The new Premier League season kicks off in earnest this weekend, and Manchester United hosts Leicester City in the curtain raiser tomorrow night. Will we finally see a repeat league champion? It hasn’t happened since a Cristiano Ronaldo led United side accomplished the feat in 2008-09, the final year of a three peat for Sir Alex Ferguson’s juggernaut.
Looking at the record setting season that Manchester City just accomplished, plus the fact that they have strengthened this off-season, we’re picking Pep Guardiola to accomplish something that no one has been able to do in close to a decade.
Click where highlighted for the season preview of that team. Note that the predicted finish here is off in a couple instances from the predicted finish in the team previews. That’s because the team previews were done before the transfer activity and inactivity of the past couple days which has forced some adjustments in our projections.
Champs: Manchester City
It’s scary when you look at how deep and talented they are; a 100 point club that added the 2015-16 PFA Player of the Year. Is there anything that can stop them? Well, if there is this one thing.
If Guardiola and company decide to go full in on the UEFA Champions League, and take the league competition less seriously, then who knows. City has accomplished everything already domestically, but they need to win UCL one of these years, or at least make a very deep run. Of course, they could also have ambitions on a treble.
There is nobody, this side of Jose Mourinho, who doesn’t love the offseason they had. With their Christmas like shopping frenzy in the transfer market, silverware is required this season. They came oh so close to getting one of the two major trophies last season, but couldn’t close the deal.
If anybody can unseat City, it’s the Reds. They have the squad, the leadership and the ambition to do so.
They will certainly be to score, but how many goals will they give up? The defense and midfield has been made over, but is it enough? We’re big on the Unai Emery hire, and although their summer transfer window lacked sizzle, it had plenty of steak. Look for the Gunners to surprise!
Fourth: Manchester United
Jose Mourinho warned that if no more signings occurred, we’d be in for a difficult season. It’s not as bad as he makes it out to be (likewise regarding his dire description of the preseason), as this squad is among the top three most talented in the league.
However, Mourinho is showing too many sides of third season syndrome right now, and as long as he continues alienating people at Old Trafford, well, you’ve seen this movie before. It’s all about Paul Pogba, United can only go as far as he will lead them. Thus, Pogba and Mourinho need to find a way to better coexist.
Fifth: Tottenham Hotspur
Not sure they’re going to be able to duplicate the success they had at White Hart Lane in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; maybe not initially. Having an utterly lifeless summer transfer window didn’t help. It’s not just that they didn’t sign anyone, it’s also that they didn’t really seem to be trying all that hard to do so.
When you finish 23 points off the pace of the league leaders, you got to try to do something more than they did this summer.
This might even be a little high. Kudos to the Blues for getting all their transfer business done in time, despite the very late arrival to the party. However, being forced to take a big step down in quality of goalkeeper is going to hurt. There will also be some growing pains in the adjustment to the new manager and systems.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.
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