With both Leicester City and Tottenham performing wonders last season, the current crop of top teams in the Premier League has never been larger. No fewer than seven top flight teams will be legitimately pushing for a top four finish next season, with last season’s top three to be surely challenged by four of the EPL’s biggest in Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool – with all four individually underachieving last term.
Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte can be added to the managerial roster, joining Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino, Claudio Ranieri and Jurgen Klopp in what is surely the most impressive list of top managers competing in one league in living memory.
But who is the most likely to come out on top? Can Pep work his magic at City, can Claudio shock the world once again, can Mourinho return United to the glory days?
A fifth place finish with their lowest ever Premier League goal tally spelled the end for the much maligned Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford this month, with former Chelsea man Jose Mourinho primed to take the hotseat. Not since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 have United enjoyed a silverware-laden season, with United’s FA Cup triumph last season their first trophy since the Scot left in a blaze of glory.
Mourinho is a proven winner and is a safe bet to return the club to the lofty heights of Premier League and European stardom. Not every United fan will like his defensive style, but he will win football matches. His biggest hurdle in his first year, however, will be personnel.
United’s current squad is lacking stand-out quality. Captain Wayne Rooney is past his best, Anthony Martial is still finding his feet, the midfield has struggled this season and goalkeeper David de Gea has often kept United in games single-handedly.
It will be a very important summer for Mourinho and the club, but with correct strengthening, United can certainly aim for a top four spot.
Pep Guardiola is idolised by many, with the former Spain international leading Barcelona to two Champions League trophies between 2008 and 2011. The 45-year-old has lost just 68 games in his seven year managerial career, winning 408 and drawing 300. At Bayern Munich, he won three consecutive Bundesliga titles and two German cups.
He now arrives at his toughest challenge yet.
There are some who view Guardiola as a bit of a fraud, purely due to the fact that he has never cut his teeth at a lesser club. He has only managed at the very top, taking charge of two of the three biggest teams in Europe. At Barca, he had the privilege of Lionel Messi, the greatest player of all time according to many. At Bayern, he inherited a treble-winning side in a league unable to contain them.
Pep qualities as a manager will surely be revealed once and for all at City, where he faces not only a huge rebuild job but also a cut-throat league unlike anything he’s come across before. Nevertheless, the Premier League title odds and mobile betting tips for next season favour Manchester City over the rest, and Pep is the reason why.
He has solid foundations in Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, he can attract the biggest names and will be given a huge war-chest and plenty of time. That time, it will tell.
Antonio Conte’s arrival at Stamford Bridge has brought renewed optimism to the club after a dour season in which the 2012 European Champions finished a lowly tenth, their worst finish since the arrival of Roman Abramovich in 2003.
The Italian, who will take his national team to the European Championship in France this summer, won three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus from 2011 to 2014 and two Italian cups. He transformed the Old Lady into a force to be reckoned with in Europe, with Massimiliano Allegri continuing the former Italian international’s work, taking the club to the final of the 2015 Champions League.
His task at Chelsea is to reinvigorate the club and return them to the heights to which they are accustomed to. The squad needs a massive overhaul and with so many other sides currently stronger, a return to Champions League football in his first season should be seen as a major achievement.
A second placed finish in last season’s Premier League was their highest since 2005, but pipping local rivals Tottenham to the post has not prevented critics from attacking both the club and Arsene Wenger for yet another underwhelming season.
Yet another up and down campaign has brought familiar attacks from fans and pundits alike, with the current Arsenal squad certainly capable of mounting a significant assault on the Premier League, only to once more fall short, with Leicester’s unlikely title triumph making matters even worse for the majority of the Arsenal faithful.
Keeping both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez at the club will be Wenger’s first concern. If he can do that, and sign the right players in order to convince his two main stars that the club can and will challenge for major honours next season, then it is a case of starting well and containing the inevitable injury crisis that has consistently plagued the club in every season in living memory.
If he can do that, there’s no reason why the Gunners can’t win the title. But that is a sentence we seem to say every single season.
The fairytale that was Leicester last season will be remembered for all time. Premier League champions for the first time in their history, one year on from being relegation fodder. It is an inspirational story to last the ages.
But can they repeat the feat?
Most will rule them out once again from day one, despite them proving everyone and their dogs wrong last season. Considering the sure-to-be increasing strength of the opposition, they’ll find winning the title in the 2016/17 season even more difficult than last time out.
If Ranieri can work his magic in the transfer market again, and they keep the likes of Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante, they should have a realistic shot at a top six finish. They couldn’t win it again, could they..?
In Dele Alli and Harry Kane, Spurs have an attacking pair that can cause real problems for any opposition. In Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris, Spurs have two of the best defensive players in the business. And in Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs have one of the best young managers in world football.
Combine these with a combative squad and solid foundations and you have a club that has a bright future.
That Tottenham finished third last season was a surprise, with a complete meltdown in the final three games leaving Arsenal with room to overtake them on the last day of the season. Spurs were Leicester’s closest challengers until Chelsea put paid to their title aspirations, and the bitter blow of being ousted so late on in the season will either make or break this young team.
Tottenham have finally joined the big leagues and can expect another top four finish. A first Premier League title does seem to be still a few years away, but if they can keep their top players at White Hart Lane, you never know.
Reaching two major finals last year is more than most clubs can say. The fact that they lost both will have been hard to stomach, but under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool can look forward with excitement.
The club, despite their historical success both domestically and abroad, have never won the Premier League. While it is highly unlikely they’ll win their first title next season considering the strength of the English top flight, the seeds have certainly been sown for the club to emerge as a major force in the next five years.
Klopp has solid foundations and will surely be active in the upcoming transfer window. Liverpool not being in the Champions League next season, along with United and Chelsea, could scupper any high profile transfer plans. But there’s not many players that would say no to working under their German manager.