As the 2015/16 Premier League season draws to a close, after being one of the most exciting and surprising seasons in history and it brings the question to everybody’s mind, “What does next season hold?”. Well, for any people struggling to think of maybe who will be kings of England, who will push for Europe and who will fight the drop, I am here to give you my thoughts on what I believe the table will look like come May next year.
1. Manchester City: The wealthy and well established Premier League clubs title surge was less than impressive this season as they only managed a 4th place finish above their local rivals Manchester United. Despite that, they managed to add another trophy to their cabinet in the name of the Capital One Cup, and they also had an impressive year in the Champions League before bowing down to Spanish giants Real Madrid. However, this season I believe it will be their year, not only does it have to do with the fact they have stupendous amounts of money to go on top of the current squad they already have, but their coup of ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is my deciding factor on why I believe they will have a successful Premier League season.
Pep Guardiola will bring the title back to Manchester
2. Tottenham Hotspur: Tottenham Hotspur are a team full of young, vibrant youngsters with bucket loads of potential and skill; Alli, Eric Dier, Harry Kane etc. just to name a few. That also being followed up by the experience and power of some of their other players like Dembele and Vertonghen. This year round, Spurs had a very memorable season, fighting for their first ever Premier League title until almost the very end. Next season I do believe they will fight again, despite the hurt of finishing below their local rivals Arsenal yet again at the final hurdle, but I think they will fall short once again unfortunately as Manchester City will have too much power in my eyes.
3. Arsenal: Sanchez, Ozil, Cech and now Granit Xhaka; all seem like the type of players to help lead a team to glory in their respective league. All four names listed have bags on ability and show amazing class on the field, but each and every year the curse drags Arsenal back down and their title charge fails miserably when points are needed most. Although some more players may be recruited to help with their title search, I believe that whilst Arsene Wenger is in charge, they won’t win another title. This is not because of his ability and brains as a manager, but more to do with his ‘stubborn’ attitude towards picking his players, style of play etc. This is just a brief summary on why the Gunners will have no luck this season, and also finish below their rivals.
4. Manchester United: Louis Van Gaal out – Jose Mourinho in. What more could you ask for if you’re a Manchester fan? £250m in 2 years was spent under Van Gaal all for one FA Cup trophy in his final game, as expected this was not taken well by Red Devils fans. All season there have been cries for a new face in the hot seat at the Theatre of Dreams and that has just happened. In the past couple of days, it has been announced that Jose Mourinho has agreed on personal terms to become the new United boss and this surely means only one thing for the club: a return to the top. Mourinho is a man with great character and experience at all levels; he has won the Champions League twice, the Premier League twice and even the FA Cup. Not only will his reputation be a huge boost for the club, but his style of play is surely going to bring attention back to Old Trafford and down to that, I believe he will bring Champions League football back to the red side of Manchester.
We should be seeing ‘The Special One’ back in the Premier League soon
5. Liverpool: The past couple of years we have seen a more than often spineless and confused Liverpool side, but that changed midway through last season when ex-Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp became the new king of the Kop and injected that fighting and never die spirit into the Liverpool players. Before his arrival players such as Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi and Joe Allen were not taken to kindly by Liverpool supporters, but after he took the hot seat they look like completely different players, as do the entire Liverpool squad. Klopp’s ‘heavy metal football’ which he displayed at Dortmund worked fairly well for Liverpool as he guided them to not one, but two finals in the Capital One Cup and the Europa League, unfortunately bowing down in both finals. Klopp has already made his first 3 signings as the boss in centre-half Joel Matip, winger Marko Grujic and Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius, with a few more to be expected. The German manager has got his side showing great fight and spirit, and this is why I believe European football will be brought back to Anfield.
6. Chelsea: A few months back Chelsea announced that Italy boss Antonio Conte will take over as manager after the Euro’s this summer, and he is certainly no man to settle for lacklustre performances. 6th place certainly isn’t the greatest for Chelsea, but when you consider the season they have just endured, it is a huge step up. The current Italy manager is a well-known man who has the great achievement of leading Juventus to 3 Serie A titles in a row, plus two back-to-back Coppa Italia’s. With Conte in charge and the vast amount of talent and money in the club to go forward, I believe Conte will have a solid first season with the London club.
7. Southampton: Southampton are a club who have been growing and growing each and every year, and they only seem to be going that way for a very long time. Ronald Koeman took over the Saints in 2014 and since then the club has shown great attacking threat with some solid defensive displays. He is a great tactician who shows amazing calmness in any situation and he is the main factor on why I think Southampton will achieve Europe once more.
8.West Ham: West Ham have all the makings to have a very exciting season next year; the Olympic Stadium, an extremely passionate fanbase, good amounts of money and some fantastic talents in and around the squad, with a fantastic manager on top of all that. The 2015/16 season was one to remember for the Hammers as they managed to give the Boleyn Ground the perfect send off by grabbing themselves European football finishing in an impressive 7th place and reaching the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup. This time round I do believe that they will fall just short of Europe, but it will not be too much of a disappointment for them as their talents such as Dimitri Payet, Kouyate, Manuel Lanzini and many more will give them some exciting football, and I also believe another cup run is in order.
