. -- Rob Dawson, Manchester United correspondent


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Spurs are yet to recruit or sell any senior players, but a couple of promising academy talents have departed. Eighteen-year-old striker Reo Griffiths scored 33 goals in domestic youth competitions last season, including four in one match against Arsenal, but has joined Lyon. Another teenager, winger Keanan Bennetts, has been sold to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Expectation for the new season: Something similar to the last one. Tottenham do not look strong enough to seriously challenge Manchester City for the title, so the goal will probably become another top-four finish and further progress in the Champions League. Then the question will once again be how much Mauricio Pochettino wants to win one of the domestic cups.

Key man: Harry Kane. While Spurs can cope without their star striker for a spell if necessary, he remains a goal machine capable of deciding tight matches. Kane has improved his Premier League tally in every season so he will now be targeting more than 30 top-flight strikes. If he succeeds, Tottenham will probably be close to achieving their collective ambitions too.

Manager stability: Pochettino signed a new five-year contract this summer, so his future is as secure as it can be. He is a huge asset to Tottenham and the only question is whether he feels the club is matching his ambition, given the lack of transfer activity. But even if there is frustration behind the scenes, that new deal will keep him in place for a while.

Predicted finish: Fourth. Spurs' rivals routinely spend more than them, yet the north Londoners have finished in the top three for the last three seasons. They will be playing in a new stadium but overcame that issue at Wembley last term. And, while the north Londoners may not have strengthened yet, there is something to be said for stability. Indeed, Spurs have probably been the most consistent side in the last few years. -- Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Liverpool believe they have finally fixed their lingering goalkeeping issues with the £65 million signing of Alisson from Roma. There are no doubts about Liverpool's quality in the final third, but the errors at the other end of the pitch have, at times, undermined that brilliance. Liverpool haven't lost a key player in the transfer market this window, but the possibility of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing the entire season as he recovers from a serious knee injury is a huge blow.

Expectation for the new season: Liverpool proved last season they can juggle a Premier League and Champions League campaign. With strong reinforcement brought this summer, they should be more than looking to build on their consecutive fourth-placed finishes and make a push for the title. Guardiola even believes it's "almost impossible" for Manchester City to break any of the records set they set last season. Liverpool may have a chance this time around.

Key man: It's a tough ask for Mohamed Salah to improve on his 32 goals last year, which set a record for the most scored in a single Premier League campaign. But the Egyptian is the beacon for Liverpool's front line. Early indications so far this preseason would suggest he's fully over his shoulder injury and not lost his scoring touch.

Manager stability: Jurgen Klopp is yet to deliver a trophy heading into his fourth season as Liverpool manager, but he continues to enjoy wholesale support from the club and its supporters. It's clear to see the continued improvement year upon and year. The calibre of Liverpool's signings this summer have only been possible because of Klopp and the force he's turned Liverpool into.

Predicted finish: Champions -- Glenn Price, Liverpool correspondent


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Jorginho is Chelsea's only high-profile acquisition this summer. He already looks like a transformative one, leading the implementation of Maurizio Sarri's philosophy in terms of passing and pressing.

Chelsea haven't lost anyone significant yet, but with Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard both of interest to Real Madrid, there is still time for a damaging blow.

Expectation for the new season: Chelsea cannot afford a third season outside the Champions League places in the past four years. Sarri will not be judged on the Europa League or the domestic cups, even if he will be personally motivated by ending his trophyless record. It is their Premier League finish -- and the style in which it is achieved -- that will determine whether this campaign is a success or failure.

Key man: Jorginho is most important for Sarri's philosophy but Hazard remains Chelsea's most talented attacking player by a distance, and their most consistent match-winner. There is plenty of reason to think he could thrive in his new head coach's more expansive system, so it is vital that he is retained.

Manager stability: Can any Chelsea head coach ever be regarded as safe? That said, Sarri is the first to be appointed by Roman Abramovich on the strength of his ideas rather than his winning pedigree, which suggests he will at least be given an opportunity to make his vision a reality.

