2016-17 Premier League Preview: Part One

After the 2015-16 season, predicting how the Premier League will pan out is probably nigh on impossible. But I’ll have a try. In the so called ‘year of the manager’, part one of my 2016-17 preview includes three new managers, English football’s longest serving manager, the top flight’s youngest manager and one club without a manager. Not forgetting two of the newly promoted teams as well as champions Leicester City. That still sounds strange. But without further ado…

Read part two here.


CREDIT: Getty Images
CREDIT: Getty Images
  • Last season: 2nd
  • Manager: Arsene Wenger

Arsenal achieved their best league finish in 11 years when they ended up in second last season, but it didn’t feel like it, with the general consensus being it was an opportunity to win the title massively missed. Arsene Wenger has solved one of the Gunners’ problems by bringing in Granit Xhaka to play the holding midfield role, but is still yet to sign a word class centre-back or striker so I can’t see them challenging for the title – especially as their rivals have strengthened much more. On his day, Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players in the league, whilst Aaron Ramsey needs to be given the chance in a more attacking role that he excelled in with Wales at the Euros. With Wenger’s contract up at the end of the campaign, could this be his final year in North London? That uncertainty will hang over the team throughout the season. 4th


CREDIT: Action Images/Jed Leicester
CREDIT: Action Images/Jed Leicester
  • Last season: 16th
  • Manager: Eddie Howe

Bournemouth’s incredible journey up the English football ladder continued in their first ever season in the top flight in 2015-16, as relegation was never really an issue. But I’ve got a feeling that the Cherries could well struggle this time around, suffering from the cliché that is ‘second season syndrome’. They ended the last campaign with one win in eight games (against relegated Aston Villa), whilst Matt Ritchie has made the surprising decision to drop down a division and join Newcastle. £15 million seemed way too much to pay for Jordan Ibe, who I don’t think will be as effective as expected, but Lewis Cook signed from Leeds is an exciting prospect. If Callum Wilson can return from a long spell on the side-lines and start banging in the goals again, that might be enough to save Bournemouth. 16th


  • Last season: 1st in the Championship
  • Manager: Sean Dyche

It is true that Sean Dyche and his players are more experienced following their one season in the Premier League in 2014-15, but after achieving promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking, they don’t seem to have learnt their lessons yet. The Clarets have once again failed to spend the big bucks and as such I think they could be in for another season of struggle. Yes, they do have ‘the new Jamie Vardy’ Andre Gray in their squad who scored 23 goals last season and picked up the Championship’s Player of the Year award, but in 2014-15 they had the similarly prolific Danny Ings but that wasn’t enough to save them. Burnley also have to learn to live without Joey Barton, who moved to Rangers after playing a key role in winning the English second tier title. Winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson is a good addition from Charlton, but it might not be enough. 19th


  • Last season: 10th
  • Manager: Antonio Conte

This time last year I was predicting Chelsea to lift the Premier League, but a surprisingly disastrous season meant Jose Mourinho was gone by the turn of the year and the Blues ended up in 10th. But now with Antonio Conte in charge, who impressed many in charge of Italy at Euro 2016, the West Londoners look set to challenge at the top once again. The squad remains one of the best in the division, and if Eden Hazard can rediscover his 2014-15 form that he showed towards the end of last season and with Belgium in the summer then he’ll be key once again alongside new signings N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi. No European football in midweek will give Chelsea the advantage over their rivals in a push for the title too. 2nd

Crystal Palace

CREDIT: Eddie Keogh
CREDIT: Eddie Keogh
  • Last season: 15th
  • Manager: Alan Pardew

Which Crystal Palace will turn up this season? Will it be the Eagles side that was joint fourth at Christmas in 2015-16 or the one that fell rapidly down the table after the turn of the year? There’s no reason why Alan Pardew can’t take his side into the top half as the squad is certainly capable of it, especially with Andros Townsend, Steve Mandanda and James Tomkins all arriving this summer. But there’s one thing the squad still desperately needs – a prolific goal scorer. No player in the Palace squad scored more than five league goals last season (defender Scott Dan netted the joint highest amount), whilst their top scorer in all competitions Dwight Gayle (seven goals) has departed for Newcastle. They may have failed in bringing Michu Batshuayi in, but find someone of that quality and who knows what could happen. Just no dancing please Pards. 12th


