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A light-hearted preview of the Premier League

Slaven Bilic during his time at West Ham. (Source: Wiki Commons, Author: joshjdss)
Roar Rookie
11th August, 2016
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The Premier League is just days away from kicking off for the 2016-17 season. Here is a review of each team’s chances.

Arsenal
After characteristically falling short again, the red half of North London will be hoping to complete the unthinkable this season – satisfy Piers Morgan. Oh, and win the Premier League.

Their lack of attacking proficiency has consistently frustrated their season library card holders. However, with the signing of Granit Xhaka and potential arrival of Algerian wizard Riyad Mahrez, Wenger will be hoping the ghosts of seasons’ past are just that.

Prediction: 5th

Bournemouth
Howe times have changed on the South Coast. Eight short years ago their future in the Football League looked as likely as a Leicester title parade. Tipped as favourites to go immediately back down to the Championship, the Cherries shocked pundits and punters alike to finish 16th last season.

Led by their charismatic boss and new arrivals from the Liverpool bench, a top 10 finish must be the objective.

Prediction: 14th

Burnley
The Lancashire natives are battle hardened after their assault on the Championship and have returned to the English top flight with a vengeance.

Now on board the gravy train for the second time in three years, the Ginger Mourinho will hope his spearhead Andre Gray can be their Tom Cruise and halt the (almost) impossible journey toward relegation.

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Prediction: 17th

Chelsea
Not even a new pair of jocks on Christmas Day can compare to the joys of watching Chelsea’s catastrophic title defence. Their campaign resembled something out of a Bruce Willis film, with their bus well and truly exploding.

Now though, Abramovich has pimped out his new vehicle and hired the likes Antonio Conte and N’golo Kante to push it toward the top.

Prediction: 4th

Crystal Palace
Dancing Alan and his Palace side were unlucky to suffer defeat in their Wembley final against Manchester United. Their performance outlined the talent prevalent within the squad, making it all the more difficult to comprehend their 15th-placed finish.

The star power at Selhurst continues to grow with Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie joined by French International Stephen Mandanda and lethal left winger Andros Townsend. Pardew’s shrewd summer signings should allow them to soar like the nickname suggests, but with the unpredictability of the top flight in mind, the eagles may remain grounded as turkeys.

Prediction: 12th

Everton
An anonymous display against Sunderland on the second last day saw the end of the Roberto Martinez era. After a period with more ups and downs than a Ron Jeremy film, Dutch mastermind Ronald Koeman will look to guide the Toffees into the higher echelons of the first division.

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However, the likely loss of spearhead Romelu Lukaku may leave those across Stanley Park feeling blue about their prospects.

Prediction: 10th

Hull
In the aftermath of winning the wealthiest match in football and pocketing a measly £170 million in the process, Hull’s lack of transfer activity has forced Steve Bruce to leave his managerial post.

The East Yorkshire side amazingly have made no signings in the Summer window despite their already threadbare squad. With doubts over the commitment of their owners and the uncertainty regarding a takeover, this rugger-mad city may be on the receiving end of many a rugby score.

Prediction: 20th

Leicester
Imagine a team of the brink of relegation. Imagine winning six of the last eight to escape. Imagine next season, fighting for the title and ripping up City 3-1 in Manchester.

Imagine holding strong and winning it all after odds of 5000/1. Imagine a quiet night out with Robert Allenby. Nope, that last one was just too far.

The fearless Foxes proved the world wrong and lead almost from start to finish in the title race, delivering us greatest moment in UK sporting history. Many are cynical about their ability to go again, of that there is no doubt.

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The loss of N’Golo Kante will severely hamper their midfield dynamism. However, we dismissed them last year, dare we do it again?

Prediction: 9th

Liverpool
With friendly wins over Tranmere Rovers and Fleetwood Town, Kopites would be deluded to think it’s not their year. There is a sense of change swirling at Anfield, with the Scousers not the only ones thinking as much.

David Beckham must’ve watched the wins over the aforementioned English giants and has grown concerned about the revolution occurring over his back garden. If Jurgen Klopp can guide Liverpool to a top four finish and beyond, then Europe will not have been this frightened of a German since you know who.

Prediction: 2nd

Man City
An inadequate season for The Citizens will be a distant memory after the Mansour ownership appointed serial winner Pep Guardiola. The city of Manchester is ablaze with excitement, with over half the Etihad expected to be filled for their opening game against Sunderland.

Many remain sceptical of the ex-Bayern coach and it remains to be seen whether Pep can get the bandwagon rolling until the end of May. One thing is certain however, Pep’s posse will be failures without a major trophy.

Prediction: 1st

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Man United
In previous years Old Trafford has been the theatre of laughs, with Dave Moyes and Louis van Gaal the headline acts at the Manchester comedy festival.

