Written by Rohin Mehta
Barclays Premier League! These three words are synonymous to fierce rivalry, closely contested battles, dark horses, top 4 and more. It would not be wrong to say that some of the most passionate and die-hard fans belong to clubs from England. From the biggest brand in football Manchester United to recently emerged clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City to traditional footballing giants Arsenal and Liverpool, the Premier League has it all.
The Premier League is the most fiercely contested league with almost 5 to 6 clubs touted each year to win the trophy unlike any other league. The 2016-17 season is no different and we will look at the potential title contenders in brief :
credit Ungry Young Man
Surprise champions of 2015-16 season who stunned the footballing world by their sheer determination and work ethics week in week out. This season they start as defending champions and dark horses. They lost a very good player in the form of N’golo Kante to Chelsea but they have replaced him with Nempalys Mendy (time will tell if he can match the antics of Kante last season). They have brought in a few more players to strength their squad like Ahmed Musa and deadline day ripper Islam Slimani. It’s tough to say if they will emulate last year’s fairy tale or fizzle out.
Predicted Finish: Top 6
credit Paul Hudson
Every year it is deemed by the media that this year belongs to the Gunners but it has never turned out to be true in the last decade. It’s like Arsenal has forgotten that the Premier League is not given to the most attractive footballing team but to the one who wins and even wins ugly if the situation demands it. Last year was perhaps the best chance that the Gunners had to win the league but again in the second half of the season (especially February) was their downfall. Arsenal have added some fire power to their squad with Xhaka, Mustafi, Holding and Lucas Perez. If these new players can add what was missing for the last decade one can never rule Arsenal out of any competition. On their day they are simply unplayable and players like Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla make football look so beautiful.
Predicted Finish: Top 4
credit Ben Holliday
Having passed up a remarkable opportunity to win the league last year, Tottenham must now try to mount another challenge while coping with Champions League football. They may be better equipped for it overall than Leicester but another top-three finish would be quite an achievement. Pochettino has finally got his back-up striker but it remains to be seen how well Vincent Janssen adapts to the Premier League and the manager will need Victor Wanyama to be more disciplined. But the group they join is good and, most likely, still improving. Deadline day signing Moussa Sissoko will add much needed pace in their midfield. A good blend of young, experienced and disciplined players is what defines Spurs.
Predicted Finish: Top 5
credit Guts Gaming
City has left no stone unturned to forget last year’s disappointment by hiring arguably the best manger in the world Pep Guardiola. Pep brings in a wealth of experience, a formula for success and a ruthless approach to the game and style. The signing of John Stones underlined the club’s willingness to back the manager they have been waiting so long to recruit but Guardiola’s greatest challenge, perhaps, will be to re-energise the players. He inherits a squad of hugely expensive acquisitions who lost their way pretty badly. Leroy Sane, Gundogan, Bravo, Nolito clubbed with the likes of Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Sterling and David Silva makes a stunning squad. If John Stones and Bravo can wipe off the defensive issues then there is no stopping City.
Predicted Finish: Top 2
Few people have a record of hitting the ground running like Mourinho and having strengthened United in the areas that caused them the most problems last year, the Portuguese looks well placed to lead the club back to the top of the pile again.There are some potential pitfalls. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney are in decline and if the Swede is not a success at Old Trafford he may prove difficult to sideline. Barring a remarkable resurgence, the English man looks certain to be an issue and treating him with the sort of contempt shown to Bastian Schweinsteiger is unlikely to be an option. Having addressed most of they key issues that affected last year’s side, Mourinho looks set for a successful season but he was ready with Chelsea last time around as well. Time will tell if the Special One is indeed that Special.
Predicted Finish: Top 4
credit Mark Freeman
By bringing on board one of the most passionate and charismatic managers in the business Antonio Conte, Roman Abrahimovic has done all he can to take Chelsea to the heights the club achieved 2 years back. Backing Conte in the transfer market as well with the signing of N’Golo Kante which will improve the midfield and Michy Batshuayi will add to the options up front but coaxing an awful lot more out of the likes of Hazard, Costa and Fabregas will be a huge challenge for Conte. Not playing any major competition other than Premier League would be a blessing in disguise for Conte and Chelsea. Deadline day signings David Luiz and Marcos Alonso look decent additions. If all goes well Chelsea are my bet to be champions.
Predicted Finish: Champions
Liverpool Football Club :
The charismatic coach’s impact on results in the league last year was actually fairly negligible and having declared himself entirely happy with the transfer dealings, Klopp needs his side to at least re-attach themselves to the leading pack. Some seem to expect a good deal more than that. Sadio Mané will bring pace up front and Sturridge might get to contribute a good deal more, while Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip have the potential to significantly improve things at the heart of defence. Making the Champions League places though, still looks a big ask.
Predicted Finish : Top 7
Every new season brings with it new faces – new hope, new expectations, players, managers, plots, sub-plots – and along with it a refreshed optimism amongst fans and clubs. Time will say what happens but one thing is certain, it is going to be a ripper of a season with some of the best clashes and matches one hopes to witness as a fan.
Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Guts Gaming