Predicted finish: Third -- Liam Twomey, Chelsea correspondent


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Of Arsenal's five signings, Lucas Torreira should have the biggest impact at the heart of the team's midfield. An effective holding midfielder was the squad's biggest need and the Gunners are hoping the Uruguay international can give the team's back four some much-needed help. Jack Wilshere is the most prominent player to leave the club which is a major loss for fans, who adore him, but may not have massive impact on the pitch as he was set to be a back-up under Unai Emery.

Expectation for the new season: Arsenal's main goal is to get back in the top four of the Premier League and secure a return to the Champions League. It would be unrealistic to expect this team to fight for the title in their first season under Emery -- they are simply too far behind the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. But expect Emery to make the Europa League a real priority in order to deliver a top trophy right away.

Key man: Arsenal need Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to continue his prolific scoring form if they are to have any chance of challenging their top six rivals. Defence is a bigger worry than attack overall, but the Gabon striker is still a difference-maker who could challenge Kane for the Premier League's golden boot.

Manager stability: Emery should feel relatively confident that Arsenal will give him time to implement his vision. It's not easy replacing a manager who led the club for 22 years, and the Gunners' hierarchy won't make any rash decisions if the season gets off to a rocky start. But if the club don't make progress from their sixth-place finish, Arsenal may start to reconsider their choice of head coach -- depending on who else is available.

Predicted finish: 4th -- Mattias Karen, Arsenal correspondent


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Ben Gibson has joined from Middlesbrough in the club's only main piece of transfer business. Of the two club stalwarts to leave at their end of their contracts -- Scott Arfield and Dean Marney -- the former would have been a useful squad player.

Expectation for the new season: The lack of transfer activity is a concern but the team that finished seventh has been wholly retained, a factor which should not be underplayed by supporters, although how Sean Dyche manages European commitments will be crucial -- all fans would love a cup run despite survival remaining the primary goal, which should be achieved with relative comfort.

Key man: Burnley's record with Steven Defour at the heart of the team was brilliant last season and deeply average after he got injured, so Dyche needs the classy Belgium midfielder to be fit and ready to play a key part throughout the campaign.

Manager stability: There isn't a safer manager in the league -- Burnley could be relegated and Dyche, who signed a lucrative contract to 2022 in January, would be trusted to bring the Clarets back up again.

Predicted finish: 15th -- Jamie Smith


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Richarlison and Lucas Digne are the only arrivals so far, but both have age and potential in their favour. In terms of outgoings, it may be more appropriate to count blessings rather than losses as a much-needed cull takes place. None of the recent or imminent departures, including Wayne Rooney's move to D.C. United, are a great loss to the squad though resistance to any offers for talented youngster Ademola Lookman should remain a priority.

Expectation for the new season: Looking like a cohesive team that attacks and defends as a unit would be a good starting point for Everton after last season. A tighter defence and a more proactive and sustainable style of play are on the wish list for this transitional season as a concerted European push seems unrealistic at this stage.

Key man: Gylfi Sigurdsson is the only one of three No.10s bought last summer still at the club. This is his chance to prove his worth after injuries and too many matches out of position hampered his first season in royal blue. Everton need their record signing, and other key attacking players around him, to improve their output in the final third.

Manager stability: There is ample work still to do and one transfer window is not enough to fix the various issues within this unbalanced squad. Time and patience are vital with a new manager only a couple of months into a three-year deal, but Marco Silva will be aware of the need to offset this exhaustive rebuild with results along the way.

Predicted finish: 8th -- Luke O'Farrell, Everton blogger


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Leicester finally (and predictably) lost Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City, but replaced him with James Maddison. The England under-21 midfielder chose the Foxes over Southampton. He's not yet at Mahrez's standard, but did score 14 goals for Norwich last campaign, has superb vision and created a staggering 54 chances last season -- more than any player in Europe's big five leagues.

Expectation for the new season: Midtable mediocrity. A Europa League push is possible, but a top-half finish would be a success.

Key man: Harry Maguire. Obviously Jamie Vardy's goals will also be key, especially with Mahrez gone, but if Maguire can carry his World Cup form into the new season he'll not only lead from the back but pitch in with a few vital goals as well. Leicester's main priority before the transfer window shuts is to get Maguire to sign a new deal.

