How the Bookies See it
- Winner: Man City 9/4, Man United 10/3, Chelsea 6/1 - Boylesports
- Relegation: Hull City 8/13, Burnley 1/1, Middlesbrough 2/1 - Bet365
- Highest Scoring Team: Man City 2/1, Man United 4/1, Arsenal 9/2 - Betfred
- Arsenal are still waiting for their first title win since 2004 after finishing as runners-up last season. Arsene Wenger has dusted off his cheque book to add the highly-rated Granit Xhaka to his squad, but the writing could be on the wall for the division’s longest-serving manager should the Gunners fail to keep pace with this year’s highly-charged title challengers. The Frenchman is now in the final year of his current contract and may be urged to move on if the club from north London miss out on a lucrative Champions League spot.
- Bournemouth enjoyed a successful first season in the country’s top flight, finishing 16th despite a number of injuries to key players. The Cherries will be without the element of surprise this term and could find the going a lot tougher this time around. Fortunately, with Eddie Howe at the helm, the men from the south coast have one of the most promising young managers in the country on their side, a factor that could prove key should second-season syndrome kick in.
- Burnley enjoyed a successful season in the Championship following relegation in 2014, returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking and even finished top of the pile after embarking on an astonishing 23-game unbeaten run. Manager Sean Dyche may not have been able to add many players to his squad this summer, but he has maintained the core of the side that gained promotion. Survival won’t be easy, but a 17th-place finish would suit the Turf Moor club nicely.
- Chelsea endured a torrid time of things last season and completely fluffed their lines when it came to defending their title, eventually finishing in tenth place. The club will be hoping to turn their fortunes around under the guidance of former Juventus and Italy coach Antonio Conte, a man who knows what it takes to win league titles as both a player and manager. If the Italian can get his top players firing on all cylinders once more, the Blues could be looking at another title challenge this term.
- Crystal Palace ended their last campaign with just two league wins from their final 21 games, leaving the Eagles nervously sweating over their Premier League status. Alan Pardew has reacted positively in the summer months by trimming the dead weight from his side and investing heavily in players for his starting XI. The side from Selhurst Park will need a decent start to the new season to avoid a relegation scrap in the spring as well as serious questions about Pardew’s leadership capabilities.
- Everton suffered a dreadful finale to their season under Roberto Martinez and were very lucky to finish in 11th. The Spaniard has since departed, making way for Ronald Koeman who did such a good job of steadying the ship at Southampton after countless departures. The Dutchman hasn’t spent big on transfers, instead focusing on working with the talented group of players already at his disposal. Toffees fans will be hoping for a much better showing in this campaign.
- Hull City may have successfully negotiated their way out of the Championship at the first time of asking, but the club looks to be in disarray heading into the new season. The departure of Steve Bruce seems to have hit the club hard, with a number of big names all wanting out. With so little time to work with the squad between now and the start of the season, a new manager may need to perform miracles to keep the Yorkshire side in the division.
- Leicester City enter this new season as champions of England, a sentence no football fan thought they would ever hear. The Foxes may have lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea in the summer, but it will be hoped that a number of new faces will make up for the Frenchman’s departure. Successfully keeping hold of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez may prove to be the biggest task for Claudio Ranieri should his side falter in the early stages on the new campaign. The team from the Midlands must also quickly learn to adapt to life in the Champions League.
- Liverpool begin their first full season under the tutelage of Jürgen Klopp and the mood around Anfield seems positive. The Reds will need to put the disappointment of finishing as runners-up in the League Cup and Europa League out of their minds and focus solely on the season ahead. With no European football to distract the team, Klopp may be able to work his magic this term and produce a truly special season at Anfield.
- Manchester City begin the 2016/17 season with a feeling of positivity around the club. New boss Pep Guardiola will be looking to deliver trophies on a regular basis and has the potential to turn City into a superpower of world football. A relatively kind start to the season awaits before the gaffer’s first real test against city rivals United in September. The pressure is very much on the men in sky blue this year, especially Guardiola, who will want to keep up his exceptional record as a manager following success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
- Manchester United have invested heavily this summer in both their manager and their personnel, restoring a feeling of optimism to the club following the duller days under Louis Van Gaal. The Red Devils were quick to dispatch of the FA Cup-winning Dutchman in favour of Jose Mourinho and this could be a gamble that pays off. A number of big-money signings, including Paul Pogba for a world-record fee of £89 million, need to hit the ground running if United are to pick up their first title of the post-Fergie era. The team’s participation in the Europa League could also prove a distraction.
