Following the unlikeliest champion in the 25-year history of English Premier League, the biggest question of the 2016-17 season is: are things ready to return to normal? Last year, tiny Leicester City triumphed over some of the biggest payrolls in professional sports to win their first league title. Now, all eyes are on the big boys, who have brought in some of the best players and coaches in the world, to try and claim one of the hardest trophies to win in sports.
The EPL season kicks off on August 13 and runs all the way until May 21. This year, Burnley, Middlesbrough, and Hull City join the ranks through promotion, but will likely be in a battle just to avoid relegation. The true contenders will be the names you recognize; let’s break down their odds.
Manchester City probably had the most talented team in the Premier League last season, but they failed to buy into Manuel Pellegrini’s system. City ulimatley quit halfway through the season, when they found out Pelligrini was out the door at the end of the year.
Now the team has new leadership as Pep Guardiola brings a winning mentality to a squad that is more than capable of returning to the top this season. Under Guardiola, and led by Sergio Aguero, this team will play better, and that’s why they are the favorites.
This used to be Manchester United’s league, and everyone else just paid rent. But now that winning culture has gone out the door: the team hasn’t won a title in three seasons and missed out on qualifying for this year’s Champions League.
Those winning ways are what new manager Jose Mourinho is trying to bring back. For Mourinho, the first job is to fix the offense and then deal with the rest of the team. The new coach will be joined by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a past-his prime player, but still a capable striker who can help this team. However, the biggest addition still hasn’t been finalized, as the team is looking to add Paul Pogba after offering a record £100 million transfer fee.
With some established talent joining this young squad, United should be right back in the thick of things.
Chelsea doesn’t mind changing coaches and trying different things, and that’s what they’ve done again, bringing in Antonio Conte this summer. The Italian had success with Juventus in the Italia Serie A before taking the reigns of his national team. During the Euro 2016, Conte outcoached most of his opponents, and his team was eliminated via penalty kicks.
His presence in Chelsea should be a steadying one for the most disappointing squad of last season. Chelsea came into last season as the defending champs, and left with their tales between their legs, finishing tenth. Expect a big bounce-back year from Eden Hazard.
Led by the longest tenured manager in the league by a wide margin, Arsenal will once again be guided by Arsene Wenger. The Gunners haven’t finished outside the top four since Wenger joined the club in 1996, and shouldn’t be expected to drop off this year either.
Leicester City: 25/1
West Ham: 65/1
Stoke City: 500/1
Crystal Palace: 500/1
Hull City: 1500/1
West Brom: 1500/1
(Photo credit: joshjdss (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])
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