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2016/2017 Premier League Preview

The European Championship in France and Copa America are currently taking centre stage in the football world, but the release of the Premier League fixtures ahead of the 2016/2017 is a reminder that the return of English football is not too far away.

It has created fresh excitement and anticipation ahead of what could be the most intriguing campaign in years, with Leicester City hoping to repeat their remarkable title success by successfully defending their crown. Claudio Ranieri’s side will have to show the same qualities that saw them transform from relegation candidates to Premier League winners, but they are unlikely to have things their own way.

There is no question that the big clubs will look to bounce back after disappointing seasons in which they fell well short of expectations, with defending champions Chelsea finishing thirty-one points behind Leicester in tenth. The Foxes, along with Tottenham, undoubtedly deserved to grab all the headlines, but Betway believe that the big guns will rise to the top again by placing Manchester City and Manchester United as the strong favourites to regain their authority at the top. Both clubs have made significant managerial changes, with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho taking over at the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford respectively; it could help to tip the balance of power in their favourite, with the Manchester rivals likely to make big changes during the summer transfer market and improve the quality of football on the pitch.

Writing off Leicester City proved to be a big mistake this season, and it is highly unlikely that they will let someone take their title without a fight. A top six finish would undoubtedly be an achievement, but if Ranieri manages to convince Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante that their future is best served at the King Power Stadium, then there is no reason that Leicester cannot put themselves in contention to defend their Premier League crown. It remains to be seen how Leicester handle participating in four competitions next season, with their Champions League adventure likely to provide another chapter to their fairytale story or become a distraction. They have already added goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler to their squad following his £3 million move from Hannover 96 who suffered relegation from the Bundesliga, but Ranieri will have to find a balance between keeping his best players and bringing in new faces to keep their hopes of success in 2016/2017 alive.

Many of the big clubs may look to the transfer market in an effort to overhaul Leicester City, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United all making big-money moves in a market which could see some serious movement. It speaks volumes about the attraction of the Premier League that the latter of the three could be on the verge of signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic – a deal which would undoubtedly improve their title chances with Betway. However, it will take much more than splashing the cash for a number of clubs to become serious title contenders, particularly Manchester City who became defensively vulnerable without Vincent Kompany and suffered from inconsistency. The same could be said for Chelsea who endured a forgettable campaign, but it remains to be seen whether incoming manager Antonio Conte can bring the good days back to Stamford Bridge and make them competitive again.

Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull City represent the three promoted teams from the Championship who will not only enjoy the riches that the Premier League has to offer, but also hope to establish themselves in the top flight. All three have experience of playing in the Premier League, but with the quality levels increasing across the board, it has become harder than ever for teams to stay up at the first attempt. However, the promoted clubs can take encouragement from Bournemouth and Watford who certainly enjoyed moments of quality as they remained in the Premier League with relative ease, and if they manage to assert themselves in the opening weeks of the 2016/2017 season, then it could leave the likes of Sunderland, West Brom and Crystal Palace looking nervously over their shoulders after dicing with danger on more than one occasion this year.

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