After a summer of top class football at the European Championships in France, attention will soon turn to the new Premier League season as clubs scrabble around the transfer market to bolster squads for the next league campaign. The new TV deal has seen an influx of cash in the top flight and that means there will be plenty of business throughout the division, while a host of top managers will also grace the English Premier League in 2016/17.
Jose Mourinho has taken up his post at Manchester United and Pep Guardiola takes the reins at Manchester City, as the pair renew their El Classico rivalry. Antonio Conte has oozed charisma throughout the Euros with Italy and he’ll attempt to revive fortunes at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea, while Jurgen Klopp will undertake his first full season in charge of Liverpool. After their incredible title success last season, Claudio Ranieri and Leicester will make their bow in the Champions League alongside Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City.
It’s a wide open league once again, so let’s look at the odds for the top title contenders.
Manchester City – +240
Manchester City struggled throughout last season under Manuel Pellegrini, with the most glaring problems in defence. Vincent Kompany suffered a succession of injuries and without the Belgian captain, City looked suspect at the back. Despite those issues they still snatched 4th spot in the league to qualify for this season’s Champions League, and reached the semi final of that competition where they were beaten by Real Madrid.
A better showing will be expected in the league this time around from Pep Guardiola, but one also expects that he’s been charged with bringing the ultimate Champions League success to the Citizens. Gundogan has already been brought in, and rumours of a £50 million move for Everton’s John Stones continue to do the rounds.
City are probably worthy favourites at this stage, but it’s Pep’s first season in charge and he has to rebuild an ageing defence as well as battle on both domestic and European fronts.
Manchester United – +450
After dismal seasons under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, Manchester United have turned to Jose Mourinho to bring back the glory days to Old Trafford. The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has given Red Devil’s fans a huge boost and he will bring his unique swagger to the Premier League.
Of all clubs, United could well do the most business in the summer, having already signed Eric Bailly plus the enigmatic Swede. Rumours of big money moves for the likes of Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez persist, and it should be a new look side under the Portuguese maestro. It will need to be though, after a poor season last year which saw them win the FA Cup but finish outside the Champions League places once again.
That could be a blessing in disguise in many respects, and there is little doubt that the priority at Old Trafford will be to bring the title back to Manchester.
Chelsea – +650
Conte has shown his ability at Juventus and with the Italian national team, and rarely has a manager demonstrated more passion from the sidelines. Chelsea were lacklustre last season having won the title the previous year, and Conte could be just the man to breathe life back into the team and reintroduce some fighting spirit. His Italy side has been ultra-organised and he has been described as a tough taskmaster that will not settle for second best.
If his team is guaranteed to be competitive it will also contain plenty of quality. At present he retains the services of Hazard, Fabregas and Willian, while Belgian striker Batshuayi apparently on his way. After a terrible 10th place finish last season there will be no European distractions at Stamford Bridge, and that will enable Conte to field a fresh, full-strength team throughout the domestic campaign. At the odds, Chelsea are a good value call to take the title.
Arsenal – +600
Arsenal may well have blown their best chance of a title last season when they failed to catch Leicester. A second place finish guaranteed Champions League football once again, but they were a full ten points behind the Foxes and Gunners fans are increasingly unhappy with the lack of success at the Emirates.
In transfer terms Arsenal have never quite sat at the top table or thrown around massive multi-million pound fees, although the £30 million for Granit Xhaka is a good start to summer business. There are rumours of a bid for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, but a £70 million-odd buy out clause could be enough to put Wenger off.
With every team improving around them it’s hard to see anything other than a season of nearly-but-not-quite at Arsenal again.
Liverpool – +900
Jurgen Klopp has his first summer transfer window at Liverpool as he continues to shape his side. The £34 million signing of Southampton’s Sadio Mane raised a few eyebrows, but he’s the type of high-intensity player that Klopp’s system requires.
A Capital One Cup final and a Europa League final will be seen as signs of progress for Liverpool, but yet again the trophy cabinet was bare last season, and yet again they failed to qualify for the Champions League. They will be entertaining and competitive but whether they have enough to challenge for the title is another question.
Leicester – +3000
Leicester are somewhat shorter at the odds than the 2000/1 on offer at this stage last season, but a repeat of those heroics looks incredibly unlikely. It might be harsh to say they benefited from poor performances from other sides last season, but it’s unlikely that Chelsea, Man United and Man City will be as bad as they were last term.
Equally, Leicester will be busy taking on their first tilt at Champions league football and they don’t look to have the squad capable of competing on both fronts.
Chelsea to win the Premier League