CREDIT: Tony McArdle - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images
CREDIT: Tony McArdle – Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images
  • Last season: 11th
  • Manager: Ronald Koeman

A second successive disappointing bottom half finish signalled the end for Roberto Martinez at Everton, and many were surprised to see Southampton boss Ronald Koeman replace him. With the Dutchman’s impressive record on the South Coast and new owners willing to splash the cash at Goodison Park, things are looking up again for the Toffees. Yet so far we haven’t really seen all that much money spent, with Idrissa Gueye the biggest signing at £7.1 million. Going out of the Merseyside door, John Stones has joined Manchester City, whilst rumours continue to persist around Romelu Lukaku. Losing the Belgian, who netted 32% of Everton’s goals last season, would be disastrous, especially if they didn’t replace him. I expect an improved campaign under Koeman, but they perhaps won’t make it back into Europe just yet. 9th

Hull City

CREDIT: Getty Images
CREDIT: Getty Images
  • Last season: 4th in the Championship
  • Manager: Vacant (Mike Phelan in caretaker charge)

It’s not been a good summer in Hull following promotion back to the Premier League via the play-offs. After missing out on the England job, Steve Bruce resigned, leaving caretaker boss Mike Phelan to take charge for the opening game of the season against champions Leicester City no less. As for new signings, only the unheard of 18 year old goalkeeper Will Mannion has joined from AFC Wimbledon. Meanwhile, key player Mohamed Diame has left for Newcastle, leaving the squad looking scarily thin ahead of the big kick-off. Things need to be sorted out fast at the KC Stadium, otherwise you can very easily see the Tigers being cut adrift early on in the campaign. Of course there are players in the team such as Tom Huddlestone, Robert Snodgrass and last season’s top scorer Abel Hernadez who could help Hull defy the odds, but right now survival looks incredibly unlikely. 20th

Leicester City

CREDIT: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
CREDIT: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
  • Last season: 1st
  • Manager: Claudio Ranieri

The Leicester City story that culminated in lifting the Premier League in May is nothing short of extraordinary. But surely, surely they can’t do it again?! One of the stars of last season’s heroic squad, N’Golo Kante has already departed for Chelsea, but top scorer Jamie Vardy has signed a new contract. Yet the future of PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez remains uncertain, but if he stays at the King Power Stadium that will give the Foxes a huge boost. They’ve broken their transfer record this summer to sign Ahmed Musa who has impressed in pre-season and will definitely improve the squad. Competition for the title is stronger than ever before, whilst Leicester also have the Champions League to concentrate on this time around, so personally I can’t see them repeating 2015-16’s miracles. But we’ve learnt to never ever write them off, so who knows? 7th


Wijnaldum Liverpool

  • Last season: 8th
  • Manager: Jurgen Klopp

In the end it was a hugely disappointing campaign in 2015-16 for Liverpool – they haven’t finished lower than eighth since the 1950s. But Jurgen Klopp, one of the world’s best managers, has had a full summer to make the squad his own, bringing in Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum to improve the Reds’ attacking options. They do indeed look very strong going forward, with Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho in the side too, as shown by beating Barcelona 4-0 in pre-season. If the defence can tighten up, new signings Joel Matip and Loris Karius will help with that, and the issue of inconsistency can be addressed, then Liverpool may well make a push for the top four this season. Especially as they will not have European football to worry about, Klopp’s side should be right in amongst it in the toughest Premier League season ever. 6th

Manchester City

  • Last season: 4th
  • Manager: Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is facing his toughest managerial challenge yet at Manchester City. The supporters expect, based on his impressive reputation earned at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and the fact that the club massively underachieved in 2015-16, finishing fourth. But money has once again been spent at the Etihad Stadium this summer, and on paper City have by far the strongest squad in the league. Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito, Leroy Sane and John Stones are all impressive and exciting purchases and shows that Guardiola identified the squad’s deficiencies. In my opinion, Sergio Aguero is the best player in the league, and if he and skipper Vincent Kompany, both of whom have unfortunate injury records, can stay fit for the majority of the campaign, I expect the Citizens to lift the trophy in May. 1st

You can read part two here, and if you disagree with my predictions for the first ten teams, let me know in the comments or on Twitter!


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