The 2016/17 Premier League season gets underway on Saturday and many see it as the most unpredictable season to date.
Here I pick out the “Champs and Chumps” for this year, made up of the teams who I believe will be fighting for the title as well as the teams who I think will be battling for their Premier League status come the end of the season.
Chelsea‘s new manager Antonio Conte impressed during Euro 2016, taking his Italian side to the Quarter-Final stage.
Conte has so far brought in Michy Batshuayi from Marseille as well as N’Golo Kante from Leicester, both are top class players who should add a lot to Conte’s side.
If Conte adds the same high intensity and desire for Chelsea as he did while at Italy, they have the ability to go under the radar and win the league title back this season.
After the departure of Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho was given the Manchester United job. The self-proclaimed “Special One” has done some superb business this summer by bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly and most recently Paul Pogba, for a record-breaking fee from Juventus.
Jose’s desire for immediate success and for a permanent place in United folklore is not in doubt and with the squad of high quality players at his disposal, they should mount a serious challenge for the title.
Manchester City are widely considered to be the favourites to win the Premier League this year, which is considerably down to their new manager, Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard has acted quickly in the transfer market, adding John Stones, Leroy Sane and İlkay Gündoğan to his squad, all for sizable fees.
They have the best squad in the division in my view and with Guardiola in charge, they will always be around the title picture as the manager looks to enhance his already extraordinarily impressive CV.
For much of last season, Tottenham looked as if they were going to pip Leicester City to the title. They ended up falling away at the end but their youthful team should use that heartbreak as motivation going into this season.
Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are only going to improve as they grow in experience, add to this the new captures of Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen and Tottenham are going into the new season even stronger than the last. They also did well to keep a hold of Mauricio Pochettino, who is one of the best managers in the world in my view.
They certainly have the ability to produce another title challenge.
The newly promoted Hull City have had a turbulent summer to say the least. They are without a manager after Steve Bruce’s resignation. They are also severely down on first-team players with a number of long-term injuries hurting the Tigers.
Money needs to be spent by the clubs’ owners to remedy this crisis once a new manager is appointed or they could face a real struggle this season.
I fear that Sunderland may be in a relegation fight once again this season.
They must add numbers to their squad with more quality needed throughout the team. Jermain Defoe is set to be a key player for them again and Moyes should add another striker into the mix to reduce the significant burden which is currently placed on Defoe to provide goals for his side.
They need to keep a hold of Lamine Koné – who has been linked with a move to Everton – as he was one of their top performers last season and a key part of their strong defence, which was a main reason as to why they stayed up.
Watford‘s decision to part ways with Quique Sanchez-Flores was a baffling one. He did a very good job last season by keeping them in the division whilst also reaching the FA Cup Semi-Final.
The boards method of constantly changing their manager will surely catch up with them sooner or later and I believe they will suffer because of that this season.
Last year they were overly reliant upon Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, the latter has put pen-to-paper on a new 5-year-deal today. If each striker continues on from their brilliant campaign last year, they could propel their club towards safety.
Burnley were last in the top flight two seasons ago and they performed well but eventually went down due to a lack of quality.
They have a similar problem this time around as they may not have enough creativity in midfield to help supply Sam Vokes and Andre Gray.
Gray will undoubtedly be key to Burnley’s season, he has the ability to be a real success in the Premier League. His speed, power and finishing ability will be invaluable for them and their chances of avoiding the drop.