The Fun As Hell Teams: Our 2017-18 Premier League Preview, Pt. 2

The Fun As Hell Teams: Our 2017-18 Premier League Preview, Pt. 2
From Deadspin - August 11, 2017

My colleague Patrick Redford already laid out which Premier League clubs to watch when youre trying to take a nap; so unless you enjoy soccers equivalent of eating your way through a tub of raw broccoli, steer clear of those guys (except Everton) and allow me to tell which clubs are going to be fun as hell, and thus actually worth your time.


The Pool Boys already had plenty of goal scorerslast season they racked up 77 goals, fourth-best in the leaguebut in June, they went ahead and bought Mohamed Salah from AS Roma for 35 million. The Egyptian international is dazzlingly fast and, especially when paired with Liverpools most lethal attacker Sadio Mane, hes going to leave defenses in shreds.

Theres also Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi, both of whom contributed double digit goals to last seasons haul. And then adding to the embarrassment of riches, theres winger Philippe Coutinho, who was the clubs leading goal-scorer last season; and 19-year-old Dominic Solanke, who still has a lot to prove but is already being heralded as one of Englands next best hopes.

Even without their midfield marshall Adam Lallana, whos out until October with a thigh injury, Liverpools attacking abilities are scary good. Just look what Lucas and Emre Can teamed up to do at the end of last season.

This is a team that believes in the virtue of the 4-3 victory, and refuses to concern itself with traditional ideas like dont have your players spend the entire game sprinting at full speed and try to play defense. Led by the trendily bespectacled Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool plays a style of soccer known as the gegenpress, which means their attackers are constantly pressing opponents as soon as they lose the ball. This puts as**tload of pressure on opposing defenses, and creates turnovers deep in enemy territory that lead to pretty goals.

Liverpool are clinging tightly to Coutinho despite Barecelonas best efforts to pry him away, and if they do end up losing him that will certainly put a damper on their title hopes. They have also been intent on signing Dutch international Virgil van Dijk, but those efforts appear to have stalled over a possible breach in procedure. With jughead James Milner mostly manning the defense, van Dijks services wouldve been a boost to the back line, but as the maxim goes, the best defense is a good offense, and Liverpool have plenty of that.

Manchester City

City manager Pep Guardiolaemployed a possession-heavy, attack-focused plan last year that resulted in a disappointing third-place finish in the league and an early Champions League exit. City pressed the ball and played a high line in an effort to smother opponents and score as many goals as possible, but this strategy too often left the back line scrambling and failing to deal with counter attacks. In his second season, Pep might be softening this approach; hes at least splashed some money around to shore up the defense.

City replaced sometimes brilliant but many times head-scratchingly bad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo withBenficas Ederson. I say unfortunately because its truly a spectacle to behold watching a world-class athlete derp his way out of a starting position. So Bravo likely wont be around to hate, but luckily for those jonesing for some City schadenfreude, John Stones, the erstwhile Everton lad who looks the part of a heroic English footballer more than he is one, is always good for a couple major bungles in front of his own goal. In addition to Ederson, City brought on right back Kyle Walker from Tottenham and Benjamin Mendy from Monaco to join stalwart Vincent Company on the back line.

Like Liverpool, City have a disgusting wealth of goal scorers in Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Tour, Leroy San, and Sergio Agero. They will play some of the best attacking soccer in the league, and should be in good position to win the whole damn thing if the defense doesnt once again succumb to the pressure created by those all-out attacks. Anyway, watch this team if you want to see lots and lots of spectacular goals; they might score 15 against Brighton & Hove Albion to kick things off.

Manchester United

All the way down on the other end of the coaching spectrum, far away from Guardiola, theres Jose Mourinho. The two preeminent managers of a generationare coaching against each other once again in the leagues most ferocious rivalryits the stuff TV producers dream of, and at least last season, the Manchester derbies certainly got the Hollywoodtreatment. The tension is fun if fading, but thankfully theres a new duo at United to add some intrigue this season: Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.

After languishing at Everton for another mediocre year, Lukaku was out the door before the season even ended. Pogba, whom he met when they were both teenage phenoms, did his part to help broker a deal, and after weeks of speculation, Lukaku officially joined Manchester United for 85 million. If their on-field chemistry is anything close to their off-field friendship, expect Pogba and Lukaku to put together some bangers this season.

Heres some Instagram evidence of Paul and Rom getting up to BFF shenanigans:

If all goes well, these two should make for a fantastic one-two punch on the field. Lukaku managed to score 25 league goals for Everton last season despite rarely sharing the field with a midfielder who could get him a decent pass. Pogba, on the other hand, wasnt quite the world-destroying midfield force many expected him to be when United broke the bank for him last summer. But the arrival of Nemanja Mati should do a lot to shore up the defensive midfield, freeing Pogba to get a little higher up the pitch and get creative with his large and skilled buddy. If Pogba and Lukaku find their chemistry, the rest of the league is in trouble.


With big English galoot Harry Kane bringing home the Golden Boot again, Dele Alli doing things like this, Mousa Dembl keeping the midfield humming, and the team making a thrilling if unsuccessful push at the title, Tottenham were one of the most fun teams in the league last season. And despite signs of discord from at least one playerMauricio Pochettinos currently injured golden boy Danny Rose signaled hes looking for a way out, orjust pressuring ownership for more (deserved) moneythe Hotspur have a decent shot at improving on their second-place finish from last season and winning the league. And as everyone knows, winning is fun.



West Ham


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