With the BPL 2015/2016 season having kicked off with plenty banter and excitement and surprises, we’ll take a quick look at the expected title challengers and the likely order the top four will be come May, 2016.

Chelsea

After their procession to the title last season, the blues will now look to defend their crown. With José Mourinho at the helm, you know they’ll be right up there from the beginning until the end of the season  you know Chelsea can only go lower. They’ll look to their “captain, leader legend”, John Terry to motivate the team from the back of a nightmarish start. Also, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard must replicate the performances of the previous season to arrest this Moyesish descent of the Champions.

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Verdict:

Chelsea will do well to finish in the Champions League place this season. Such is how low they’ve sunk.

Arsenal

They pulled off a feat no one expected them to earlier in the summer with the shock capture of Petr Cech from Chelsea despite the furious objections of José Mourinho to the deal and thus solved the goalkeeping problems that had plagued them since Jens Lehmann left in ’06 for at least the next four years (disregard the West Ham incidents). The new signing brings along with him a wealth of experience and a thirst for trophies (as well as clean sheets) to complement the already fast maturing dressing room. Along with the older heads in the team; Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, expect him to have a very big influence on the team, both in the dressing room and on the pitch. As it is, the team has a settled look to it and they should push Chelsea hard from game week two till the curtain raiser.

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Verdict: Last season, a slow start ensured they were already 11 points behind the eventual champions Chelsea after 6 matchdays. They will look to address this by making a very strong start and on the evidence of their preseason matches thus far- the fitness and hunger they’ve shown- and with the team chemistry not being disrupted from last season along with the addition of a capable, commanding presence between the sticks, they are the ones most likely to challenge Chelsea the closest out of all the other contenders. Outside favourites for the title.

Manchester City

With Sergio “Kun” Aguero spearheading their attack, they will always be serious contenders. However, as past seasons have shown injuries have a way of coming in and depriving the team of his services with his replacements being as with Chelsea’s, vastly inferior to him. The rest of the team will mostly be carried along by the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and, if he cuts out the now-habitual errors, Vincent Kompany.

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As mentioned earlier, Manchester city have very few replacements for Aguero in case injury strikes and for a team that plays 4-2-3-1 quite a bit, it’s surprising that Bony is the only established striker in the squad apart from Aguero. With the signing of Raheem Sterling they’ve added one of the brightest young talents in world football right now. He also has a point to prove to those who labeled him a money-grabber so expect him to make quite an effort to justify his huge transfer fee and wages.

Verdict: As with Aguero’s fitness, I don’t expect any title challenge they put up to last very long. Or not.

Manchester United

Oh, if you haven’t noticed,  the pride of England are  finally back to their rightful place among the elite teams in the division but for most United fans this is not enough. It isn’t in their nature to settle for being anything other than being the absolute best (for very long) so expect a title challenge despite them still being in a state of transition.

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They finally addressed their long-running midfield problems this summer with the signing of the Schmidfield – Schneirderlin and Schweinsteiger. However, the recent departure of Angel di Maria after having failed to settle in England and the uncertainty surrounding the future of arguably the best ‘keeper in the division last season’, De Gea has negated the progress they’ve made.

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When you add the embarrassing pursuit of Sergio Ramos and subsequent rejection of United which ended with him committing to Real Madrid (or thereabouts) and neglecting to go after a cheaper, younger and frankly better defender in Otamendi, you start to get the feeling their chief executive has no clear plan for the summer apart from throwing around a ton of cash trying to entice players to the club.

They kicked off the premier league campaign with Danny Blind(a central midfielder, and occasional left back) playing in the centre of defence alongside Chris Smalling and De Gea out of the matchday squad altogether because his head “isn’t in the right place”.

Verdict: United to make a valiant effort for their fans but lacking enough firepower upfront to properly challenge as well as having to sell their best player, De Gea to Real Madrid. Ultimately, they’ll fall short of a sustained title challenge.

 

TOP-FOUR PREDICTIONS 

  1. Manchester City.
  2. Manchester United.
  3. Arsenal.
  4. Chelsea.

 

Article by: Kunle, @esnesy.

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