A New English Premier League Season Begins
by Kevin Cain
It seems like we have only just had our half time oranges, and yet here we are with a brand new season of thrills and spills which is the English Premier League.
After last season's whirlwind of surprises, upsets and unbelievable events, I cannot quite believe the ball is once again planted on the centre spot ready to be kicked off.
Obviously Leicester City were the headline act of 2015 / 2016. And I think most of the football fans in the world, no matter what team they support, were delighted for the Foxes.So what does the new English Premier League have in store for us commencing on Saturday the 13th of August?
Firstly to replace the relegated clubs from last season, namely Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich, there are three newcomers to the premiership. It is worth noting at this juncture this will be the first season of the Premier League era that former European Cup winners Aston Villa do not compete in the top flight of English football. Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City are the Premiership new boys and all three will prove to be tricky away games for most clubs. Although two giants of the Premier League went down, the three promoted teams have strong records of playing in the Premiership. Having said that, the bookmakers odds favour all three promoted teams to be relegated with Hull City to be propping up the table.
During the close season, and accurate as we go to press, there have already been 8 managerial changes. Five clubs decided to part with their managers; Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton and Watford. Whilst Southampton, Sunderland and Hull City lost their managers to other clubs, and in Sunderland's case big Sam Allardyce departed to become England's national coach. This normal merry-go-round of managerial departures and signings adds even more uncertainty to the melting pot of the new season. How is it possible to predict the League Champions when so many teams have new men at the helm and so many different playing personnel ?
Once again, looking at the bookmakers to throw some light on the confusion, it seems that Manchester City are their favourites at 5/2. Perhaps the arrival of the highly successful Pep Guardiola as manager is affecting the odds, but it will definitely depend on whether he can shore up the leaky defense of last season.
Jose Mourinho who swapped Chelsea for Manchester United, must have impressed the men that know as the Red Devils are second favourites with the best price at 18/5. It does seem trifle peculiar that Chelsea who sacked Mourinho, languish behind Manchester United at third in the pecking order.
I am not quite certain what criteria the likes of Paddy Power and the rest of the bookies formulate their odds on but bear in mind their thinking was completely flawed last season.They were utterly and completely embarrassed with the surprise package that upset the applecart, namely Leicester City. At the start of last season Leicester were odds on favourites to go down and a massive 5000/1 to actually win the league. How could they get it so wrong? You can be assured that this season the bookies have well and truly covered their proverbials, the biggest odds you can can get anywhere for any team to actually win the league is 1,500/1. A massive reduction of 3,500 points, that is why you never see a poor bookie!
I would just love it if Leicester City would once again make utter fools of them all and belittle their forecasted position of seventh place. It does seem a tough call as the hawks have been circling around the King Power Stadium and Leicester are struggling to keep hold of key players and backroom staff.Also a major determining factor on all the preseason forecasting is that of new player signings. The influx of star strikers and top goal scoring midfielders can rejuvenate any team. Players who shone in the 2016 European Championships, with the exception of anybody who played for England, are being hunted down and signed as fast as the ink can dry on the pages of their contracts.
The new lucrative TV deal, the highest in world football, will give all 20 clubs the financial clout to compete in the transfer market. The deal is worth over £10 billion over the next three years, so even the minnows of the league can now strengthen their squads in depth with top quality players.What this means is that things are on a more level playing field, the domination of the ultra rich clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United is now seriously under threat. It also means that there simply are no easy games left in the Premiership. Just about any team in the league can beat any other, the winners will be those that can be consistent over the whole season.
That is why anybody who is a member of a weekly forecasting syndicate will have a tough time of it predicting results this term, and with a bit of luck so will the bookmakers.Now is the time to put my neck on the line and to let you the readers, know who I think will be the winners and losers come 21st May 2017.
And in time honoured fashion of celebrity competitions I will start with relegation fodder. In no particular order I believe that Watford, Hull City and Middlesborough are doomed.Surprise packages that should improve greatly on the 2015 / 2016 season and will qualify for Europe are; Everton, Liverpool and Spurs.
And finally the top three in ascending order will be; Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. I seriously believe that the Chosen One will lead Manchester United to the title if for no other reason but to spite Roman Abramovich and Chelsea.I hope we are in for as an exciting time as last season, but somehow I sadly think that somebody such as Leicester City will not surprise us this time. By the look of the Summer signings one thing is certain, the English Premier League will remain the most exhilarating football league in the world.