Alas, United fans have found voice again with the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a man whose wages would rival that of Ryan Giggs’ PR manager. The Stretford End is also praying for the return of prodigal son Paul Pogba.

With Mourinho now at the helm of this (once) sinking ship, Mancunians are fantasising about their 21st more than a teen on the way to Vegas.

Prediction: 3rd

Middlesbrough
The perennial chokers are no more, Middlesbrough are finally back in the big time after a plethora of nearly-seasons. Excitement is building on Teesside due to their offseason dealings, in particular the signings of Alvaro Negredo and ex-Barcelona stopper Victor Valdés.

With a raft of young talents in their ranks, alongside their Spanish stars, the Riverside will be brimming with optimism come match-day one.

Prediction: 13th

Southampton
Being a selling club is mainly frowned up in football, with it comes uncertainty and largely downturns in performance. Not so with Southampton. Italian striker Graziano Pellè’s decision to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for Shandong Luneng has left Saints in the lurch once again.

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With the key departures of Ron Koeman, Sadio Mané and moneybags Pellè, the Saints will aim to repeat their heroics in yet another groundhog season.

Prediction: 11th

Stoke
You’d be forgiven for questioning why Stoke and Barcelona would ever be in the sentence. One is a tourist mecca, with incredible views and glorious sights all throughout the city. The other is Barcelona.

The relationship between the two extends onto the football pitch. Former Barca players Bojan Krkic, Marc Muniesa and Ibrahim Affellay will now ply their trade alongside the Welsh Xavi. It is hard to suggest that Stoke won’t the surprise packets of the season.

Wee Joe Allen, Stoke’s new sovereign, will provide great verve and stability to the Potter’s midfield. Do not be surprised if the Potteries can add a silver cup to add to their collection of porcelain.

Prediction: 8th

Sunderland
Sending their most bitter rivals down to the level below will live on long in the minds of Sunderland fans. Big Sam, now the successor to wretched Woy, used all of his tactical nous to deliver another Houdini-like escape on Wearside.

Jermain Defoe looked like a reincarnation of Kevin Phillips last season and now, with the ultra experienced David Moyes on board, the possibilities are endless. The black cat should now be seen as a fortunate omen after the rescue acts of previous years, and under ‘The Chosen One’ the Wearsiders may well be getting luckier.

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Prediction: 16th

Swansea
Swansea endured a topsy-turvy season in 2015-16, however the Swans ended the season on a high, going unbeaten in seven of their last ten league games. Francesco Guidolin has yet to dip into the kitty and signed the towering World Cup winner Fernando Llorente. The Spaniard will add plenty of muscle and aerial threat to the Swans yet he is their lone striking option within the squad.

Once again, they will rely on their Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson to shoulder the attacking load. Their chances of success this season seem as likely as a decent room in Rio.

Prediction: 18th

Tottenham
If Spurs start the season how they finished it, the lads from North London would have done well to stay in Australia. Their limp finish to the season has somewhat overshadowed their meteoric rise up the table.

With big name signings and even bigger managers taking the spotlight over the summer, Spurs are indeed flying under the radar. Victor Janssen’s £17 million move from Ajax should provide sufficient cover for Harry Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men will once again look to come from the clouds, but with fierce competition around them, expect them to falter (again) when it matters. Must be something in the water North of London.

Prediction: 6th

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Watford
On the back of a barnstorming start to the season Watford finished a respectful 13th in 2015-16. The dynamic duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, blessed with power and pace respectively, formed a lethal pairing akin to that of Starsky and Hutch.

The Hornets have managed to keep all their stars on the pitch, however they will be hurt by the loss of Quique Sánchez Flores. Walter Mazzari will now head up the Watford project and the highly regarded manager will look to buck the trend and satisfy the Pozzo family.

Prediction: 15th

West Brom
The Baggies can be likened to the BBC’s newly adapted Top Gear, yes it runs and yes we know it’s there, in reality however, there is little excitement that comes with it. Tony Pulis’ tactics could put an insomniac to sleep, yet his record at the club demonstrates validity in his methods.

The blowtorch will once again be on Albion to survive the drop, and avoid reuniting with Villa in the Championship. If West Brom do indeed drop down like a tree in the woods, one could be sure that only a few would hear it.

Prediction: 19th

West Ham
Super Slaven’s men will be going for gold this season as they move into their newly furbished Olympic Stadium. The East End side had a revolutionary season under Bilić with midfield dynamo Dimtri Payet announcing himself to the English game.

The Croat’s attacking options illustrate strength in numbers with the likes Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zàrate all bringing different dimensions to the potent attack. Adding steel and two-way running, in the form of Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli, the Hammers should be more than capable of challenging for European places.

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Prediction: 7th