With the Premier League season kicking off next weekend, it’s high time to take a look at the teams and what’s in store for them in the 2015-16 campaign. We’ll wrap up our preview by looking at the teams that finished fifth to first.
Manchester United has spent plenty of money again in the transfer market, and neighbors City paid $76 million for Raheem Sterling. But, will it be enough to catch up to the champions?
Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 64 points)
The Spurs had another solid season last year, as the team has really solidified itself as one of the five best clubs in the Premier League. In the last five seasons, the team has finished 5th, 4th, 5th, 6th and 5th. We also saw the emergence of Harry Kane last season, as he ended up with 21 league goals, finishing second in the league behind Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in scoring.
Kane was the big surprise of last season. The 22-year-old forward came out of nowhere to dominate games for the Spurs. He played so well that he got to make his England national team debut in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania. He came in from the bench and scored just 80 seconds later. In all, Kane scored 31 goals in 51 appearances in all club competitions.
The club made three additions to the squad in defenders Kevin Wimmer (Cologne), Kieran Trippier (Burnley) and Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid). Trippier was one of few highlights last season for Burnley as they got relegated from the Premier League. The 24-year-old right back played in the youth ranks at Manchester City, but failed to make his way to the first team. He spent five seasons at Burnley, playing in every single league game last season.
Alderweireld spent last season on loan at Southampton, and Tottenham liked what they saw and bought him from Atletico Madrid. Getting two players with Premier League experience is a plus and Alderweireld has 47 caps for the Belgian national team and European cup experience from his time with Atletico Madrid and Dutch side Ajax.
Wimmer, 22, spent the past three years with German side Cologne. He’s got one cap for Austria and will most likely be a backup on the center back position.
Spurs could definitely use another striker that can add some goals. Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli chipped in with 10 goals each from midfield, but the other striker in the team were abysmal, with Roberto Soldado scoring only a single goal and Emmanuel Adebayor hitting the back of the net twice. If something happens to Kane, then the Spurs would be in big trouble.
Manchester United FC (4th, 70 points)
After a trainwreck of a season in 2013-14, where the team finished 7th, Manchester United bounced back and made it back into the top four. Manager Louis van Gaal is heading into his second season in charge of the Red Devils, and he’s been spending some big money (again) in the transfer window. Memphis Depay (PSV), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Matteo Darmian (Torino), and Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) are the new arrivals at Old Trafford for this season.
Depay is one of the most highly rated prospects in Europe and he’s been playing well for the team during the preseason, slotting in behind Wayne Rooney in attack. Schweinsteiger is the most experienced of the new signings. The 31-year-old German won numerous titles with Bayern Munich and Germany, and is the current captain of the German national team.
Schneiderlin has performed well for Southampton for several years now, and the 25-year-old Frenchman was more than ready to take the next step.
Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin will be in the rotation in central midfield together with veteran Michael Carrick who was one of the most important players for United last season. Darmian will replace Rafael on the right side of defense, and Romero will most likely be the new backup goalkeeper.
The team is still said to be on the hunt for a forward and a central defender. The team should see some improvement compared to last season, with van Gaal having ample time to prepare his side and get them to buy into his philosophy. The signings are good on paper, but we’ll have to wait and see how they fit in, but it’s pretty clear that they need another forward and a left-footed center back.
If they could find those pieces, then the Red Devils could have a shot at the title.
Arsenal FC (3rd, 75 points)
The Gunners played some of the most exciting soccer last season in England as they ended up winning the FA Cup and finishing third in the league. Arsene Wenger hit a home run with the signing of Alexis Sanchez, as the Chilean international was phenomenal during his first season with the team, scoring 16 league goals in 35 appearances.
Arsenal has only made one signing during the summer, but it’s one that could play a huge role for the team. Petr Cech came over from rivals Chelsea and will be the new No. 1 in net for the Gunners. The 33-year-old Czech international has been one of the best keepers in the world for a long, long time, but found himself as the backup last season with Chelsea as they went with Thibaut Courtois in net.
Cech is the perfect transfer for Arsenal, as they haven’t had a world-class netminder since Jens Lehmann left the club. He will win points for Arsenal on his own, and he will be fired up after spending so much time on the bench last year. Cech played 486 games for Chelsea during his 11 seasons with the club.
Rumors have the club looking for a top-class striker, but they will have a healthy Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck in addition to first choice Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal will be in the mix again for a top-three finish, and we’ll have to wait and see if Wenger gets his striker.
Manchester City FC (2nd, 79 points)
City gave Chelsea a fight for the title last year, but ultimately fell short by eight points. The light blue side of Manchester can boast once again that they are the best in town, although winning titles is the ultimate goal. The team has stacked up on some homegrown talent this summer and it will be interesting to see if that’s enough to push them above Chelsea.
City splurged on Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, paying $76 million for the 20-year-old winger. Sterling has a good shot at taking a starting spot, but expectations will be high for the Jamaican-born Englishman.
They also signed prospect Patrick Roberts, 18, from Fulham and English international Fabian Delph from Aston Villa. They also bought two promising youngsters in Enes Unal, 18, (Bursaspor) and David Faupala, 18, (Lens). It will most likely be a while before we see Roberts, Unal and Faupala in the lineup for City.
Delph on the other hand will see some playing time, although he will most likely spend most of his time on the bench. The signings of Sterling, Delph and Roberts helps City with the homegrown quota after losing James Milner, Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards in the offseason.
Sergio Aguero was on fire last season, scoring 26 league goals and winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot. The 27-year-old Argentine international has scored 78 league goals in 120 appearances during his four seasons with City. He’s one of the best pure goalscorers in the world, and he will be a key part if City is to dethrone Chelsea.
Rumors are floating around that this will be manager Manuel Pellegrini’s last year in charge and that Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich after his contract expires after the season and take over the reins. Pellegrini took over City in 2013 and won the Premier League in his first season, and followed it up with a second place finish last year. Maybe if City wins the league this season, it will be enough for Pellegrini to get a new deal.
Chelsea FC (1st, 87 points)
Chelsea were head and shoulders above the rest last season, as they won their first Premier League title since the 2009-10 season. The Blues led the 2014-15 season from start to finish. They only lost three games all season and finished with a +41 goal difference. With most of the squad intact, they will be the favorites to win it again this upcoming season.
They’ve brought in Asmir Begovic from Stoke City to be the new backup goalkeeper behind Thibaut Courtois, and added Colombian striker Falcao on loan from AS Monaco. Falcao had a disappointing season last year on loan at Manchester United, but if manager Jose Mourinho can work his magic and get Falcao back in form, then Chelsea would have a lethal one-two punch up top in Diego Costa and Falcao.
Costa scored 20 league goals last season, and attacking midfielder Eden Hazard scored 14 goals and added 10 assists. Hazard, 24, was voted the Premier League Player of the Season.
With such a strong squad and world-class players like Courtois, Costa and Hazard, it’s no surprise that Chelsea heads into the season as favorites to defend the title. Chelsea won back-to-back Premier League titles back in 2004-05, 2005-06 under the guidance of Mourinho during his first stint as manager for the club.
It will be tough to go another season from start to finish at first place, but if any team could do it, it would be Chelsea.