Premier League 2018-19: Favourites, outsiders, qualified teams, fixtures & European spots

The new Premier League season is set to begin imminently in a few weeks, and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side will be eager to defend their crown.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have emerged among the front-runners to win their first Premier League-era honour, keen build upon last year’s campaign to push for a genuine shot at winning the league.

Tottenham are underdogs to lift the prize while Chelsea are a club in transition following the appointment of ex-Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri.

But who else are favourites and underdogs to win this year’s Premier League title – and who are the outsiders? Goal brings you all the information, including key start dates, standings and fixtures.


Favourites to win the 2018-19 Premier League


Manchester City are heavily tipped to retain their Premier League crown for a second season running, with bet365 pricing them at 4/6 to lift the title. No manager aside from Sir Alex Ferguson has managed to win two league titles in a row since he did so nine years ago, pipping Liverpool to the top spot by four points.

Guardiola certainly has the expertise and the team to mastermind a defense of their league title with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane all looking as if they improve every game.

Klopp’s Liverpool have emerged as 4/1 favourites to win their first ever Premier League title this next season after finishing as runners-up in the Champions League and occupying the fourth spot in the league table.

The German boss has heavily invested in his team this summer, adding the top likes of Naby Keita, Fabinho as well as a world-class likes of Alisson for a goalkeeper – while ensuring that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino continue to spearhead their lethal attack.

Man United  are 7/1 favourites to win the Premier League this season, the first time they would do so since Ferguson was in charge. Manager Jose Mourinho is approaching his infamous third season in charge of the club, however, and will need to continue to strengthen his squad after finishing second in the league – but crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16 stage and losing the FA Cup final to Chelsea.


2018-19 Premier League underdogs


Eden Hazard Chelsea Bournemouth Premier League

Odds of Chelsea  lifting the Premier League title are available at 12/1 , and would be underdogs to lift the prize following the dismissal of Antonio Conte and the arrival of Sarri as his replacement.

It will be impressive if the Blues manage to clinch the league title in Sarri’s debut season in England, though their chances of winning the competition will be slim if they suffer the losses of star players Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois this summer. However, Sarri will be under pressure to deliver in his first season in charge – at the very least a top-four finish to secure Champions League football for the next season.

Tottenham  are priced at 16/1 to win the Premier League, buoyed by the contract renewals of Harry Kane and manager Mauricio Pochettino. The North London side finished third in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool, and will be desperate to lift their first piece of silverware since the League Cup in 2008 in their brand new stadium.


2018-19 Premier League outsiders


Hector Bellerin Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal Crystal Palace Premier League

Arsenal are heavy outsiders to win the Premier League this season, priced at 20/1 to lift the crown, following Unai Emery replacing Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge of the Gunners.

The North London club are, quite expectedly, a club now in transition and will need time to get their bearings with their new head coach.

Elsewhere, Everton are priced at 250/1  to lift the Premier League title even after appointing ex-Watford boss Marco Silva as coach and finalising a deal for highly-rated youngster Richarlison.


2018-19 Premier League table



Premier League 2018-19 opening fixtures


The new Premier League season is set to get underway on the weekend of August 10-12, beginning with Manchester United facing off against Leicester at Old Trafford.

Date Fixture Time (BST) Venue
Aug 10 Manchester United vs Leicester City 8pm Old Trafford, Manchester
Aug 11 Newcastle vs Tottenham 12:30pm St James’ Park, Newcastle
Aug 11 Bournemouth vs Cardiff 3pm Dean Court, Bournemouth
Aug 11 Fulham vs Crystal Palace 3pm Craven Cottage, Fulham
Aug 11 Huddersfield vs Chelsea 3pm Kirklees Stadium, Huddersfield
Aug 11 Watford vs Brighton 3pm Vicarage Road, Watford
Aug 11 Wolves vs Everton 5:30pm Molineux, Wolverhampton
Aug 12 Liverpool vs West Ham 1:30pm Anfield, Liverpool
Aug 12 Southampton vs Burnley 1:30pm St Marys Stadium, Southampton
Aug 12 Arsenal vs Manchester City 4pm Emirates Stadium, London

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Pavard’s stunner beats out Messi and Ronaldo to claim World Cup goal of the tournament

Benjamin Pavard’s sensational volley against Argentina has been voted the World Cup’s goal of the tournament, FIFA has announced.

