Who wants the title and who is anxious?

12 Aug

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Superstar managers set to do battle in Premier League

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is expecting a “great battle” and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is feeling “more anxiety” but, at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho is only targeting the title.

Mourinho is not the only top manager with big ambitions going into the first weekend of the Premier League season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “We want to fight for everything”.

But Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has a different target, urging his players to show “soul” in their opener.

All five managers were questioned about their title ambitions in their media conferences on Friday after Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri played down his side’s hopes of defending their crown.

Ranieri, manager of surprise champions Leicester, said on Thursday that there is more chance of aliens landing in London than the Foxes defending their title.

Mauricio Pochettino, who took Tottenham to third place last season, had also already spoken.

Pochettino feels being in the Champions League will make things tougher for his team, saying: “It’s a big challenge.”

We have to say we want to win the title – Mourinho

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The United boss did not specify which of his rivals he was talking about, but claimed other managers are scared of saying they can win the title at the same time as laying out his own intentions.

“Many more think the same way but they are afraid to say it,” Mourinho said, as his side prepare to take on Bournemouth on Sunday.

“They prefer to hide and play defensively with words. That is not our way. It is not Manchester United.

“Manchester United have to say from day one they want to win the title. Maybe we don’t win. Maybe at end of the season we are happy to finish in the top four.

“But, in this moment, when I speak to you, and when I do that I speak to my players too, I cannot speak differently.”

Arsenal want to finish first this time – Wenger

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Wenger did not duck talk of the title, and said his side’s aim is to improve on last season’s second-place finish.

However, the 66-year-old Frenchman did admit to feeling “even more anxiety” as he tries to win a first title since 2004, with Liverpool their first opponents.

“The top clubs have new ambition so it promises to be a very exciting season and difficult one as well,” Wenger said.

“The new managers will be interesting but the quality on the pitch will be the most important thing and let’s not forget we finished second,” Wenger added.

“We need to skip one more place. The last four years we have been fourth, third and second, and we want to make progress again.”

There can only be one lucky person – Klopp

Mourinho was not the only manager to talk about his rivals.

Asked about Wenger’s comments that Liverpool are title contenders, the Reds not being in Europe and his aims for the season, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp joked: “Three questions in one.

“Ok, first of all, Arsene Wenger is a smart person so it makes sense to try to bring a lot of names to the screen when talking of title contenders.

“We are not looking for excuses. There is nothing positive about not being involved in European football apart from having more time to train.

“It’s exciting for everybody having these big names [managers] in the league. If they all have one target and that’s winning the league then there can only be one lucky person. What does that mean for the others – they fail or they still do a good job?”

Chelsea are ready and aiming high – Conte

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Former Italy and Juventus boss Conte is one of seven new managers in the top flight for the 2016-17 campaign – and is not expecting an easy ride from day one.

Chelsea start the season with a home game against West Ham on Monday and Conte said: “To start with a derby is tough but I’m excited. We will try to fight and do our best to win the game because it’s important to start in the right way.

“I think this league is fantastic but very tough. There are many great clubs who can fight to win the title, fantastic players with great talent.

“There are also good managers, it will be a great battle and I’m excited. My players are also excited. We have a good situation to fight with the others and we’re ready.”

I won’t accept it if we don’t play with soul – Guardiola

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A party atmosphere is expected at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with City preparing a special welcome for Guardiola in his first competitive match in charge.

Guardiola is unsure how well his team will play against Sunderland but says he will enjoy himself if his players show some character.

“To create something you need time, to create ideas to attack, but for soul we don’t need time,” Guardiola said.

“On Saturday I don’t know if we’re going to play good but I won’t accept if we don’t play with soul. That’s what I’m looking for from our team. I want our fans in the stadium to see that. I want my players to play their football with pleasure inside.”

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