The 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season has officially come and gone. With the season now complete there’s no better time then now to close the book on the Barclays Premier League and start looking ahead to new re-branded Premier League and the upcoming season.
Is it too early to make any sort of substantial predictions about how the dominos will fall next year? Of course it is. Managers will be changed, players will leave, and new players will be signed. Someone will come out of nowhere in either the Copa America or the Euro’s to earn a big money contract that we don’t even know about yet. But if they can release next seasons Top 25 polls in college football and basketball the day after the title game, we can do the same with the Premier League.
So here we go, based solely on this year, how teams are trending, and my thoughts on the direction that they’re heading, let’s make some early predictions for next season.
The top four (in alphabetical order)
Here’s the thing about Chelsea. They’re a lot better then their 10th place finish suggests. Is it a positive sign that they completely mailed in the first half of the season to get their manager fired? Of course not. But as the second half proved the talent is certainly still there.
They still some issues that need to be addressed mostly about the depth of the squad, especially at the striker position. But they’ll have a new manager next season with players that will be trying hard right from the start. Add in some new players to keep the squad fresh and this team should be right back in the top four.
This prediction hinges on one players. N’Golo Kante. As of now, he’s the only Leicester player I’m worried about possibly leaving the club with other big names like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez already pledging their immediate futures to the Foxes. If Kante leaves, he’ll be a very hard player to replace and Leicester could truly finish anywhere. If he stays though, what’s to say they can’t do it again?
They’ll have a more difficult schedule next season simply due to the demands of the Champions League and getting the same injury luck they had this season will be next to impossible. However you should expect Leicester to make a few low-key depth signings this season. Claudio Raneiri has already said he only wants players that will buy into what Leicester has built. Make no mistake, losing only three times in one season isn’t a fluke. Leicester are this good and can certainly finish in the top four again.
As a Manchester United fan I’m terrified of what Jurgen Klopp is going to do at Liverpool. It took him a while to get settled in at Anfield this year but once he did the results were scary good. And that’s without “his” players. The only thing that seemed to set Liverpool back this year was inconsistency and even that could be attributed to the ridiculously high number of matches they played this year.
If I were a Liverpool fan the only thing I’d be concerned about this summer are the rumors of Daniel Sturridge leaving. Give Klopp a transfer window to bring in some of his guys though, and those expect Liverpool to be far more consistent next year and make a lot more noise.
Spurs may have collapsed at the end of the season but what was impressive was where they were able to collapse from. Spurs had the youngest team in the league and although plenty of big teams will throw big money towards Harry Kane, I expect their entire starting XI to return next year. They’ll add a few depth signings in central midfield, but after coming so close this season, they could very well have what it takes to get one step further next year.
The New Upper Middle Class
Next year is going to be the year where it finally catches up to Arsenal. Beyond Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, both of whom have rumors swirling around them that they could be leaving, this team just isn’t that good. Who knows what’s going to happen with Arsene Wenger. The club says they have money to spend in the transfer window, but they never spend anything. Why should I believe this summer will be different?
The team Manchester City trots out there to start next season will look very different to the one they finished this season with. While everyone expects Pep Guardiola to come in and immediately challenge for the title, I’m a little more skeptical. Managing in the Premier League is a lot different than managing in La Liga with Lionel Messi, or in the Bundesliga with the team that buys all their rivals best players. He could be in for a rude awakening.
This team is just such a mess right now. If Louis van Gaal returns there’s no reason to think their problems are solved. If he leaves and Jose Mourinho comes in there’s also no reason to think all their flaws will magically go away. Managing in the Premier League now is different then it was 10 years ago, five years ago, or even two years ago. There’s not really a quick fix when it comes to this team.
The team that needs to get its act together or else face a major relegation risk:
The longest tenured club in the top division and I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot to be excited about right now. Yes they quit on their manager this year so they weren’t as bad as their record says but that still doesn’t mean their trending in a good direction. They couldn’t defend at all this year, their defense is getting older and they’re likely to lose their best young defender to a bigger club. Star striker Romelu Lukaku is strongly rumored to be on his way out as well. Who exactly will replace Lukaku? The club has zero internal options. This could get bad for the Toffees.