One of our regular freelancers – Sam Cox – has a go at predicting the 16/17 Premier League season, and it’s not as questionable as the previous ones we’ve had.
Slightly brave pick for Flop of the Season, though…
The two Manchester clubs have addressed weaknesses far better than their competitors and it’s hard to see beyond either a Pep or Jose title. The one concern might be the striker if Aguero suffers another injury-ridden season, but the youngsters brought in should even deal with that.
Manchester dominance over the next few seasons looks a strong possibility – unless there is a Mourinho implosion – and the other clubs seem a fair distance off the pace. Liverpool have bought shrewdly and Klopp’s project should begin to show some results, whilst Arsenal could finally pay the price for transfer dithering.
Hull and Burnley’s lack of investment is going to make it hard from the off. The third place is a far harder call and Crystal Palace could easily slip in to that if they continue their form from the second half of last season. The Baggies are likely to face more of a scrap than they did last season.
With the league probably out of reach this season, Chelsea’s main hope of silverware will be the FA Cup. No European football means Conte can focus on the domestic trophies and the Italian, who will likely strengthen the Chelsea defence, will be eyeing up the FA Cup already.
Creativity is going to be key for Manchester United this season and Mkhitaryan will undoubtedly provide that from the right. Producing 15 assists, to go with his 11 goals, in the Bundesliga last season, the Armenian will be the ideal creative force for Rashford, Martial and Ibrahimovic.
As exciting a player as Bolasie is, the transfer fee is extortionate even in the modern game. A hugely gifted player, for sure, but that sort of investment expects goals and assists that I’m not sure even Ronald Koeman can make him provide.
The pressure of the price tag might be an issue for Sane, but there is no better place for a young winger to develop than under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola. Competition on City’s right is limited and Sane’s frightening pace should light up the Premier League.
It’s either going to be a dream or disaster in the North East. Big name arrivals including Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes and Viktor Fischer will at least make it exciting and they have the squad to cause a few upsets.