Posted on November 22nd, 2016
After last season’s weird but wonderful finale that saw Leicester crowned as champions, who fancies a bet on this year’s proceedings? In an incredibly tough season, six or more teams must squeeze into the top four places, only one of which can be the title winners. Use our fun-size guide to figure out who think will emerge top of the pile come May.
Pep Guardiola’s charges might have only one way of playing but it sure is an effective one. Cynics have said that the tici-taca style that the Spaniard employed in his time at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich wouldn’t work without an aggressive tweaking fit for the premier league but nobody seems to have told his players this as City look poised to challenge all the way to the end of the season. If there is a criticism to be made, it would likely be the hasty call Pep made in moving goalkeeper Joe Hart out on loan but Guardiola seems to be happy with the decision and, as long as Sergio Aguerro continues finding the net at the other end, it may not matter anyway.
After some early season key defeats, new manager Antonio Conte has switched to three at the back and now finds his team (at the time of writing) top of the pile. The Blues have no European campaign to distract from things this time around and that freedom might well propel them just as it did with Leicester one year ago. They are well served in goal with not one but two top keepers and a midfield, powered by the re-energised Eden Hazzard, that looks like it has the beating of anyone it comes up against. Up front, they also have little to worry about with Diego Costa always looking like a goal threat, so long as he keeps himself out of trouble, making Chelsea very strong contenders indeed.
It has been 26 years since Liverpool won the league and although they have come close before there does feel like there is something special building at Anfield once again. They are light at the back, looking like they could concede at any point and not many successful teams have emerged victorious with such a mindset. Manager Jürgen Klopp looks thoroughly relaxed about the situation, however, which probably has something to do with the fact that his team look like scoring for fun at the other end. The team isn’t solely reliant on one goal scorer either, indeed, their main striker watches from the bench most weeks as the team play a fluid false nine with Roberto Firmino the main focal point. That said, it is his Brazilian countryman Philippe Coutinho that is the team’s driving force as Liverpool, like Chelsea, enjoy a purely domestic season which could be their most fruitful in years.
So often the bridesmaid, Arsenal look to finally have developed an inner steel that has been lacking only too often over the past decade. Wenger is the old hat in the race and his experience could pay dividend against younger rivals. The team, is backed up by the still brilliant Petr Cech while at last Mezut Ozil appears comfortable enough to begin justifying his heavy price tag, set a few seasons back. With the manager seemingly happy to ignore the claims of Olivier Giroud upfront, a lot will depend on how well Alexis Sanchez plays over a whole season. If he performs then Arsenal should go well and you might consider checking out one of the online sports betting sites that have blossomed along with classic casino games in the past decade.
Despite an end of season implosion last year that saw Spurs nick third place from the jaws of title victory, the team has managed to keep everyone and everything in place to go again. Crucially, the manager signed a contract extension as did most of the team’s most important players, all of which are young enough to form the centrepiece of the club for many years to come. French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is as good as any in the league, as is Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld. English pair Dele Alli and Harry Kane will need to find their form soon for the club to challenge, but they should not be underestimated.
Having ditched Louis Van Gaal in favour of Jose Mourinho, much was expected of United this season, not least in the aftermath of the world’s biggest transfer fee, the £90m dished out for Paul Pogba. And, yet, the club has stuttered into the new season with talk of other expensive signings falling out the new coach who has already been served with two FA bans after only two months of the new season being played. That’s said, once everything settles down, the club are more than capable of putting together a run that would see them leap frog some of the other sides above them, into the senior places in the league. The goalkeeper, Spain’s David De Gea is one of the best in the world and they have squad depth unmatched by any of their rivals. How well they do, is seemingly down to them.