PREMIER LEAGUE 2016/17 WEEK 1 PREVIEW

 In Gary Mabbutt Blog

The Premier League kicks off the new season on Saturday and with the excitement and surprises of last season still fresh in our minds, this season promises to be even more interesting, some of the top managers and players in the world have joined the Premiership, with Mourinho, Conte, Guadiola, Klopp’s first full season at Liverpool and throw in Pogba and Ibrhimovic at United and it promises to be a great time ahead.

 

Please see following my run down of each team this season:

BOURNEMOUTH:

No one can be begrudge the success of Bournemouth last season,  Eddie Howe diod a magnificent job, but the season ahead will tell us whether they overachieved last season or are Bournemouth in the top flight to stay ?? The loss of Elphick and Rirchie may have an impact, but I am surprised that Howe has not strengthened in the defensive areas, where they they had the second worst defensive record in the Premiership.Most neutral fans will be hoping that Bournemouth continue to surprise the doubters.

ARSENAL:

Arsenal on the other underachieved when the opportunity to push for the premiership title last season, they came strong at the death and took the runners up place from rivals Tottenham,but too little too late, when the window of opportunity presented itself, the new signing of the Swiss International playmaker, could be an inspired signing, especially if he lives up to Ottmar Hitzfeld’s (his Swiss Manager) statement that Xhaka is a young Schweinsteiger, quite something to live up to. If Arsenal can avoid injuries to key players and the under achievers in the squad step upm to the mark, then it could be a great season for Arsenal.

BURNLEY:

A good friend of mine is a Burnley fan abd I made my debut in Professional football against Burnley at Turf Moor, so I hope that they can avoid the yo yo effect, that has seen them bounce back up into the top flight Burnley went 23 games unbeaten last season and will need to gain a similar momentum at the start of the season to have a chance of prolonging their Premier League status, Sean Dyche, did a good job of getting the best out of his side. Joey Barton’s departure is a loss, but they have a squad that are capable of surprising a few this season.

CHELSEA:

Last season was a disaster for Chelsea, the expectations were high and the players that Mourinho had in the squad looked to be capable of dominating the Premier League for a few years, but Mourinho’s behaviour left a lot to be desired and the team never recovered. New manager Antonio Conte’s will demand a strong work ethic throughout his squad and if he can get the best out of (in my opinion one of the best players in the Premiership) Eden Hazard, getsthe consistency in his defence back in place and without the Champions League to contend with, this could be enough to return Chelsea to title contenders.

CRYSTAL PALACE:

After only two wins in their last 21 games last season, Palace will need to break that trend or it could be a long seasonfor the Palace fans, the signing of ex Spur Andros Townsend should bolster their attacking options, but scoring goals has been Palace’s Achilles heel.

EVERTON:

It’s a new beginning at Goodison Park, can Ronald Koeman get the Everton under achievers to produce their best, I have been a friend of the Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright for a long time and he will have been very frustrated with their performances last season, thje departure of John Stones to Manchester City will be a large void to fill and the ongoing rumours about Lukaku’s departure will not have settled the Everton preparations.

HULL:

The departure of Steve Bruce will have a huge impact on Hull, Steve’s frustration with lack of funding for transfers made him walk outand relegation is looming for this Hull side, they have qualities in ex Spurs players Huddlestone, Livermore and Dawson, but the supporting cast is looking very thin.

LEICESTER CITY:

The Leicester story will be told over and over again, what a magnificent achievement for them and their supporters, but now the big guns are gunning for them and it is going to be a very different season this time around, Playing in the Champions League will be a most welcome distraction, and holding onto the stars of 2015/16 will be a huge task for Ranieri, Kante has already departed for Chelsea and how long before more star names join the leaving party, I am sure that all of us are keeping fingers crossed that Leicester can stay with the big guns and have another great season.

LIVERPOOL:

This is Jurgen Klopp’s first time in charge at Anfield during pre season and he has moved 15 players out of the club with some interestin g signings, this season will be the time to judge Klopp, expectations are always high at Liverpool and Klopp has a lot of work to do to bring back the success that the Reds fans demand.

