Calum Chinchen analyses the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, giving you some top tips and insight along the way!
Defending Champions Leicester City will have to juggle Champions League action with Premier League games, something that will be a million miles from their comfort zone.
It’s fair to say that Leicester have a lack of squad depth at present. Take away their unbelievable commitment and the main reason for the Foxes title success last season was keeping key players fit.
Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy missed just four Premier League games between them last season, with Mahrez and Vardy sharing a staggering 41 goals along the way.
However, with Kante having already departed, Mahrez reportedly looking for a move and at least an extra six games to be played during the early months – we see it being an uphill battle for Claudio Ranieri’s side, and don’t forecast them finishing inside the top six this season.
Pep Guardiola will manage in the Premier League for the first time this season, after he replaced Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City boss over the summer.
Guardiola’s new side are the 9/4 favourites in this season’s Premier League winner market, and the Spaniard will be looking to win a league title in his debut season for the third time in his short managerial career.
Despite their disappointing 2015/16 campaign, Guardiola has inherited a hugely talented squad, adding the likes of Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan to that impressive unit since his arrival.
Make no mistakes, Sergio Aguero is still Manchester City’s key man. The Argentine managed an impressive 24 goals in an injury hit last campaign, which saw him miss eight league games. In fact, since arriving in the Premier League, Aguero (above) has only exceeded 30 league appearances in a single season on two occasions.
In our eyes, Guardiola’s side fully deserve their favourites tag, and we see them lifting the famous Premier League trophy come May – particularly if a certain Mr Aguero can stay fit!
Manchester United are the 16/5 second favourites for this season’s Premier League crown.
Winning last season’s FA Cup wasn’t enough to save Louis Van Gaal’s job and he was replaced with the ever controversial Jose Mourinho over the summer.
Mourinho (below) has bought in a wealth of big names since being appointed, and despite paying way over the odds in transfer fees, agent payments and wages, there is no doubting that Zlatan Ibrahimović, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will improve United’s squad.
Like his former manager and verbal sparring partner, Guardiola, this campaign will be Ibrahimović’s first in English football. The Swede is a 8/1 shot to be Premier League top scorer, and he has every chance, especially if Wayne Rooney is employed in his favoured number ten position.
Chelsea will be looking to improve on last year’s horror show in the Premier League. During their dismal title defence, the West Londoners managed just 12 wins en-route to a disappointing tenth place finish.
This prompted Roman Abramovich to appoint former Juventus and Italy boss, Antonio Conte as the club’s new manager. During his five years with Juve, Conte (below) managed to win the Serie A title on an impressive three occasions.
Conceding goals was Chelsea’s main issue last season. The Blues conceded a staggering 53 goals, and while many may point the finger at their ageing back four, the more knowledgeable football fan would blame the lack of midfield cover.
Nemanja Matic was nothing short of awful during his little playing time last season, with his mistakes and lack of positional sense often placing his back four under massive pressure. This was obviously common knowledge to the new Chelsea manager, who splashed out over £30m on N’Golo Kante from Leicester City not long after his arrival.
There is no doubt in our minds that Chelsea will be back in title contention this season, especially with the signing of Kante – a player who never seems to leave his defence exposed.
While it seems short, their 4/7 price for a top four finish is looking like free money to us.
In our minds, it is a formality that Arsenal will join Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs in next year’s Champions League, however will that be enough to keep their fans happy?
The answer is a resounding…NO!
While Arsenal supporters have every right to feel aggrieved at not winning a Premier League title for over 10 years, they should remember that it could be a lot worse. Let’s not forget, the Gunners have qualified for the Champions League in each of the last 18 seasons and were FA Cup winners in two of the last three years.
Olivier Giroud (above) is a fine centre forward and there is no doubting his obvious qualities, however he seems to struggle when playing as the lone forward. Giroud prefers to operate alongside a faster, more goal driven front man, which was evident at Euro 2016, where his link-up play with Antoine Griezmann set pulses racing.
However, if Arsene Wenger is going to continue with the same system as in recent years, then Giroud just isn’t the man for the job. In our mind, Wenger either needs to play Alexis Sanchez beside the Frenchman in a 4-4-2 system, or replace him for a more complete and dynamic forward.
The central defensive position has also been a problem for the Gunners, with Laurent Koscielny in real need of a new partner. Per Mertesacker is a leader with great positioning, however he is far too slow for the Premier League these days, and as for Gabriel, he is simply nowhere near good enough.
