Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
The Premier League Big Four - What to Expect
Author: Victor Olorunfemi
What to Expect From the Traditional Big 4
If you grew up following the premier league as I did then you are familiar with the concept of the Big-4. The idea was that no matter what happens over the season, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United would occupy the top-4 positions in the table. That concept held true for years in the early 2000s until the rise of Manchester City and most recently Tottenham would turn the Big 4 to the Big 6. However, the Big 4 are still alive and healthy with Chelsea winning the 2017 Premier league title and Liverpool reaching the 2018 Champions League Final. This post is an extensive preview of the Big 4 as we head into the 2018-19 Premier League Season.
Wenger is finally out but is that necessarily good news? With Wenger the club had an identity, a way of doing things that started with the first team and extended all the way to the coaching staff. His replacement, Unai Emery, comes to the club after two disappointing champions league campaigns with PSG and will have to work wonders to challenge for a top 4 finish.
Speaking of the roster, the Gunners are in trouble with arguably the worst roster of the top 6 teams. Defensively the team can't seem to stay out of its own way, giving away one poor goal after another. And while the additions of Sokratis Papastathopoulos (say that three times fast) and Bernd Leno should help shore things up defensively there are still some big question marks. The midfield is solid but still well behind the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea. Goal scoring will not be a problem with Lacazette and Aubameyang leading the lines but will it be enough to improve on last season's 6th placed finish?
The Europa League might be Arsenal's saving grace. Emery is an Europa League guru with three Europa league titles to his name, the Europa League will once again be Arsenal's best opportunity to return to the Champions League.
Sarriball is invading the premier league and with it comes a playing style that goes toe to toe with Guardiola's in terms of style and beauty. Guardiola went as far as to say, "For somebody like me, who loves watching games at home on the sofa, Napoli are spectacular and his brand of football is a joy to watch." That is the kind of football Chelsea are expected to play and by bringing his midfield dynamo, Jorginho, along with him Sarri could take the premier league by storm.
The roster should be good enough but the only question is how long will it take for the players to adapt to a more attacking style of play after two years of relatively defensive football under Conte.
If all goes well, Chelsea should challenge for a title but it might take a full season to fully adapt to Sarriball.
Mourinho is back for a third season and this might be his last if he cannot secure a trophy. The problem is Mourinho can't seem to get the best of his most influential player in World Cup winner Paul Pogba. It's simple, when Pogba plays well so do United.
Where Pogba goes, United follows. And while the addition of Alexis Sanchez for a full season and the growth of Romelu Lukaku should help, it does not address the team's biggest problem. Defensively the team leaves a lot to be desired which forces Mourinho to play a more defensive style to try and hide the squad's lack of quality defensively which then restricts the team's best players offensively. There is no easy fix but United need to add quality defensively before challenging the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
This could be it for Mourinho, is he losing his touch as a coach as the footballing world transitions to a different style of play?
Heavy metal football is back. Although last season resulted in another champions league final loss for Klopp there is no question that he finally has his Liverpool squad playing the type of football that he wants.
With an improvement in the goal keeping department and an upgrade in midfield by adding arguably the best goalkeeper in the Serie A along with arguably the best player in all of the Bundesliga, Liverpool could make a claim for the premier league title. The only real question mark is finding a worthy center back partner for Virgil van Dijk but with Dejan Lovren helping Croatia to the World Cup final he might be the center back Liverpool need after all. Mo Salah might take a step back in the goal scoring department but Liverpool should still have enough quality to put in the goals at an impressive rate.
Liverpool won't end up in another champions league final but they could end up with a premier league title.
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