Premier League 2016/17 Preview and Complete Betting Guide

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There were many stories running through last season's Premier League, but Leicester City's famous run to the title was one of the most improbable and stunning events in world football. Whether or not the Foxes can repeat the feat in 2016/17, there is a chasing pack of challengers just waiting for the chance to lay their hands on the Premier League trophy.

Take a look at our full preview of the upcoming Premier League, with betting odds and key markets.

Arsenal

This could almost be a copy-paste of last season's preview, but Arsenal is once again playing catch-up when it comes to major signings. Certainly the acquisition of Swiss international midfield dynamo Granit Xhaka is an excellent one, in keeping with Arsene Wenger's policy of signing younger players, but it's also one of only two purchases this summer.

Being successful in the Premier League is not only a matter of making signings, but last season's Arsenal squad looked like one painfully short of the kind of battle-hardened character that wins hearts, minds and leagues. To do better than second in a more competitive season, something needs to change at the Emirates Stadium.

Key Player

Petr Cech showed last season why Wenger signed him from Chelsea, the oldest player in the Gunners squad pulling off save after save and also bringing a better level of defensive organisation. The keeper will hope to repeat the feat this time around.

Top Bet: Arsenal 6/1 to win the Premier League with Bet365.

Bournemouth

It's no accident that Bournemouth's still-young manager Eddie Howe is being linked with the England job, however improbably it is that he will want it or get it at this stage in his coaching career. The man who brought Bournemouth up from virtual fourth-tier oblivion to Premier League safety will continue to foster a strong collective spirit that makes the Cherries hard to beat, especially at home.

So far the summer signings have been low-key, with the most expensive being the £7m purchase of Leeds midfielder Lewis Cook. This is a small club with lots of ambition, and we expect it to achieve safety once again this season.

Key Player

Callum Wilson had a tremendous start to the season that saw the striker heavily hinted to be brought into the England set-up. In the end a long-term knee injury saw to those hopes, but Wilson returned at the end of last season looking sharp, and will once again spearhead Bournemouth's attack.

Top Bet: Bournemouth 8/1 to finish in the top half with Bet365.

Burnley

Welcome back to the Premier League, Burnley and its indefatigable manager Sean Dyche. The Clarets boss has become known for a dry press-conference wit that evokes early-period Jose Mourinho, and he may need to use that bonhomie yet again to deflect from the likely difficulties Burnley will suffer.

As with the last time the team was in the Premier League, two seasons ago, this is a squad with a good mix of youth an experience, but it is small, and perhaps lacking in the strength-in-depth needed to stay up over a 38-game season in the top flight.

Key Player

Andre Gray was signed from Brentford last summer specifically to address one of Burnley's faults - a lack of goalscoring options up-front. The Shrewsbury Town academy graduate hit 23 goals in his debut season at Turf Moor and now has the chance to prove that, as with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Callum Wilson, he can transfer his gifts to the highest level.

Top Bet: Burnley 16/1 to finish in the top half with BoyleSports

Chelsea

Whatever happens, Chelsea fans have whispered this summer, it can't be as bad as last season. A football nightmare that began with then-manager Jose Mourinho sacking club doctor Eva Carneiro ended with Mourinho being sacked, and interim manager Guus Hiddink steadying the ship but failing to secure European football.

New boss Antonio Conte brings a certain tactical rigidity, but also an entertaining line in touchline rage-apocalypses that should mean the Sky TV cameras are trained upon him. He's also got the benefit of a clear schedule, with no extra European games to tire the players out. Chelsea has to be one of the favourites for the title this time around.

Key Player

When Chelsea began to nose-dive last season, Eden Hazard looked like he was on strike, the playmaker seeming at times disinterested in getting or using the ball. It was noticeable that when Belgium played well in Euro 2016, it was almost always a result of some Hazard burst from deep. Likely to remain at Chelsea in light of Real Madrid's transfer ban, the wizard of dribble has a lot to prove.

Top Bet: Chelsea 13/2 to win outright with BetVictor

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace wants to plant its anchor in the Premier League, and turn popular perception of the Selhurst Park team from one of a yo-yo club that flirts with relegation to one of a high-achieving top-flight regular. For the first half of last season, it looked like destiny fulfilled, as the Eagles claimed some big-name scalps and a berth in the top six of the league.

Things really went downhill after Christmas, with Palace seemingly unable to buy a win at times. Relegation, which had been thought to be so distant, especially given the club's high-profile signings, was narrowly-avoided by Alan Pardew and his team. Question marks hover over Pardew, a good manager who struggles to turn around losing streaks, although the board has thrown plenty of money his way for more buys.

