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Sitting atop the Premier League table, Leicester City clearly are in the driving seat in the chase for the English top-flight title this season, and the shrewd Claudio Ranieri will doubtless help the King Power Stadium club retain their new-found dominance for the years to come.
Thanks to their Hollywood rise to prominence, Tottenham Hotspur’s miraculous, yet deserving title bid has largely gone under the radar. With Chelsea relishing survival and Manchester United savouring producing unexceptional results with juveniles, Spurs’ youngsters and Mauricio Pochettino have earned plaudits for their heart and magnificent system respectively.
By the looks of things, however, the top two sides will likely not be the only underdogs establishing themselves as top dogs on the English soil next season as Arsenal, Chelsea and United are expected to go through an identity crisis next season in the wake of their respective dismal 2015/16 campaigns.
Glimpses of promise
Premier League has seen underachieving clubs outplay title hopefuls in certain aspects of the game this season, highlighting the fact that minor tweaks to their philosophy or a couple of top-notch additions could help them secure European football next season.
Everton, in particular, have bagged more goals (51) than Arsenal (46), United (37), Chelsea (43) and Liverpool (43) and rank fourth in goals scored only behind Leicester, Manchester City and Tottenham by a maximum margin of two goals despite perpetually languishing in the bottom half of the table. An ounce of pragmatism from Roberto Martinez, the possession football maniac, and adding set-piece defending to their training regime should catapult them to Europa League at the very least.
West Ham United, on the other hand, are giving high-spending Manchester clubs a run for their money as they aspire to mark their Upton Park farewell with Champions League qualification. With their talismans in Slaven Bilic and Dimitri Payet set to remain under the Irons’ ranks for a few more seasons, the stage is set for the Hammers to boost the dominance of London clubs in the division.
Southampton bounce back no matter how many players abandon them every summer as they firmly sit ahead of Chelsea and Merseyside clubs that had averaged £52.83million as opposed to Southampton’s £36.7million in summer spending.
In addition, Stoke City, despite looking a side concocted by a FIFA newbie, have impressed and are in contention to usher in a new era in their history.
Multitude of ideas
With Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola pencilled to take charge of Chelsea and Manchester City next season, Premier League will be crammed with distinct managerial ideas, given the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Ronald Koeman have already checked in. Premier League managers will then have won 29 top-flight league titles amongst them, provided Rafael Benitez, who has won two La Liga titles with Valencia, helps Newcastle United beat the drop.
On top of this, up and coming managers – who are yet to win a title – such as Mauricio Pochettino and a certain Claudio Ranieri are in charge of clubs, who have been far less successful than the so-called big five clubs.
Given the fact that an array of proven elite managers and fantastic young football brains will set the league abuzz with gegenpressing, possession football, classic 4-4-2 defensive football, counter-attacking football and other interesting philosophies, Premier League will ostensibly be more topsy-turvy than the current season but with unbelievable quality of football that will avert Paris Saint-Germain-esque dominance in England.
Surfeit of money and inspiration from unlikely heroes
What makes the arrival of top managers more interesting is the fact that television deal will help them land Europe’s best talents. With the mid-table and bottom-half clubs already equipped enough to attract the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Andre Ayew, the hefty television deal may help Swansea Citys and Watfords compete with the likes of Manchester United next season.
The psychological aspect of the beautiful game is often overlooked. Should Leicester pip the north London juggernauts to the title, they will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration to other little guys such as Everton, West Ham or even Liverpool.
After all, what is more inspiring than the story of an underdog achieving big?
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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