The top four is usually the easier portion of the table to predict each year. Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have all been the big names up there for the past several years (excluding last year of course). But this year it seems as if there’s less of a top four and more of a top six. Leicester City’s incredible performance last season has rocketed them up into the picture once again with their odds of winning being downgraded from the 5000/1 they were given last year. Tottenham’s performance last year has also put them into contention with a team of young players who look ready to take the next step.
With Leicester and Spurs you have groups of players and a manager who are going into their second season together and can build on their successes quite fluidly. On the other hand Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have all made big money signings in players and managers meaning they will have a bedding-in period to deal with. At this point you could make a case that the Premier League is the best league in the world in terms of managerial expertise. Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are some of the best managers in the world today, and with that comes some of the best players.
Manchester United have managed to bring Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic into Old Trafford while only playing the Europa league this season. Manchester City have got hold of John Stones from Everton as well as Leroy Sane from Schalke, two young and exciting players to take the club forward. Chelsea have brought in another exciting prospect in young forward Batshuayi and the tireless midfield sensation N’Golo Kante from champions Leicester.
So who looks in the best shape? I genuinely have no idea. Zlatan and Mourinho look like the favourites so far but I think people have overlooked Tottenham because of the huge deals which the other teams have been making. Tottenham last season had the best defence in the league and the second best attack, I would expect them to keep that up this season as they’ve managed to keep hold of a lot of their players. I believe the experience of last season will see them to be even hungrier this season and I think they could possibly win it.
But what about Chelsea and the human loud speaker Conte? Could they win it? I think they could become a force once again. Conte is an incredible manager, this can be seen when he managed to get an extremely mediocre Italy side to the quarter-final of the Euros. And they only beaten by a German side that needed penalties. Conte will need to get Eden Hazard to continue his Euros form and fix their problems at the back, if he does that Chelsea could take back the title they disastrously defended last season.
What about Arsenal? They’re screwed… Sorry Gunners fans but Arsene Wenger has once again left it too late and done so little that you’ve been left behind. The glaring issue of a world class striker is still to be patched up. Olivier Giroud isn’t good enough for Arsenal but Wenger still hasn’t pulled out his wallet. He has brought in a good holding midfielder… When they already had two decent ones anyway. Francis Coquelin and Mohammed Elneny were solid last season. Is Xhaka an upgrade? Yes, but that shouldn’t have been the priority when a striker is so desperately needed. Gonzalo Higuian was a target for Wenger for a few seasons but now they’ll never get him as he’s gone to Juventus. There aren’t many world class strikers available at the moment so Arsenal fans will have to hope that Giroud can do what he hasn’t been able to before.
Could Manchester City win the league this season? Definitely. With possibly the best manager in the world and a partly rebuilt squad to mould, it could be the start of a good few years for City. Ilkay Gundogan is a fantastic signing when he’s fit and the acquisition of John Stones is a good move for the future as well as Pep’s style of play. Yaya Toure will be looked to be moved on this season. Pep is a demanding manager, and as a player who walks around the pitch rather than running, he won’t fit in. If they can keep Aguero and Kompany on the pitch for most of the season and keep Bony off it, they can take the league by storm this season.
Will Manchester United win the league for the first time since Sir Alex left? I think they could. Mourinho has made two huge signings in Zlatan and Pogba, but also very shrewd signings in Bailly and Mkhitaryan. The only question is around Rooney. Will Mourinho play him and where? Zlatan is of course the number nine, Paul Pogba will sit in a more deeper midfield role and Mkhitaryan is most effective through the middle as a number ten. That would be the best system for United, however because of Rooney’s stature within the club, he has to be in the team unless he’s injured. This means that Mkhitaryan will be shunted to the right hand side which could upset the balance of the team. If Mourinho has the courage to bench Rooney it could mean that United would be better off. But would he do it? I don’t think so.
Can Leicester do the impossible twice. No. Sorry.