Manager stability: Claude Puel's job is not safe at all. A bad start and the Frenchman will be gone before Christmas. It remains to be seen how much chemistry he has with his squad, but a solid finish to last season has at least bought him some time.

Predicted finish: 10th -- Ben Jacobs


Biggest signing and biggest loss: The permanent deal for the excellent goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Many would say Aleksandar Mitrovic is the biggest loss, but he's barely featured at Newcastle since Rafael Benitez arrived.

Expectation for the new season: Another tough slog with some exciting wins against the big boys ... if Rafa stays.

Key man: Benitez. The team overperformed under his leadership last season and he's the most vital man at the football club.

Manager stability: That is the million-dollar question -- if he's not backed he could walk away but that probably won't happen before May.

Predicted finish: 14th -- Marc Duffy


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Palace's biggest signing is likely to be Max Meyer, the 22-year-old German international. With a big reputation and the apparent potential to be a world class talent, Palace will hope that the free transfer from Schalke can hit the ground running. He'll have some big boots to fill with the departure of midfielder Yohan Cabaye, whose contract expired in the summer. The Frenchman was a significant player in Palace's turn-around under Roy Hodgson and the club had hoped to convince him to sign a new deal on slightly reduced terms. He chose instead to move to UAE club Al-Nasr.

Expectation for the new season: If Palace can secure a few more signings, most notably a winger and a centre-back, the club have a great opportunity to cement a midtable finish. If Palace fans had all their wishes answered, the club would go on another cup run and finish in the top 10.

Key man: Wilfried Zaha. There can be no other key man. The club struggled to such an extent last season that they didn't win a single game that the Ivorian international didn't feature in. His contribution isn't just about creating and scoring goals, but being an outlet when the side is under pressure. He has matured greatly over the last two years, both in temperament and in physique. It's imperative that he stays at the club.

Manager stability: Hodgson has the trust of the players, fans and the ownership. His calm, measured approach to dealing with issues last season brought an understated confidence to the side. The players learned to take greater responsibility and in doing so won the points needed to stay in the Premier League. So long as he doesn't lose the first seven games of the season, his job is absolutely safe.

Predicted finish: 12th or higher -- Rob Sutherland


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Fans were jubilant with the arrival of Diego Rico from Leganes for £10.7m, who turned down a late offer from Borussia Dortmund. The club haven't experienced a big loss yet, instead trimming fringe players such as Max Gradel and Lewis Grabban, while back-up striker Benik Afobe left for Wolves, only to sign for Stoke just days later.

Expectation for the new season: There is no reason why the club cannot push for a top-10 finish, despite the league looking a little stronger this year. This will be Bournemouth's fourth top flight season, jumping from 16th to 9th to 12th in the last three campaigns, finishing behind 10th-placed Newcastle on goal difference last time out. On the flip side, anything other than relegation must be deemed as a success considering the size of the club while off-field projects such as a new stadium remain a priority.

Key man: Without a doubt, Lewis Cook. The midfielder improved in leaps and bounds last season, claiming Harry Arter's spot in the centre of the park, and was rewarded with an England call-up. He was close to making Gareth Southgate's squad for Russia too, having been placed on the reserves list.

Manager stability: Along with Dyche, Eddie Howe has the safest job in the Premier League, owning a sense of invincibility since taking Bournemouth to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history back in 2015.

Predicted finish: 11th -- Liam Grace


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Manuel Pellegrini himself. With the Chilean in place, the big signings -- and there are some huge signings being made here -- suggest there is a real project in place at last. Hopefully, the biggest loss will be the sense of disappointment that has plagued the aspiring Hammers for too long.

Expectation for the new season: It's West Ham. Expectations are always high. The hope is that this time they won't be dashed. A top eight finish and a cup final appearance are hoped for.

Key man: Marquee signing Felipe Anderson is likely to be the key on the field but it's in the boardroom and where the real changes need to come.