9. Leicester City: Where do we start. Champions of England: Leicester City (sounds crazy doesn’t it!). Well, this year they pulled off the impossible and did what nobody expected of them. Players such as Vardy, Mahrez and Kante were names on everyone’s lips, with their scintillating goals and pace filled counter attacks. However, next season I believe will be a little different for the Foxes. Although they have managed to bring Champions League football to the King Power Stadium, I do believe it will hurt them and this will cause them to fall short of what they managed this season. Despite having the ever cheery and passionate Ranieri in charge, plus the vast amount of talent they have, I believe Leicester will not achieve what they did this year by finishing 9th due to fixture congestion with Europe, but I am sure this would still be a very acceptable finish for their fans and the club!
The Foxes will not replicate their title success
10. Stoke City: Mark Hughes, Bojan, Shaqiri, Imbula, Butland, Stoke City have all the potential and ability you need to make a great football team on and off the pitch. This season they managed a solid 9th place position, finishing above Chelsea in 1oth. As for 2016/17, I believe they will be knocked down the table but only by one place, this is down to the fact the amount of sheer quality of the teams I believe will finish above them.
11. Everton: Most, if not all Evertonians highly believe that they should be achieving much more with the talents on display at Goodison Park, and rightly so; when the names such as Romelu Lukaku, John Stones and Ross Barkley pop up you do expect more, but unfortunately for them I believe this season will be no better than the last, but I do not believe it will be worse and that is why I have them down as an 11th place finish for the second season running.
12. Bournemouth: Bournemouth are a team who last season couldn’t have asked for much more. They pulled off some fantastic results against Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst also managing to achieve their target of surviving in their first Premier League stint finishing in 16th place. Bournemouth has a very young and talented manager in Eddie Howe, who has his side playing ‘proper football’ as it is called, and it is certainly very enjoyable to watch. This was also followed up by the determination and drive the players showed each game. This is why I believe Bournemouth will have an ‘over-achieving’ season.
13. Swansea City: The Swans had a very odd 2015/16 season. It started very promisingly with an open day win against Chelsea, only for it to then completely collapse and drive them into a relegation fight. As the season went on the eventual sacking of Gary Monk happened, as did the signing of new head coach Francesco Guidolin who managed some solid performances and results, along with the final 3 games of the season which produced some incredible results, beating Liverpool 3-1, West Ham 4-1 and drawing with Manchester City 1-1. It is no stretch of the imagination that Swansea have some great players, so I believe with the right management and ability they will have a fairly content season.
14. Sunderland: Last season was not the greatest for the Black Cats but when you consider their end to the season it was something to cheer in a sense, winning 3-2 at home to Chelsea in a brilliant comeback and beating Everton 3-0 just a few days later to send their local rivals Newcastle down to the Championship. Sam Allardyce took over from Dick Advocaat who left Sunderland before the season was even halfway through and this certainly helped as for a majority of the games post arrival the team started to show some fighting spirit. The likes of Borini and Defoe, in particular, showed some brilliant performances up top together, then came along January. Arrivals of Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchhoff helped massively and points were gradually picked up along the way, helping them avoid the drop once again. Now down to the fighting spirit shown in the team and Allardyce’s record of never being relegated, I believe it will be a considerable season for the Mackems.
15. Watford: Watford had a very on and off season last year. The first half of their term was full of goals from Ighalo who looked a force to be reckoned with, and their style of play under ex-manager Quique Sanches Flores was entertaining to watch, as shown when they managed a 3-0 victory at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Once January hit their season started spiralling downwards and what looked to be a very, very remarkable season turned out to be a little bit distasteful, although they did manage a trip to Wembley by reaching the Semi Final of the FA Cup.
16. Crystal Palace: Crystal Palace, like Watford started the season off in fine form, and that was shown when they pulled off a memorable 3-1 victory away to Chelsea. To add to that, they also managed a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup Final where, unfortunately for them, they lost 2-1 at the hands of Manchester United. As the course of the Premier League season went on their results started deteriorating and they managed to slip down the table. Another factor to their slump down the table was the ever occurring injuries to star players and tactical failures by manager Alan Pardew, who has had much controversy on his part in the past.
17. Burnley: I believe that Burnley will just stay clear of the drop in their first stint back in the Premier League since being relegated back in the 2014/15 season. I believe with the momentum of winning the Championship in style, the quality of players such as Andrew Gray and the maturity of Sean Dyche, they will survive one place above the drop.
There will be no repeat of the Clarets last stint in the big time
18. West Bromwich Albion: West Brom and Tony Pulis have been known over the past season or so to be a very ‘boring’ and ‘anti-football’ team. Although Tony Pulis has an impressive record of never being relegated from the Premier League. But unfortunately for him and all Baggies fans, I feel as though all good things must come to and end, and that will result in West Brom’s time in the Premier League being over for at least another season.
19. Middlesbrough: Middlesbrough come up and Newcastle go down. The fans from Teeside couldn’t have asked for much more when they returned to the Premier League, but sadly I can not see their stint being too impressive or even lasting much longer, as their 7 year wait for promotion back to top flight football will hurt them dearly.
20. Hull City/Sheffield Wednesday: Finally, and last but not least (sort of) Is Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday. These two must still battle it out in the Championship Play-off Final for a place in the top flight division of English football. It could be Sheffield Wednesday’s first reign in the Premier League since relegation 16 years ago or it could be Hull City’s instant return to the Premier League since relegation in 2014/15. Whoever it is that emerges victorious I can see having a season to forget as neither one of them will survive or perform well in my books.