Manchester City, Newcastle, West Ham and Wolves will step up their preparations for the new campaign this week when they compete in the Premier League Asia Trophy, live on Sky Sports.
The top-flight rivals have flown to China for the four-team knockout cup, with champions City facing West Ham on Wednesday July 17 (1.30pm) and managerless Newcastle tackling Wolves on the same day (11am), before the winners meet at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai on Saturday.
- Pre-season fixtures and results
Premier League Asia Trophy fixtures Wed July 17 Newcastle vs Wolves 11am Wed July 17 Man City vs West Ham 1.30pm Third-place play-off TBC 10am Final TBC 12.30pm
Who’s travelled, who’s missing and who might get a chance to impress? We take a closer look at how the four sides are shaping up ahead of the tournament…
City have taken a 27-man squad to China – Phil Foden will join his team-mates in Hong Kong next week – but they were only cleared to fly on Monday after two days of delays caused by an administrative error, meaning precious little time to overcome jetleg and acclimatise to the heat.
Guardiola vowed his side would come back even stronger after they claimed a second successive Premier League crown in 2018/19 and the £62.5m capture of Rodri from Atletico Madrid – a player long targeted as Fernandinho’s successor – appears an ominous message to their rivals.
- Rodri: Busquets-style midfielder tipped to shine
The absence of several senior players due to international commitments – Ederson, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero among them – means running the rule over a string of academy youngsters will be high on Guardiola’s agenda. Five who went to the United States last summer – Daniel Grimshaw, Lukas Nmecha, Nabil Touaizi, Iker Pozo and Luke Bolton – are involved again, but this could be crunch time.
Travelling squad: Claudio Bravo, Kyle Walker, Danilo, John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angelino, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Daniel Grimshaw, Lukas Nmecha, Nabil Touaizi, Gavin Bazunu, Iker Pozo, Tommy Doyle, Luke Bolton, Aleix Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Adrian Bernabe, Ian Poveda, Ben Knight, Alpha Diounkou.
One to watch: Fans will be especially keen to get a closer look at club-record signing Rodri but with Aguero and Jesus absent following the Copa America, keep an eye out for Nmecha, the young forward who impressed on loan at Preston last season.
Man City vs West Ham
July 17, 2019, 1:15pm
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Three wins in a row at the back end of last season secured seventh spot for Wolves and what turned out to be European qualification for the first time in almost 40 years. There is plenty of optimism that Nuno Espirito Santo can continue to bring success to the Midlands club.
As it stands, however, there have been more big names going out the door than coming in. Popular figures Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro have departed on loans, while there have been murmurs among supporters following the exit of managing director Laurie Dalrymple.
Big signings are still expected before the transfer window shuts but this competition is an opportunity for the fringe players in a small squad to make their case. After all, Wolves are in action at Molineux in the second round of Europa League qualifying just next week.
“It going to be tough because we have a very short squad – we brought a lot of boys, U18s to help us,” Nuno said ahead of the tournament. “We prepare ourselves, but at the same time we are in a different environment, so we have to be flexible, patient. The Asia Trophy is very important, a very good competition. It’s one more step in preparation for the season ahead.”
Travelling squad: Ryan Bennett, Willy Boly, Jonny Otto, Conor Coady, Theo Corbeanu, Luke Cundle, Leander Dendoncker, Niall Ennis, Ed Francis, Morgan Gibbs-White, Diogo Jota, Maximilian Kilman, Christian Marques, Joao Moutinho, Roderick Miranda, Ruben Neves, Will Norris, Taylor Perry, Rui Patricio, John Ruddy, Austin Samuels, Dion Sanderson, Terry Taylor, Adama Traore, Ruben Vinagre, Hong Wan.
One to watch: Morgan Gibbs-White was part of England’s U21 squad this summer and will want to show that he has kicked on again. He made 26 Premier League appearances last season, 21 of them coming from the bench, and will be hoping for a bigger role this season.
Tumult has reigned again on Tyneside this summer following the departures of much-loved manager Rafa Benitez and top scorer Ayoze Perez. Former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is closing in on his dream job but while Mike Ashley remains at the helm, goodwill is likely to be in short supply for any successor.
The Magpies are the only Premier League side yet to make a signing this transfer window and their options in China have been further limited by injuries and international obligations. Miguel Almiron and Christian Atsu are not involved following respective Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations duty, Florian Lejeune and DeAndre Yedlin are out with injuries and Salomon Rondon has returned to West Brom so Dwight Gayle – back in turn from the Baggies – could find himself leading the line.
Academy coaches Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn have jointly been overseeing pre-season training in recent days but despite the upheaval, captain Jamaal Lascelles has been talking up the trip.
“It’s going to be a great experience playing in a completely different country with different surroundings and environment,” he told the club’s official website. “Winning games will put a marker down and set an example for what we are going to do during the new season.”
Travelling squad: Martin Dubravka, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, Jacob Murphy, Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Yoshinori Muto, Isaac Hayden, Rolando Aarons, Federico Fernández, Javier Manquillo, Joselu, Jack Colback, Jamie Sterry, Karl Darlow, Freddie Woodman, Nathan Harker, Achraf Lazaar, Sean Longstaff, Matthew Longstaff, Owen Bailey, Kelland Watts, Tom Allan.
One to watch: Sean Longstaff remains in the spotlight – Sky sources understand Manchester United remain interested, despite the clubs’ differing valuations – while the onus will be on Lascelles to set the tone on the pitch amid apathy and anger off it.
West Ham have already kicked off their pre-season schedule, edging Austrian side SCR Altach 3-2 following a gruelling training camp in nearby Switzerland that started with three sessions a day.
A 23-man squad now heads to China and though summer signing Pablo Fornals is missing, as well as Paraguay defender Fabian Balbuena and DR Congo full-back Arthur Masuaku – the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere and Felipe Anderson are all involved, alongside academy graduates Josh Cullen and Ben Johnson.
“We know how big the Premier League in China and it has wonderful support, so to come and see it first-hand is pretty special,” captain Mark Noble told West Ham’s official website. “It’s only our second game in preseason so we’re still not fit and we need to get some minutes under our belts. We play (Man City) in our first game of the Premier League season, so it gives us a little glimpse of them early on.”
Manuel Pellegrini has signed goalkeepers Roberto and David Martin, as well as Fornals, as he looks to make tweaks to a squad that finished in the top 10 term but remains keen to add a striker, with sporting director Mario Husillos travelling to China to continue negotiations.
Travelling squad: Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell, Josh Cullen, Grady Diangana, Issa Diop, Felipe Anderson, Ryan Fredericks, Javier Hernandez, Lukasz Fabianski, Ben Johnson, Manuel Lanzini, David Martin, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Declan Rice, Roberto, Carlos Sanchez, Robert Snodgrass, Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, Pablo Zabaleta.