After Portugal’s surprise success at Euro 2016, and a whole host of transfer sagas that look set to last until the closing of the transfer window, supporters across the country will be grateful for the return of competitive action in just under two weeks’ time, as the Premier League returns. With Leicester City achieving one of football’s greatest achievements last time around, in what was to be honest a season lacking in quality throughout, a number of clubs will be looking to return to form during the upcoming campaign. With Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, and of course Jose Mourinho all set to do battle with the rest of English football’s top flight bosses, this campaign has all the potential to be one of the most compelling in recent history.
Guardiola will be keen to build on his achievements at Barcelona and Bayern, while Mourinho will be hell-bent on rebuilding both personal and collective credibility at Old Trafford. After an impressive spell with Italian giants Juventus before taking over as national team manager, Conte will face heavy scrutiny from Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich during his tenor in charge at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will not be having European football this season, which allows Conte to focus his attention fully on the Premiership. The trio head the league betting odds currently, with City, United and Chelsea at 5/2, 3/1 and 11/2 respectively.
Elsewhere, Claudio Ranieri, Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino will all hope to build upon their achievements of last season, with managerial rivalries providing an exciting side story for matters on the pitch. With Champions League qualification set to be more competitive than ever this season, the odds for a top four finish make for interesting reading. You can bet on it at Coral, where despite finishing in third place last time around, Tottenham are offered odds of 11/10, while Klopp’s Liverpool are 7/5 to make their presence felt at the top of the table.
Despite a month still remaining until the close of the transfer window, clubs have already invested heavily, with little signs that such investment will slow down. The transfer of Paul Pogba to Manchester United looks set to smash the world record, while Manchester City and Chelsea have recruited smartly through the likes of Nolito and N’Golo Kante. Mourinho has been very busy in the transfer window, bolstering his side with the likes of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Arsenal have already bought Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka but have not signed a striker, with Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon potentially in the frame for a £42 million move. A move for Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez looks possible also, with the Algerian being quoted at 8/13 at the time of writing to move to the Emirates.
Last season’s top four teams were Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City. Leicester are not really expected to stun the league for a second season running, but Ranieri will be hopeful of getting them European football again.
We, for one, can’t wait for the league to get started- it promises to be bigger and better this year, with some of the world’s best managers going head to head this season.