Key Player

Andros Townsend was left out of England's Euro 2016 squad in spite of an excellent spell at doomed Newcastle United, where his pacy wing-play inspired the team to at least try to dig itself out of the relegation hole in which it found itself. There are still doubts over whether the former Tottenham player is worth £15.5m, and he will need to add a final ball to his familiar tricks. He's also been relegated with two different clubs.

Top Bet: Crystal Palace 3/1 to finish in the top half with BoyleSports

Everton

Reports from fan groups at Ronald Koeman's old club, Southampton, indicate that the Dutch manager might have been using Everton as an elaborate tool in a game of contractual brinkmanship with his then-employer. Whatever the truth, Southampton called Koeman's bluff, and he is now the main man at Everton when the venerable Merseyside club is celebrating a fresh injection of cash from investors.

So far this hasn't translated into major signings, but it would appear the biggest battle of the summer will be between the club and Mino Raiola, agent of star striker Romelu Lukaku, who says his client should never have moved to Goodison Park in the first place. Should Everton be able to keep hold of Lukaku and get a better end-product out of Ross Barkley, a top-half finish should be in order.

Key Player

Everton top brass have insisted they do not have to sell anyone to cover costs, and that being so, if John Stones stays then the club will be looking for the classy England defender to cut the errors out of his game and develop like most people believe he can.

Top Bet: Everton 12/1 with Betfred to finish in the top four

Hull City

When Hull was relegated at the end of the 2014/15 season, there was a recognition that it was a close-run thing, and that Steve Bruce, the club's manager, deserved a chance to go straight back up. Bruce has done just that, with the help of strong investment and a solid squad of players.

Hull is not one of the more exciting teams to watch, but it can hold its own and, assuming key players stay fit, can formulate a counter-attacking strategy that may well keep the club up into the following season.

Key Player

Robert Snodgrass was a major loss in Hull's last Premier League season, missing the whole campaign with a knee ligament injury. He came back and did a great job in the Championship last time around, and the Scottish international will be relied-on for his creativity and eye for goal.

Top Bet: Hull 16/1 with BoyleSports to finish in the top 10

Leicester City

Claudio Ranieri got payback from all those doom-mongers early in the season who predicted he would be a disaster as Leicester City manager and the club would be relegated, including this writer. Ranieri steered an honest band of good professionals to the club's first-ever Premier League title, in probably the least likely league victory ever.

Where does Leicester go from here? The signs are that the squad that did so well in domestic football last season will be tested to the limit by also having to play Champions League matches. Leicester has beaten the odds once already, so it would be foolish to predict failure this time, but a mid-table finish seems more likely than more title heroics.

Key Player

"Jamie Vardy's having a party," according to Leicester and England fans' chant - and while this might be true, it's a tribute to the 29 year-old's dedication and spirit that he has risen from non-league football to being a key player in a Champions League challenge. Vardy's pace on the counter will be vital again this season.

Top Bet: Leicester City 30/1 to win outright with 888sport

Liverpool

Liverpool fans love a charismatic manager, and there are putative signs that Jürgen Klopp might be an Anfield favourite in-the-making at the club that still reveres Rafa Benitez, the man who brought the Reds the Champions League in 2005.

Things have taken a downturn since those halcyon days, and the likes of Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano no longer go near the club, but Klopp knows how to build a team ethic among lower-profile players, as he has shown at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. A top-four finish, with a good headwind, is a possibility, though Klopp has been known to tire out his players with his physical preferred style of play.

Key Player

Philippe Coutinho is now easily the best player in the Liverpool squad, but he is in an odd phase in his career, at a team that does not compete in the Champions League, and not an automatic choice for the Brazil national team. If he stays at Anfield, Coutinho will provide the attacking magic in an otherwise quite ordinary-looking Reds team.

Top Bet: Liverpool 9/1 to win outright with Betway

Manchester City

When you're owned by an Abu Dhabi Sheikh and you have a masterplan to be one of the world's best football clubs, selling shirts in China and signing players from Barcelona, who you gonna call? Pep Guardiola. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, a great player himself and an icon of possession-football lovers, takes on a tough assignment at the Etihad Stadium, but does so with wads of cash, which is how he likes it.

New players Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito are two skilful, world-class, footballers who will carry out the Guardiola philosophy to the letter. There are rather more questions over Guardiola's ability to coach something new out of stalled prospect Raheem Sterling, who after his Euro 2016 ordeal looks like he needs a hug and a few hours in front of a tactical flipchart.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero

When Aguero plays well, so does Manchester City. The Argentine, who has been at the spearhead of City's rise from mid-table obscurity to global superclub status, will need more support than he got last season, and will need to fit into a new, more patient, style of play.