Granit Xhaka arrived for big money in the summer, and like Kante at Chelsea, we expect his combative style to provide some well needed protection for the Arsenal back four.
There is no doubting that any side containing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez (above) should be challenging for the title, but until Arsenal address their issues at centre back and centre forward, they will just have to settle for a top four spot.
Liverpool were arguably the most inconsistent side in the Premier League last season.
Despite some fine away victories against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, the Mersysiders eventually finished in eighth position after losing 12 games and conceding 50 goals in the Premier League.
With Christian Benteke looking almost certain to leave, and Daniel Sturridge’s constant injury battles, there is no doubting that Jürgen Klopp (below) needs to invest in a top striker if his side are going to challenge for Champions League football this season.
Liverpool are a 6/4 shot to finish in the top four, and unless consistency levels are increased, we don’t see Champions League qualification being likely.
Tottenham fans will still be reeling after last season’s final game. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were thrashed at already relegated Newcastle – a result that caused them to fall below their bitter rivals Arsenal for yet another season.
Despite his dire Euro 2016 performances, we still fancy Harry Kane to have a successful season at White Hart Lane. Kane (below) is the heartbeat of the current Tottenham side, and his link up play with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli always seems to result in clear goal scoring opportunities. Considering Sergio Aguero’s recent injury troubles, Kane’s top scorer price of 7/1 looks like real value.
When it comes to Tottenham, we just feel as though they missed their chance of success last season. With their Arsenal curse still in place and the likes of Man United and Chelsea adding real quality, we see Spurs struggling for a Champions League qualification spot, and 11/10 for a top four finish looks far from enticing to us.
If anyone is going to challenge the top six this season, then we see it being either Everton or West Ham.
Ronald Koeman made the switch to Goodison Park over the summer, and there is no doubting his managerial capabilities.
Despite a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, Romelu Lukaku is still vital for the Toffees, and they will need to keep hold of him if they are going to challenge for a European spot.
John Stones looks certain to join Manchester City for a mind blowing fee, and while that won’t bother too many Evertonians, getting an adequate replacement is still going to be vital.
Slaven Bilic has worked wonders since taking over at West Ham, guiding the club to an impressive seventh place finish last season. Bilic hasn’t rested on his laurels since, and has arguably done the best business of any Premier League manager so far this summer.
Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli both arrived on free transfers, while Gokhan Tore was bought to the club on an initial season long loan deal.
It also looks like Dimitri Payet (above) will be staying at the club, which will delight Hammers fans, particularly after his wonderful Euro 2016 campaign.
Southampton, Stoke and Crystal Palace all look near certainties for a mid-table finish. While all three sides have far too much depth to be considered for relegation, each of the clubs seem to lack the quality required for European qualification.
In terms of the newly promoted sides, Middlesbrough look the most equipped to fight relegation.
Manager Aitor Karanka (below) has worked wonders in the transfer window, adding Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes and Antonio Barragan to a squad that in our minds, was already ready for the Premier League.
Hull and Burley were also promoted last season, but we see their fight against relegation being far more difficult.
In truth, neither club have added much Premier League quality to their already paper thin squads, and it would surprise if these two sides were playing in the second tier again next season.
Bournemouth are a side that worry us this season. The Cherries are 16/5 to be relegated from the Premier League, which seems like value, particularly when you mention these fatal three words – second season syndrome.
Eddie Howe (below) may have spent big in the summer, but he has failed to bring in anyone with real Premier League experience. Brad Smith and Jordan Ibe both arrived from Liverpool, however, the two men have less than 50 top flight appearances between them.
Matt Ritchie was Bournemouth’s key man last season, however he departed for Newcastle over the summer.
Watford, West Brom and Swansea all had disappointing campaigns last year, and all three sides will need to improve if they are going to avoid relegation and climb the Premier League table.
Sunderland have become the masters of last minute relegation survival over the last few years, with Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce all rescuing the Black Cats in the previous three campaigns.
As you all will know, Allardyce departed the Stadium of Light to take the England job a few weeks ago, with David Moyes being appointed as his replacement. Moyes will undoubtedly be looking to settle some scores after a wretched spell at Manchester United and if his new side manage to start well, then there is absolutely no reason why they can’t reach mid-table security.
That said, the jury is out on whether Sunderland can avoid another relegation scrap if they are in trouble come May.
WINNER: MAN CITY @ 9/4
TOP SCORER: HARRY KANE @ 7/1
RELEGATION: BOURNEMOUTH @ 16/5
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