Johannesburg - With the start of the new English Premier League season just around the corner, speculation is rife over how new managers Unai Emery, Maurizio Sarri and Manuel Pellegrini will fare in their respective clubs.
READ: Sarri confident Willian will stay at Chelsea
Arsenal fans and neutrals alike will be eager to see how Emery gets on after taking the bold step into the void left by Arsène Wenger, who finally quit the club after an incredible 22 years.
Wenger in no way left a sinking ship though, as he laid some groundwork for Emery by releasing some “dead wood”.
This left the former Paris Saint-Germain mentor to focus on strengthening his side, and he has done so by bringing in defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
The new man also added some midfield guile in Lucas Torreira as well as cover in the goalkeeping department in Bayer Leverkusen stopper Bernd Leno. Completing his off-season signings, at the time of writing, is a young French midfielder, Mattéo Guendouzi, who cost £7 million (R121 million) from Lorient.
It should be a case of minor alterations in team selections for Emery, but with a heavy focus on getting the best out of Arsenal’s underperforming stars.
Speaking at his unveiling, the 46-year-old said: “I believe in the players we have here. We can grow with these players and the objective is to work hard with these talented players, to work to be a candidate for all the titles in the future.”
Sarri, meanwhile, takes over from Antonio Conte at Chelsea, having made just two signings so far – Napoli’s Brazilian midfielder Jorginho, who cost £57 million, and former England goalkeeper Robert Green from Huddersfield.
Players at the club are already raving about Sarri’s methods, and a few tweaks to his side should see them competing at the top of the standings again. Chelsea failed in their Premier League title defence, following the sale of Diego Costa and the disruptions subsequent.
A top striker signing could be key to Chelsea’s chances of catching the likes of Manchester City and United this season. Sarri’s only other option is to improve the effectiveness of his current crop of frontmen, which included Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.
Sarri loves scoring goals, and, in his three years at Napoli, his side netted 251 times. While he has not won a trophy in his relatively short career, the Italian’s style of play should have Chelsea fans salivating.
However, West Ham fans may well be the most excited ahead of the new season as they watch in awe the transformation that Pellegrini has made since his appointment in May.
A former Premier League winner with Manchester City, where he spent three seasons between 2013 and 2016, the Chilean, who has already signed seven players, has suggested his transfer business is not done yet.
He said: “It depends which players will not continue in the club and also on the options we have to replace them. So the sporting director and myself as manager have to work very hard to be absolutely sure that we have the squad that we need for the Premier League.”
All three clubs have been hard at work in the pre-season, recording impressive results against some of Europe’s top teams.
But any manager worth his salt will know that the true test of their credentials will only be known when the real action kicks off next weekend. – TEAMtalk Media