FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE THINGS FOR 2019

New faces on the pitch and in the dugout, the introduction of technology, a battle for the title and the national team to continue growing would all benefit the Premier League.

Faith in youth

There is some exciting, young English talent on the fringes of the Premier League’s leading clubs — Phil Foden at Manchester City, Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster, Ethan Ampadu of Chelsea and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal to name just a few.

Hopefully more will follow Harry Winks’ path at Tottenham Hotspur and break into the first team on a regular basis.

Coaching representation

Sol Campbell’s appointment as Macclesfield Town manager in late November brought the number of BAME Coaches [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] in England’s four tiers to eight — out of 92.

A version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule was introduced in the Football League at the start of 2018 but if there has been an improvement in representation, it’s happening at a glacial pace. Will 2019 be any better?

Better by VAR

The Premier League will introduce Video Assistant Referees after performing non-public tests for during the first part of the 2018-19 season, and the Carabao Cup has had VAR in selected matches too.

VAR is to be rolled out across the top flight for 2019-20 and with it should come an end to serious refereeing mistakes — and the habit of struggling managers blaming officials for their own team’s failings.

England continue progression

One of the biggest positives of 2018 in English football was the performance of the England team — not just reaching the final four of the World Cup, but the way they did it.

Gareth Southgate’s young charges largely won over a cynical, jaded fan-base by playing enterprising football with a confidence that stopped short of arrogance. They should go from strength-to-strength in 2019.

A real title race

The Premier League doesn’t have the same predictability problem as the Bundesliga or Serie A, but that’s not to say everything is rosy.

The last five seasons have produced three different winners — Manchester City and Chelsea twice, Leicester City once — but only City’s win in 2013-14 was a real race as they beat Liverpool by two points. A to-the-wire contest would be nice.

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