This season’s top four race has been unlikely any other.
With four teams battling for two Champions League spots, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United all entered a torrid spell of form. They all began dropping points, picking up just two combined wins in the last four matchweeks.
However the top four is all but settled now, with Chelsea guaranteed a Champions League spot and Tottenham all but assured of one. Manchester United are now certain to miss out, while Arsenal are ultimately destined to the same fate.
With this intriguing race now at its conclusion, all four teams will start looking ahead to next season. All four managers know they can improve, but how? Here is what I believe each team needs to strengthen ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Chelsea’s weakness has been clear since the start of the season- their defence. While Maurizio Sarri’s preferred back four have produced some stellar performances, they’ve not been good enough over the whole season. David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger are not consistent enough, while Marcos Alonso’s fall from grace has been shown as his defensive ability is exploited week in week out.
The Blues have strong defensive options on loan who should certainly be recalled- Kurt Zouma has once again proven himself at Everton, while 19-year-old Reece James deserves a shot in the first team. Sarri desperately needs to invest in his defence, with fresh, young players needed at Stamford Bridge.
As well as the defence, Chelsea should sort out their wingers. While their striker options are not any better, there is a far greater focus the wide men with Eden Hazard on the verge of leaving. Developing youngsters like Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi is already a good start, but holding onto the latter is a key priority for the Blues this summer.
Although Tottenham have had some remarkable results this season, 13 league defeats is a concern. Their defence is probably the only one out of these four teams that is up to scratch, but instead the midfield is where Mauricio Pochettino needs to invest.
Although Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko are excellent as holding midfielders and Christian Eriksen is outstanding in attack, without them Spurs don’t look the same. For the north Londoners, it’s not about improving on these players but strengthening the squad depth around these positions.
It is also crucial to sign a new backup striker for star man Harry Kane. Fernando Llorente has been playing in the England captain’s absence, and frankly it’s not the same. Pochettino needs to invest in a young forward with lots of potential, signing someone who can be relied on with confidence in Kane’s absence.
Defence, Attacking Midfielders
Arsenal’s defence has been frankly embarrassing this season. Conceding 50 goals in the Premier League is astonishingly poor, and with players like Shkodran Mustafi at the heart of Unai Emery’s defence there is need for improvement.
Emery needs to be intelligent in the summer transfer window, offloading players who are not good enough and bringing in experienced defenders. It won’t be easy, but without any significant improvement in their back line Arsenal are destined for failure.
It should also be a priority to strengthen his attacking midfield options. Although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have been fantastic, Emery must sign someone to replace Aaron Ramsey and contribute like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Özil used to do.
While Chelsea and Arsenal’s defence haven’t been up to standard, they aren’t as poor as Manchester United’s. Their 52 goals conceded is the worse out of anyone in the top nine, with only the 11th best defence in the league- it has been shambolic.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows that he has a huge job on his hands this summer, and that he seriously needs to change his defensive options. Ashley Young and Phil Jones are truly past their prime, while Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw cannot maintain their good form.
Solskjaer also needs to work on his midfield. United’s poster boy Paul Pogba is rumoured to be leaving Old Trafford this summer, and with a lack of stability and individual quality in the middle of the pitch there lies a crucial transfer window ahead.