06 Jun EPL: Predictions For 2016/17
With the exception perhaps of Marty McFly, Prof Trelawney, the Oracle of Delphi, and Deep Thought, few would have made the preposterous assertion that Leicester City would finish anywhere near the top of the Premier League standings last season, let alone win the thing.
But somehow they did, making a mockery of the odds in the process [5000:1]. More Blue WKD mate?
As incredible as the Leicester fairytale has been – Kim Kardashian for President was considered more plausible – a repeat of the miracle seems wildly improbable. So without further ado, I present my predictions.
First Place: Manchester City
Despite finishing in fourth last term, Manchester City look poised to return to the top. The side has all the ingredients it needs to succeed already in place – and with loads of $$$ lying around, don’t be surprised if they announce a couple of useful signings yet. Mostly, I’m backing them because they’ll have Pep Guardiola as manager. Yes, the man has been blessed with outrageous squads over the years, but he’s also creative, passionate, and tactically astute. I’m a fanboy, but for good reason.
Completing the Top Four: Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur
I honestly believe Arsenal (as I write this – with the side poised to sign Jamie Vardy) will have the best side in the league next term. The young guns are mature, the ‘keeper is good, they finally have a top class defensive midfielder, and now (probably) a striker. But they’ll lose form and blow it – as sure as Arsene Wenger is set to wrestle with his zip.
With Jose Mourinho at the Red Devils, I think third is in the offing. They’ll become more compact, more efficient, and remain hard to beat. Basically: I think Mourinho will turn them into another Chelsea, even if the fans complain. That said, I feel there is a slight chance Mourinho loses it completely, blows it, gets involved in a confrontation with a linesman, and turns them into that Chelsea (last season’s). But probably not…
Fourth, I’m thinking Spurs. Pochettino’s side are young, vibrant, and growing stronger, but I think the side benefited from the comparative weakness of the sides that should have been challenging last term. I also can’t see too many big name signings arriving at White Hart lane… so I think fourth seems about right.
Close but not cigar: Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool
Liverpool, I believe, will continue to pressure the top teams, but ultimately fall short. The side just doesn’t have enough quality – even if the frenetic intensity of Klopp’s style has concealed that fact of late. I fancy them for a cup maybe, the FA Cup say. But Coutinho’s guile and Daniel Sturridge’s doctor/surgeon are not going to be enough. Seventh for you Reds.
Chelsea had a nightmare last time around, and though I think they will recover somewhat, I don’t think it will be enough for the Champions League places. Mourinho strangled the spark out of the side and the squad simply didn’t have the will to repeat all that grinding. Fifth for you Blues.
But what about Leicester? Ultimately, I believe Leicester’s league triumph was built on remarkable consistency, creativity/form (Riyad Mahrez is supreme), luck (no injuries, poor form by the top teams), and determination (so many comeback wins!).
But, particularly if they lose top scorer Vardy to Arsenal, Leicester are going to find the going tougher this time around. As much as I admire the club – my head says they will finish sixth.