The full-back’s sweet strike with the outside of his right boot into the top-left corner had goalkeeper Franco Armani grasping at thin air as France levelled the thrilling last-16 encounter at 2-2 shortly before the hour.

Kylian Mbappe’s quickfire brace set Les Bleus on their way to a 4-3 victory and eventual glory in the final over Croatia, but it was Pavard’s stunning effort that endured as the lasting memory of that run to lifting the trophy in Moscow.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Nacho Fernandez and Jesse Lingard all netted with spectacular efforts during the finals, with Argentina’s captain making the cut for his wonderful control and finish against Nigeria and Ronaldo gaining recognition for beating Spain’s David de Gea with a free-kick. 

But Pavard’s glorious volley – best viewed via slow-motion replay from an angle directly behind the defender – was voted as the best of the lot by fans from around the globe.

“The ball bounced up as it came to me. I didn’t even think about it. I just tried to get over it and keep it down,” Pavard told FIFA.com after the clash in Kazan.

“I was trying to hit it in the direction it came from, which is what the strikers always tell me. I didn’t think it over, and when it went in I just felt so happy.”

Pavard’s performances in Russia have seen him linked to a move away from Stuttgart, with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich said to be interested in taking the 22-year-old to the Allianz Arena.

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African All Stars Transfer News & Rumours: Alex Iwobi agrees new Arsenal deal


Alex Iwobi agrees new Arsenal deal


Arsenal star Alex Iwobi has agreed a new five-year contract worth around £70,000-a-week, according to the Sun .

Talks over a new deal began in December 2017 before Arsene Wenger’s exit but Unai Emery has assured the 22-year-old that he is in his plans at the Emirates Stadium despite interest from Lazio this summer.

The Nigeria international is expected to put pen to paper when the Gunners return from their pre-season trip to Singapore on Saturday.


Ayew set to leave Swansea for Fenerbahce


Andre Ayew is set to leave relegated Premier League club Swansea City for Turkish Super Lig side Fenerbahce, the Sun claims.

The Swans are set to offload the Ghana international who earns around £60,000-a-week in an effort to offload their books for the 2018-19 Championship season.

Ayew rejoined Swansea City on a club-record fee in January after a one-and-a-half-year stint with West Ham United.


Crystal Palace & Porto in talks for Kouyate


According to  SkySports News , Crystal Palace are discussing a £10 million summer move for Cheikhou Kouyate as they look to bolster their midfield following the departure of Yohan Cabaye.

The 28-year-old who joined the Hammers from Anderlecht in 2014 is reportedly not in Manuel Pellegrini’s plans following the arrival of Jack Wilshere.

And the Hammers are ready to cash in on the Senegal international this summer even though he still has three years left on his contract.

The Sun claims that Porto are also holding talks to sign the midfielder.


Dortmund eye Belhanda


Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Morocco international Younes Belhanda from Galatasaray, Get Football News claims.

Dortmund coach Lucian Favre is plotting a reunion with his former Nice midfielder at the Signal Iduna Park.

Belhanda could become the second Moroccan to join the Bundesliga club this summer after Achraf Hakimi completed a two-year loan move from Real Madrid.


‘Zaha perfect for Chelsea, Arsenal or Spurs’ 


Former Crystal Palace winger John Salako believes Wilfried Zaha will be a great addition for Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur. 

The Cote d’Ivoire international previously flopped at Manchester United back in 2013 before switching back to Selhurst Park where he has rebuilt his game and reputation.

See what Salako had to say on Goal!


Napoli reject €100m bid for Koulibaly


Napoli have turned down an offer worth €100 million by an unnamed English Premier League club for Kalidou Koulibaly, Calciomercato reports.

The Senegal international has attracted lots of interests from big European clubs with Chelsea being the closest but they were blocked following the capture of Maurizio Sarri and Jorginho.

The report claims that the unnamed club could have been Manchester United who possess such financial resources as they are currently in search for defensive reinforcement.


West Ham turn to Lemina


West Ham are considering a move for Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina as replacement for Pedro Obiang, according to SkySports News .

Obiang is closing in on a return to his former club Sampdoria after spending three years with the Hammers.

Lemina joined the the Saints from Juventus last summer for €17 million.