Top Bet: Sergio Aguero 7/2 with Betway to be top Premier League goalscorer

Manchester United

It's odd to look back at the Sir Alex Ferguson years, when the received wisdom was that Manchester United couldn't and wouldn't spend the very top money needed to secure global marquee names, preferring instead to sign young players as they did with Cristiano Ronaldo. Things have certainly changed at Old Trafford.

New manager Jose Mourinho might not seem like a perfect fit for this cllub that likes to think of itself as a big happy family, but the ashen-faced Portuguese has secured Zlatan Ibrahimovic for next season in what looks like being one of the most star-studded rescue jobs in recent memory.

Key Player

Henrikh Mkhitaryan appears to be yet another copywriter's nightmare, but the Armenian international is much more than that: Mourinho signs players if he thinks they will work hard for the team, and the £30m player, bought from Borussia Dortmund, has a record of improving teams when he is in the XI.

United was boring to watch last season, but Mkhitaryan's link-up play will make sure that isn't the case again.

Top Bet: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 10/1 with 888sport to be Premier League top goalscorer

Middlesbrough

Even in spite of a seemingly-bottomless cheque book last season in pursuit of promotion, and the seat on the board for super-agent Jorge Mendes, Middlesbrough didn't have everything its own way in winning promotion to the top flight. Manager Aitor Karanka, amid a poor run of results, argued with a group of his own players, and looked like quitting his job, only being kept on after peace talks.

Signings like Ajax striker Viktor Fischer and Atalanta midfielder Marten de Roon indicate an ambition to do well, but a lot of the squad has no Premier League experience, and so it's a shot in the dark to understand how well Boro will do against genuine title-contenders.

Key Player

Victor Valdes is a goalkeeper with pedigree, having had the gloves for Barcelona's La Liga and Champions League triumphs under Pep Guardiola. He will need to prove that, at 34 and having not had many games over the past two seasons, he has what it takes to marshal a defence new to the Premier League.

Top Bet: Middlesbrough 7/5 with Sportingbet to be relegated

Southampton

With Ronald Koeman having left Southampton for the greener grass of Everton, it's down to the south-coast club to adjust to a new manager and some summer sales. Claude Puel is an experienced coach, and he will steady the ship.

It's a good thing that this is exactly the kind of situation the club has been great at over the years. Players come and go, but are generally replaced by someone as good or better, and Southampton maintains a reputation as a great place for up-and-coming talents to learn their trade.

The signing of Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who was coached by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, is a typically sound acquisition. He joins a midfield which, with the exception of Northern Ireland international Steven Davis, contains only players of age 24 and under. It seems a reasonable bet that Saints will claim another top-ten finish.

Key Player

With Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane sold to Shangdong Luneng and Liverpool respectively, Charlie Austin, who got into the England squad during his time at Queen's Park Rangers, has to fill the void up front. Austin, if given the right kind of service, can be relied-upon to score a high number of goals.

Top Bet: Southampton 14/1 with Bet365 to finish in the top four of the Premier League

Stoke City

No signings are yet in evidence at the newly-renamed Bet365 Stadium, but Mark Hughes will feel confident that his Stoke squad is starting to gel together well now. There have been spasmodic rumours of players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic moving to other clubs in search of European football, but Hughes has created the kind of environment where flair players are supported by workmanlike professionals like Glen Whelan, and everyone works together well.

Key Player

When Stoke had a superb run of victories, including a 3-0 win over Manchester United during the Christmas, Marko Arnautovic was central to almost everything that went well. the Austrian might have had a difficult Euro 2016, but he relishes playing in the Premier League, and seems to be a fan-favourite at Stoke.

Top Bet: Stoke City 2/1 with bwin to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League

Sunderland

It looks as though Sunderland might lose its manager, Sam Allardyce, to the England team, which would be a shame for the Black Cats given how Big Sam came in and crafted a more organised and successful team last season that eventually avoided relegation.

There were problems last season, which included a lack of top-quality recruitment. Given the lack of incoming players this summer, it seems owner Ellis Short still has not solved the administrative problems created by the departure of Chief Executive Margaret Byrne, who left when player Adam Johnson was jailed.

Whoever the Sunderland manager will be needs more support from his board. Sunderland fans need to see a team that is good enough to do more than just "escape" every season. Neither seems likely right now.

Key Player

Wahbi Khazri was one of the Allardyce signings who galvanised Sunderland last season on arriving in January. The winger was one of the few bright spots for supporters, and will be looked-upon as a big source of creativity in the coming campaign.

