2016/2017 EPL Season: The Stuff Of Dreams!



Phew! We just can’t have enough of football, can we? With only a month since the finals of the European championship in Paris, it is now barely days to the commencement of the World’s most intriguing and unarguably most exciting league in the world. For reasons too numerous to rehash here, the looming English Premier League season promises to be the best of all time. The sub-plots and the new entries injected into the league this season means it will serve viewers and fans with an overdose of excitement and entertainment.

Few predicted football’s greatest narrative last season when Leicester City won the league at a canter. Not only was it an unprecedented norm, it was a detour from decades of Premier League dominance from the elite teams. Most importantly, the win must have infused untold believe into every other small club to begin to dream and expand their ambitions. However, to expect Leicester to repeat same feat this season might be asking too much from the footballing gods. Leicester’s biggest challenge going into the summer was to retain a core of their team and they have largely done that; but the loss of Ngolo Kante to Chelsea is a massive blow. Though the foxes have fortified their ranks with the record club signing, Ahmed Musa, this will be a tough season especially with champions league involvement.
In addition, it is unlikely that the inexplicable calamity that befell most of the big teams will repeat itself again in such measure. Realistically speaking, a top 8 finish and a good cup run will constitute success for Leicester next season.

If Leicester’s triumph was the beautiful story of last season, Chelsea’s fall will make for the darkest narrative. A team that won the league without breaking a sweat last season struggled to finish in the top 10.
Indeed, it was a season to forget for the Blues. The coming of Italian Antoine Conte has renewed optimism and rightly so. Conte comes with a great reputation from Juventus and the Italian national team. The major signings at Stamford Bridge are Belgium star, Michy Batshuayi and French midfield doyen, Ngolo Kante. The duo will clearly add value to the club but a lot of questions still persist about an aging backline. The Chelsea defense were calamitous last season, and Branislav Ivanovic was the villain-in-chief. The club still has an exciting attack but their defense might leave them short of the title next season.

There is no box office that compares with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho sharing the same dressing room. The three signings were the story of the transfer season and provides an interesting prospect. Jose Mourinho for all his successes will be keen to proof that the disaster at Chelsea last season was a mere career blip. With Zlatan, we all know what to expect. In his mind, he is football’s greatest player. On the pitch, he is not so far off to be honest. Zlatan is in his last legs but he still has a lot to offer. However, while Jose, Zlatan and Paul might get all the headlines, a certain Eric Bailly might yet be United’s signing of the season. United’s defense was their chief achilles heels last season and with the imperious Bailly in the fold, a fortified attack and the league’s best stopper still around, United can be champions.
While United are looking to mount a challenge, the other half of Manchester will not be laying low. Pep Guardiola needs no introduction. He is one of the game’s finest gaffer and with such antecedents comes the burden of expectations. Pep is renowned for the exciting way his team plays the game and in City, he has the luxury of talents to deliver that. City has gone about their summer business in a pragmatic manner. They have signed midfielders Aaron Mooy from Melbourne City, Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras, Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund, Leroy Sane from Schalke, Oleksandr Zinchenko from FC Ufa and attackers Nolito from Celta and Marlos Moreno from Atletico Nacional. These might be unknown names but if Pep has taught us anything, it is how he can turn raw materials into gold and finished articles. The addition of English defender, John Stones will also be a great life. City will surely be among the top dogs by May 2017.

Liverpool last season was a bit of everything. Anfield witnessed the highs and the lows. The club might have finished outside the top 4 but were whiskers away from clinching the Europa league and the League cup. In Jurgen Kloop, they have a hungry and intelligent manager who will only improve the club. For much of last season, the team were amazing in efforts but lacked quality in some patches. The signing of German goalkeeper Loris Karius, is clearly a right step in solving the conundrum that has now become Simon Mignolet. Also, the signing of Sadio Mane might well be a masterstroke. The former Southampton man has all the makings of being a superstar at Anfield. Whatever you say about Liverpool, you have to expect them to be challenging for the title next season. One thing is also certain, the Reds will be going on a good cup run.

Then, there is the puzzle that is Arsenal. Many pundits had predicted that the signing of Petr Cech was the missing jigsaw last season. However, as we all saw last season, Arsenal did an arsenal on the title challenge. Sincerely speaking, we have been here before and it must be frustrating for everyone connected to the gunners how the title has become elusive for over a decade. Yet, the more we predict that the previous season will be Arsene Wenger’s last, the longer his elasticity.
In readiness for next season, the club has splashed the cash majorly on Switzerland’s midfielder, Granit Xhaka. Whether this will be enough to finally put paid to their pursuit of the title remains to be seen. However, one department Arsenal desperately needed a fortification last season was in the No 9 position. For all his efforts, Oliver Giroud is just not that world class player required for a title winning side. But Wenger has showed that he can tinker with that position without the French man.

No doubt, Tottenham Hotspur will surely be looking to build upon a fantastic last season. The club has the luxury of a youthful, vibrant and hungry side and in Mauricio Pochettino, a perfect fit for a manager. For the rest, we expect an unpredictable fight and you can trust the EPL to provide every ounce of drama along the way.
Every season in the Barclays English Premier League has its own story and one can expect same from the upcoming campaign. For fans, the season will shatter hearts, skyrocket many to the seventh heaven, renew optimism for some and leave others disillusioned. However, that is why we love the league. With only days away, the mantra is: Be There!

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