Manager stability: Pellegrini has the task of re-building West Ham United not just as a team, but as a club with a huge following and a strong cultural identity. The East End of London has languished for too long in the backwaters and needs to compete with its north and west London neighbours. Frankly, if Pellegrini can't make it work then it's difficult to see where the club can go next.

Predicted finish: 6th and a cup final appearance -- Peter Thorne


Biggest signing and biggest loss: The permanent capture of Gerard Deulofeu was a welcome surprise for many, but convincing Abdoulaye Doucoure, such a vital performer for the Hornets, to sign a new five-year deal was met with unbridled joy. The highest profile departure was Richarlison to Everton, but after an indifferent second half of the season and an extraordinary transfer fee, it's hard to be too downbeat about the young Brazilian moving on.

Expectation for the new season: Nothing is ever straightforward at Vicarage Road, so we're well versed in expecting the unexpected. It would be nice to see Javi Gracia's men break the cycle of delivering a great start to the season only to fade dramatically after Christmas, so a more consistent campaign would definitely be seen as a success.

Key man: Doucoure is hugely important part of the Watford midfield, while Deulofeu will be expected to deliver some creativity and guile that was missing far too often last term. The name exciting most Hornets' fans however is Adalberto Penaranda. The young Venezuelan has spent the last two years on loan because of work permit issues, but it's hoped that with the red tape now taken care of, the exciting forward can make a big impact in the Premier League.

Manager stability: This is Watford. No head coach is safe! That said, the board have backed Gracia after he managed to stop the rot that set in during Marco Silva's tumultuous reign and there is no reason he can't look forward to a long spell in charge.

Predicted finish: 12th -- Mike Parkin


Biggest signing and biggest loss: There is no doubt the eye-catching move for Alireza Jahanbakhsh is the big deal on the south coast this summer, with the Iran international fresh from representing his country at the World Cup. Defender Leon Balogun, striker Florin Andone, Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma and versatile Brazilian Bernardo have also arrived following a busy summer, with no notable departures.

Expectation for the new season: Brighton were among the lowest scorers in the Premier League last time out and despite the arrival of attacker Jahanbakhsh, where the goals will come from remains a tough one. A season of struggle and consolidation is the aim, but the fear of relegation looms.

Key man: Jahanbakhsh will be expected to contribute from the off, but Pascal Gross remains the Seagulls' star. Overwhelming winner of the club's Player of the Season award last term, the midfielder needs to have another strong campaign if Brighton are to avoid the drop.

Manager stability: Chris Hughton has worked wonders at Brighton and remains one of the league's underrated managers. Pressure may come if Brighton are cut adrift but for now, he's comfortable.

Predicted finish: 18th -- ESPN staff


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Hudddersfield have largely kept their squad together after last season's impressive debut campaign in the Premier League, only losing Tom Ince for £10m. Erik Durm's move from Borussia Dortmund looks to be a shrewd piece of business if he's over his injury woes but it's further forward where the Terriers need to find some bite.

Expectation for the new season: A struggle. Huddersfield failed to score in 21 out of 38 matches last season and all but six of their away matches. They'll need to improve that dramatically to have a chance of survival.

Key man: Terence Kongolo, who has made his loan move permanent, excelled at full-back and centre-back last season while Florent Hadergjonaj also impressed on the right. But Aaron Mooy makes Huddersfield tick and with a greater need for goals and creativity, if he can continue his upward trajectory Huddersfield may just make it.

Manager stability: David Wagner was a wanted man after masterminding Huddersfield's survival bid last term but then signed a new three-year deal once safety was secured. He has a positive relationship with chairman Dean Hoyle and enjoys the backing from the club's fans. If he manages to improve on last season's 16th-place finish, admiring glances could come his way again.

Predicted finish: 19th -- ESPN staff


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Southampton are banking on Danish defender Jannik Vestergaard to fill a Virgil van Dijk shaped hole in their backline while Norwegian winger Mohamed Elyounoussi will be expected to create and score following Dusan Tadic's £10m move to Ajax.

Expectation for the new season: After a raft of poor managerial appointments and bad moves in the transfer market, Southampton start the new season under something of a cloud. Mark Hughes, who played a big role in Stoke City's demise, has a three-year deal at Southampton after dragging them to safety but it remains to be seen if he can arrest Saints' decline.