Juventus & Barcelona eye Sarr


Barcelona, Juventus and some clubs in the English Premier League have registered their interest in signing Senegal’s World Cup Ismaila Sarr, agent Thierno Seydi revealed.

The 20-year-old’s impressive showings at the world stage in Russia have drawn top European scouts to monitor and request for his availability this summer.

Check out his agent’s full comments on Goal!


Crystal Palace prepare Yaya Toure offer


Crystal Palace are interested in signing free agent Yaya Toure who left Manchester City at the end of last season, claims 90min via the Sun.

The Eagles are willing to pay the 35-year-old £100,000-a-week in an attempt to lure him to Selhurst Park.

Toure endured a torrid spell in Pep Guardiola’s squad last season and he is willing to take a pay cut in order to prove the Citizens’ boss wrong .


Barcelona eye Moussa Wague


Barcelona are plotting a swoop for Senegal international Moussa Wague following his exploits at the 2018 World Cup, Mundo Deportivo .

The Spanish La Liga champions are working to bring the 19-year-old defender from Belgian outfit Eupen to Camp Nou.


Samassekou on Lyon’s radar


Lyon are monitoring Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Diadie Samassekou over a potential transfer this summer, according to Lequipe .

The 22-year-old Mali international caught the eye of the French Ligue 1 club during last season’s Europa League semi-final fixture against Marseille.

Samassekou is expected to compete with Lucas Tousart in the Kids’ set-up.


Peter Olayinka joins Slavia Prague


Nigerian forward Peter Olayinka has joined Czech top-flight club Slavia Prague on a four-year contract from Gent.

The 22-year-old spent last season on loan at Zulte-Waregem where he returned 11 goals and 15 assists.

Check out the full story on Goal !


Chuba Akpom set for Arsenal exit


Chuba is set to leave Arsenal this summer and join Belgian top-flight club Sint-Truiden permanently in a deal worth £2 million, Mirror reports.

Akpom is one of the five players dropped by Unai Emery for the Gunners’ pre-season trip to Singapore.

The 22-year-old is in the final year of his Arsenal contract and has struggled to establish himself in the Gunners’ first-team since his competitive debut against Sunderland back in September 2013.


Leicester City target Rachid Ghezzal


Leicester City are weighing up a £4 million move for Monaco winger Rachid Ghezzal, according to Le10Sport .

The Algeria international moved to the Stade Louis II last summer but has struggled for form having managed just two goals in 35 appearances last season.

However, Leicester City’s Claude Puel is set to reunite with the 26-year-old  he coached for three seasons when he was in Lyon Academy.

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Dortmund chief willing to spend €100m to bring Lewandowski back

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke would be willing to spend €100 million (£88.8m/$116m) to bring Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski back to the club, saying: “We could handle that.”

Dortmund have spent a combined €53m on centre-back Abdou Diallo and midfielders Thomas Delaney and Marius Wolf ahead of the 2018-19 season but Watzke made it clear he would happily break the club’s transfer record to secure the services of one of Europe’s top strikers.

Lewandowski left Dortmund for Bayern in 2014 and has since scored 106 Bundesliga goals in four seasons.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness insisted the 29-year-old, who is contracted until 2021, is not for sale at any price, but Watzke would not be afraid to make a nine-figure bid for his services.

“Robert knows the business, the league, even the club and we know he would work right away,” Watzke told SportBILD.

“Only a handful of players in the world can give you this security.

“For such a player, I would be willing to pay even 100 million euros.”

Dortmund’s most expensive signing to date is Andre Schurrle, who joined for €30m from Wolfsburg in 2016, but Watzke made it clear the club would not be left behind by the rising cost of attracting the game’s best talent.

However, having seen players such as Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan rise to prominence at Signal Iduna Park in recent years, Watzke’s preference is for the club to develop its own greats.

“The players in the top segment no longer cost 50, but rather 100 million euros,” he said.

“We could handle that, too, if we absolutely want to have a player and are a thousand per cent convinced.

“But to be honest, I much prefer to create such players myself. BVB has always been strongest when developing its stars.”

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‘More than a club’? Malcom hijacking proves hypocritical Barcelona are just like everyone else

Nobody better understands the win-at-all-costs mentality of modern football than Jose Mourinho.

