Premier League preview: Why Chelsea will retain their crown
Katie Falkingham gives us her predictions for the forthcoming 2015-16 Premier League campaign
Chelsea. Despite a lack of summer signings, Chelsea haven’t said goodbye to any of last season’s key players, keeping their formidable title-winning team fully in tact ahead of the start of the new campaign on Saturday. The 2014-15 season saw Jose Mourinho’s men unparalleled in attack, and Diego Costa must stay fit over the next nine months if Chelsea are to be feared to the extent they were last season. With the addition of Radamel Falcao – who I’m adamant will perform better for the Blues than he did at Old Trafford – Chelsea’s attack is likely to be even more prolific, particularly if Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard can contribute to the goal-tally as they have shown they are capable of. Arsenal will put up a real fight this year as they aim to win their first title since 2004, and Manchester City will be up there again with the addition of Raheem Sterling to their squad, but Chelsea, provided their key players avoid injury, will surely take home their fourth Premier League trophy under Mourinho.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. It’s hard not to see Chelsea, Arsenal and City securing the top three spots, given the strength of their squads and the players they have brought in over the summer. Arsenal have brought in Petr Cech from Chelsea, who is likely to be the best goalkeeper they have had between the sticks at The Emirates since the departure of Jens Lehmann in 2008. His presence alone will automatically bring confidence to the Gunners’ defence, and with three trophies already in the bag going into the first game on Sunday against West Ham, this is likely to be Arsenal’s best season in many, many years. In terms of Manchester City, the addition of Raheem Sterling to the squad is likely to be a stroke of genius from Manuel Pellegrini, a move that will surely produce the very best from the 20-year-old. The England international has already displayed some fine performances during City’s preseason tour of Australia, and is bound to rack up the goals as he aims to prove himself worthy of his £49m price tag.
The battle for fourth spot will be an entertaining watch as Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all aim for that final Champions League place. Liverpool will struggle this season without Steven Gerrard at the helm, but with the arrival of James Milner to Anfield this summer, Brendan Rodgers’ side are still in contention. Bringing in Danny Ings and Christian Benteke to strengthen his attack has been some genius work from Rodgers, and should they be successful as a strike partnership, Liverpool will put up an incredible battle as they aim to return to the Champions League. Spurs just missed out on a top four finish last season after Harry Kane single-handedly catapulted them up the table with his 21 goals. Mauricio Pocchetino has brought in defensive reinforcements in the shapes of Toby Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer over the summer as they aim to build on their fifth place finish, however with rumours of Manchester United making an offer for Kane, losing their star striker could really rock the boat down at White Hart Lane. However, with the purchases of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schniederlin and Memphis Depay this summer, Manchester United are surely the ones who are going to clinch that fourth spot come May. And with captain Wayne Rooney moving to a more central attacking role, his goal tally will rocket as Louis Van Gaal’s men attempt to finally restore some of their former glory.
Leicester City, Sunderland and Bournemouth. Although it might not necessarily be in that order, I struggle to see either of these three finishing higher than 18th come the end of the season on 15 May 2016. Leicester were lucky to escape the drop to the Championship last season after being rock bottom of the league for the majority of the campaign. The Foxes still look vulnerable, but after bringing in ex-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri to replace the sacked Nigel Pearson, a new manager may lead to a fresh start for Leicester City. It is Sunderland they will face this weekend as the new Premier League season kicks off, and the Black Cats will themselves be praying for a strong start to the campaign to avoid yet another relegation battle like the ones they have faced in previous years. Dick Advocaat hasn’t made the most inspiring signings this summer, so we will just have to see what comes of this season down at the Stadium of Light. Similarly, it will be interesting to see what happens this year at Bournemouth’s Goldsands Stadium, after an emphatic season that saw the club promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its history. Eddie Howe has recently signed former Leeds United player Max Gradel, who will bring flare to the Bournemouth midfield, but it is unlikely that the Cherries will last more than one season in the top flight of English football. It’s difficult to see them faring well against the big dogs with so little Premier League experience in the squad, but we could well be surprised if Howe’s men can continue their excellent form into the new footballing year.