The Premier League ended last year with Leicester crowned deservedly as champions. From a relegated, threatened or even doomed team to champion, their success story was unprecedented and they had many by surprise but little did the football arena know more and more surprises and records await everyone this season.
Following the 2015/2016 campaign, it was very evident it was disastrous for all the big guns in the league.
THE BIG 3: FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!
Chelsea finished at tenth; historically it was their first in the reformed Premier League era, and realistically, they were the defending champion. They battled and survived relegation just a year after they had won the league comfortably. This even cost Jose Mourinho his job at Stamford Bridge and a dent in his profile.
Manchester City though fared better than Chelsea(winning the league cup against an unlucky Liverpool) nonetheless had a very bad season too as they struggled to finish in the top four ahead of their Manchester counterpart albeit the Red Devils loss to West ham close to the end of the season. This as well cost Manuel Pellegrini his job.
Manchester had a mixed and boring campaign with the Louis Van Gaal philosophy fully entrenched in the blood of the Red Devils. They finished outside of the top four and thus, missed out on Champions League football for the second time in the Post SAF (Sir Alex Ferguson) regime and got eliminated in the Europa League losing out to Liverpool. They, however, managed to clinch the FA cup which was a consolation for the club but not enough to consolidate Louis Van Gaal (LVG) stay at the Theatre of Dreams as his dreams turned nightmare. The fans refused to be pacified and Van Gaal was fired the next day.
Sorry, I have to tag Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham minors here.
Liverpool began the campaign with Brendan Rodgers who got sacked midway into the campaign to make way for German Jurgen Klopp, a proven winner. Liverpool had an unlucky campaign entering two finals but winning none as they lose out to both Sevilla and Manchester City and moreover, failed to qualify for any European competition. From European and Premier League giants, Liverpool Football Club has waned considerably and they are without a Premier League trophy since its maiden edition in 1992 spanning over 25years.
Tottenham only recently rose to prominence under Harry Redknapp in his penultimate year in charge at White Hart Lane when they qualified for the Champions League football thrashing the Italian San Siro giants in the process to be stopped at Bernabeu. This progress was not consolidated in the seasons to follow but following the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, they have shone to spotlight again with their best season last year when they finished 3rd. I rate them as a minor as they are yet to clinch the premier league since its maiden edition in 1992.
Arsenal is the last here to make the top six for a reason best known to me. The Gunners popularly otherwise known as the regular of the top four always finishing “4th” till Post SAF era are without a Champions League honor nor Europa and without a Premier League honor too since the 2003/2004 invincible campaign. Last season gave them the ample opportunity to erase the curse and break the jinx as the trio of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, who had shared the league between themselves since 2005 then all dropped in form massively and were totally out of shape during the course of the campaign. Yet, the Emirates Stadium welcomed no trophy and even finished ten points below Leicester city at the final standings. I do not see them winning a Premier League title in the next 5 years.
AUGUST 2016_LET THE GAME BEGIN…
The new season witnessed a new influx of managers injected to bring back on their feet, the falling teams.
Chelsea got Antonio Conte, Manchester City and United got themselves the rival pair of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho respectively.
With the new season came optimism, competition and predictions with many foreseeing a hard-fought battle for the league. Pundits and football analysts have predicted in majority of a Manchester City triumph following the arrival of winner, Pep and classical signings like John Stones, Sane, Gabriel Jesus complementing the already star studded squad of David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling et al. Jose Mourinho and his boys, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrihk, Anthony Martial et al are also to closely mount a serious title challenge alongside their neighbours while Chelsea who signed the golden boy – Ngolo Kante, Marcos Alonso and inexperienced Mitchy Batshuayi was ruled out of the title race.
However, it seems Antonio Conte’s blues shocked pundits alike and wronged the predictors as they race up the league to sit comfortably with a ten point margin despite having a shaky start. Italian tactician, Antonio Conte got his bearing right with the switch to 3-4-3 formation which saw the blues embarked on a 13 match winning streak and claim the league for themselves even before the half of the season.
Following Chelsea’s surprise charge at the League, the two Manchester managers’ wobbling start to a new life and both Arsenal and Liverpool indifferent and inconsistent displays, many pundits have retraced and now swallow their dung. The title is admittedly and universally known to be won. What else? The top four race! With just seven points separating the second from the stagnant sixth placed club, the top four race could go down the wire. Manchester United legendary retired midfielder Paul Scholes in his latest prediction predicts thus: Tottenham would not make the top four and either of Liverpool or Arsenal will miss out to accommodate both Manchester clubs. Whether or not the prediction will be a reality can only be decided come MAY- the day of reckoning. Well, I see (in my own prediction) Liverpool missing out ahead of Tottenham with a top four of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United come May.