English Premier League 2016/2017

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The English Premier League

The English Premier League starts on Saturday, August the 13th and we think it’s going to be a cracker!

Last season was quite spectacular with Leicester pulling off the unlikeliest of wins. Strangely their run started in the season prior when they pulled themselves off the bottom of the premier league but all of that is history and we’re looking ahead.

The new season promises a much tighter affair. The usual suspects should all be in the mix and we can expect Tottenham to be competitive, maybe Everton too. Chelsea’s mutiny is over after the players forced Mourinho to part ways with the club, one need only look at the string of results immediately after his departure to see that the dressing room wasn’t prepared to let him succeed.

Both Manchester clubs have new managers/head coaches. Liverpool’s Klopp has a season of English football behind him and has bought some players, and let a fair few go too so let’s take a close look at the contenders. But first we’ll rank the teams we expect to see relegate again at the end of the season, the mid-table teams and then finally we’ll get into the teams chasing European spots.

Relegation spots

We think Hull City, Burnley and WBA are the favourites to relegate. Sunderland, Bournemouth and Watford are also contenders for the drop in our opinion. Sunderland are the perennial escape artists though so we expect them to finish just outside the red zone yet again. The middle of the pack will be congested and most teams will be covered by 3 to 5 points. Among this mid-table group we expect to find newcomers Middlesbro, Swansea, Crystal Palace and Stoke.

In the top 10

In the top 10 we expect Southampton, much poorer after the departure of Sane and Koeman but with an unknown factor in Claude Puel. Koeman moved to Everton and is trying desperately to hold onto his star striker Lukaku while selling Stones to Manchester City. Possibly one of the best bits of transfer business was the immediate replacement of Stones with Swansea’s Welsh captain Ashley Williams. Everton will need another striker and creative midfielder to reach the top 6 but Koeman has shown his determination to succeed with Southampton in recent years.

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West Ham will play at “The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park” – I have a thing for beautiful stadiums image: narodensport.eu

West Ham are among the most interesting clubs at the moment. Bilić has brought a steeliness to the Hammers, any trip to London is a trial and the Olympic Stadium is no different. Some raised eyebrows at the deal WHU secured with the city of London but nonetheless it should be a spectacle for every home game.

Leicester City, where does one start? The defending champions line-up reads vastly different from last season’s winning formula. Players always come and go in football for various reasons but in Leicester Ranieri had built a family of players with a common goal. We doubt that he can rekindle that desire with the foxes this term. Still blessed with speed and top scorer Vardy, the foxes won’t drop out of sight just yet but the European nights, yes, Champions League, will take their toll on the legs, more so than in a regular season. Leicester’s final position on the table will depend very much on their failure to succeed in any of the cups. We predict seventh place at best.

The Top 6

We’re still squabbling over the arrangement of the top six clubs but we’re totally in agreement which six will comprise it!

Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal will compete for fourth place, while Chelsea will rival the two Manchester clubs for the top spot.

Pochettino and Spurs had a great campaign in 2015/6 until May. With second theirs to lose, they actually went and surrendered it to their North London rivals when for all money you would bet there would be no St. Totteringham’s Day. Bitter disappointment for the fans, the players and Pochettino no doubt. Spurs are in the Champions League and the experience is great for their players although squad sizes become crtical.

By contrast Arsenal had a strange season, even by their standards. They faded, as they usually do after New Year and then remarkably made a late run and took second place in a season when most Gunners fans would argue it was theirs for the taking. Except for those pesky Foxes from Leicester, they might even have achieved their first title in 12 years. Wenger will be hoping to go one better this season, or at least progress from the quarter-finals of the Champions League and finish his contract on a high. Will he renew? Will he be offered a new contract?

The team we expect the most from, but who thankfully (depends who you ask) seldom deliver, is Liverpool. Some personnel changes will see Sane line up in midfield after the departure of Jordan Ibe, Joe Allan, Kolo Toure and Škrtel, which can’t be a bad thing for English football. Other noteworthy signings are Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle and Loris Karius, a goalkeeper from Mainz.

The Top 3

This is the bit we can’t agree on, so we’ll do it alphabetically!

Chelsea will hope to get the new season off to a flier under Antonio Conte after last season’s diabolical early collapse. Kante, last season’s engine at Leicester, has joined while there have been no significant departures as yet. The italian showed his class with Italy at the Euro’s in the summer and fans will hope his tactical know-how will benefit the blues.

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The Pep – image: skysports.com

Manchester City have been busy in the transfer window under Pep Guardiola. Martin Demichelis, the sometimes erratic central defender, has been released. The team has been strengthened by the addition of IIkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane, while City continue to purchase expensive English players too, John Stones joins from Everton. City also snapped up Spanish winger Nolito for somewhat of a bargain from Celta Vigo.

Manchester United have their third head coach in four seasons and prepare for life under José Mourinho. Successful in every league he has coached, Mourinho will be hoping he can find a tenure lasting longer than the last Chelsea stint, or for that matter, any of his recent successors. The English giants have signed the top rated players in 3 of the five big leagues last season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan achieved the highest ranking in the Bundesliga, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was tops in France and Paul Pogba was the best player in Italy. In addition United have added a quality center back in Eric Bailly to alleviate some of their aerial frailty.

United have a Thursday night distraction with the Europa league. City play Champions league courtesy of their fourth place finish and Chelsea are having playstation nights at John Terry’s.

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We don’t think we’ll see a repeat of the 2015/16 season. image: ndtvimg.com[soccerblue]

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