In order to stay ahead of the game after being stumped by Leicester last season, we’ve decided to nail down our 2016-17 champions of the Premier League a solid nine weeks before it starts.
How do you do it Paddy?
Simple, we look at the fixtures, we look at the top five in the betting and even though we’ve no idea of what the squads, referees or number of new managers will be like, make a prediction. What could possibly go wrong?
Starting with the favourites
What’s their start like? City have a nice relaxing start. Pep Guardiola shouldn’t have any real problems apart from the Manchester derby four games in. The other five games in August and September are all winnable for a side like City. But the Citizens can’t afford to stuff themselves at Christmas time like the rest of the country. They have to play Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal and Liverpool in December, the latter two within two weeks of each other.
The Man City’s of the last couple of seasons have been very hard to stop once they get on a run. After a visit to Stamford Bridge on the 5th of April, Guardiola has the easiest run in of the title contenders, playing two promoted sides and home games against Leicester, Palace and West Brom.
Similar to their noisy neighbours, United haven’t got a bad start apart from the derby. A home game to Leicester at the end of September will be an acid test for the United side. Mourinho’s definitley on Santa’s nice list, or else he’s bribed him because United’s fixtures over Christmas are wrapped up under the Old Trafford tree.
The Red Devils have Palace, West Brom, Sunderland and Middlesbrough over the two weeks. But they’ve a sticky run in. In their last six games, Mourinho will host old club Chelsea before travelling to the two North London clubs in consecutive weeks. They finish with a home game to Palace.
Liverpool and Leicester in their first two games could bruise the Gunners. It doesn’t get easier, with a trip to Watford and visits from Southampton and Chelsea in their first six. But the Gunners should fire over the winter. They have a great Christmas period with an away game to Man City being the only question mark of two months.
Of course, they’ll collapse in February like they always do, so let them enjoy it while they can. Spurs and United in consecutive weeks during the run in will make or break what is likely to be Arsene Wenger’s final season, unless he wants to troll Piers Morgan a little more. And to be fair, who wouldn’t want to do that?
It’s rough welcome to the Premier League for Antonio Conte. Slaven Bilic has entertained us all at Euro 2016, but he’ll bring West Ham to Stamford Bridge to kick off the season. The visit of Liverpool in September is important, as neither have European commitments this season so the victor could realistically mount a title challenge.
In December they go to the Etihad but on paper have an easy month apart from that. Of course, Conte’s never managed in the winter. Not because he’s a Game of Thrones fanatic, but he’s never been in a league without a winter break.
Playing both Manchester clubs in the space of 10 days in April is the last test for Chelsea as they try to wrestle back their title.
Did you think it could get any worse than last year’s start for Liverpool? Wrong. It did. First three away games = Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea. They’ve home games against Leicester and United before Halloween.
But surely that’ll balance out over the festive season? Wrong again. A Merseyside derby the week before Christmas, a New Year’s Eve battle with City and then a trip to United on the 14th of January. Jose clearly told Santa that Klopp is on the naughty list.
Ah now, there has to be an easy run in then? True. With no European football, Liverpool’s last ‘big game’ comes on the 18th of March against City. The Merseyside derby is of course a big game – but when it’s at Anfield, the result is inevitably a Pool win. A trip to the Olympic Stadium on the penultimate weekend could be a banana skin.
So Paddy, who’s going to win it?
Drum roll please…. One of the twenty clubs in the league. Now that teams no longer have the luxury of six guaranteed points after Villa’s relegation, it’s a lot trickier to call.
You hardly thought we’d make another outlandish prediction this early after our last one went so well:
The owner of Newly-promoted Leicester City says the club will be in the top 5 of the Premier League within 3 years. pic.twitter.com/QVqMI2muq5
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) May 13, 2014
No. We’re going to wait until the transfer window shuts before calling our winners after being embarrassed last year. But if you fancy a flutter on the Premier League outright odds, you can shoot over to PP.com by clicking here.