Aug 12, 2016

    Expect a 7-horse title pursuit in new EPL season


    THE Premier League will be lit up this season by two of the world's most charismatic managers as the top teams plot to prevent a repeat of Leicester City's march to glory in world football's most intriguing title race.

    As the big teams lost their way, Claudio Ranieri got the basics right and built a title-winning side with savvy recruitment, team spirit and a hungry squad of talented individuals.

    This season, the arrival of some of the game's finest managerial minds and some serious player recruitment have raised the tantalising prospect of a six or seven-horse title race and another unpredictable campaign.

    Pep Guardiola's arrival has been a key reason why Manchester City are bookmakers' favourites while significant spending on new blood, including England defender John Stones, has raised optimism.

    City's investment in recent years has brought isolated success but the owners hope Guardiola can establish a dynasty.

    Across Manchester is Jose Mourinho, an old rival of Guardiola from their time in Spain.

    He had made no secret of his desire to be Alex Ferguson's successor at Old Trafford. And he will be out to prove a point after he was sacked by Chelsea last season a few months after leading them to the title.

    The marquee signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba were bold statements of intent as United bid to mount a serious title challenge since Ferguson's departure in 2013.

    A trio of London clubs will also be in the race.

    Antonio Conte has resisted the temptation to revamp Chelsea's ageing team but the former Italy coach may be quietly confident his tactical nous and a squad of proven winners can get the job done.

    Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have to juggle European football too.

    Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Spurs' Mauricio Pochettino have tweaked rather than overhauled their squads, and will be aiming to better last year's second and third-place finishes respectively.

    Liverpool will look to go further under Juergen Klopp in his first full season at the helm.

    And what of defending champions Leicester?

    The loss of N'Golo Kante and the Champions League distraction make a successful title defence daunting but, as they know only too well, an impossible dream is worth chasing.




    Hull v Leicester

    Burnley v Swansea

    Palace v West Brom

    Everton v Tottenham

    Middlesbrough v Stoke

    Southampton v Watford

    Man City v Sunderland


    Bournemouth v Man Utd

    Arsenal v Liverpool


    Chelsea v West Ham