Let the mind games begin: Jose Mourinho vs Jurgen Kloppby Jack Kitson / 25 July 2017, 10:19Tweet
The 2017/18 Premier League season may still be an agonising two-and-a-half-weeks away but the mind games have already started between rivals Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, as they prepare to lock horns with the likes of Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, and Mauricio Pochettino in what promises to be an intriguing title race.
Last season Conte’s Chelsea waltzed to glory as the Italian became the ninth manager to hoist the Premier League title.
The Blues can be backed at 7/2 to successfully defend their crown, behind favourites Man City, while Mourinho’s United are bidding to mount a serious challenge this term after only registering a 6th place finish last season - a whopping 24 points behind champions Chelsea - whereas Klopp’s Liverpool are out at 12/1 to strike gold for the first time in the Premier League era.
Mourinho, being Mourinho, has fired the first shots ahead of the rapidly approaching campaign after taking aim at Klopp's Liverpool, insisting that the Reds will find things difficult this season as European football returns to Anfield, which he believes will hinder the club’s league form.
Last season Liverpool, like Chelsea, weren’t involved in either the Champions League or the Europa League, but after grabbing 4th spot they can look forward to making their return to the showpiece spectacle that is the Champions League.
However, the Reds are not yet guaranteed a place in the group stages, as they must first get through the play-off round, with the draw scheduled for 4th August.
Klopp has refused to be stung by Mourinho’s degrading comments, swatting away the dig:
"Why should I talk about Manchester United? Jose is talking about us, yes. We had a season of what Man United had the year before. I don’t know if anybody asked us how it felt."
Instead, Klopp redirected the focus onto Conte’s Chelsea, insisting the Italian could struggle next term as Chelsea also return to European football after a one-year absence.
Both Mourinho and Klopp have bolstered their respective squads, with Mourinho splashing the cash on Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof, while Klopp has lured over Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson, and Dominic Solanke, however you can bet your bottom dollar that neither manager is finished in the summer transfer window.
In terms of pre-season, Liverpool hoisted the Premier League Asia trophy after wins over Crystal Palace and Leicester, while Man Utd have conjured up four wins on the spin, which includes a 2-0 victory over rivals Man City and a penalty shoot-out triumph over Real Madrid.
Liverpool head to Watford on the opening day of the season, whereas United begin their campaign at home to West Ham.