• Welcome back: A Premier League Preview

    September 29 2016
    The excitement is tangible as the 2016/17 campaign beckons. Twelve months previously all we asked was for a season greater than the turgid campaign before it. Was it only yesterday that crowned Claudio, king of Leicester, was lifting the coveted premier league title aloft? After an unforgettable 2015/16 we can all be slightly more ambitious regarding the upcoming season. Welcome to 20 teams, 380 matches; welcome Pep, Antonio, Claude, and Marco; welcome to jubilation, misery, desire, and anguish; welcome back to the premier league. Are you ready to begin?


    MANCHESTER UNITED

    1

    MANCHESTER CITY

    2

    TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

    3

    CHELSEA

    4

    ARSENAL

    5

    LIVERPOOL

    6

    EVERTON

    7

    LEICESTER CITY

    8

    WEST HAM UNITED

    9

    SOUTHAMPTON

    10

    STOKE CITY

    11

    BOURNEMOUTH

    12

    SUNDERLAND

    13

    CRYSTAL PALACE

    14

    MIDDLESBROUGH

    15

    SWANSEA

    16

    WATFORD

    17

    WEST BROM

    18

    BURNLEY

    19

    HULL

    20

    Arsenal: Predicted Finish 5th 

    It is impossible to begin a preview of Arsenal without turning the focus onto money. Arsėne Wenger, perhaps against his wilful instinct has overseen three monumental signings since 2013- these of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and this summer’s signing Grant Xhaka, the 35 Million pound accusation from Borussia Monchengladbach. Gunner’s majority shareholder Ivan Gazidis spoke candidly on: “the key to Arsenals success being to make progress in what is a fairly competitive financial market”.  Wenger is not blind to what seemingly has to be done, at the beginning of the summer he activated the release clause in Jamie Vardy’s contract only for the striker to extend his deal with the champions. There are areas of the team’s starting XI that look ripe for elevation, the most obvious is at centre forward, where Olivier Giroud has soldiered on in the face of palpable supporter anguish. Arsėne Wenger stands to enter the opening fixture at home to Liverpool with doubts over a clutch of key players and the positions they hold; the cataclysm at centre back being one. Arsenal will alphabetically begin the season on top however that will be the height of their campaign.  

    Chelsea: Predicted finish 4th 

    Chelsea did not defend their title last season so much as crown the once chief of SW3. Chelsea’s new manager, Antonio Conte, has declared his intention to transform the club into a “little war machine”. Both Chelsea and Conte could conceivably be champions once again, however if this demented Italian is unable to relocate the clubs successful formula they could remain estranged from the top four. Two causes for optimism have arrived in the persons of Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante, both of whom look well suited to Conte’s forceful methods. Kante is a “little war machine” all by himself and will immediately revitalise the clubs lily-livered midfield while the managers planned formation looks to include two strikers. The charismatic Italian has alluded to ending Diego Costa’s pragmatic relationship with the blues faithful which may lead to Romelu Lukaku returning to finish his unfinished business, of which he speaks so much of. Despite Chelsea’s implosion last campaign, both Antonio Conte and Chelsea may find themselves back amongst the league’s final three if everything is to go stupėfacente. 

    Everton: Predicted finish 7th 

    Draped along the cast-iron walls of the old lady is Allan Ball’s mantra: “once Everton has touched you nothing will be the same”. This weighs heavily upon many Evertonians including myself as this season I embark on my twenty first year supporting the blues. Everton look strong off the field but Ronald Koeman needs to strengthen an imbalanced squad. This summer provides the first test for Iranian Billionaire Farhad Moshiri after he acquired an initial 49.9% stake in one of the premier leagues founding members while the acquisition of both Ronald Koeman and newly appointed Director of Football Steve Walsh have signalled a new found arrogance amongst the club. Everton are once again leaving transfer business late, although an overhaul of the managerial structure was handled impressively. The toffee’s manager is clear on how he wants the team to play: more direct, greater intensity, and pressing from the front, while honest appraisals of performances have also been embraced by supporters left disenchanted by the continuously positive Roberto Martinez. Everton’s marquee signing has been confined to the managers chair so far, however spending does not guarantee a leap forward, yet with Idrissa Gueye the clubs only outfield signing as yet the blues will need to move fast if they are to return amongst the league’s top six. 

    Liverpool: Predicted finish 6th 

    Last season Liverpool continued a downward trajectory after luring one of football’s highly sort after managerial names. Finishing eighth with 60 points after Brenden Rodgers was sacked in October after only previously finishing on 62 points the season before, was not expected when the self-acclaimed ‘normal one’ beamed into Anfield. Although, there is a strong sense something is stirring across the park under Jűrgen Klopp. Arguably his biggest achievement was restoring unity at a club broken by the 2014 title slip. It was for that reason Mamadou Sakho was banished from the pre-season tour of the US having reported late for a team meeting. Unity is key. Liverpool have avoided losing a key figure for the first time in three seasons while the knowledgeable acquisitions of Joel Matip, Louris Karius, and Marko Grujic seem overshadowed by the overpriced Georgino Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane in which the jury is still out. The reds must regain their foulness, and by that I mean disposing of the fabricated demonstration of support when welcoming the team coach in which the majority of fans return home when the match gets underway. These devoted fans deserve to replace the tourists that litter Anfield. If so the ground would regain its cauldron status this upcoming season.   

    Manchester City: Predicted finish 2nd 

    “Perfection does not exist, but you have to look for it anyway” (Pep Guardiola). Manchester City finally have their dream manager in Pep; and so the circus moves on to the Premier League- destination Manchester. Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, Nolito, and John Stones will don sky blue this campaign. Whereas City had hoped to make a statement by appointing the most revered coach in world football, now it could be argued that Guardiola may not even be the greatest tactician in Manchester. Cue one Jose Mourinho, the forever present thorn in Pep Guardiola’s side. The pair reignite their feuding rivalry once more in what is surely to be a blockbuster of a season in Manchester. 

    Manchester United: Predicted finish 1st   

    Mourinho, it is commonly thought, ought to have had the United job the moment Sir Alex Ferguson stood down. It seems safe to say that Manchester United will not be stumbling about in the Premier League darkness any longer. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba are branded as special signings by the ‘special one’ however, if Jose Mourinho fails with Paul Pogba he will fail big. An assembled team of champions already have community shield medals beaming around their necks, yet it is their shoulders that should concern them as expectations way heavy. 



    Normal service will resume on the 13th of August and I for one cannot wait. The Premier League is back! Take your places as the show is about to begin…  



     

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