It’s been only fourteen weeks since Claudio Ranieri’s boys provided the most miraculous experience of a Premier League season ever by dramatically clinching the title when even in the wildest dreams nobody had predicted such a result but it still feels like ages. It happens all the time. Even in a summer filled with European Championships (the sporting spectacle being an unmitigated success) and a fascinating transfer window – it still fails to satiate the hunger of millions of ravenous die-hard football fans across the world. There is nothing quite like the thrills and drama of the most widely watched football league in the world.
It works like a drug that keeps you addicted for nine months in a year. And thankfully, the annual rehab period is drawing to a close. On Saturday, 13th August, the brand new 2016-17 Premier League season will get underway. Let the fun begin.
Every new season brings with it new faces – new hope, new expectations, players, managers, plots, sub-plots – and along with it a refreshed optimism amongst punters that their underdog bets will be worth as much this season as a smart / lucky evening spent playing Betfair’s regulated online casino. We bring here a comprehensive guide to the season that lies ahead.
PREMIER LEAGUE 2016-17 TITLE RACE
While we would love to see Leicester City proving all the doubters wrong that their maiden Premier League triumph was no flash in the pan, the job of defending the title won’t be easy for the Foxes especially with big boys spending ridiculous money on bolstering the squad this time around.
Tottenham Hotspur ran out of steam towards the end of the last season and finished one point and a place below their north London rivals, Arsenal. Spurs surely will head into the next season with full of confidence but with European games to focus on, it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to successfully handle the dual commitments.
Arsenal are up there in the mix and should the Gunners add a top-class defender and a proven goalscorer to their squad ahead of the new season, they would be a formidable side to reckon with.
It’s a new era in West London, where Chelsea will start the new campaign with a renewed optimism (following a forgettable 2015-16 campaign) under a new manager, Antonio Conte. With no European football to worry about for the next nine months, Conte will get an ample time to work with his players and instil his footballing philosophy and tactics. The short term results may or may not favour the Blues but the Italian at least has an opportunity here to build a strong foundation for the future.
The central attraction, however, rests in Manchester, where two great managers – Pep Guardiola for Man City and Jose Mourinho for Man Utd – will renew their old rivalry, albeit in a different league. It’s a rebuilding process for both the teams and both the managers have wasted no time in shaping the squad according to their own tastes. It may signal the start of a new era, but based on the squad they’ve assembled (taking into account United will sign Paul Pogba) it is difficult to foresee the title heading out of Manchester come next May.
PREMIER LEAGUE 2016-17 EUROPEAN SPOTS
Liverpool have spent bid again this summer but have they done enough to qualify for the Champions League, let alone fight for the title? Despite signing as many as six new players (seven, if you add Marko Grujic) one feels the Reds are still 2-3 more signings short of completing their summer transfer purchases.
Without European distractions, this was a perfect time for Liverpool to focus on adding quality players to their starting line-up rather than adding depth to the squad. Still, Jurgen Klopp’s side should aim for at least finishing in the top four this season.
The expectations are obviously high with Leicester City and the Foxes should find themselves as a strong contender for European qualifications. The question is can they hold on to their key players? They have already sold N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and there is a high possibility that Riyad Mahrez could leave as well.
West Ham have progressed leaps and bounds under Slaven Bilic and the Hammers will be looking to break into the top four, this time, having finished just four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City last season.
PREMIER LEAGUE 2016-17 RELEGATION BATTLE
Newcomers Hull City find themselves in hot waters as the Tigers are without a manager at the moment. Steve Bruce, who led Hull to victory in the Championship play-off in May, resigned in July after a breakdown in his relationship with Hull vice-chairman Ehab Allam. Not an ideal preparation going into a new season.
We have seen many a time in the past that teams from the Championships surpass all expectations in the Premier League – take Leicester City and Watford for examples. Can Burnley and Middlesbrough stay up?
Sunderland narrowly escaped last season from getting the chop but the Black Cats should do well under new manager, David Moyes. West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace haven’t done enough (Townsend is a good signing though) in the transfer window and may struggle to keep up the pace with the new boys.