- Middlesbrough have taken their time in returning to the Premier League, having suffered relegation back in 2009. A string of high-profile signings suggests that Aitor Karanka’s side are determined to remain in the top flight, but a failure to gel could prove to be Boro’s undoing. The Riverside club could be in for a relegation rumble come May if things don’t go to plan.
- Southampton continued to defy logic last season, finishing sixth after yet again having their best players poached. The same is true for this campaign, with manager Ronald Koeman leaving for Everton and star players Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle both heading on to new pastures. The Saints have proven time and time again that they can survive after a string of departures, but may struggle to achieve the same heights this season.
- Stoke City will be eager to improve on last season’s ninth-place finish in a season that saw them find the net on fewer occasions than relegated Newcastle United. The acquisition of Joe Allen from Liverpool and extending the contract of Marko Arnautovic have shown that the Potters are a team with ambition, but unless a proven goalscorer can be found, Mark Hughes’ men could find themselves slipping back into mid-table obscurity.
- Sunderland put their fans through the relegation wringer again last term before surviving with a game to spare. The departure of Sam Allardyce will be a big blow, but the Black Cats will feel they are in capable hands with David Moyes. Fans at the Stadium of Light will be hoping that they have employed the magical Moyes of Preston and Everton, and not the disappointing Dave of Manchester United and Real Sociedad. A poor start could signal another season of hurt for the North East club.
- Swansea City may have finished 12th, but the side’s early-season flirtation with the drop zone was something that fans of the Welsh side had not experienced before. A number of new faces have made their way to the Liberty Stadium this summer and it is up to manager Francesco Guidolin to mold them into a team that can push on up the table. However, the Swans face a difficult start, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all heading to south Wales in the opening seven games. An early run of defeats could spell trouble for the Premier League’s only non-English team.
- Tottenham Hotspur continued to improve last season, despite eventually dropping to third on the last day behind bitter rivals Arsenal. Mauricio Pochettino has established an exceptional squad that proved capable of battling for top spot and another tilt at the title could be in line come May. A major challenge for the White Hart Lane side will be how they deal with the pressure of Champions League football this side of the new year.
- Watford may have been virtually safe from relegation at Christmas, but that didn’t stop Quique Flores from being dismissed at the end of the season. The Hornets now find themselves being coached by Walter Mazzarri, a man with plenty of managerial experience in his home country of Italy. The 54-year-old will be hoping to kick on from where his predecessor left off, but if the Italian struggles to adapt to life in England straight away, Watford could be in for a long ten months.
- West Bromwich Albion enter their second full season under the guidance of Tony Pulis and will be hoping to improve upon their 14th-place finish last season. The Baggies have been very quiet in the transfer market so far, but with new owners recently installed the fans will be hoping for some late moves to help bolster the squad. However, Pulis could be a contender to be the first manager to be shown the door should the club’s fresh hierarchy not like what they see in the first month or so.
- West Ham United will begin their first season away from the Boleyn Ground with optimism. The Hammers narrowly missed out on the Champions League last season and will know that a place in the top four is by no means impossible. Slaven Bilic has assembled a very good side that is difficult to beat and turning the Olympic Stadium into a fortress could be key in landing the London club a place at Europe’s top table in 2017.
Following Leicester City’s heroic title win, this season will certainly see a number of the league’s bigger sides try to restore their battered pride. Both Manchester clubs have recruited well on both the sidelines and on the pitch, while the same can be said for Chelsea down south. The title race may come down to which of the new managers can handle the pressure and avoid the mind games, particularly in the latest installment of Jose vs Pep. It may be worth watching out for the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham pulling off shock performances in a campaign that may see the usual title contenders finding their feet under new managers. Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger might fancy a Premier League winner’s medal before calling it a day at the Emirates.
The race for the top four is getting even tighter as the years pass, and with the prize of a lucrative Champions League campaign up for grabs, the stakes are huge. Expect the usual suspects to be hovering around, while Leicester City are unlikely to want to let their first taste of European football be their last. West Ham may also be worth watching out for, especially with the side eager to make good use of their swanky new stadium.
The battle to avoid the drop looks set to be just as close, with Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City all hoping they can avoid an immediate return to the country’s second tier. Sunderland will be desperate to distance themselves from the relegation fodder this year, but could easily find themselves being sucked in along with the likes of Bournemouth and West Brom. A poor start for Watford and their new manager could also see them dragged into the mire, but Crystal Palace may be a team to keep an eye on, particularly as the Eagles failed to deliver towards the back end of last season, eerily mirroring Pardew’s slump in form while in charge at Newcastle.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Crystal Palace to be Relegated 13/2 - Bet365
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.