The football season is almost upon us. Over the course of the next nine months expect a roller coaster ride in the most watched football league in the world. From the roof blowing and hair raising to the head scratching and soul searching, Premier League football leaves nothing to chance to entertain its fans. A brand new season of Premier League football kicks off today and as the clock ticks down to the Hull Leicester game, we look at the few things that can be expected from the 2016/17 Premier League season.
- Mourinho Wenger spats
Jose Mourinho has spared no time upon his appointment at Manchester United to renew his infamous rivalry with Arsene Wenger. The few of us who felt the Mourinho-Wenger saga wouldn’t be around in Premier League circles for a while following the Portuguese’s sacking from Chelsea last season were in for a treat when the self-proclaimed “Special One” supposedly poked Wenger’s soft underbelly in his first press conference at Carrington.
Mourinho said: “There are some managers that the last time they won a title was 10 years ago. Some of them the last time they won a title was never. The last time I won a title was one year ago, not 10 years ago or 15 years ago so if I have a lot to prove, imagine the others.”
Rest assured, there will be little respite for Wenger now that his number one adversary is back in the big league. Wenger has never beaten a Mourinho side in the Premier League; will the streak continue?
- Pressing, counterpressing football
Sam Allardyce’s appointment as the England manager has swiftly attracted criticism, specially regarding the archaic style of play “Big Sam” professes, but Premier League clubs have restored the feel good factor by attracting some of the most celebrated and tactically astute coaches in world football to the home of football.
Expect Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to press high up the pitch or Antonio Conte’s Chelsea to use two strikers as press initiators this season. And there are also Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham sides who set standards last season regarding distance covered in games. Add to them the likes of Everton and Bournemouth and we have almost half the league who play aggressive, proactive football forcing mistakes from opponents.
- A high-flying promoted team
A lot is said and written about promoted clubs standing no chance of surviving the demands of Premier League football but those promoted clubs have more than defied expectations over the past few years. With the exceptions of dreadful QPR and Reading, promoted teams have generally given a good account of themselves in recent seasons.
Of the 18 teams promoted in the last six seasons, only six have gone straight down. A staying up success rate of 66 per cent isn’t at all bad and there is hope that at least one of 2016/17’s promoted clubs—Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull City—will confound expectations and ape the likes of Swansea and Southampton from previous seasons to consolidate their top flight status.
- Mid-season sackings
There is nothing more typical of a Premier League season than mid-season axe-wielding on managers. The numbers are there for us to see: 39 mid-season sackings in the past six seasons makes an average of 6.5 per season which reached a head in 2013/14 when 10 managers were handed P45’s during the season and the trend is expected to continue in the 2016/17 season as well. Pre-season contenders for the sack include Hull City’s yet-to-be-appointed manager, West Brom’s Tony Pulis following the club’s recent takeover by Chinese investors who might not be too enthused by Pulis’s brand of football, and Watford’s Walter Mazzarri.
Last season, the likes of Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers were shown the door; expect a lesser number of high-profile managers to be sent packing this season but we can always count on Roman Abramovich to pull the trigger, can’t we?
- Deadline day frenzy
Nothing creates as much hype these days as deadline day in a transfer window and as usual, the 2016/17 Premier League season will be witness to two of them during its course. The summer transfer window closes by the end of August and there are expectations that there will be more last day lunges into the market than ever before but whether they can match the drama of previous deadline days remains to be seen.
The big clubs seem to have completed their transfer business already, and any hopes of a blockbuster deadline day of years past that saw the likes of Robinho and Falcao set foot on the British Isles might be a bit far-fetched, even for those with a weird inclination for the dramatic. January, though, will bring another set of possibilities on the transfer front.
- Lineker in his pants
Those of us who are regular viewers of the BBC’s Match Of The Day can attest to the fact that Gary Lineker is the star of the show, no matter how illustrious Lineker’s studio guests tend to be. The Leicester legend and former England and Barcelona striker pledged last December to present the first MOTD of 2016/17 in just his “undies” should Leicester win the Premier League.
YES! If Leicester win the @premierleague I'll do the first MOTD of next season in just my undies.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) December 14, 2015
To his utter embarrassment Leicester, who were two points clear at the top when Lineker announced his grand plan, won the title which immediately prompted anticipatory glances towards the first day of the 2016/17 season when the first MOTD of the new season will be aired. There is much suspense leading up to Saturday night and excitement across the world to watch Lineker in bare minimums.