THE PREMIER LEAGUE: WHAT CONSTITUTES A SUCCESSFUL 2017/18 SEASON FOR THE TOP 6 SIDES?

2016/17 was an eventful season in the Premier league. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea emerged winners with 93 points with Tottenham Hotspurs coming second, it was a season that saw Arsenal finish outside the top four for the first time in recent era and Manchester United despite cup victories in the UEFA Europa league and Carling Cup ended 6th. Manchester City were 3rd but went trophy less and Liverpool finished 4th earning a return to the Champions League via the playoffs.

The top 6 teams have gone ahead to reinforce their squad in the transfer window, Manchester City have splashed big especially on defenders, Manchester United have spent big money on Lukaku, Liverpool have been distracted by Barcelona’s interest in star player Phil Coutinho as they refuse to give up their chase of Virgil Van Dijk, Arsenal have broken their transfer record in getting Lacazette whilst Chelsea, the defending champions have also done decent business in the window.

With pre-season nearing its end and the new Premier League season barely a fortnight away, HalfTimeNg examines what will constitute a successful 2017/18 campaign for the top 6 Premier League teams.

Chelsea: The Blues are the defending Champions and make a return to the Champions League, a tournament which they had missed out on last season with a number of people accrediting their league success to the lesser number of games played in comparison with rival teams.

For Antonio Conte, he recently said, his team will seek to avoid the disaster that befell the squad two seasons ago under former manager Jose Mourinho where the team not only failed to put up a worthy defense of their title but also flirted with relegation at some point. The manager has carried out swift and surgical business as usual, replacing want-away top scorer Diego Costa with Alvaro Morata, secured the services of German defender Antonio Rudigier and Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco who is a like for like replacement for departed Nemanja Matic to partner Ngolo Kante in the new season.

Staunch Chelsea supporter on twitter, @TheAlchemist___ believes that despite being defending champions, the Blues are not exactly favorites going into the new season, “What I will really be looking for is a competitive Top 3 finish, where we put in a proper challenge for the title, also a proper showing in the Champions League with the Quarter finals as a minimum and at least one domestic trophy”. It will be interesting to see if other fans of the London side agree with this.

Tottenham Hotspurs: It has been an uneventful transfer window for Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy with the club focusing more on keeping their star players and refusing the temptation of plunging into the market. Many have attributed this to the huge sum invested in the construction of their new stadium as they will make the Wembley stadium their home ground this season. They have let go of the likes of Kyle Walker to Manchester City and Nabil Bentaleb to Schalke after a successful loan spell. But despite being linked to names like Jeremy Toljan and Ross Barkley, their only notable business has been signing defender Kieran Tripper to a new five year deal.

For Spurs, this is the season where many will question if they have decided to be serious contenders or mere chasers, and with the pool of talents at Pochettino’s disposal, seeing how they have managed to compete in the last two seasons, it is about time they win a domestic title.

What will constitute a successful season for Spurs? A Top four finish yet again, a more improved run in the Champions league that should see them get out of their group and a domestic cup, even if it is the League Cup.

Manchester City: For Pep Guardiola, last season was an aberration on his glorious CV and he will be keen to avoid a repeat of that. Despite starting the season like a house on fire, they ended the campaign empty-handed, finishing third on the log. Not long had the transfer window opened when Pep began to reshape his squad; Nolito, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Caballero, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Jesus Navas were all shown the exit door whilst Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Bernando Silva, Ederson, Danilo and teenager Douglas Luiz have all been added to the squad.

For @Cerebrone who is a huge Pep Guardiola fan, he believes that with United and City having spent so much in the window, coming 2nd will be decent for Pep and his lads, a semi-final place in the Champions league and at least a domestic trophy is a must.

Liverpool: If passion was a trophy, then with Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool will be top favorites but sadly, it isn’t and after his first full season at the club yielded no trophies, the fans will be seeking more from their manager this season. Their transfer window has not been one too encouraging but could get worse depending on what happens with Coutinho in the coming days. After suffering humiliation in their pursuit of Van Dijk, they were able to secure the services of Dominic Solanke from Chelsea, Salah from Roma and Robertson from Hull but there remains clamor for a proper attacker and a quality defender.

On a personal note, Klopp last won any title in 2014, whilst Liverpool hasn’t won any of the major titles since 2006 and @MR_CollinsLFC insists that only a trophy will constitute a successful season for Liverpool, preferably the FA cup and a top 3 finish in the league.

Arsenal: The gunners not only finished behind city rivals Spurs but also outside the top four for the first time since Arsene Wenger took over but were victorious in the FA cup for the 3rd time in four years calming fan agitations and seeing the gaffer entrusted with a new 2-year deal. Like Liverpool, Arsenal have not won the league in a while and are also battling with keeping star forward Alexis Sanchez, they have brought in Lacazette for a club record fee and Saed Kolasinac to boost their squad. In what has become a ritual, the gunners have already won the Emirates Cup and if they succeed in maintaining the squad as it is and keep the players happy, they do pack some firepower especially going forward.

For @jorge_d-best an avid Arsenal fan, only a return to the top four, competitively fighting for the league and winning the Europa League will constitute a successful campaign.

Manchester United: For Manchester United fans, last season had two sides, frustrating on the home front, yet inspiring in the cups with two trophies won and a return to the Champions League attained, which was the least minimum in Jose’s first year. But the stakes have been raised and Jose Mourinho knows this, he has signed Lindelof to fix the defensive instability, Lukaku to replace the numbers that Zlatan delivered last season and improve on it, also added Nemanja Matic to the ranks. Manchester United have enjoyed a fairly successful pre-season but the game against Barcelona brought a gap in quality to bear with the team needing to do more in a season where they will be chasing honors on all front.

Manchester United have not won the league since Sir Alex Ferguson departed in 2012/13, so for @Steinzen a huge fan of the most successful club in English football, winning the league is high on his list, a semi-final spot in the Champions League and the bonus of preferably the FA cup will constitute a successful season for the club.

*** Pictures courtesy AP, Skysports.com, Dailymail.co.uk, 

Ehis Ohunyon
Ehis Combs Ohunyon lives in Lagos but breathes Manchester. Realtor. Music and Football Writer, also on Radio at times.

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