When the Portuguese hijacked Tottenham’s signing of Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, he added insult to injury by essentially claiming that Spurs only had themselves to blame for naively revealing that the Brazilian was in London for a medical.

“That’s the danger of medicals before contracts,” Mourinho smugly mused after wrapping up a £30m deal for the attacking midfielder. “The best thing you can do is do the medical in secret.”

Tottenham were upset by the condescension but Mourinho had a point: until the player puts pen to paper, nothing can be taken for granted. Therefore, nothing should be publicised. 

Roma have just learned this the hard way. 

On Monday afternoon, they announced on Twitter that they had reached an agreement with Bordeaux over the transfer of Malcom subject to a medical.
 
As one of the canniest operators in the transfer market, Roma’s sporting director, Monchi, knew instinctively that this was a bad idea. 

However, Bordeaux insisted that the accord be made public and the Giallorossi reluctantly ceded to their demand. After four days of what Monchi described as “intensive” negotiations, the Giallorossi just wanted to get the deal over the line.

So, the agreement was announced and the Brazilian attacker and his agent were booked on a flight to Rome at 21:00 that very evening. Malcom’s mother had even travelled to the Italian capital to greet her son upon his arrival.

But he never made it to Fiumicino airport. Bordeaux had blocked them from travelling, having received a more lucrative, 11th-hour bid from Barcelona. 

The Ligue 1 outfit had sanctioned the transfer, given Roma their word, even sent documents to Rome to be signed. But Bordeaux president Stephane Martin did not care. He told an incredulous Monchi that nothing had been signed, thus there was nothing Roma could do about it, other than raise their bid. 

Roma were willing to do so but when Monchi realised that they were being lured into a bidding war, he gave up on Malcom. Bordeaux had received a better offer from Barca (€41 million/£37m, to be precise) and that was that.

In football, as in any business, money talks; words are meaningless. The term ‘Financial Fair Play’ is as misleading as Barcelona’s motto ‘Mes que un club‘ (‘More than a club’) is now downright laughable.

Rather ridiculously, the Blaugrana still like to believe that they reside on some sort of moral high ground when it comes to what they represent and how they conduct themselves.

Malcom GFX

Of course, their defenders will argue that they were perfectly within their rights to enter the race for Malcom; that the timing of their arrival was irrelevant. 

And they are right. Roma are considering legal action against Bordeaux but Barca have broken no rules, no laws. However, the way in which they have hijacked this transfer makes a mockery of their belief that they are a club of nobility and honour. 

Indeed, their unscrupulous behaviour is surprising given Barca still hold a grudge against Real Madrid over the way in which the Blancos hijacked their deal for Alfredo di Stefano in 1953.

On the Blaugrana’s official website, the loss of Di Stefano to their bitter rivals is attributed to “a strange federative manoeuvre [by the Spanish Football Federation] with Francoist backing” – in spite of the fact that Barca made several blunders during their negotiations with Colombian outfit Millonarios, who, along with River Plate, had claimed that they held the Argentine legend’s ownership rights.

How big a role – if any – General Franco played in the ridiculous ruling that Di Stefano should be shared between the two Clasico clubs, playing one season at the Bernabeu and the next at Camp Nou, remains open to debate.

Alfredo Di Stefano Real Madrid

However, one would have imagined that given the contentious nature of the RFEF’s intervention, the whole sorry affair would have only strengthened the Catalans’ determination to never resort to such shenanigans in order to secure the signature of a player.

Yet the modern-day Barcelona have no time for laws and regulations, never mind old-fashioned ideas such as sportsmanship and fair play.

There were so many discrepancies and financial irregularities in their signing of Neymar from Santos in 2013 that Sandro Rosell resigned as club president. The following year, Barca were hit with a two-window transfer ban relating to the illegal movement of under-age players.

Neymar Barcelona Camp Nou 2013
 
Remember, this is a club that once refused to sully their shit with a sponsor. Then, they entered into an agreement with Qatar Airways, a company based in a country with a questionable human rights record, to say the least.

But then, needs must. Perhaps Barcelona just realised or accepted that this is football: the end always justifies the means. 

In order to keep up, you have to cut corners and, at the end of day, Barca are richer and more successful than they have ever been.

The sad thing is, though, that they are no longer more than a club. They are just like any other, part of the same infuriating hypocrisy.

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