Leicester’s triumph was obviously the fairy-tale headline from last year, but what stories will emerge from the 2016-2017 Premier League season?
“Leicester City Football Club” (CC BY 2.0) by rdesign812
With players being sold, no manager forthcoming, no players being bought and fan protests, this hasn’t been the ideal preparation for a return to the big league for Hull City. You can read a more in depth analysis of Hull’s crisis from Michael Hawthorne here, but given the current state of inaction from the board, the Tigers look likely to eclipse Derby County (2007-08) as the team to acquire the fewest number of points in a Premier League season (11).
“José Mourinho / Жозе Моуринь” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Aleksandr Osipov
Jose Mourinho Hostilities
Mourinho is always confrontational in the headlines. Judging by his preseason comments, his capitulation and ejection from Chelsea last year does not seem to have changed his way of behaving. With Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola all looking to gain an edge, there is simply not room for all these managerial heavyweights to be successful. It’s anticipated by most that he will continue his rivalry with new Manchester City boss Guardiola, but anticipate the Portuguese starting fights with any and all, as he looks to develop his trademark siege mentality at the behemoth that is Manchester United.
With Kante gone and others possibly leaving before the transfer window closes, many are predicting a poor season for Leicester. Yet manager Claudio Ranieri has made some shrewd acquisitions in the form of Ahmed Musa and Bartosz Kapustka, who should fit the Foxes’ counter-attacking style. Also, their players and manager should be able to ply their trade without pressure, as they are still basking in the joy of last seasons’ exploits. This uncertainty about the direction of Leicester’s season means even the bookies don’t know what will happen and you can find a variety of tempting odds and bookmaker signup offers to suit whatever the eventual outcome. Regardless of the end result, it should make for an interesting title defense.
Heavy Metal Liverpool
Having inherited a disjointed Liverpool team from Brendan Rogers last season, Jurgen Klopp did well to reach the League Cup and UEFA Europa League finals. Although both finals ended in disappointment and The Reds final Premier League position was dissatisfying, there is an expectation around Anfield that Klopp’s team can achieve much more this season. With a full preseason to work with the players, the additional goal threats of Marko Grujic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane and some much needed defensive recruits in the form of Joel Matip and goalkeeper Loris Karius, this could be an exciting season for Liverpool fans. Without the obligation of European football this year, Liverpool could be this years’ dark horse for a title crack.
“Arsène Wenger” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald
Having reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and finished 2nd in the Premier League last season, Arsene Wenger has cause to feel a little bewildered at the hostility he is currently experiencing from the Arsenal faithful. Up till now the Frenchman has had few reasons to feel perturbed or consider his position under threat, but Gunners fans are aware that they are paying the highest ticket prices in the land and suspect they are no longer getting good value for money. The lack of a game-changing transfer, means that Arsenal seem less equipped to challenge than the teams around them and might well fall out of the top 4 Champions League qualification places. However, as the elder statesman of the league, it might be foolish to rule-out Wenger turning things around and orchestrating a triumph against all the adversity currently coming his way.