Key man: Charlie Austin has endured an injury hit spell at the club but remains an accomplished finisher. He has scored 13 league goals in the past two seasons, despite starting only 21 of their 76 games.

Manager stability: Low. Things could get ugly for Hughes if Southampton start the season poorly and he's towards the top of the "next manager to be sacked" market with the bookmakers.

Predicted finish: 17th -- ESPN staff


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Bobby Reid and Josh Murphy have both looked good in preseason and will bring some much needed attacking guile to Cardiff's front line. Marko Grujic brought some Premier League class to the midfield when he joined on loan from Liverpool at the second half of last season. Neil Warnock wants him back, but an agreement is yet to be reached.

Expectation for the new season: Expect Cardiff in essence to replace Stoke in the Premier League. While Wolves and Fulham will play beautiful football, Cardiff will play a lot more direct -- looking to play the ball forward at any opportunity. It won't be pretty, but Cardiff fans won't care.

Key man: Sol Bamba. Cardiff were built on defensive resilience last season, conceding just 39 goals in 46 Championship matches -- the same as runaway winners Wolves. Bamba's performances were a large factor behind that. A colossus at the back, Cardiff need him to emulate that in the top flight.

Manager stability: Warnock is seen as a messiah by the Cardiff faithful after guiding the club to an unlikely promotion. He also gets on very well with owner Vincent Tan. However, like any side towards the bottom end of the table, a sluggish start could see the trigger being pulled in panic.

Predicted finish: 20th. Cardiff have not strengthened in the same way that fellow promoted sides Wolves and Fulham have. -- Sean Nevin


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Alfie Mawson. Fulham have been in need of strengthening the defence and he ticks the boxes. He was impressive for Swansea last season; if he performs, then another England call-up won't be far away. Ryan Fredericks is the biggest loss, though. He was a regular in the side last season and has pace to burn. The club must have been aware they were going to lose him on a free as they brought in Cyrus Christie in January and he looks like a ready-made replacement.

Expectation for the new season: Fulham have spent a lot of money so far in the transfer window. But they needed to in order to compete. Of course expectations will rise when you sign Jean Michael Seri and Andre Schurrle, plus keep Ryan Sessegnon. But the bottom line is survival in the first season has to be seen as success.

Key man: Mitrovic. Fulham will need goals and have put the best part of £20m in hoping that Mitrovic will be the man to get them. Sessegnon was the top scorer last season and there will be a lot of eyes on him this season, but Mitrovic has to be the man to lead the line.

Manager stability: Strong. Slavisa Jokanovic is loved by the fans for the success he has brought to the club as well as the style of play. But due to the style of play and players getting up to speed with the system the team have started slowly in the last two seasons. If that happens again the fans and board will have to stay patient and trust him.

Predicted finish: 12th -- James Andrew


Biggest signing and biggest loss: Wow. After winning the Championship in style, Wolves are in dreamland back in the Premier League following a superb summer in the transfer market. Their ambition has been truly rewarded with some outstanding acquisitions, including Portugal No. 1 Rui Patricio and Monaco's Joao Moutinho. Some deadwood has been shifted but Wolves have managed to keep Ruben Neves despite interest from clubs in European competition. Barry Douglas' move to Leeds is a real coup for them and a little setback for Wolves, who will miss his threat at set pieces.

Expectation for the new season: Sky-high following an impressive transfer window. Wolves should be able to handle the lower reaches of the Premier League and may even surprise a few of the bigger clubs too. If their new signings can click, a top half finish has to be the aim.

Key man: Neves. Still only 21, Neves' all-round ability on the ball is crucial to the Wolves cause. One of the best players outside the top clubs, Liverpool were said to be keen on him after he tore the Championship apart last term. If Wolves keep hold of him, they'd be doing very well.

Manager stability: Fans are thrilled with Nuno Espirito Santo, the Championship Manager of the Year, for winning promotion and he has been heavily backed in the transfer market. Things would have to go disastrously wrong for him to lose his job.

Predicted finish: 9th -- ESPN staff