The Premier League 16/17 season saw Antonio Conte’s Chelsea run away with the title but the competition is sure to heat up this year with all top 6 managers having now completed their first full season with their squad. Who will win the league this season? Signings:
Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolašinic
Chelsea: Ethan Ampadu, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Willy Caballero, Álvaro Morata, Antonio Rüdiger
Liverpool: Mohammed Salah, Andrew Robertson
Manchester City: Bernardo Silva, Ederson Moraes, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy
Manchester United: Victor Lindelöf, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matić
Tottenham Hotspur: N/A 16/17 Season Review
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side marched to victory in the league after making a change in system accelerated by the 3-0 defeat at the Emirates which exposed the frailties in Conte’s initial 4-1-4-1. New signing and 15/16 league champion N’Golo Kante helped Chelsea’s counter-attacking style by acting as a ball-winning midfield alongside Serbian Nemanja Matić to initiate counter-attacks quickly. A rejuvenated Victor Moses and new signing Marcos Alonso functioned as the essential wing-backs to make forward runs in behind defenders, or make space for Pedro, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. However, an inability to sign key targets such as Alex Sandro as well as the sale of Nemanja Matić to Manchester United have left Conte disappointed at his club’s transfer activity so far.
Mauricio Pochettino established himself as one of the best coaches in the league this season after leading Tottenham to a second place finish, and the first time the club has ended the season above bitter London rivals since the 94/95 season. The brilliant pair of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweirld formed the backbone of the strongest defense in the league, while full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose allowed Spurs to move their play wide and make overlapping runs for Cristian Eriksen and Son Heung-min, who were given freedom to make runs inside. However, the club has made no signings so far this Summer, and with most other top 6 clubs strengthening it may become more difficult for Tottenham to challenge this coming season.
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City were the favourites going into the season. Signing Claudio Bravo, Leroy Sané, İlkay Gündoğan, Nolito, Gabriel Jesus, and Oleksander Zinchenko (who subsequently left on loan), Guardiola transitioned City's style of play into a possession based team using passing channels and slow build-up play to help dominate and break down the opposition.
After a disappointing league campaign finishing 3rd, as well as losing in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, fourth round EFL Cup knockout against bitter city rivals Manchester United and a Champion's League last 16 defeat at the hands of Leonardo Jardim's brilliant AS Monaco, Pep Guardiola will be sure to reinvest heavily this Summer to ensure a more successful season. Guardiola has fuelled further speculation by stating that his squad needs a “little more” to compete on all fronts after an initial five signings.
Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool have once again finished in the top four after doing so in 13/14 thanks to the heroics of Luis Suárez. Klopp's exciting "heavy metal football" resonated with the Anfield faithful who seek return to the glory days of the 80's. Playing fast attacking football with a high line and high press, Liverpool would win the ball further up the pitch and quickly overload the opposition. Liverpool showed they are as good as anyone in the league with an excellent record vs the top six, but a potential title challenge was halted by inconsistent form against the lower half of the table. Following the sale of Neymar to Paris St. Germain, Barcelona have a large transfer war chest to spend on Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho who has reportedly already agreed personal terms with Barcelona.
Arsène Wenger remains in a job after a horrendous 16/17 season which saw his Arsenal side finish outside Champion's League qualification for the first time in 20 years. Despite an FA Cup win, the season was one of Wenger's worst and calls for his resignation had been louder than ever. However, having signed a 2-year extension it would seem Arsenal fans have become resigned to another season under his leadership. Having signed left-back Sead Kolašinac and striker Alexandre Lacazette, Wenger may turn his attention towards Leicester City's Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez who has requested a transfer from the club following a disappointing season when compared to his 15/16 performance, or OGC Nice’s Jean Michaël Seri. Mahrez, however, has also been linked heavily with a move to AS Roma. Despite strengthening, Wenger may still find it difficult to keep talisman Alexis Sanchez who seems determined to leave the club and move to Manchester City. A horror contract situation whereby Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have 12 months or less left on their contracts has also been described by Wenger as “ideal” for generating competition in the squad…
Manchester United - now managed by José Mourinho - enjoyed a successful season, winning the EFL Cup and Europa League to qualify for the Champion's League's Pot B. Despite a disappointing league campaign in which a plethora of draws stalled his side to a 6th place finish and an FA Cup last 8 defeat at the hands of Antonio Conte's Chelsea, Manchester United fans are satisfied with the season and feel the rot has been stopped after three painful seasons following the Sir Alex Ferguson era. The pressure is now on for Mourinho to mount a challenge for the league title thanks to the financial muscle of the club which has allowed them to spend upwards of £75m on former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, and £35m on Swedish Benfica centre-back Victor Lindelöf. A failure to sign French striker Antoine Griezmann following Atletico Madrid's transfer ban this Summer, as well as Internazionale’s Ivan Periŝić had held up Mourinho's transfer plans. However, the recent signing of Nemanja Matic (£35m + £5m) will surely add balance and discipline to Mourinho’s midfield, allowing Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera to play in more advanced positions.
17/18 table predictions:
1 Manchester City
2 Manchester United
4 Tottenham Hotspur
9 Leicester City
10 West Bromwich Albion
12 West Ham United
13 Stoke City
15 Newcastle United
16 Crystal Palace
18 Swansea City
19 Brighton & Hove Albion
20 Huddersfield Town
What are your predictions?
The fixture list for the 17/18 Premier League season can be found below: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40253157