With the new Premier League season in its infancy, fans of each club will get to see their side’s strongest XI, and start dreaming of where that talented crop can take them.
However, it is when the campaign is truly in full swing, and injuries begin to become a factor that the title favourites will become more obvious.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top flight’s heavyweights’ second XI:
While most sides would kill for a front two like Chelsea’s, there are serious concerns about the strength of their back four. Kurt Zouma is the only one that has been put in their natural position, with central midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and winger Juan Cuadrado forced to fill in.
With a second side like this, you wonder how the Gunners are not automatically favourites for the title. The midfield – including wingers Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott – is particularly impressive for a supposed second-string. Like Chelsea, the concern is the back four, as inexperience often brings mistakes.
The Red Devils’ offering is arguably the most solid in defence and in midfield, with plenty of international caps on show. However, the issue with this side is the quality of the two strikers. Javier Hernandez spent last year out on loan, while James Wilson has yet to enjoy a prolonged run in the side. That midfield is pretty special though.
While there may be concerns surrounding the centre-back pairing based on their efforts last season, this side offers a surprising amount of quality. Daniel Sturridge may be injury-prone, but is unquestionably one of the best finishers in the Premier League when fit. Roberto Firmino was one of the best players in the Bundesliga last season, and is unlucky to find himself in the same position as Philippe Coutinho.
Second XI champions verdict: Liverpool
As Chelsea boast an incredibly inexperienced back four, with three of their side playing out of position, and as Manchester United’s front two is unlikely to be leading any goalscoring charts in the near future, the battle really comes down to Liverpool and Arsenal. Both sides have questionable back fours, but the amount of goals in the Reds’ front four would surely see them come out on top.
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