MANCHESTER CITY:

Has Pep Guardiola had long enough to get Manchester City playing like a Guardiola side from the kick-off of the Premiership season, I doubt it, a number of City’s star players failed to turn up last season and it will be a test of Guardiola’s ability to get the best out of his players both old and new. The potential at City is immense, but how long will it be before Perp makes his mark on the side.

MANCHESTER UNITED:

The Red Devils are back in the big time news, Mourinho, Ibrahimovic and Pogba, the new instalments in the United bandwagon, It is great to have Mourinho back in the Premiership, despite all his nonsense he is good value for money, but how soon will he get the United train steaming,, Excitement is returning to Old Trafford after two years of boredom and three years of underachievement.

MIDDLESBROUGH:

It’s back to the big time for the popular Riverside club after seven years, and under Mourinho’s former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka, they’ve splashed the clash. High profile recruits don’t guarantee success but in goalkeeper Victor Valdes, striker Alvaro Negredo, midfielder Maarten de Roon, Danish winger Viktor Fischer and Spaniards Antonio Barragan and Gaston Ramirez, they’ve shown their ambition early, Could they be another Leicester ?

SOUTHAMPTON:

How Southampton continue to be so successful is dumbnfounding,their star players and managers are departing on an annual basis and yet the club steps up to the mark and keeps improving, defying all the odds, this time, it’s not just Victor Wanyama, Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane they need to replace, but influential boss Koeman too. After recent history, you’d be reluctant to back against the Saints, but could this year be one departure too many.

STOKE CITY:

Mark Hughe’s has splashed the cash this time around, with the acquisition of Joe Allen, Bojan Krkic’s, Xherdan Shaqiri, and then Giannelli Imbula.Hughes has been handed money, now the question is whether Stoke can improve on last season.

SUNDERLAND:

The sudden departure of Sam Allardyce has left Sunderland with little time to prepare for the new season, new manager David Moyes will have had the minimum of time to get his plans in place and a poor start to the season could prove very costly to the Black Cats.

SWANSEA:

I worry for the Swans fans this season, they got out of trouble last time around, but I have a feeling that they will be looking at fighting relegation from the first whistle of the season.

TOTTENHAM:

This could be Totenham’s year, a young hungry squad of players, the additions of Wanyama and Janssen, Champions League football all point to a very exciting season.

Whilst the Premier League has been full of new managers and new players, Tottenham have only purchased two new players and have released bnone, this consistency could well give them the edge over the clubs who are going to be adjusting to new players and management. The excellent Mauricio Pochettino has an arguably stronger squad than this time last year: their youngsters like Dele Alli are more hardened, and Wanyama and Vincent Janssen have been brought in to fill specific voids, this is exciting times at the Lane

WATFORD: 

Watford have a huge task in  front of them to survive this season and stay in the Premiership, their success has been based around two players Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney and any injuries to these two would be a huge blow to their chances of survival.

WEST HAM:

West Ham move to their new stadium and can Slaven Bilic produce another successful season, with if one of the stars of the European Championships Dimitri Payet remains at the Hammers, then it should be an interesting season for the West Ham faithful.

WEST BROM:

Tony Pulis will adopt the same stance this season as last, organised, disciplined and a lack of attacking interest, should bore enough teams into submission. However he has been remarkably successful with his tactics and will again cause a few upsets during the season.l.

 

Here are my first predictions for this season:

Hull 1 v 2 Leicester

Burnley 2 v 1 Swansea

Crystal Palace 2 v 1 West Brom

Everton 1 v 2  Tottenham

Middlesbrough 2 v 1  Stoke

Southampton 2 v 1 Watford

Man City 3 v 1 Sunderland

Bournemouth 1 v 2  Man Utd

Arsenal 2 v 1 Liverpool

Chelsea 2 v 1 West Ham

 

Have a good week.

Gary

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