Top Bet: Sunderland 7/2 with Unibet to be relegated

Swansea City

A year ago, Swansea was seen as the home of decisive, stable leadership and a well-run, fan-driven management model that other clubs wanted to copy. Now, the Supporters' Trust is apparently in the process of being bought out by private investors, and while most fans at least understood the reasons for sacking former player Garry Monk from the manager's role, replacement Francesco Guidolin is not inspiring much excitement.

Leroy Fer's signing from QPR has been made permanent, but Swansea will do the majority of its business when bigger clubs have made their move. Guidolin is known not to believe major surgery is needed on his team, which may come as news to some supporters who are used to the flowing football of the Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers eras.

Key Player

Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a glut of goals after January when Swansea was in deep trouble last season, showing he was more than just a set-piece specialist. He will take time to come back down from the maximum high of Iceland's Euro 2016 heroics, but Swansea will be a better team when he is playing.

Top Bet: Swansea City 17/4 with 10Bet to be relegated

Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino guided his young team to the cusp of the Premier League title, and it was a measure of his side's progress that there was bitter disappointment on missing out on second place to a recovering Arsenal. This time around the Argentine will be expected to improve on the feat, and with tempestuous chairman Daniel Levy holding the power at the club, any slip will be looked-upon badly.

The main problem at Spurs last season was a lack of cover for Harry Kane in attack. The club will still use the England international as its primary outlet, but has signed Vincent Janssen, a Dutch international who was his domestic league's top scorer with 27 goals last season. This means a bit more flexibility in selection, and the possibility of rotation, which should help in a dual challenge for the Premier League and Champions League.

Key Player
Harry Kane has risen, in two seasons, from being back-up to being the most important player in the Spurs squad. The striker can hold the ball up, play as a goal-poacher, or take set-pieces, and he's improving all the time. The battle for Spurs will be keeping him away from greedy clubs who need a goalscorer.

Top Bet: Spurs 9/1 to win outright with 888sport

Watford

It was quite a season for the Hornets, who achieved Premier League safety well before the end of the season, but whose owners, the Pozzo family, were still disappointed with a late downturn in results, and so sacked media-friendly manager Quique Sanchez Flores, causing a mixed reaction amongst fans. Some felt that Premier League survival should be a cause of satisfaction, others thought that the club should promote more attractive football.

New manager Walter Mazzarri achieved some degree of success at Napoli in Italy, but was a flop at Internazionale. It remains to be seen how he copes in his first season in England, but he likes to attack and will be expected to blend in another raft of new signings.

Key Player

Troy Deeney was the understated, unsung hero while Odion Ighalo was banging in the goals last season, and Watford turned down a bid for him from Leicester City, so important is he to the club's cause. The club captain may even get an England call-up if his form continues at previous levels.

Top Bet: Watford 5/2 with BetVictor to be relegated

West Bromwich Albion

Tony Pulis has a number of questions to answer this summer, one of which being whether he wants West Brom to be a team of tough-nut battlers, or a more expansive, interesting football outfit. Given the Welshman's utilitarian tactics with previous clubs, it seems the former will prevail.

That said, the baseball-capped manager was successful in securing safety well before May, while also ignoring transfer speculation over the unsettled Saido Berahino. The England squad-player will likely move on this summer, but Matt Phillips from QPR is a useful signing, a goalscoring winger of high calibre. West Brom may struggle, but some quality signings would make the world of difference between now and the opening weekend.

Key Player

Salomon Rondon took his time to find his feet in the Premier League, and isn't prolific, but the big Venezuelan is a hard-working and skilful frontman who gives his all.

Top Bet: West Brom 5/2 with Paddy Power to be relegated

West Ham United

A strange thing has afflicted West Ham as Slaven Bilic leads his team to its new home, the London Olympic Stadium: optimism. Last season saw a huge improvement both in the attractiveness of the football being played by the Hammers, and in the results being achieved. There was even fleeting talk of a title challenge from striker Andy Carroll at Christmas.

Seventh place was a good reward for fine efforts through the season, as was a place in the Europa League. The signs are that the club is building on the promise of that season, and building a team that could move further up the league. Havard Nortveit and youngster Toni Martinez are excellent signings and Turkey international Gokhan Tore will add further competition to an excellent squad.

Key Player

Michail Antonio is a powerful winger with good pace and a final ball that, while it might not always be accurate, often is. On the edge of a possible England call-up, many people are tipping the 26 year-old to further broaden his influence.

Top Bet: West Ham 10/1 with 10Bet to finish in the top four of the Premier League

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