FACTFILE OF SEVEN ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE CONTENDERS
Manager: Claudio Ranieri (Ita)
2015-16 position: champions; FA Cup: third round; League Cup: fourth round
Transfers in: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow-Rus), Nampalys Mendy (Nice-Fra), Bartosz Kapustka (Cracovia-Pol), Luis Fernandez (Sporting Gijon-Spa)
Transfers out: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Joe Dodoo (Rangers-Sco), Andrej Kramiric (Hoffenheim-Ger)
AFTER masterminding the most unexpected title triumph in English football history last season, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri insists his main aim this term is to avoid relegation. Few other clubs crowned champions so recently would adopt such a modest approach, but Ranieri’s attempts to keep the pressure off Leicester worked a treat last season and it would be no surprise to see them mount a strong title defence.
Manager: Arsene Wenger (Fra)
2015-16 position: second; FA Cup: quarter-finals; League Cup: fourth round; Champions League: last 16
Transfers in: Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach-Ger), Rob Holding (Bolton), Tamuka Asano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima-Jpn)
Transfers out: Isaac Hayden (Newcastle), Wellington (Fluminense-Bra)
IT’S now 12 years since Arsenal were last crowned English champions and last season’s underwhelming campaign further stoked the fires of frustration among the club’s increasingly angst-ridden fans. Arsene Wenger has taken the brunt of the abuse but, despite their latest low-key transfer window, the Gunners boss remains steadfast in his belief that his current squad are good enough to end their title drought.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino (Arg)
2015-16 position: third; FA Cup: fifth round; League Cup: third round; Europa League: last 16
Transfers in: Vincent Janssen (AZ Alkmaar-Ned), Victor Wanyama (Southampton)
Transfers out: Grant Ward (Ipswich), Alex Pritchard (Norwich)
HAVING emerged as unexpected title challengers, Tottenham choked in the final furlong and squandered a chance to win their first top-flight crown since 1961. Even so, Mauricio Pochettino’s young team look capable of building on that near-miss, especially if Harry Kane can retain his goal touch and Dele Alli continues to fulfil his promise.
Manager: Pep Guardiola (Spa)
2015-16 position: fourth; FA Cup: fifth round; League Cup: winners; Champions League: semi-finals
Transfers in: John Stones (Everton), Leroy Sane (Schalke-Ger), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund-Ger) Nolito (Celta Vigo-Spa), Alexander Zinchenko (FC Ufa-Rus)
Transfers out: Seko Fofana (Udinese-Ita), Martin Demichelis (released)
THE Pep Guardiola era is underway at the Eastlands as the Spaniard gets his first taste of the Premier League after trophy-laden spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. With old rival Jose Mourinho installed across town at Old Trafford, Guardiola faces an intense battle for local bragging rights, but City’s ambitions are more global these days and a spending spree of over £100mil (RM530mil) have them well positioned to go for the title.
Manager: Jose Mourinho (Por)
2015-16 position: fifth; FA Cup: winners; League Cup: fourth round; Champions League: group stage; Europa League: last 16
Transfers in: Paul Pogba (Juventus-Ita), Eric Bailly (Villarreal-Spa), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund-Ger), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St Germain-Fra)
Transfers out: Ashley Fletcher (West Ham), Nick Powell (Wigan) Victor Valdes (released), Donald Love and Paddy McNair (Sunderland)
AS statements of intent go, spending a world record £89mil (RM463mil) on France midfielder Paul Pogba was a typically extravagant way for the spotlight-hogging Mourinho to announce his arrival at United. Mourinho is desperate to restore his reputation after last season’s sacking by Chelsea and appears to have found the perfect match in United, a club so traumatised by the woeful reigns of Louis van Gaal and David Moyes that spending any amount of money seems justifiable if it means they return to the top.
Manager: Juergen Klopp (Ger)
2015-16 position: eighth; FA Cup: fourth round; League Cup: runners-up; Europa League: runners-up
Transfers in: Sadio Mane (Southampton), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle), Loris Karius (Mainz-Ger), Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg-Ger), Joel Matip (Schalke-Ger)
Transfers out: Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth), Joe Allen (Stoke), Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce-Tur), Jerome Sinclair (Watford), Brad Smith (Bournemouth), Kolo Toure (Celtic-Sco)
FRUSTRATED by final defeats in the Europa League and League Cup last season, Reds boss Klopp has embarked on a significant overhaul of his squad, with Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum brought in to add pace and poise, while Martin Skrtel, Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe were allowed to leave. But finding the balance between his desire for a relentless pressing game and the demands of a gruelling English fixture list could be the key to Klopp’s attempt to emulate his Bundesliga success at Anfield.
Manager: Antonio Conte (Ita)
2015-16 position: 10th; FA Cup: quarter-finals; League Cup: fourth round; Champions League: last 16
Transfers in: Michy Batshuayi (Marseille-Fra), N’Golo Kante (Leicester)
Transfers out: Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland), Stipe Perica (Udinese-Ita), Mohamed Salah (AS Roma-Ita)
Stunned by his team’s miserable title defence last term, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has turned to former Juventus and Italy coach Antonio Conte to revitalise a squad of disenchanted stars. Conte’s most important move may prove to be the signing of N’Golo Kante, the France midfielder whose aggressive all-action style, notably missing from Chelsea in the last 12 months, was crucial to Leicester’s title success. — Afp.
Did you find this article insightful?