Some people don’t like spoilers. If this describes you, you should probably stop here and enjoy the magic of the 2019/20 season as it unfolds. But others prefer to know how it all ends. Perhaps they can enjoy the ride that much more, or they simply can’t take the stress. If that’s you, read on.
The Unexpected Defense
Bernd Leno thrives in his second year at Arsenal, becoming one of the top keepers in the Premier League. He begins earning new call-ups for the German national team. Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding return from injury only to hit performance levels better than before. The pair finishes the year without new incident and form a solid partnership on the right side of the defense for the seasons ahead.
With Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi [Italy] exiting the club late on, Sokratis becomes the back line leader and has a surprisingly solid year. VAR takes him a few weeks to adjust to, but in the end he becomes the rock as new faces come in and players return to full health.
Sead Kolasinac offers a great attack option throughout the year, collecting 8 assists, but new signing Kieran Tierney gets in before the deadline, takes hold of the spot. Suddenly Arsenal’s future back line of Holding, Saliba, Tierney, and Bellerin has fans feeling excited about the club’s defense for the first time in a long time.
A Crowded, But Effective Midfield
Lucas Torreira, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock, and Matteo Guendouzi all push each other for the two starting spots in front of the back four. At times Ceballos fills in as the 10 when facing a more aggressive attacking team and quickly fills the Aaron Ramsey void.
Torreria becomes the central figure, and Arsenal look to sign Ceballos permanently after a great season. Willock and Guedouzi show well pushing Arsenal in the Europa League and both Cup competitions. Having signed Ceballos and with three other young CM options, rumors swirl of a Xhaka exit after the season.
Mesut Ozil returns to his 2015-16 form by picking up 8 goals and 18 assists. Meanwhile Henrikh Mkhitaryan offers a consistent deputy role, but Emile Smith-Rowe [who went out on loan, not sold] shows he is ready for a spot in the senior squad for 2020/21. Mkhitaryan exits in the summer.
The Golden Boot Race
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again wins the Premier League Golden Boot with 28 goals this season. He is pushed by Alexandre Lacazette (18 in the league) and even more so Nicolas Pepe (22). Reiss Nelson and Alex Iwobi thrive on the wings, creating chances, offering variety in the attack. The young pair come up big late in the season with PL starts as the main two strikers start Europa League knockout rounds.
Eddie Nketiah is loaned out, opening the door for Gabriel Martinelli. Given plenty of appearances across the Europa League group matches and Cup matches early on, he nets 12 goals across competitions.
The Competition Suffers
- Chelsea - Eden Hazard is too big of a loss, Giroud and Pedro (both 32) dip in goals, creating a massive void and pressure for the younger players. Pulisic, while bright, takes time to adjust to the Premier League. The transfer ban quickly becomes a sticking point with early season setbacks. Another new manager and style takes time and prevents Chelsea from ever collecting enough points to challenge for the title.
- Spurs - Eriksen exits, Ali injures see him in the stands for most of the year, and Mauricio Pochettino shows signs early on of wanting to leave for a bigger club. By the spring the club have announced his exit, leading to a late season dip in form and questions begin about which players will follow Pochettino. Kane finally has an off year and Tottenham aren’t able to find a way to replace the goals. Son is the club’s lone bright spot and rumors of a move to Real Madrid start by the winter.
- Manchester United - Ole Gunnar Solskjær fails to recapture his early days of excitement and winning. Paul Pogba mentally checks out in what will be his final season in Manchester. Lukaku is sold, with the club trying and failing to replace him with youth. They are unable to spend big on a new striker having overpaid, as they discover, for Harry McGuire.
- Manchester City - Having won the Premier League twice now, all of Pep’s focus turns to the Champions League. He begins using the PL as a testing ground for new ideas, hell bent on winning the CL with a completely new style, even though his team is winning early on. Convinced the false nine formation did go far enough he debuts the false front line with a 5-5-0 formation, content to rack up mind-boggling pass and possession stats. After a series of 0-0 draws, Pep announces he is burnt out once again, exits the club and winds up in MLS after a one year break.
- Liverpool - The pressure is on now, after winning the CL, the PL will be everyone’s goal. Mo Salah has a down year at the wrong time, frustrating Klopp who racks up a staggering number of cards. Often he forgets about the new rule and ends up being sent off five times. Virgil van Dijk comes back down to solid levels of performance from last year’s MVP display. They are Arsenal’s toughest competition all season, but see the Reds trip up in the final three weeks as they close out the season with Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle.
So there you have it. Unexpected, but a joyful ride for Arsenal fans around the globe. Your 2019-20 Premier League Champions.