The Premier League’s hotly-anticipated kick-off is just days away, with each club hoping their pre-season campaign will have them in the best possible shape for next weekend’s opening fixtures.
The top six look likely to continue their dominance of the division, and each will be hoping to land silverware this season. The league’s leading sides have endured contrasting fortunes throughout the close-season, but several stars have been in impressive form.
Here is one player from each top six club that has impressed in pre-season…
Arsenal – Joe Willock
The youngster has made a big impression during the summer, with the club’s fanbase urging Unai Emery to give the teenager his chance next season.
The 19-year-old was introduced as a substitute during the club’s Europa League final defeat last season and has made 17 first-team appearances since his debut in 2017.
Despite the arrival of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, Arsenal’s midfield options look weak following Aaron Ramsey’s departure and Willock will hope to be given the opportunity to fill the void.
The academy graduate has demonstrated his vast potential during pre-season, including a stand-out performance against Spanish champions Barcelona.
Chelsea – Ross Barkley
Could this be the season Barkley finally realises his potential? The 25-year-old was tipped to reach the top from a young age, and whilst the England international has developed into a fine talent he has perhaps not reached the heights expected.
The former Everton midfielder has been Chelsea’s leading light during the pre-season campaign, shining in a more attacking role under new manager Frank Lampard.
Playing as the central creative talent in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Barkley has shone, scoring goals and taking over the club’s set-pieces. Barkley is yet to truly establish himself as a key figure in a Chelsea shirt since his move from Merseyside, but given more freedom by Lampard, he could be set for a stand-out season.
Liverpool – Rhian Brewster
Liverpool’s decision not to sign a replacement for the departed Daniel Sturridge indicated Jurgen Klopp’s faith in the teenage striker, with Brewster ready to make a first-team impression following a frustrating period of injury.
Brewster won the Golden Boot in England’s U17 World Cup winning team two years ago, and now looks set to follow the likes of international teammates Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi in establishing himself as a Premier League player.
The 19-year-old began Liverpool’s pre-season schedule in fine form, scoring four goals in three games before seeing his minutes restricted in the later fixtures.
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Brewster will be given his opportunity at some stage of the season, the teenager must now show he can take it.
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne
It is perhaps a frightening prospect for the rest of the Premier League that Manchester City were able to win an unprecedented domestic treble without being regularly able to call upon the services of their Belgian midfielder.
The 28-year-old made just 19 league appearances in an injury-plagued season, returning to be named Man of the Match in City’s record-equalling 6-0 FA Cup final victory over Watford.
The midfielder remains one of the Premier League’s finest talents and has shone during the club’s pre-season campaign, being named as the best player during City’s Community Shield victory over Liverpool on Sunday.
Unlucky to miss out to Mohamed Salah for Player of the Year in 2017/18, a fully fit De Bruyne could prove an influential figure once again this season.
Manchester United – Mason Greenwood
Manchester United have a long history of producing young talent from their academy, with teenager Greenwood the latest to cause excitement amongst the club’s fanbase.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said the 17-year-old is in contention to start their opening fixture at home to Chelsea next Sunday, the teenager having shown he is ready for first-team football during the club’s pre-season tour.
A versatile forward who is equally adept with either foot, Greenwood scored 34 goals in 34 appearances for the club’s U18 side last season and has handled the step-up to senior football well, scoring against both Leeds and Inter Milan during the close season.
United’s right-wing has long been a problem position, could Greenwood be the man to solve the issue this season?
Tottenham – Harry Kane
The England captain registered his lowest goal tally since becoming a regular at Tottenham last season, with injuries restricting the forward’s prolific influence.
17 goals in 28 appearances was a fine total, though Spurs will hope their talisman can remain injury-free this season as they finally bid to win silverware under Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs have been in impressive form and Kane has looked sharp during pre-season, scoring against both Real Madrid and Juventus, the latter being a stunning last-minute winner from around the half-way line.
After winning consecutive Golden Boots in 2016 and 2017, Kane is likely to be amongst the contenders for the accolade again should his troublesome ankles remain healthy.