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EPL 2017/18 title: Meet the seven contenders

By Chinasia Ibonye   |   11 August 2017   |   3:33 pm

The Premier League trophy PHOTO:AFP/GETTY IMAGES

*Arsenal. Chelsea. Everton. Liverpool. Manchester City. Manchester United. Tottenham

Tonight, at the Emirates stadium, a new EPL season kicks off, exactly 83 days after Chelsea lifted the 2016/2017 Premier League title at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal will today host erstwhile champions, Leicester City in a first-of-its-kind Friday kick-off. Friday-night matches were introduced last season, but this will be the first campaign-opener not to be played on a Saturday afternoon.

The Premier League is so special because it is difficult to find any other league in the world where you will find a team, which is fighting a gruesome relegation battle on one hand and troubling the top teams on the other, consistently. There is also the lure of it being the richest league in the world and the enormous spending prowess of almost all football teams in English top flight. Last season, relegated club Sunderland earned 90 million pounds as part of the broadcasting rights, which was more than what Bayern Munich received for winning the Bundesliga title. It shows that even bottom-placed clubs are able to spend money on players which helps in reducing the gap between teams and in turn makes the competition a lot more intense.

The Premier League might not boast the mega stars of world football like Messi, Ronaldo, Bale and Neymar, but it can definitely boast of having the best coaches in the world with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino. These guys are proven achievers and will go to any level to see their side come out victorious. These are the few reasons why the upcoming season of the English Premier League could be one of the most thrilling seasons in recent memory.

Leicester City’s triumph two years ago has shown us that any team with the right personnel, management and good luck against injuries, can challenge for and win the title; however, for this season I believe that the winner will come from a group of seven teams which I will tag as the contenders. They are: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Chelsea will find it difficult to successfully defend the title that Antonio Conte won by seven points in his debut season in England. They have a thin squad and there seems to be a bit of infighting between the Italian and the powers that be at the club, especially in the area of transfers. However, the champions won’t let go of their title so easily and with new acquisitions like Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Anthony Rudigier to complement players like Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and N’golo Kante, the pensioners will definitely not be written off.

Manchester City have doled out more than 200 million pounds on the likes of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Danilo to strengthen their squad. It’s obvious that Guardiola wasn’t comfortable with his defence last season given that the majority of his acquisitions have been in that department. They have one of the best attacks in the league and the addition of Bernado Silva will only make them better. We definitely expect them to be better than last season and mount a serious challenge for the title.

Jose Mourinho didn’t particularly have a very good debut season for United last term and the Portuguese has already spent over 100 million pounds to sign Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic, which means that he has gotten three of the four new signings he asked for at the end of last season. Mourinho has won league titles in the second season of every club that he has managed in the past, Porto (2004), Chelsea (2006), Inter (2010), Real Madrid (2012) and Chelsea (2015). He will be hoping to continue that trend with this Manchester United side.

Tottenham have not added to their team so far and that is largely due to the fact that Mauricio Pochettino has a well drilled squad at his disposal. He has arguably the best striker in the Premier league in Harry Kane, who scored 29 goals in the league last season, while Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen added 40 goals (These four players scored more goals than the entire Manchester United team last season). They also have the best defence in the league, letting in only 26 goals last season and with one of the youngest teams in the league, we can only expect them to get better.

Arsenal have brought in Alexander Lacazette to bolster their frontline, but are still not certain if Alexis Sanchez will remain with them. They won’t be playing in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years and that could help them in their quest for the league title this season. Arsene Wenger went through a lot of criticisms last season, before agreeing on a new two-year contract. This seems to be his last chance and the Frenchman will want to prove to doubters that he still knows how to challenge for and win the league title, even if he hasn’t won it since their unbeaten season 13 years ago.

Liverpool are in a serious battle to keep their best player as Barcelona have set their sights on the Brazilian to replace Neymar. He was very crucial to their Top Four finish last season, scoring 13 goals and dishing out 7 assists. A lot of people feel they aren’t serious contenders because they do not have the ‘big’ names that can elevate them to that level. Jurgen Klopp has acquired the services of Mohammed Salah and Dominic Solanke and is still trying to add a defender and a midfielder to strengthen his team. You write them off at your own peril.

Everton have completely changed the look of their team for this new season. The Toffees sold Romelu Lukaku for 75 million pounds to Manchester United and have invested the money wisely, bringing in Wayne Rooney, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford and Sandro Ramirez making them one of the teams to look out for this season. They are also keen on capturing Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea, they will definitely have a say in where the title ends up this season. This is one team we will be watching very closely this term.




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